This is an exposition of Luke 23:33-43. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 28, 2018.


I was standing on a front porch in Hazen, North Dakota when I ask a man what it took to go to heaven. He gave me his pedigree! “Well son, I’m a Lutheran. My daddy was a Lutheran and my daddy’s daddy and on down the line as far back as anyone knows.” I thought, “Well, for your sake, I hope Martin Luther is manning the gate when you get there.”

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I asked a Jehovah Witness what was required to enter heaven and was told that she knew that only those faithful to Jehovah would make it and she was working as hard as she could. I was talking to a man I worked with one summer and he said, “Well no one’s perfect. Jesus Christ was the best man that ever lived and even he wasn’t perfect. You live a good life, try to do the right thing and I just believe things will work out.” A man in rural Kay County said to me, “Well sir, you just do your best. Pay your bills. Be good to your family. Don’t drink too much and it probably wouldn’t hurt to go to church.” When you ask, “What does it take for a person to go to heaven,” most people are going to respond with some reference to how good they are or how hard they work. They are going to try and provide some proof of how much they deserve to enter heaven. The problem is that none of us are good enough or ever can be good enough to enter into glory!

Romans 3:10 says, “There are none who are righteous, not a single one.”
Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
That pretty well shoots the “being good enough” argument in the foot doesn’t it?
God is perfect.
Those who enter into His presence must be perfect as well.
That’s a problem because none of us are perfect.

So, how do we get to heaven? How is it sinful people enter the presence of a sinless God? The answer is pretty amazing. And we find it dramatically portrayed for us in Luke 23:33-43.

Text: Luke 23:33-43

It had been a roller coaster ride.
Just five days before a jubilant crowd shouted, “Hosanna!”
But just hours ago and angry mob cried, “Crucify him!”
The bloody, tortured body of the Lord Jesus hung in agony on the cross.
The religious establishment celebrated by mocking and ridiculing him.
Two angry thieves hung on either side of him.
This hardly seems the time or place for the joyous news of heaven but look again.

A dying thief found the path to paradise and if we look closely we can learn a few things along the way.

Thesis: The glory of the road to salvation is that it offers life and hope to even the most unlikely candidates.

There are three glorious facts about heaven revealed to us in this passage.
Three facts that wonderfully display God’s amazing grace.

  1. Heaven is a place for dirty, rotten scoundrels. (23:33,39; Mt. 27:44)
  2. Heaven is a place for repentant sinners. (23:40-42)
  3. Heaven is a place for dying saints. (23:43)

What did he do to deserve such a thing? NOTHING!

The glory of the road to salvation is that it offers life and hope to even the most unlikely candidates – folks like you and me.