|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:32-43 As soon as Christ was fastened to the cross, he prayed for those who crucified him. The great thing he died to purchase and procure for us, is the forgiveness of sin. This he prays for. Jesus was crucified between two thieves; in them were shown the different effects the cross of Christ would have upon the children of men in the preaching the gospel. One malefactor was hardened to the last. No troubles of themselves will change a wicked heart. The other was softened at the last: he was snatched as a brand out of the burning, and made a monument of Divine mercy. This gives no encouragement to any to put off repentance to their death-beds, or to hope that they shall then find mercy. It is certain that true repentance is never too late; but it is as certain that late repentance is seldom true. None can be sure they shall have time to repent at death, but every man may be sure he cannot have the advantages this penitent thief had. We shall see the case to be singular, if we observe the uncommon effects of God's grace upon this man. He reproved the other for railing on Christ. He owned that he deserved what was done to him. He believed Jesus to have suffered wrongfully. Observe his faith in this prayer. Christ was in the depth of disgrace, suffering as a deceiver, and not delivered by his Father. He made this profession before the wonders were displayed which put honour on Christ's sufferings, and startled the centurion. He believed in a life to come, and desired to be happy in that life; not like the other thief, to be only saved from the cross. Observe his humility in this prayer. All his request is, Lord, remember me; quite referring it to Jesus in what way to remember him. Thus he was humbled in true repentance, and he brought forth all the fruits for repentance his circumstances would admit. Christ upon the cross, is gracious like Christ upon the throne. Though he was in the greatest struggle and agony, yet he had pity for a poor penitent. By this act of grace we are to understand that Jesus Christ died to open the kingdom of heaven to all penitent, obedient believers. It is a single instance in Scripture; it should teach us to despair of none, and that none should despair of themselves; but lest it should be abused, it is contrasted with the awful state of the other thief, who died hardened in unbelief, though a crucified Saviour was so near him. Be sure that in general men die as they live.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And we indeed justly,.... For sins committed against the law; our sentence is just, we are righteously punished: which shows that he had a true sense of sin; for where that is, there will be not only an acknowledgment of the offence, but a vindication of the justice of God, should he proceed to deal according to the demerit of sin: for we receive the due reward of our deeds; though, according to the law of Moses, theft was not punishable with death, but with a restoration, either double, or fourfold, or fivefold, according to the nature of it; see Exodus 22:1. It may be these men had committed murder along with the robbery:
but this man hath done nothing amiss; or absurd, unreasonable, wicked, and detestable: he did no injury to God, or man; wronged no man's person or property; did all things well; obeyed the law of God perfectly, and always did the things which were pleasing to God. Thus, from the mouth of one of the malefactors Christ suffered with, was he declared innocent; when the Jews designed, by crucifying him with them, to have led the people to have believed that he suffered for a crime equal, or superior to theirs.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
41. we … justly, &c.—He owns the worst of his crimes and deserts, and would fain shame his fellow into the same.
nothing amiss—literally, "out of place"; hence "unnatural"; a striking term here. Our Lord was not charged with ordinary crime, but only with laying claim to office and honors which amounted to blasphemy. The charge of treason had not even a show of truth, as Pilate told His enemies. In this defense then there seems more than meets the eye. "He made Himself the promised Messiah, the Son of God; but in this He 'did nothing amiss'; He ate with publicans and sinners, and bade all the weary and heavy laden come and rest under His wing; but in this He 'did nothing amiss': He claimed to be Lord of the Kingdom of God, to shut it at will, but also to open it at pleasure even to such as we are; but in this He 'did nothing amiss!'" Does His next speech imply less than this? Observe: (1) His frank confession and genuine self-condemnation. (2) His astonishment and horror at the very different state of his fellow's mind. (3) His anxiety to bring him to a better mind while yet there was hope. (4) His noble testimony, not only to the innocence of Jesus, but to all that this implied of the rightfulness of His claims.
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