Now one of the two revolutionaries crucified there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” -Luke 23:39-43
This is the only time that I can remember Jesus flat out stating, "YOU are going to heaven."
As a revolutionary the "good thief" was probably convicted of robbing and killing Jews who were collaborating with the Romans. Those are not trivial sins.
What "bought" him salvation?
- He defended and comforted Jesus when the "bad thief" attempted to bully him. We don't hang with Jesus but we are surrounded by people with needs. Matt 25:33-40.
- He had faith.
- He asked.