"He did not die for the sake of a good world, he died for the sake of an evil world, not for the pious, but for the godless, not for the just, but for the unjust, for the deliverance, the victory and the joy of all, that they might have life." Karl Barth, Good Friday, 1957 (from Deliverance to the Captives, 81)
Does it matter if one criminal does not confess that which the other criminal does? Does this difference exclude one of them from communion? Not according to Barth. "...the difference is not important enough to invalidate the promise given so clearly, indeed without distinction" (81) And indeed the table is set, even for the one who cannot confess the confession of faith.
"'My body which is broken for you! My blood which is shed for you!' These are Jesus' words at the Last Supper... The two thieves witness this breaking and shedding.... He who has overcome death, the King of Life, was the poor suffering servant whose dying gasp mingled with theirs....the promise is given only to crucified criminals, who are utterly compromised before God and before men...And mark this: precisely these, and these only, are worthy to go to the Lord's Supper... We are such people, all of us..." (81-83).On the cross of Christ, Jesus joins us in our death. It is not those who believe, those who have faith, those who are obedient, who find themselves in God's presence so much as it is those who are lost, alienated, and crucified. We are such people, all of us. When we cannot even conjure the faith to hope, Jesus utters the words of our souls, "My God, my God... why have you forsaken me?" And so in Jesus, we find our companion... this Jesus who has resurrection as his future... and he bring us with him for we are bound to him by his love and grace.