Luke 23:42, “Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom’.
For all the significance of the Crucifixion, I’m surprised at the lack of curiosity people have in the two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus. Probably because very little is mentioned about them in the Bible. What did they do to receive such torture and who were they?
For instance, what were their crimes? Were they bandits or highway robbers, insurgents against Rome, or possibly Zealots (members of a militant Jewish sect that fought against the Roman occupation of the Jewish homeland)? There’s every likelihood that we’ll never know.
Although the names of these two men are never mentioned in the New Testament they are mentioned in another writing. From the apocryphal gospel known as the “Gospel of Nicodemus” they are identified as Dismas and Gestas. Dismas is the one who made the statement in Luke 23:42 above and was crucified on Jesus’ right side. Gestas was crucified on His left. Dismas is derived from the Greek word, dysme, meaning “sunset”. Many believe it was quite fitting as it was at the sunset of his life that he trusted in God’s Mercy.
Gestas blasphemed Jesus by saying in verse 39, “If you are the Christ, save Yourself and us”. But Dismas rebuked him saying that they deserved everything they got, stating that “this Man did nothing wrong” and spoke the verse above to Jesus. Jesus replied to him with assurance that he would be with Him in paradise. This thief recognized the sovereignty of Christ being his route to Salvation.
I received the following description of this thief from a friend in Mississippi written by Andrew Snow:
“How does the thief on the cross fit into your theology? No baptism, no communion, no confirmation, no speaking in tongues, no mission trip, no volunteerism, no church clothes. He couldn’t even bend his knees to pray. He didn’t say the sinner’s prayer and among other things he was a thief.
"Jesus didn’t take away his pain, heal his body, or smite the scoffers. Yet it was a thief who walked into heaven the same hour as Jesus, simply by believing. He had nothing more to offer than his belief that Jesus was who He said He was. No spin from brilliant theologians. No ego or arrogance. No shiny light, designer jeans, or eloquent words. No haze machine, donuts, or coffee at the entrance. Just a naked dying man on a cross unable to even fold his hands to pray."
I was okay with the New Testament scripture that didn’t mention their names, simply because the thieves represented us all. Believers, who accept and believe that He is the only One that can save us from total destruction, and those who do not believe that Christ is who He says He is and never gets to experience the joy of total spiritual freedom.
Pastor Janice Tokarsky sent me the following line from the book “Song of Bernadette” which reads, “For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no explanation is possible”.
Isn’t it funny how often we read something on social media, we take it as truth, and start spreading it around like a wildfire? But let someone tell you about the true gospel and what Christ has done in their life and we’re reluctant to tell anyone.
Salvation isn’t something you buy, or trade, or even beg for. With your last breath…all you have to do is believe.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be on the “right” side of Christ!
Answer from Jan. 3 Article: Ahab (Micah 6:16)
This week’s question: According to Micah 7:19, where does God hurl all our iniquities?
(Nancy Stoppe of Jenners is affiliated with Jenner Township Baptist Church, Boswell. She can be contacted at email@example.com.)
This article originally appeared on The Daily American: Nancy Stoppe column about the two thieves crucified with Jesus