Jesus’ Life: Chapter 18 – The Passion And Death Of Jesus
It has been said that the two thieves crucified with Jesus may have been aware of His life, ministry, miraculous works and teachings. It has also been said that both, while initially hoping they might still survive their life-death ordeal, remained defiant, possibly influenced by the chorus of taunts from the Jewish leaders and other onlookers. (Matthew 27:44, Mark 15:32b)
However, crucified, one on either side of Jesus, their fate sealed, one repented of his sins and accepted Jesus as the Son of God while the other remained belligerent, thinking only of himself and this world.
Their contrasting reactions were vividly recorded in St Lukes Gospel:
- The criminal crucified on Jesus’ left, “Railed Jesus” saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39)
- The criminal crucified to Jesus’ right, St Dismas, rebuked the unrepentant sinner asking, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing wrong”. He then said to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”. (Luke 23:40-43)
St Dismas and the unrepentant thief were still alive after Jesus’ death so, the Roman soldiers broke their legs as they hung on their crosses, to expedite their death. (Matthew 27:44, Mark 15:32b, Luke 23:39-43)
It’s likely St Dismas had been searching for Jesus for a long time. In his last hours, he reflected on his criminal past, repented of his sins, accepted Jesus as his salvation and, through Jesus, received eternal life.
Reflection and sincere repentance are never too late but few of us will have the same apparent last-minute advantage awarded to St Dismas!
Lord Jesus, I am a repentant sinner, often breaking my promises and offending You again!
I pray Lord, forgive me my sins, invite me to be with You in Your paradise from the moment of my death. Amen.
Prayer: Breastplate (St Patrick)
I bind unto myself today,
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need:
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort me and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.