Mar. 25, 2012
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left.
They are not named. We’re not sure what crime they committed. We simply know them as the thief on the right and the thief on the left.
At some point, a judge had determined they were hopeless causes and sentenced them to die. The judge saw no possibility that these two thieves would ever be anything but criminals and so they were condemned to die on crosses.
I’m not quite sure how a person prepares or approaches execution. My guess is these men approached death like another crime: no emotion, no expression. Just get it over with. While on the outside, they appeared hardened and tough, I’m thinking that inside they had to quiet their fears. They had to be afraid to die and certainly didn’t want anyone to see this fear.
Had they heard of Jesus of Nazareth before the day of the crucifixion? We don’t know. We can assume that most everyone in Jerusalem had. But they might not have seen him. Maybe some of their friends had gone to see Jesus teach; watch him heal the sick and lame, see if what people said about him was true. Maybe some of these friends came back and said he was different from all the other rabbis and peddlers of truth. Maybe the unnamed thieves had heard that Jesus acted different. Maybe they had discovered that Jesus would actually sit down and eat with their low-life friends.
Like Jesus, the thieves had to carry their cross-beams through the Jerusalem streets, outside the city gates to Golgotha. Like Jesus, they were laid across the wooden cross by the Roman soldiers. Like Jesus, their crosses were raised skyward and they had to endure the pain, agony and discomfort of crucifixion.
Yet, they were someone’s son. They were someone’s friends. Maybe they had wives and children. They had lived lives and now they were dying. While unnamed in the Bible, these two thieves did have names. And God knew them. Jesus knew them. And he loved them to the bitter end. Who does this? Only the Son of God.
Let us pray: O how marvelous, O how wonderful! And my song shall ever be: O how marvelous, O how wonderful is my Savior’s love for me. Amen.