June 22, 2016
Luke 23:32, 39-43
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Luke is the only evangelist who tells us that one of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus was saved. Here is the record of the other three gospel writers:
• Matthew 27:38, 44 – “…two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right, and another on the left….Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him [mocking and blaspheming Him]….”
• Mark 15:27, 32 – “With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left….And those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.”
• John 19:18 – “…they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.”
But Luke goes into much more detail in chapter 23, verses 32 and 39 through 43:
There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death….
And one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If
You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, re-
buked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the
same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward
of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to
Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And
Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in
First, let’s examine who were these robbers, these criminals:
• The Greek word ληστης (used by Matthew, Mark and John) means brigand and is translated as both robber and thief. The Greek word κακουργος (used by Luke) means a wrong doer, or criminal and is translated evil-doer and malefactor (New King James Version translates it as criminal).
• Concerning Barabbas: Matthew 27:16 identifies him as a notable prisoner. Mark 15:7 tells us “…Barabbas…was chained with his fellow insurrectionists; they had committed murder in the insurrection.” Luke 23:18 and 19 (see also verse 25) confirms this by saying, “…Barabbas…had been thrown in prison for a certain insurrection in the city, and for murder.”
• Because of the demands of the crowd, led by “…the chief priests and the elders…” (Matthew 27:20), Jesus took the place of Barabbas who – being the ring leader of the revolt – most likely was to occupy the central cross upon which the Lord was crucified. Since Mark 15:7 tells us that Barabbas was not the only murderer in the insurrection, it is probable that these two criminals crucified with Jesus were also convicted of murder! They very well could have been the chief lieutenants in Barabbas’ insurrectionist army! And so – for the purpose of public display and a grisly warning against future uprisings – they were ignobly displayed on either side of their leader.
• Under Roman law, these two were doubly condemned! In committing insurrection, they were found violently opposing the supreme Roman Emperor and his Judean governor, Pontius Pilate. Having committed murder, they were guilty also of a capital offense. It is no wonder they were sentenced to be crucified. Crucifixion was reserved for rebellious slaves and the worst of criminals!
Truly, as it is prophesied in Isaiah 53:12, “…He [Jesus] was numbered with the transgressors….”
There are several things we can learn from the fate of these two robbers:
• Sin has its payday! Paul tells us in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death….” He also wrote in Galatians 6:7 through 9:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that
he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap cor-
ruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting
life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we
shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Moses very succinctly summed it up in Numbers 32:22: “…be sure your sin will find you out.”
Someone once said, “Don’t sow your wild oats and then pray for a crop failure!” Payday’s a comin’!
• But thank God SomeOne else made full payment for sin! As it is written in…
✞ Isaiah 53:5 and 6 – “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for out iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.”
✞ II Corinthians 5:21 – “For He [the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us….”
✞ I Peter 2:24 – “…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree [cross]…”
✞ Revelation 1:5 – “…He loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…”
The worst of sinners can find total cleansing in Jesus Christ! Have you?
…continued in the next blog.