TWO THIEVES AND YESHUA, WHICH THIEF ARE YOU? (a look at Luke 23:32,33 and 39-43)
We are all familiar with the story about the two thieves who were crucified next to Yeshua on Calvary. There was one on his right and the other on his left. The disciples who wrote the gospels mention that briefly, but it is in Luke that the conversation is recorded. We will take a look at that in a while. But let’s first review “death by crucifixion”.
Back in the Bible days, crucifixion was the worst death punishment that the Romans could dish out. Crucifixion was not, however, permitted for Roman citizens, only non-Romans would suffer that. Many times, the way of death via Rome was decapitation, in the case of the Apostle Paul, since he was a Roman citizen, he felt the ax on his neck. Could one say it was a quick way to die? Perhaps, if the ax was sharp and the headsman was swift and strong, little pain might have been felt. We could always ask Rav Shaul once we get to Heaven.
There are many ways of death today; the hangman’s noose, the lethal injection, the electric chair “Old Sparky” as it was referred to in the movie; “The Green Mile” and of course knives, guns, killer sharks, a car, drugs, etc.
The cross is popular to wear today because it reminds us of how Yeshua died. Yet the cross is not an object of worship, it is only a symbol, a symbol of suffering and death. In Messianic Judaism, we find at times the cross in the middle of the Shield or “Star” of David, the Menorah is also a symbol of Judaism. I wonder if Yeshua had been born in these modern times, and being sentenced to death via the electric chair, the hangman’s noose, or via lethal injection, if people would be hanging mini electric chairs or hypodermic needles around their necks?
The fact of the matter is that He did die on a cross, all of our sins were nailed to that cross as well, NOT the Torah, only our sins. On that hill called Calvary, there were three crosses, or ution stakes. Three crosses and three people. Two were thieves and the other took on the sin of thievery. Two were guilty and the other assumed the condemnation of guilt.
Some rabbis have stated that all sin consists of some sort of theft. If we lie , we are “stealing” the confidence that the other person had in us. If we come back from lunch late, we are “stealing” time from our employer. If one commits adultery, one is “stealing” what doesn’t belong to him (or her). Also, the sin of murder is being committed, the destruction of another relationship.
If we are walking on the beach and we come across a broken bottle in the sand, and we fail to pick it up and throw it inside the plastic trash bins, we are “stealing” the health of another person. A kid might come by and accidentally step on it because the wind has blown sand on top of it, thus hiding it from view. The kid, or “anyone” will bleed and perhaps, an infection might ensue, all because we did nothing to prevent it. We would also be standing “idly by while our brother’s blood is spilled”
So, with that said, one could say that “we are all thieves” if we are all sinners. So now, what was the difference between the two thieves on the two crosses that were on either side of Mashiach? Let’s look at Luke 23:32,33,39-43.
(32,33) “And there were also two other malefactors, led with him to be put to death (via crucifixion). And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left………………….. (39-43) “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him saying, If thou be Messiah, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him saying; doest not thou fear God, seeing that thou at in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly receive the due reward for our deeds but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Yeshua; ‘Adoni, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom’ And Yeshua said unto him; ‘Verily I say unto thee. Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.’
(taken from Hebrew-English New Covenant)
Let’s read how the words in Hebrew were said in verses 42 and 43; “Zach’reini na Adoni b’voakha b’malkhutekha (remember me lord when you come into your kingdom) to which Yeshua responded; “Amein omer Ani lecha ki HaYom tihyeih imadi b’gan eden” (So be it “amen” I say unto you this day you will be with me in the Garden of Eden)
The first thief was filled with arrogance and wished to be freed from death, even though he deserved it, as we all do, He was just thinking of himself, had no remorse for his sins. This illustrates a major part of humanity that lives to enjoy the things of the world and never think of eternity.
The second thief was different. “We justly deserve our due rewards for our needs, but this man has done nothing wrong” He realizes that he is a sinner, and recognizes the sinlessness of Yeshua. Then he calls Yeshua “Adoni” a way of saying “lord” (a title of honor) He also recognizes Yeshua as a king because he has a “kingdom” He doesn’t recite a sinner’s prayer, nor does he recite the “4 Spiritual Laws” tract, He just says “remember me” “Zach’reini!”
That was all that was needed, Yeshua responds with “Amen” (so be it) “You will be with me in paradise” as most translations render, but the Hebrew words are “Gan Eden” the “Garden of Eden” So, we can now imagine how “paradise” must have looked like…Or…Could we say that the “Garden of Eden” was moved from the earth to “under” the earth? Since paradise was “in the heart of the earth” and Yeshua “descended” to there. Well, we can only imagine.
I can assure you that the thief is now in Heaven and has been there these past 2000 + years. The same goes with the unrepentant thief, He went to Hades when he died and is still there, suffering the agony of pain, fire, and eternal separation from G-d. So, which thief are you?
So, to get down to brass tacks, salvation is a matter of “remembering” what Yeshua did on the cross, and “remembering” our state of sinfulness, and accepting HIS one-time sacrifice for our sins. You can be sure that HE will remember YOU, when you breathe your last.