The Thief on the Cross (Luke 23 v.40-43)
The two thieves who were crucified were probably Zealots which was a party that hoped to get rid of the Roman yoke. They may have been caught attempting to rob some Romans for which they were sentenced to be crucified as the `due reward' of their deeds.
Believing that Jesus had the power to perform miracles, one of the thieves pleaded with him that he should "save himself and us." Luke 23 v.39.
To this request Jesus made no response, Jesus had already dealt with the question of defending himself on the occasion when he told Peter to put up again his sword into his place.... "thinkest thou not that I cannot now pray to my Father and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" (Matt.26 v.52-53)
Jesus knew that he had the duty to fulfil such passages as Daniel Chap.9 v.26 which states, "And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off", that is to say to offer himself as a sacrifice to confirm the new covenant. So there was no possibility for him at the request of someone else, to come down from the cross. It appears that the thief who rebuked the other knew Jesus well because he said concerning him, "This man hath done nothing amiss." (v.41)
Another sincere request
This thief also made the remarkable request, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom". This request reveals that this thief believed that Jesus, although dying by crucifixion, would eventually be raised from the dead and reign as King in his kingdom.
The thief by calling Jesus `Lord' shows his respect for him. The fact that these three were destined soon to die shows his faith in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.
The response of Jesus was amazing; Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise".
This promise, in spite of all appearances, was made to give the thief every assurance that his request would be granted. It is the basic doctrine that all the faithful will be made immortal at the resurrection and given a place in God's Kingdom in which the thief will be included. In the response of Jesus he uses the unusual word paradise which means park or garden adding more comfort for the thief.
The correct punctuation
You may have noticed that we have placed a comma after the word `today' to indicate that the promise of Jesus was made there and then. Unfortunately, in the Authorised Version, the translators placed a comma after the word thee which changes the meaning of the sentence
The meaning in the A.V. is that the promise of Jesus would be fulfilled that day. This would not be true; both the thief and Jesus died on that day, Jesus being placed in a tomb as described in v.53.
It is a fact in the original language punctuation marks such as commas were not used. When translating into English the translators would use punctuation marks to give the sense as they understood it. We have not followed the A.V. but moved the comma to give the correct sense.
This incident of the conversation of the believing thief and Jesus on the cross illustrates the graciousness and loving kindness of the Lord Jesus.
National Fraternal Gathering Alayi, Nigeria
Bro. Goddy Nwosu, (Enugu, Nigeria)
At the Fraternal Gathering there were five baptisms: Bro. Festus Nwaeke, Bro. Michael Ovrebo, Bro. Paul Obioma, Bro. Thank God Adindu and Sis. Comfort Nwachukwu. We did not expect more than two hundred people to attend, but we thank God that we were almost five hundred people: despite the condition of things, we managed ourselves very well.
Enugu Ecclesia with sorrow announces that our dearly loved Bro. Gabriel Chukwuani fell asleep on 10th January. He was an example to us all in his strong beliefs and trust in his Lord; and in the uncomplaining way he dealt with his illnesses. Bro. Gabriel now sleeps awaiting the day of the glorious return of our Lord, in whom his faith was strong.
I use this media to thank those who took part during his funeral service, especially Bro. Friday Ugwunta.
Photo of Alayi Fraternal 2012 (Nigeria)
Bro. Ralph Green, Torquay, U.K.