Who Cursed Jesus and Who Defended
Did both criminals at Jesus' crucifixion curse Him?
QUESTION: As for the crucifixion, Matthew 27:44 tells us Jesus was taunted by
both criminals who were being crucified with him. But Luke 23:39-43 relates that
only one of the criminals taunted Jesus, the other criminal rebuked the one who
was doing the taunting, and Jesus told the criminal who was defending him, Today
shalt thou be with me in paradise."
Do you have the answer
to this one? It's another easy one. It started with both criminals taunting
Jesus. Then one was saved by God, and with his immediate change of heart he began
defending Jesus while the other thief continued to curse Him.
make sense? You'd think that a humanist would be able to figure this out. It's
not that hard.
Let's take a look at scripture and find out why Matthew recorded
one part of the story and Luke recorded a different part of the same story.:
In the same way the chief priests also, along
with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, He saved others;
He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the
cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if
He delights in Him; for He said, I am the Son of God. The robbers
who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words. The
robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same
words. Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth
Luke 23:33-35 & 39-44
When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the
criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, Father,
forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. And they cast lots,
dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on.
And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, He saved others; let Him
save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, Are
You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us! But the other answered, and rebuking
him said, Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence
of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what
we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. And he was
saying, Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom! And He said
to him, Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the
Again we need to keep in mind that Matthew and Luke are
writing to two very different types of readers... Matthew was writing to Jews
and Luke to Gentiles. As a result Matthew and Luke had two different objectives.
Matthew is showing Jesus is King, and Luke is presenting proofs that Jesus can
and will save them.
In Matthew I started with verse 41 so you can
see the context. What were the scribes and elders (the Jewish leaders) saying
to mock Him? "He saved others but cannot save Himself." And the robbers
insulted Him with the same words. Do you see what they are saying? They are admitting
that Jesus performed miracles! -- "He saved others."
miracles testified to who He was. Jesus did things that only God could do. Just
before passion week Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been in the
grave four days and had begun to stink from decay. He was dead... there was no
doubt. Yet Jesus saved Him, raising Lazarus from the dead. A large crowd, including
some Jewish leaders, were there and saw it. They knew Jesus could raise people
from the dead, yet they denied He was God and crucified Him. And even as they
crucified Him they gave testimony that He was God... He saved others.
point is that Jesus is God... Jesus is the Messiah... Jesus is the King and even
those who hated Him and caused Him to be crucified, admitted that the evidence
was true and real.
In Luke I also included the context. Notice as
He was being crucified Jesus says, "Father forgive
them, for they do not know what they are doing." He asks the Father
to forgive the Gentiles who are crucifying Him. Instead of seeking vengeance on
His enemies, He shows them love.
We see the same thing with the thief. Both
thieves are insulting Him the same way the Jewish leaders are... and then He saves
one of them. It happened instantly, and in a situation in which the robber could
not do anything to save himself. One moment he was insulting Jesus, the next moment
he was defending Jesus.
It is Jesus who saves. Jesus forgave that robber
right on the cross. He could not save Himself, yet He saved others, including
the thief, by NOT saving Himself.
The reason why He could not save Himself
was because, if He did, He could not save others. Jesus, on the cross, answered
the accusation that He couldn't not save Himself by demonstrating why He refused
to save Himself... by saving the thief. He gave the ultimate love to a thief who
hated Him. What a powerful testimony that Jesus is our Savior. And that is the
point Luke is making.
Both thieves were insulting Jesus
on the cross. Jesus saved one of them and he instantly stopped insulting Jesus
and began to defend Jesus.
What did we find out here? There is no