Friday, April 06, 2012

The Passionate Antagonists: 5 Gestas the not-so-penitent Thief

"If thou be Christ, save thyself and us."

These are the sole recorded words of a man whom tradition has named Gestas, one of the men crucified with Jesus. He is said to have been crucified for robbery and it is clear that he has little respect for people, either their belongings or their situations. Why should it be that in the last hours of his life, that all he can say are taunts to Jesus? Does he expect to be saved? Why does that phrase enter into his head?

Clearly this is a man who doesn't believe that he should be punished for transgressing the law. He seems to be one of those men who only believes that punishment is only for someone else and that he has a right to help himself everything that he wants. This thief is a law unto himself. Why else does he entertain the possibility that, should Jesus work a miracle, he can expect salvation automatically?

Salvation only comes with an intention to submit to the rule of Christ. This is entirely personal between God and the individual as evidenced in the conversation between Jesus and the other thief, traditionally named Dismas:

But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds : but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
We have no power to make the decision for another's Salvation. We may only pray to God for it and hope that He will include that other in the Church outside of which there can be no salvation. Do we accept the rule of Christ's kingdom or do we expect salvation on our own terms and thus reject Jesus as the one who calls the shots?

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