The Second Thief

The Second Thief
William Lynes, MD

December 22, 2019

The blow was not the first of that hot, dusty unforgiving day, but he would remember it as if it was. It struck him square in the face, a stinging shock to the corner of his quivering mouth, the clay-like congealing mass, foul-smelling, malodorous, warm and fetid; a bitter taste now drooling down the side of his face. Rotting fruit, dirt, and rocks had pelted the man during the turbulent journey. Vulgar shouts of hate left little question as to their spirits, but the putrid package left no doubt as to the crowd's embittered feelings.

            He was powerless to clean himself, as the debris ran down his face, the rank liquifying mixture covering him helplessly. His struggling hands were lashed to a rough, overwhelming timber of wood on his shoulders, his muscles beginning to twitch in an exhausted failing state, as he struggled along the grimy road.

            "Crucify him! Crucify him," burned in his ringing ears as the roar of the crowd began to engulf him. He stumbled and fell on his face, the heavy load crashing and bruising his burning neck. The whip rang out, his back twisting in a painful response, and he struggled again to his feet, as his mind took him away.

            It was a calmer time, that burgeoning fall season when Tamar left him for good.  The jewel's possessor was obvious, the circuitously shaped letter H engraved on the beautiful golden necklace. He was drunk as usual, and in his affected state, he had ironically taken the jewelry for his wife. He would have hidden them from her more securely, but his deadened state led him to sleep with the stash carelessly tossed under his cot, a lazily thrown coverlet easily uncovered by his suspicious wife.

            "They are Hadassah’s, could you not demean me any clearer?" The furious woman cast a bowl of dirty soapy water over his head and spit out the accusation. "I toil for her. I knew I should not trust you in her chamber! What else did you make your own?"

            Her centurion brother woke with the chaos, chasing Gestas out with his violent presence and threatening gladius sword. She was the only good thing in his life, gone now for good because of many needless betrayals.

            The jarring shock returned his sickened mind to the mayhem. He fell backward onto the ground after a shove, the wooden post lashed to his arms, twisting and breaking the sinew of his shoulder with a loud pop.  They were on him with the whip, stinging, thrashing, and laying open his loins and chest, bloody serum spraying over his tissues. They pierced his limbs with roughened spikes, the massive, rusty mallet driving them through the bones with a ferocious crushing sound.

            Before they lifted him to the sky, one helmeted soldier voided on him, the warm acidy fluid burning his torn flesh, an acrid stench bubbling up from the rising steam. As he was lifted on the cross and arose, he could see out of only one torn eye, the crowd at his feet laughing, cajoling, calling for his death.

            Again, his consciousness dwindled. Tamar was in her marriage dress, fresh, white, innocent, and beautiful. A sprig of green and red decorated her hair, and she looked of a lovely and happy time, never to be seen again. His betrayal began even that day, his forceful violation of a young bride's maid exposed and secret to no-one.

            He reached the apex and returned to the horror of the moment, with a violent jolt. A dry wind was blowing, dirt billowing up and scratching his watering eye. Suddenly, there was a wonderful peace that overcame him. A man on an identical cross to his right was looking out over the crowd. On his head was a crown of twisted thorns, his beard ripped and hanging from his face, his flank pierced, blood flowing down over his tattered limbs. The tissues of his corpus were thrashed, bleeding, and weeping, and yet an overwhelming love emanated from the brutalized man known as Jesus and cascaded over the entire chaotic scene.

 Those in the crowd hurled insults at Jesus. "Come down from that cross and save yourself!"  "He saved others, but he can't save himself!"

            Gestas repeated the indictment suddenly, without thought or control. It was like the accusation was forced from him by an evil life-force. This thief on the Savior's left repeated the indictment again, suddenly, and then felt overwhelming sorrow and shame.

            "Don't you fear God?" The man hanging to Jesus' right rebuked Gestas. And then it happened. Jesus turned his torn shredded head to his side. With great difficulty, Jesus made eye contact with Gestas, his silent stare beginning a super-natural transformation. The stare penetrated Gestas' tattered soul. Its disapproval hurt worse than his wounds but was eventually replaced with an all understanding peace.

            Breathing now was a tortured process. As Gestas struggled to lift himself for air, he grew weaker and weaker. Coughing was ineffective at clearing his airways. He gurgled and spat, wheezing for every ounce of air.

            Jesus would not leave him alone. Passion emanated from the man, love, adoration, tenderness was obvious, and it burnt the evil soul of Gestas like fire to paper.  He was nearly gone when dense darkness came across the land.

            "Into your hands, I commit my spirit." And with that, the Savior breathed his last. The battered thief felt an emptiness beyond description. Gone was the light of the world, gone was a powerful sense of forgiveness. He struggled for air and was then catapulted into eternity.  

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