The Good Thief Mocked Christ?


March 25, 2013 by mattfradd

St. Dismas: The Good Thief.

St. Dismas: The Good Thief.

The good thief, as he is commonly called, is an unnamed character mentioned in the gospel of Luke who was crucified alongside Jesus and asked Jesus to remember him in his Kingdom. He is traditionally referred to as “St. Dismas”.

Though he has never been officially canonized by the Church, he is believed to be a saint by virtue of Christ’s words, ““Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

His feast day is March 25th.

When we cross-reference the account of the crucifixion in the gospels we can infer something very interesting about St. Disamas; namely that while on the cross he too abused Jesus with the other criminal and the crowd before repenting and asking to be saved.

Let’s take a look at the Scriptures.

Two Robbers

All four gospels tell of two criminals (no more) who were crucified alongside of to Christ:

Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. – Matthew 27:38

And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.” – Mark 15:27

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. . . .there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. – Luke 23:32-33

So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. – John 19:32-33

Reviling Jesus

Two of the gospels accounts recount Jesus being abused by the two criminals:

[T]hose who passed by derided him, wagging their heads  and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. – Matthew 27:39-44

Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. – Mark 15:32

The Thief Becomes The “Good Thief”

So far we have seen that there were two criminals crucified on either side of Christ and that at one point both were abusing. It is in Luke’s gospel that we see one of the thieves rebuke the other and request to be saved.

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. – Luke 23 39:43

From this we can conclude that at some point after St. Dismas “reviled him,” and before he asked Jesus to remember him in his Kingdom, he repented. What beautiful humility St. Dismus displayed, and what astounding mercy Jesus gave.

A Prayer to Saint Dismas

Glorious Saint Dismas, you alone of all the great Penitent Saints were directly canonized by Christ Himself; you were assured of a place in Heaven with Him “this day” because of the sincere confession of your sins to Him in the tribunal of Calvary and your true sorrow for them as you hung beside Him in that open confessional.

You who by the direct sword thrust of your love and repentance did open the Heart of Jesus in mercy and forgiveness even before the centurion’s spear tore it asunder; you whose face was closer to that of Jesus in His last agony, to offer Him a word of comfort, closer even than that of His Beloved Mother, Mary; you who knew so well how to pray, teach me the words to say to Him to gain pardon and the grace of perseverance; and you who are so close to Him now in Heaven, as you were during His last moments on earth, pray to Him for me that I shall never again desert Him, but that at the close of my life I may hear from Him the words He addressed to you: “This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.”


7 thoughts on “The Good Thief Mocked Christ?

  1. Gene Honigford says:

    Beautiful prayer!

  2. […] Though he has Go to the Source: Matt Fradd   […]

  3. Clarice says:

    Thanks for this article Matt!

    I have a question though, more of a thought……what would have made St Dismas convert in such a manner? I mean it seems like a complete 360 degree flip in attitude! Would there be any information on that?

  4. Marc Ward says:

    I think it is a bit presumptuous to immediately conclude that Saint Dysmas mocked Christ simply from the evidence given. . As we know each Gospel writer emphasizes different aspects and themes in the life of Christ. It is possible that the other Gospel writers simply did not focus on the good thief as each may have chose to highlight different parts of the passion. Luke’s Gospel choose to focus on a theme of mercy and the saving power of the crucifixion and as such develops the story of Saint Dysmas. It is St. Augustine who said that Scripture is known to speak generally at times. He says that this is one of those times in which Matthew and Mark speak generally in referencing of those crucifed with Him in that they, generally speaking, were mocking Him. It is more than possible the other Gospel writers gave a general treatment of this aspect of the crucifixion and simply used they in the “general” sense of the “criminals” and others who mocked Christ.

    Another example of this is that the prayer the Jesus said asking for forgiveness for those who are actively crucifying him does not appear in every Gospel narrative. We cannot say definitively that Jesus did not say this since it doesn’t appear in each Gospel, anymore than we can say ” the good thief mocked Jesus” because some Gospel writers gave a general treatment to those of mocked Christ or that Dysmas clearly mocked Christ simply because the criminals crucified with Christ are referred to collectively in some Gospels.

    While Dysmas mocking Christ before his conversion is not out of the realm of possibility, I do not feel the article above can definitively say he did so simply because a general statement about those crucified with Christ is a made in some Gospels.

    Also the question presents itself in why would Luke leave out that Dysmas also mocked Christ. Did he simply wish to make Dysmas sound better? Would Luke want to include that Dysmas mocked Christ to show just how far he came from in his conversion??

    I don’t mean to be argumentative, I just feel the evidence provided cannot definitively say “did you know Dysmas mocked Christ”.

    I enjoy your site. Thank you for your articles!!

    Ps: the only Catholic Church to be named after Saint Dysmas is in Kingston Ontairo. Kingston is the headquarters of the Correctional Service of Canada and has several prisons nearby. Saint Dysmas being the patron saint of criminals, the Church allowed by Rome to be named “the Church of the Good Thief.”

  5. Patricia says:

    I love hearing explination with back up. I learn so much from you. Thank you.

  6. GodKnows says:

    I have a small doubt. I think this has been answered somewhere but I cant find where.

    Jesus said that St Dysmas will be with Jesus in Paradise the same day of crucifixion but we see that Jesus rises again on the third day only. Does that mean he went to paradise first then came back. Or as the apostle’s creed says did he descend to hell?

  7. カシオ ペンギン スマホ

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