Atheist's Attacks

Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible

Christian Resources

Who Cursed Jesus and Who Defended Him?

Thief on the cross

Did both criminals at Jesus' crucifixion curse Him?

HUMANIST MISUNDERSTANDING: 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? This is actually 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. Matthew and Luke are telling different parts of the same story.

Does that 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.:

Matthew 27:41-45

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 hour.

Luke 23:33-35 & 39-44

33-35: 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.”

39-44: 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 ninth hour.

As we did on a previous page, 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 Gentiles.

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."

During His ministry Jesus' 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 still denied He was God and crucified Him.

They knew that Jesus ruled over death... that He was truly God. Only God rules over death. And even as they crucified Him they gave testimony that He was God... stating, "He saved others [from death]."

Matthew's 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, real, and undeniable

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, Jesus 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. That robber was on a cross, and NO ONE ever came off a Roman cross alive. Jesus... using the words of His tormentors... could not save Himself from God's punishment, 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 There? There is no contradiction.

Next question...

Regarding the last words of Jesus while on the cross, Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 quote Jesus as crying with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Luke 23:46 gives his final words as, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” John 19:30 alleges the last words were, “It is finished.

Oh, oh! Could this next one be the stumper? What were Jesus' actual last words? ... click here.


hiding from God

You cannot hide anything from God, and you can't hide from God:

'Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?' declares the LORD 'Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?' declares the LORD. - Jeremiah 23:24

Imagine you have an SD card in your head that records every thought and dream. We record for a month and then rent a theater. All your friends are invited as we play that SD card on the big screen. How would you feel?

That's what God sees. He is disgusted and knows that because of your sin (those thoughts we all see on the big screen) you will never be with God. But God still loves you, and He made an incredible sacrifice for you. He died in your place.

You have a choice. Reject God... and get what you say you want... you'll spent eternity separated from God. And that means separated from EVERYTHING that is good. Think about that.

Or accept the gift God offers... trust that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty you've earned (remember those thoughts on the SD card). Jesus paid your penalty in full. It is finished

There is no darkness or deep shadow Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. - Job 34:22