Yeshua and Criminals

Did Yeshua, (Jesus’ Hebrew name), encounter any criminals during His ministry, other than the two He was crucified along side? I’m not sure criminals were tolerated as they are in our society, such that gang members, thrives, and robbers roam free except for the few who are incarcerated. We do know there were those like Zacchaeus who was an unscrupulous tax collector who sought Yeshua, was called out, repented and received salvation. Yeshua was accused of befriending tax collectors and sinners, but these are not necessarily criminals. The woman who was caught in adultery was a sinner, but didn’t violate criminal laws. The one notorious criminal was Barabbus, who was involved in insurrection and murder. (Mark 15:7) He secured freedom as a result of Pilot’s offer of freedom for Yeshua. 

This question arose because we are told, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:3) Clearly, criminal activity is condemned in the Bible, but there were many Believers imprisoned for their faith. Peter draws a distinction, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Peter 4:15-16) I know that many prisoners come to faith while in prison and it is not uncommon to hear stories from these that unless they had been incarcerated they would have died because of the raucous life they were living. I know God loves the prodigal and those who have been trapped by addiction or Satan’s other snares. God shows mercy to all who call out to Him. On of my all-time favorite stories is Les Miserable, by Victor Hugo, about the redemption of a ex-convict who’s life is changed when a Priest shows him God’s unconditional love. Yeshua taught, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36) Yeshua went to the religious leaders of Israel who rejected Him, but He was received by the poor, needy, infirmed, uneducated, outcasts, sinners, tax collectors and foreigners. On the cross Yeshua was crucified between two thieves, one who doubted and slandered Him and the other who believed upon him. It is not the mistakes we make in life that ruin us, but failure to receive God’s mercy, freely offered.

About Steve2525

Retired Journeyman
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