Good Friday: Are you a Dismas or a Gestas?

By N Mark Castro

Today, the entire Christendom observes Good Friday, which is the most solemn and sorrowful day in the Christian calendar.

Tradition has it that no work should be done on this day of prayer and reflection when one should mourn for Christ’s death on the cross. No iron tools should be handled and hammers and nails are to be avoided especially, lest you crucify Christ anew. If clothes are washed on this day, a member of the family will die. As the clothes hang out to dry they will be spotted with blood. This belief is from the apocryphal story that relates of a washerwoman mockingly throwing dirty washing water on Christ on his way to Calvary. Parsley seed can be planted on this day, provided a wooden spade is used.

But aside from such beliefs, it is interesting to learn more about the two other criminals that were crucified along with Jesus the Christ.

According to Biblical references, such found in Luke 24:39-43, they are referred to as “one of the criminals hanging there” and “the other.” In John, they are simply referred to as ‘two others, one on either side.” In Mark and Matthew, they are referred to as ‘two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left.”

Luke’s repentant thief was later assigned the name Dismas in the Gospel of Nicodemus while the other thief was named Gestas.


39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 23:39-43

It captured the imagination of everyone that heard this story ever since it was told. The thief’s conversion is sometimes given as an example of the necessary steps one must take to arrive at salvation through Christ: awareness of personal sin, repentance of sin, acceptance of Christ and salvation’s promise of eternal life. Further, the argument is presented that baptism is not necessary for salvation since the thief had no opportunity for it.

Are they truly two different people?

Or are they the conflicting choices we make each day?

This Lenten Season …

Are you going to be a Dismas … or a Gestas?



About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the Southeast Asia Director of JUMP DIGITAL Asia, which is an internationally-awarded and fully integrated digital marketing agency with 5 out of 10 offices in the ASEAN region. He is also the Secretary General of the Philippine Business Club Indonesia, managing and assisting the traffic of investments between the Philippines and Indonesia. He shuttles between Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, and Australia. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on March 29, 2013, in General, Politics, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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Charlotte Setijadi

Anthropologist & Contemporary Historian of Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia


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