The man in this story gets just a few verses about him in the gospels. I thought I’d propose a version and a filling out of his story from the perspective of someone who loved him. Neither Silas nor Esther are the well-known Biblical characters.

The Thief’s Sister – by Scott Jamison

“Silas… Silas! What can be done? There must be something we can do!”
“Sorry, Esther,” replied Silas, and she could see the fear in her brother’s eyes, despite his false brave sobriety, “I’m pretty sure that there is nothing to be done. I’m cursed by this cursed city and it will kill me.”

He was lying on his back on the wood slab in obvious discomfort, opposite the bars she was staring through. He looked horrible.

“Someone made you do this. Someone tricked you into stealing from those poor people on the road.”

“No, Esther, it was my idea. It’s been my idea these three years. And he wasn’t poor. Do you think I’d be so foolish to try to rob a pauper?”

Esther had feared this, of course. For years she had seen his cruelty growing, his lack of love, his worship of earthly things. Each time she’d found ways to explain it to herself, but her heart told her quietly that there was no use – Silas’ heart was black and getting blacker.

And now there was legal proof of its darkness. Not a half hour earlier, the guard had grimly described Silas’ most recent victim. The man had lived, she thanked the LORD for that – at least Silas wasn’t a murderer, but … apparently the victim was now half blind. And perhaps he would always need a cane. Silas had beaten him, he’d beaten him for his money, and so the guard had enthusiastically beaten Silas. The guard had told her this with words that were neither proud nor ashamed.

Esther looked away from her brother. It was impossible to fathom: She couldn’t call the Roman guard unjust for beating her brother, but she could call her brother wicked for beating the man he stole from.

As she looked back at him, she saw that he was staring at her, still grim, and she guessed that he had a good idea what she was thinking.

“No, Esther, the man I took from, the man I damaged – he was rich! He was a tax collector. He still is a tax collector. And they don’t need the use of both eyes to take what doesn’t belong to them. He’ll be well enough!”

Now he was yelling. Yelling past her so that others would hear: He was unrepentant. He was defiant.

“So, no, sister, I wasn’t tricked into doing these deeds. And it can’t be that big of a surprise for you. I haven’t laid a hand on you, but you’ve seen what I’ve done with Jeremiah.”

Yes, she had. Their younger brother had more than once cried out for mercy that Silas rarely had given him. Jeremiah wanted nothing more to do with Silas.

“I’m going to die, Esther. It’s your lot to live with that. You should go. The city has deemed that I must be punished. That is the way of it. Amen.”

Amen? She looked at him, so angry and … sullen. When he was young he used to smile. It had been ages since she’d seen him smile.

She left him. She cried as she left the cell, the prison and the city.

As she walked towards her home, she passed the spot on the road where, she’d been told, Silas’ last crime had taken place. It … what did it remind her of? Something good. Something pleasant. Ah, yes, she thought, and she smiled and then winced as she remembered more deeply.

A victim lying on the side of the road, a result of highway robbery. It was just like the story she’d heard the new teacher tell the children. A man was beaten and left for dead, and the church leaders had ignored him, and the stranger had saved him. But in the real life story, she realized with horrified shame, her brother wasn’t the Good Samaritan or the victim. He wasn’t even the unloving Pharisees. No, he was the violent and greedy robber.

He was the villain of the story.

There was no hope. She would lose him. His mind was dark and evil, she loved him and she was going to lose him forever into darkness.

Just recently, she had felt hope. She’d learned about hope as she’d listened to the teachings of this Jesus as he preached near their family’s village. She’d seen him do miracles. She’d heard good news from him.

If …. no, it was impossible. But – her mind pressed on into the impossible possibility – if she could find a way for Silas to hear the teacher… maybe he would … turn from his sin? See the path to a better way? Repent and find hope?

Tomorrow she would search for the teacher. She continued home. Some rest and then she’d look for him and find him.

“Esther, wake up! You must hear what I have to tell you!”
She woke to the sight of her anxious friend Rebekah and the full memory of her brother’s status.

And she quickly saw that Rebekah had bad news. “What is it?”

“They are crucifying Silas!”

Five minutes later, having dressed quickly, Esther was running, running towards the Place of the Skull.

==
I assume you’ve guessed who Silas is. Or at least you’ve narrowed it down to two.
Please go read the conclusion of the story.

 

 

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