But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43, New King James Version)
I am a thief, I stand accused, my verdict is guilty and am now to be condemned for my crimes. He speaks and pronounces that my sentence, is death. I can hardly hear him speaking, my heart is beating fast in my ears. My knees grow weak beneath me and I steal myself to stand up right. I am afraid. My co-conspirator stands next to me and hears the same sentence of death. He stands defiant, but I just want to run away. How did I get here? What seemed like a simple plan to embezzle money from our Roman master and gain our freedom, has brought me here. I thought I was so smart and now I will pay the ultimate penalty for my crimes; for today I will be crucified.
The guards drag us away where we are stripped of our clothing and flogged. The lash of the whip makes me nearly unconcious with pain. They pull me back to my feet, laughing and spitting in my face. "Get up dog." one of the guards says to me. "It is time for your final march". They lay the cross beam on my back and force us to march through the city. It seems that everyone in Jeresalem is lining the streets. Passover is tomorrow, so there are more people than usual.
I hear some people crying and reaching out to the man who is walking in front of me. I watch as he stumbles underneath the weight of his cross. The guard kicks him, to try to get him back up, but he is too weak from the beating he had received to lift the heavy cross piece. They grab a man from the crowd and tell him to carry the cross for him. The women along the way are crying for him,
But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:28-31, New King James Version)Who is this man who is condemed with me, I hear someone in the crowd cry out the name "Jesus". I have heard this man speak, he is a teacher and a good man. He told of the Kingdom of God and some claim that he is Messiah. What did he do to deserve to die in this horrible way? I watch as he goes up the hill. He is silent and is not fighting against the guards as they lead him up the hill of Calvary, where he will be crucified. I watch as He falls on to the cross piece and as they streach his arms out to hammer the nails in his hands, he winces, but the makes no cry and does not move to escape them. I look over to see my former friend who is fighting with the guards holding him down as they tie him to the cross. One of them strikes him across the face and for a minute he stops moving. They finish nailing him to the cross and raise him up toward the sky.
I watch as the guards raise Jesus's cross piece and finish hammering the nails in his feet. I hear him say “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”. Now, it is my turn to be nailed to the cross. They force me to lay down on the cross, tie my arms to the cross piece and drive nails into my arms. The pain is excruciating. I feel sick. They raise me into the air and force the cross piece into the upright piece then they drive nails into my feet to hold me still. The pain is unbearable, I force myself up on the nails so I can breathe, but the pain is so bad I slack off, but the need to breathe is so great, that I find that I must bear the pain on my feet ever few seconds so I can take in another breath. How long will I stay in this agony?
I watch the guards below the cross of Jesus, they have taken his clothing and are casting lots for it. The tall Centurion wins the lot and takes the robe and folds it up. People around him seer and mockingly say, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” I watch Jesus and he does not say anything.
My former friend joins in with the rest of the crowd and sneers. "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” I had all I could stand and said to him. “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” I looked at Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” He looked at me with compassion in his eyes and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
All of a sudden, the sky went dark, it was the middle of the day when the sun was highest, but the sun had stopped shining. It was dark and a chill rose in the air. The people on the ground around us began to shuffle nervously. Even those who had been insulting Jesus stayed silent. The air around us became eereily silent. It felt like an eternity And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ and he breathed his last.
With that final cry, Jesus was gone. The crowd was deflated and started to make their way home. The guards came to me and broke my legs, the pain was once again too much to bear. I could not breathe, I could no longer raise myself up to breathe and I was smothering. I tried to fight against the darkness that was over taking me, when I suddenly stopped feeling any pain. I raised my head and saw Jesus standing beside me, I was not on the cross anymore, I was standing next to Jesus in a beautiful place, in front of the Judgement seat of God.
I was afraid again. I knew my crimes were many and I knew I did not merit being in HIS presence. I dropped my head, waiting for the final verdit to be spoken over my life. Jesus spoke up and said, "Father, this one is with me, he by faith confessed me and I have accepted him. He is one I died for, Please welcome him into Your Kingdom." I could not believe my ears. Jesus was pleading on my behalf. I heard a sound like thunder and a voice saying, "welcome home, my child, come up hither." I looked up and an angel was standing next to me, and Jesus was walking back the way we had come. I heard him say "Father, I will return when I have completed the final part of the mission you gave me." Then the angel, led me into the Golden city and said, "Welcome, come and see your eternal home."
Just like this thief, we stand condemed in our sin.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23, New King James Version)
We have no way of saving ourselves. God made perfect provision for our redemption in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8, New King James Version)Just like the Thief, we can be saved.
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13, New King James Version)You stand today at a crossroads. You have a choice. You can choose life, or you can choose death. Which will you choose. I say choose Christ and choose life, today is the day of salvation. You can be saved, if you will but believe. Will you call upon him now?
Let us pray:
Father, right now as best I know how, I admit to you that I know that I am a sinner. I ask that you please forgive me, I confess to you that I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. I accept him as my savior and Lord. I give myself over to you. Thank you for hearing my prayer, and for saving me. Please help me to live a life that is pleasing to you. In Jesus name, amen.
Today's narriative was based on Luke chapter 23
© 2011 Brenda J Kent