Redeemed: An Easter Story

We were caught red handed. My friend and I were partners, but now we had to pay with our lives for what we took. Did we steal for greed or just to fill our stomach? Now it didn’t matter why we stole. Mercy is not what we will find, and excuses don’t matter.
The sentence had been made we had to die on cross for everyone to see how the Roman government deals with a thief. My friend and I were taken and brutally nailed to a cross. The emotion that we went through the anger the hate and then the crying for mercy as the emotionless soldiers did their job.
The Roman soldiers were trained for this. Prisoners would sometimes hang on those crosses for a day or two bleeding in pain with the sun beating down. My friend and I were so hopeless. All our joints were in pain we wanted to die but we were scared. It was going to be a long day.
Then we saw Jesus coming with his cross. There was such a large crowd that followed: soldiers, priests, and then his followers. It seemed like this was an event of victory for most, and horror for some. Their was a group of his followers in the back who wept in unbelief.
The rumors about this guy were really something, but he did look different. He was not angry, but silent. He did not retaliate. He was already beaten and wore a crown of thorns that pierced his head. He looked like he was already mostly dead. Blood was dripping down his chin and beard. His back and sides were a bloody mess. He was repeatedly beaten with a whip.
Some people had said that he was God’s son and some just a good teacher, but other people said he was a deceiver. He was an innocent man; he wasn’t brought here for stealing or murder, but the priests and the religious people hated him out of spite. There were priests and soldiers scoffing at him and ridiculing him saying he was a fool, that he could save other people but he could not save himself. My friend and I joined in the scoffing, thinking, “he will break soon and then he will curse just like we did.”
We went on scoffing at him, now they were getting ready to drive the nails, surly he will break. He did scream and yell but he said, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” He did not yell at the soldiers, he was crying out to heaven. Who was this teacher? Who was he crying to?
The soldiers carried out their duty emotionless as they crucified another prisoner. The soldiers put the cross up and now we all just had to wait to die. Death does not come quickly, it was still early in the day.
A solider came with a notice to put above Jesus. What was this? Did they write “deceiver” or “fool”? As the solider left, the notice said, “King of the Jews”. What was this?
As the day wore on the pain in every joint the heat and thirst I started to think about all that I saw about this Jesus. Who did he cry out to? Was he really God’s son, the “King of the Jews”? He asked for the soldiers to be forgiven. Forgiven for crucifying the Son of God?
How could he ask for that?
Death stares at us all, uncertainty is what is next for a thief, and life after death looks grim.
I did join in ridiculing him, but... would he have mercy on me? Can Jesus forgive me also? So I broke the silence and cried out to him and said, Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus looked at me with a smile, like he was waiting on me, and said, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
When he said that I felt peace and joy like I have never felt before.
As the day was going on I was still in pain, but I had peace that passes all understanding. Then I heard Jesus calling out to heaven again. “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Then Jesus said, “it is finished.” Jesus dropped his head and died.
At that moment a storm like I have never seen came in from the horizon. The sky went dark the earth shook; our crosses were swaying. The wind was blowing, and the rain was coming down like a torrent.
That was the day I died, that was the day I was forgiven, that was the day I was redeemed. I asked Jesus to remember me a thief and a scoffer, and he smiled and said “Yes.”
This is a story of the thief who found forgiveness, recorded in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 23. After Jesus died he was buried in a tomb. Then read about what happened next, picking up in the book of John, paraphrased from chapter 20:1-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, a woman, one of Jesus’s followers (Mary) went to the tomb where he was laid and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to tell those that were closest to Jesus, (Peter and John) and she said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and John started running toward the tomb, but John outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the burial cloths lying there but did not go in. Then Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the his burial cloths lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the others. Finally John also went inside. He saw and believed. Then they went back to where they were staying. Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary went to his followers with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. On the evening of that first day of the week, when they were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. They were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins, and we don’t have to be the thief next to Jesus to receive forgiveness. We can still call out to Jesus to save us. The Gospels record Jesus’s birth, death and resurrection. Jesus died but he also rose from the dead, conquering sin and death. The power of sin and death “is finished”, just like he said.
This is the Good News of Jesus Christ.
John 3:16-17
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Romans 10:9-11
“That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’”