This is a reprint from 2013 this is a creative article about a thief that found grace.
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. There 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 bleeding to death. Blood was dripping down his chin and beard. His back and sides were a bloody mess. He was repeatedly beaten with a whip called a cat of nine tails.
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 and jealousy. 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 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 out 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, and it was still early in the day.
A soldier came with a notice to put above Jesus. What was this? Did they write “deceiver” or “fool”? As the soldier left, I saw the notice said, “King of the Jews”.
What was this?
As the day wore on, I had pain in every joint and the heat and thirst was unbearable, I started to think about all that I had seen and heard 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, “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, “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 and 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 and was raised from the dead on the third day conquering sin and death just as he said.