Two people sharing the same experience, but coming to such very different conclusions. It happens all the time….We’re all different, we say. It’s a question of temperament, upbringing, who knows what. Two men who’d lived their lives by a code of dishonesty….One suddenly recognises the truth that is there beside him, and is enabled to embrace it.
Not so his companion.
We’re hanging here side by side, all facing death...Hanging, they say, concentrates the mind wonderfully, and is surely a time when there is no point in anything but total honesty.
Certainly our situation offers no room for negotiation. We’ve evaded justice for so long, but it’s finally caught up with us, with all the inexorable might of the Roman army.
We’re nailed, sure enough.
And my brother is carrying on, true to form…He’s really got it in for the other guy, the one they are calling The King of the Jews.
King, eh? They like irony, the crowd….and they’ve underlined it by that crown of thorns they’ve forced onto his head. That must have hurt….though now I imagine all his pains are blending into one….my body is itself transformed into one screaming agony…Hands, feet, head, bursting lungs…they are just expressions of the overwhelming suffering…
I can’t be angry any more….can’t fight this.
I wish my brother would be quiet… There he goes again, blaming that man for his own pain.
“Aren’t you the Christ. Well, DO something.”
Countless people down the centuries have joined their voices with his. Even now, he is busy denying his responsibility for the mess we’re in. He never did know how to carry the can. It might be my fault. It might be the man next door’s. It might be God’s. But it’s never ever his…God wouldn’t let him suffer….not him, and not his family.
It’s funny how people will never see it’s their own fault…..I’ve heard them, sounding just like him, roundly rejecting a God who can allow any suffering.
“If God existed then my dad wouldnt have died of cancer, AIDS babies would not be born, already diseased and dying, there would be no hunger or war in the world. God can’t be real, or if he is, he certainly can’t love us…or have power over anything in the world.”
I see things a bit differently, myself.
I’ve lived by my wits, ignored the law….but now it’s caught up with me. Only to be expected, really.
Punishment fits the crime. I’ve been violent….I’ve killed….It’s fair enough. It hurts…I would have wished for a gentler death…but it’s justice.
There’s got to be suffering, I’m sure of it, not because of God , but because of people like us, people who choose to do evil.
I’ve never had a lot of time for God, if I’m honest….Yes, I know, I’ve never had much time for honesty either…but there’s no point in messing about now, is there.
The funny thing is, God seems much more real now that I’m here in this dreadful place than ever he did when we used to go the Temple for the festivals when I was a kid.
It’s almost as if he’s specially here because I hurt…I’m unhappy…Oh God, I wish you’d help me. I didn’t mean it to end this way. I thought I’d have time to get things straight for my family…maybe to put right some of the wrong I did. But it’s too late….
And I’m sorry.
And God seems very close….It’s like he’s looking at me….and he somehow loves me.
I feel better when I look at that Jesus man…
His eyes are kind, even in all this pain. He looks the way a King should look…wise, loving, able to bear anything for his people.
I wish he’d let me part of his kingdom. It would be alright if he was in charge…He’s not like those Roman rulers, not like mad Herod…He’s the sort of king I’d be willing to live and die for…..
"Jesus, remember me…..not for what I’ve done but because I need your help. Right now.
I’m about to sink into the blackness that surrounds me. Help me Jesus. Remember me."
Jesus, remember me.
I need you too
Today and always.