Monday, February 28, 2011

The thief on the cross

When someone wrongs us, we long for justice.  For confession, for punishment, for the righting of wrongs.  Just follow an high profile criminal case.  The friends and family of the victim are present each day of the trial.  If they are found guilty, there is a large crowd there for the sentencing, wanting to see justice served.

I think this is part of our human nature.  The Laws given to Moses said "an eye for an eye."   When Jesus came on the scene though, he changed it all.  He said, "vengence is mine."  And he said, you've heard "an eye for an eye, but I tell you to forgive seventy times seven," which basically meant infinity.

When Jesus was crucified on the cross, we read that he was placed between two thieves.  He who was innocent,  he who had done no wrong, between two proven criminals.  A small group huddled near the cross of the Christ, his mother, Mary Magdalene, and John.  Knowing deep in their hearts, that this was the only way.  Yet it didn't seem fair or right.  And they grieved.

I wonder who was there for the crucifixion of the thieves.  These convicted criminals.  I wonder how many were there to see justice served.  People who had been wronged by these men.  People who had lost their belongings, their money.  Their lives may have been deeply affected by the crime. There was no home, pack animal or belongings insurance.

Did they hear the conversation between the thief on the right and the Messiah?  Did they hear the forgiveness, the promise of eternity in paradise?

If they did, how did they feel?  This man who deserved no pardon, being promised eternal life.  This guilty man, finding grace and mercy while on the cross.

In the final moments, this hardened criminal received the ultimate gift of life although he was undeserving.

Aren't we all?

Forgiveness.  Embracing the gift of mercy that God gives those who least deserve it.

Sometimes, it's hard to reconcile the past with today.
It's hard to decide how to feel about the forgiven thief on the cross.

I may not know quite how to reconcile today.

But I do know that the ultimate reconciliation is that which Christ offers.  To me.  To all of us.

We are all the thief on the cross.

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