8 April 2007

Happy Easter Day!

Just read a short story regarding Easter Day.

This is of course, a fictional story but it's just something to remind you that Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again! That is why we are celebrating Easter Day.

The Thief on the cross...

"I don't belong here, I really don't. Heaven is the last place I expected to end up after all I done. But I'll tell you how I got here.

I am -- I was -- an armed robber, I guess you'd call it. Me and the others would live in caves in the Judean hills near the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. We made our living on the people who came down the road. We wouldn't take people in the big groups that passed. They traveled together just on account of us. But a family might be an easy mark, as well as anybody fool enough to travel alone.

I carried a sword, took it off a soldier once, but usually a strong staff would do the trick. The threat of a beating and they would give up without a fight. I wouldn't hurt a person much if I didn't have to -- and never the women and children. But I've been known to break a few bones in my day, God forgive me. I don't think I actually killed anyone, but then I never stayed around long enough to find out.

We lived in the hills, near camps of the Zealots, those revolutionaries who were trying to overthrow the Romans. Even went on few missions with them, to tell the truth. It was through one of my Zealot friends that I actually heard Jesus the first time. Ben-Rabbah knew one of the disciples, Simon -- not Peter, the other Simon, the one who had been a Zealot before becoming a disciple.

So we went together down to Jericho when Jesus was coming through. I was working the crowd. Rich Pharisees would linger near the edge, listening intently so as to find some teaching they could report him for. Miserable swine! I'd lift their fat purses as easy as pie. They never feel a thing in crowd like that.

After Jesus finishes his talk, Ben-Rabbah takes me over to met his friend Simon the Zealot. One thing leads to another and Simon introduces us to the Rabbi. We shake hands and Jesus looks into my eyes for an uncomfortably long moment. It feels like he can see right into me, who I am, every black thing I have done. "You know," he says with a wisp of a smile, "there's forgiveness for you in my Kingdom. How about it?"
I drop my eyes, say something non-committal, and shuffle away. The next day I'm in the crowd again, but listening this time, not working. Jesus is talking about his Kingdom, comparing it to a mustard seed, calling it the Kingdom of Heaven. I so much want to go up there after he has finished and take him up on this forgiveness thing, but I just can't bring myself to do it.

It wasn't much later when me and my friend Jake -- the guy on the third cross -- get caught at night by a Roman patrol. The others run off, but they catch us, beat us silly, drag us into Jerusalem, and throw us into their stinking prison. No mercy for us.
And so it happens that the same day they crucify Jesus, they crucify me and Jake, one of us on the right, the other on the left. This ain't no normal crucifixion. Mobs of people are there because of Jesus. Those self-righteous Pharisee pigs come, too, making fun of Jesus, talking so high and mighty:

"If you're some kind of messiah, come on down from that cross," one shouts. "Savior, save yourself -- if you can!"
Jake begins cat-calling, too, if you can imagine that. I yell at him, "You miserable thug, don't you have any fear of God? Can't you see that we're going to die just like he is? Show a little decency. We're getting exactly what we deserve, but he ain't done nothing wrong."
Jake quiets down after that and the Pharisees lose interest. But I can't get Jericho out of my mind. I can't forget Jesus' eyes, his readiness to forgive, his invitation. And so I call over, though it's hard to breathe and talking makes it that much harder.


He turns his head towards me.

"Jesus, I was there in Jericho. Simon introduced me to you. Remember?"
He looks at me for a moment and then nods his head just a little. He does remember.

"I never forgot what you said. I wanted to say yes, but just couldn't. And now look at me -- look at us!"

He is in bad shape -- exhausted, in excruciating pain, back oozing, flesh laid open from the scourging, breath labored. He isn't going to last as long as me. I can see that. But somehow I can see beyond all that. He was the Messiah, is the Messiah, no matter what those priests and Romans and Pharisee pigs have done to him. And when he dies, he will be with God. I know it! In a few hours, maybe less, he will be vindicated. He will be reigning in this Kingdom he told us about.

"Jesus," I call, quietly now.

He opens his eyes again. They are the same eyes, the same piercing, loving, honest eyes.

"Jesus," I say, "when you come into your Kingdom, would you remember me? Please?"

His words are labored. He is parched, near death, but I can still hear him pretty good: "Truly, I say to you...." I can see in his eyes that he means it. "... Truly, this very day you'll be with me in Paradise."

His eyes droop and he is fading now. But I believed him. That's what got me through those next few hours until they broke my legs and killed me. I did believe him!

And then I find myself in heaven. Don't deserve to be here, but here I am. I guess that's what a man like me gets for accepting a King's pardon, don't you think? -extracted from joyfulheart.com

Isn't it ooosome to know that Christ came and died for our sins? :)

Have a Happy Easter Day!

In Him

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