Today, I die.
I don’t understand why they’re crucifying Jesus too.
Blood oozed from every wound and pore of Christ’s body. Flies as numerous as those I felt on my own pierced hands and feet feasted on the fluids that dripped as He drifted closer to death.
Pain, putrid odors, and nausea staved off any hunger and thirst I may have otherwise suffered as well.
Are the religious leaders jealous because Jesus has already grown a large following? Did they think He would have robbed their pockets of what they’ve already picked from other people?
I’m a thief, but Jesus is no criminal.
The only things He seems to have stolen are the hearts of the ordinary people through the good deeds He has done.
But why doesn’t He save Himself?
He saved the blind, saved the sick, and raised the dead. What benefit is it for a good man to die and leave bad men to carry on with their corruption?
Is there something I’m not understanding?
“Stop,” I tried to shout, but only rasped, as the other thief who’s as guilty as me mocks Christ.
Why does he join the haters?
Doesn’t he know what miracles this man of God has done? And yet, I haven’t heard a word of Jesus asking payment for the healings. No begging from a man who begs our respect. He owns nothing of this world, and yet, I sense He has the power to rise up, dethrone, and take the crown Himself.
I suck in my breath and attempt to shout, but only a hoarse whisper sounds, “Stop, he hasn’t sinned. We deserve this cruel death. But not He who has been good and kind—even perfect.”
Jesus turned His head and looked at me with eyes brimming with compassion.
I turned away, ashamed.
How does He have anything left to share? Doesn’t He see my lifetime of thievery—my lifetime of caring little for others and caring lots for booze, bread and the beds of wayward women? Oh, God, I have sinned to the depths of darkest hell. I deserve this torture.
I returned my gaze to His battered body. A tear, a single tear, slipped down the swollen, torn, and holy cheek that faced me.
Did He weep for me? For all who have rejected God? Is it too late to turn away from all I’ve been and done? Oh, wretched thief that I am. How could I think to ask for mercy when I lived mercilessly?
He nodded. A single nod Jesus gave me.
Has He read my mind? Did He see all of it? So much sin abides in me. I crave to die free from the memory and the stench of it all, a stench worse than the filth of these stained crosses. Can He do this? Is He truly the Son of God as He claimed to be?
I saw love. I saw mercy. I saw… God… in Him.
Yes, He is God in the flesh.
“Jesus,” I heard myself say, “Will you remember me when you go to be with the Father?”
Before He replied, a flood of power whooshed through my body and soul. I felt cleansed. I felt forgiven. I felt a peace, joy, and love I’ve never known.
Jesus, the Messiah, answered me and I know He spoke the truth when He promised I would be with Him in His Father’s kingdom.
Today, I live.
Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
Luke 23:43 NIV