March 30, 2018

Good Friday
Luke 23:39-43
A Criminal’s Story, by Missy Iley

I was rescued the day I died. As I walked up to the hill that Friday morning, I felt less than nothing. I could say everything I had was lost, but I never really had anything—that’s why I was a criminal.

I had seen many others crucified. The Romans were prolific executioners. But I had never seen the soldiers as brutal as they were to that Nazarene. Yet, the man showed no anger—no hate. I thank God for giving me the eyes to see the perfection underneath the blood and mangled flesh. As I was staring at him in horror, he caught my gaze. Immediately I felt something stir inside me—something I’d never felt before—I felt loved. In the middle of my death, the kindness in this man’s eyes gave me hope! And right then, the stirring in my heart revealed to me that this man somehow was God, although I did not know how that was possible. But at that moment, I believed it with all my heart.

Three of us were crucified that day. The other criminal hanging there echoed the hatred spewed by the soldiers. I could hardly bear to listen. “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus!” I screamed, “Remember me when you come in your kingdom!”

Peering into my soul and comprehending my desperation, I heard Jesus speak the redemptive words that guaranteed my salvation, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.”