Who is the resurrection meant for?
Luke 23:32-33, 39-43
32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.
39One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
I look back during this past Holy Week and think of all the actions taking place and what stories there were to be told. I’m sure there were many stories and if we could go back in time and ask random people what they thought as all of this was taking place we would find a variety of thoughts.
Have we tried to look at the story through different eyes? What were the thoughts of those that were following Jesus? Did they also follow the crowds and deny him? If we could hear the story of the Roman soldiers that walked beside him, what would they say about Jesus? If the stone that was rolled away or the linens that were present when the tomb was visited could talk, what would their stories entail? Stories from different angles, even told in a different light, can end up with the same storyline in the end. I believe the short story of the men put to death with Jesus reinforces the story that Jesus was telling us all along.
We live in a world where we are measured by different means. Others look at us by the type of car we drive, the clothes we wear, the restaurants we eat at, whether we are pleasing to the eye, how plump or skinny we are, the amount of possessions we have, and a number of other criteria. We do this to ourselves as well. We try to measure up to other peoples standards. When we don’t measure up, we feel that sense of failure and a lack of self-worth.
In our scripture we have two criminals being hung on a cross that have no value to society. They had committed crimes and were paying for those crimes. They were worthless and deserved whatever sentence was before them. Society was better off not having them around and society didn’t want those type of people around their town. Times haven’t changed much today either.
I don’t find this just a coincidence that two thieves were crucified right next to Jesus. It is obvious that these two criminals had heard of Jesus before. They talked as if they had heard about what he had done. This was probably their first time to encounter the living Jesus. One criminal thought only of himself without regard to anybody or anything else. The other thought of himself as well but something happened to him in the presence of Jesus Christ. His attitude had changed and he realized what he had done in life and was willing to pay the price for his crimes committed. But he also knew there was something greater ahead and recognized that in Jesus. This prompted him to say, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
We have our own story to tell. The resurrection makes all the difference in the world. When we ask Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom”, what will his response be to us? Who is the resurrection meant for? Listen to his answer and you will know. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
He is risen, he is risen indeed.
Grace and Peace to All,