Had to see for myself

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Luke 23

Luke 23:35-43

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is God's Messiah, the Chosen One."
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar
37 and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!"
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
43 Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."

In verse 42. The criminal has faith like a child and so he asks Jesus for his eternal care. The phrase "remember me" is actually a common prayer found on gravestones of this period. If God is willing to remember us, then we are bound to survive the grave.

Submitted: August 20, 2012

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Submitted: August 20, 2012

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Every year at Passover my family would travel to Jerusalem to celebrate with my cousins, but this is the year I remember most. As soon as we arrived, I went with my cousin into to town to get a few things from the market.  Something was different this year you could feel it in the air.  At the time I didn’t know what it was, but something wasn’t right.  It seemed as if everybody knew this big secret, but nobody wanted to talk about it.

Then I heard it.  This man we heard amazing stories about was going to be crucified.  This man the people called Jesus.  I remember my father talking about this man around the dinner table.  He told us stories about the miracles he had performed.  He raised people from the dead, he fed thousands with a single loaf of bread, and he did it with a pure heart.  Some people claimed he was the Son of God. Most of the town was outraged, but some people felt he was getting what he deserved. 

We began asking the crowd… “Where are they going to crucify this man?” We learned that Jesus would be crucified at a place outside the city known as Golgotha.Part of me wishes this next part wasn’t true, but then I think about how much it impacted my life.  I would never be same.

We snuck out of the house early the next morning…and made our way to Golgotha to see this man crucified.  Why did we do it?  Well…it is one of those stupid things.  We had to see a crucifixion with our own eyes.

As we made our way to hill the outside the city, we came across a mob.  They were yelling and screaming. In the middle were three men carrying crosses, but I still couldn’t see very well.

I wanted to see this Jesus, but now I was confused.  I thought Jesus was being crucified. Who were these other men?  Which man was Jesus?  Then as I was watching something clicked.  All three of these men were on their way to die. They were being forced to carry the cross on which they would be crucified. But which man was Jesus?

I decided to climb up on a rooftop to get a better view.  I had to see what all the commotion was about, but all three men looked like common criminals.  For some reason, I figured Jesus would look different because he performed miracles and raised people from the dead.  I know this will sound stupid, but I thought he would be glowing or something. Maybe Jesus was not in the group…maybe the Romans decided not to crucify him.

When I finally pulled myself up on the roof… I could clearly see everything.  I was transfixed by the moment.  I could not take my eyes off these criminals, but which one was Jesus?  As I was watching one of the men dropped his cross and fell to the ground.  The soldiers began spitting on him and kicking dirt in his face.  Then the soldiers pulled another man out of the crowd and forced him to carry this criminal’s cross.

As the man continued to lie on the ground the mob was yelling louder.  I didn’t know who this man was, but it looked like he was wearing a crown of thorns.  Was he a criminal?  Why was he wearing a crown of thorns?  Why had he been beaten so badly?

I was still trying to figure everything out by the time my cousin finally scrambled up on the roof. He pointed…that’s him…that’s him.  “The one with the thorns, that’s the one they call Jesus.”

I guess they didn’t make Jesus carry his cross because he was beaten so badly.  He could hardly even walk by the time we saw him; he was falling down every couple steps.  Blood was spilling from all of the open wounds on his body.  I didn’t want to watch, but my eyes were fixated on his crippled body.  I kept thinking to myself that someone would save him.  If he was this great man why was he being crucified?

The morning dragged on until the three men finally reached the place called the Skull.  The mob had swelled into the thousands by this time.  Everyone wanted to see Jesus crucified as a common criminal.  I don’t know what we were expecting, but we needed to see this event with our own eyes.

 Upon arrival, the criminals collapsed to the ground.  I thought they were going to die before they even reached the cross. The man who was carrying Jesus’ cross was lifted off the ground and then violently shoved back into the crowd. I found out later his name was Simon.  For no apparent reason, he had been forced to carry Jesus’ cross.

The soldiers began ripping off the men’s clothes.  Within an instant they began fighting for the tattered and bloodied clothes of Jesus.  I had never seen anything like this.  Why were they fighting for a criminal’s clothes?

It was horrible; the three men were standing there shivering because they were cold, naked, and scared.  Why were they being humiliated?  I did not even know who these other men with Jesus were, but I wanted to run out of the crowd and attack the soldiers.  Not even a common criminal deserved to be treated in this manner. 

Nothing in all of my life could prepare me for this next part.  The soldiers began forcing the men down on their crosses.  As the criminals were physically being held to the cross, one solider began driving stakes through their wrists. Their cries …oh my gosh their cries…the sound still haunts me at night. Then they crossed their feet and began to drive spikes through their ankles.

There was so much blood.  I could not believe the horror before my eyes.  When the men were firmly nailed to their crosses the soldiers raise them in the air.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the crucified men.  I should have left, but to do what?  The crowd was yelling.  I couldn’t hear the words of the soldiers, but I knew they were mocking Jesus.  They nailed a sign above his head that said King of Jews.  They filled a sponge with this awful wine and they shoved it in Jesus’ face.  Why wouldn’t they stop?  He was barely sucking in his last breathes of air when they jabbed a spear in his side.

Curious… I pushed my way to the front of crowd… I just needed to be closer.  That’s when I heard it.  I heard one of the criminals ask, “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us.”

To be honest I was thinking the same thing.  If this man Jesus was really the Son of God, why didn’t he just kill everyone and save himself?

Then the second criminal yelled out, “Don’t you fear God?  We are getting what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.  And he is being crucified as a common criminal.”

Then he turned to Jesus, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

I was almost too far away to hear the words of the criminals, but I could clearly hear Jesus.  It was as if the world stood still when Jesus spoke these words.  I was not the only one to hear these dramatic words.  Words that would change the face of our world forever.

Moments later Jesus yelled and took his last breath, by now the crowd was in full panic.  The sun literally disappeared and the ground began to shake…I even saw the earth swallow people whole.  Everyone was scared to death. In full panic, we started pushing our way through the mob and ran home as fast as we could.

Now some twenty years later I look back on this day and try to figure out if this really happened…I know it did.  But it seems surreal.  I was at an event people still talk about. 

For some time afterwards I wrestled with the words of Jesus.  He mentioned this place called Paradise. My father talked about Paradise.  He said it was the place where the people who had lived a good life went when they died.  It was our final resting place… it would be our Garden of Eden…there would be no wars or famines.  When we reached paradise we no longer had to work all day in the hot sun.  I wanted to go to this place.  I even dreamed about this place and here was this man…this man Jesus offered a common criminal Paradise.

I began to trust Jesus could deliver me to Paradise as well. If a criminal could follow Jesus to Paradise then certainly I could follow as well.  Til this day, I still wonder what happened to the other criminal.

 


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