They dragged me from the filthy hole that I'd called home for over a week. I was able to hear the jeers and the shouts as they pushed my shackled ankles and wrists, past the throngs that had filled the Praetorium. "Crucify Him!" "Crucify Him!". Surely they weren't talking about me. My fate had already been sealed. The crowd I could hear but could not see, was a massive assembly. An epic gathering.A bloodthirsty meeting of men.
They took me down a dirty path that circumvented the city walls. I was barely alive, when they lashed my raw wrists and ankles to a crudely manufactured cross. As they dragged me up the hill, to the crest of Golgotha, I briefly lost consciousness. It wasn't until they dropped the base of my cross into a deep and rugged hole, that I was jolted back into the land of the barely living. I hung there in the scorching heat of the morning sun, drifting in and out of my mind.*. *. *. I had taken what wasn't mine in a desperate effort to feed my family. But I was a simple man, unskilled in the occupation of thievery. And I'd been caught red handed and taken quickly to the nnearest prison. My family were forbidden to see me, in fact I had no way of knowing if they were even aware of my plight, my damning incarceration, which had led me here to this moment at Calvary.*. *. *. I was interrupted by shouts of profanity, as they lowered a second prisoner into a hole not far from my own. I recognized him immediately, an infamous murderer. A notorious taker of life. He cursed the Roman soldiers that planted his cross in the ground. He squirmed violently, exacerbating the already seething pain of crucifixion. In the moment we made eye contact, I quickly turned away, repelled by his rage. But the sun hung even higher now, and it's scathing heat eventually silenced the homicidal criminal. The incensed madman. *. *. *.
When I opened my eyes I felt I must be dreaming, hallucinating at least. A crowd had gathered on the hill and a man was hanging between myself and the murderer. My head lay limply to the side, facing the others condemned. The man to my left had suffered even more than I. His side showed the raw flesh of one most recently flogged. And his wrists and feet had been cruelly spiked to His cross. ( In an unnecessary act of cruelty, those that were killing Him, were assisting Him, when days later He would reference these wounds, surging His credibility ). He wore a crown of pierced thorns that flowed blood down His gentle face. He spoke, and I was instantly alert. "I thirst" He said, and I watched as they soaked a sponge in vinegar, and held it to his lips. "Don't taste it!", I wanted to yell, but my throat couldn't utter the words. The murderer was roused by the commotion and I watched his eyes scan over the man on the cross between us. His eyes seemed to focus on the words at the top of His cross. "King Of The Jews.". "If you are some kind of king, save us!.". The murderous criminal was impudently demanding help, from the last Hope he would ever have. My mind was reeling. The people assembled at the foot of His cross, were beset with the Man In The Middle. I could see His mother weeping, His brothers wracked with pain.Then came the most incredible personification of love and forgiveness that my ears and eyes had ever heard. "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do". The Man nailed to the cross, scourged and bleeding, with his last few words, was asking His Father to forgive the very men that had hung Him there. And it was there on that hill, amidst the tortured and the dying, that I finally grasped who the man in the middle was, and my desperation to know Him, surged.
This man was Jesus .
I'd heard so much about Him, so many accounts of miracles and merciful acts. He'd turned water into wine. He'd raised Lazarus from the dead. He'd cast out demons and fed 5000 hungry souls, from a basket of 5 loaves and 2 fish. I looked at His face and a serenity overtook me. I knew this Man was the Son Of God. "Remember me when you go to your kingdom" were the last words I would ever speak. I dropped my head and the pain and exhaustion began to over take me. But then He spoke, and I managed to turn my eyes just enough to see His face. "Verily I say unto you, today you will be with me in paradise". It was a promise I knew would be quickly fulfilled !In those final minutes I struggled to open my eyes. Death was upon me now, as I was being gently led into Glory. Somehow I was inwardly pressed to stay alive, till Jesus went on before me.
"Father, Into Your hands I commend my Spirit ", were Jesus' final words.
Thunder cracked and shook the very foundations of the earth. The veil in the temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom. Darkness fell upon all the world and I heard a Roman Centurian proclaim that "Surely this Man was the Son of God".