I remember the day as if it were yesterday. He was my friend, my colleague if you like, my brother in arms, my partner in crime, but that day changed my life forever.
My name is Mark. I am a former criminal, a foe of the nation, an enemy of the state, once, but now things are different and all because of that one day and that one man – that man Jesus.
It was my friend who hung on that cross next to Him, my friend who took his just punishment, my friend who asked for forgiveness and my friend who was offered paradise with Him. Let me tell you about it.
We made a living from stealing. We took what was not ours, just to get ahead, just because we felt the world owed us something. We told everyone that would listen that we knew no better, but we did.
We played the game, and we were caught. He, Barney, my friend, was arrested. I ran. I was only out to save my own skin, I left him high and dry. My friend was tried for the crime we had both committed. He was sentenced to death and I was free.
The day of execution came; I stood, ashamed, in the background and watched. It was not hard to blend in as there were thousands of people lining the streets that day.
Yet they did not seek the demise of my friend, but the end of Him. The one they called the Messiah, the King of the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth.
He too had been tried, in a mock court, and sentenced to an unjust death, and with my friend he was led to the Place of the Skull and crucified there. A third was strung up that day, who mocked the Christ and hurled insults at him. But my friend had seen in Jesus what many others had missed. He had seen the light of God shining in His face and knew that He was indeed who He claimed to be.
My friend accepted the punishment for his crime and asked this Jesus to help him start again.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” I heard him utter.
He was rewarded. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise,” Jesus said.
So now I journey on, without my friend and partner in crime, but now I am a changed man. I no longer believe that the world owes me, and I am now looking for ways in which I can give back.
And all because of that one day and that one offer of paradise, not only for my friend but for me and for all.
(From The Shadows Of Victory: Ride The Rollercoaster Of Holy Week by Becky Lovatt)
With many peaceful blessings