As you quiet yourself for this brief time, be willing to be open to God in whatever way that may take place.
Luke 23:33-43 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
When 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. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Two criminals hung beside Jesus on the cross. One was too caught up in the blame-game to notice the Messiah hanging beside him. One was so caught up in his mess, that he chose to point his finger at everyone else – except for himself. He looked toward the Messiah as a scapegoat – if he really were the Messiah, then shouldn’t he be able to save them from the mess they were in?
But the criminal on the other side of Jesus, that guy seemed to know what was up. He knew that he and the other criminal were getting what they deserved. He accepted responsibility for what he had done and the consequences that came along with it. While the other criminal kept deriding Jesus, this guy turned around to face what was coming his way.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” he said. Remember me… these are words of hope – words from someone who placed what little faith he had left in the Messiah hanging beside him. All he asked was to be remembered. All he asked was to be but a memory of the one whom he recognized was going a lot further than he was. And Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
On any given day, we are the ones hanging beside Jesus – caught up in our pain, our guilt, caught up in the messes we have gotten ourselves in to. And, in each of those moments, we can either choose to blame God or choose to be embraced by the one who is willing to enter our messes with us.
O God, thank you for your willingness to enter into our lives and for keeping your promises. Give us the courage and faith to pray as the one you remembered. And, help us to notice you in the midst of our messes. We love you. Amen
Go with God!