Campus Alive

April 15, 2009

Risen from the Dead!

Filed under: Message,Sharing — campusalive @ 7:08 pm

The pain was unbearable as the hammer fell upon the iron nail that pierced by right hand. I couldn’t look. I screamed. It was beyond comprehension. I was angry at the world, angry at myself, angry at Ezer, who hung on the other side of the man in the middle. The man in the middle. I’d heard of him before. Jesus of Nazereth, that’s what they called him. Who was he again? I couldn’t remember through my pain and fatigue. His face had been so disfigured after the beating the Roman soldiers, his body covered in his blood; and here I was, with a few bruises on my body. A crown of thorns bit into his head, motionless, even as they slapped him.

Someone grabbed my two legs. I struggled. “Stop moving, you brute!” shouted the soldier, raising his whip. I wouldn’t make it through this one. One huge nail hung over my face, the taunting image of the soldier as he mouthed the words, “This goes through both your legs”.

I closed my eyes and prayed that this would stop. Prayed. Ah, many years ago, I’d been pious. I’d tried my hand at religion. I’d tried following the laws. Then came the injustice. The pain caused upon my family, and me. Mother used to tell me that the Romans would do this to those who disobeyed the highest laws. She’d warned me to stop my ways. No one could control them. They had taken over our country. We’d have to serve them. God’s punishment upon us, declared Grandma Eva, for the sins of our forefathers. I refused to heed, nor obey authority. I was an angry young man who had seen my beloved Rachel taken away by the local governor to be his wife. All for what? Ten years of assured wealth for her parents and family and relatives! Those greedy people.

“AHHHH!!!!!!” Pain ripped through my legs as the nail went it. I closed my eyes. The sun still shone through. It was hot. The stones crackled beneath the feet of the soldiers. I could hear Ezer chuckling as he hung far to my right. “The pain only gets worse, Eli. These bastards are really out to kill us,” he shouted. Was that encouragement? Or taunting?

To my right, I heard the commotion of voices, the shifting of stones, the rising dust, as the soldiers began raising the cross bearing the man Jesus. I heard a groan. Gasps emerged from the crowd of people gathered. I could see a young man, his eyes teary as he looked up at Jesus. He clutched the arm of an older woman, who must have been his mother. No, no, how could it be, for my mother refused to acknowledge me anymore. I was alone, and the only man I knew was hanging with me for our robbery crimes. How did it come to this?

I opened my eyes, and found them blurry. Suddenly I felt tired. Tired. Unable to hang. Unable to go on. “Please…” I whispered. No one could hear. Suddenly, the wood beneath me moved. They were hoisting me. The pain returned, in such a large magnitude that I began to struggle to regain a painless position. But the nails went in and out of my body. Nothing could remove them. With every inch of hoisting, I cried, I prayed to a God I never knew, I whimpered, I regretted every single evil I’d done, every murder, every extortation, every assault. Anything to get me off.

They say the hours pass, and you get too numb to think of the pain. The blood runs dry, and you drift off into death. What lay beyond death? For a man like me, I knew that whatever lay beyond such a realm was more punishment. I was, after all, a thief. Nothing like the religious teachers who stood below, hurling insults at Jesus.

“You say you are the Son of God! Save yourself, just like you saved others!”

Through the blurness, I could see Jerusalem, the holy city, the almost noon sun. I saw the silhouette of the birds that flew overhead. I saw the people, small creatures in my eyes, going about their activities. Suddenly, we heard Jesus speak.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…”

I turned and looked at Ezer incredulously. Ezer laughed painfully. His chest heaved as he struggled to compensate the pain. “You rea-lly…think you’re the Saviour eh?” he chortled, looking at Jesus. “Well if you are, save yourself and get us down while you’re at it! This thing is freaking painful! Prove youself, man!”
Suddenly I knew Jesus. Our eyes met for a split second before he looked away. Don’t be afraid of what lays beyond…for you are loved. I turned and watched his mother as she tore her outer robe in anguish. I’d heard of his miracles, his healings, his willingness to touch lepers. I’d seen the way people had loved and hated him. No, something was different about him.

“Ezer, this man is sharing our sentence, yet he’s done nothing wrong! Don’t you fear God? We deserved this, he didn’t.” Ezer laughed again, scoffing at my words. “You fool! We’re all going to hell, and this man can do nothing to save us. So just accept it!”

Silently, I pondered the reality of hell. I guessed he was right. I was receiving my due punishment. The gates of hell stood just hours away from my soul. Yet what had the voice in my heart spoken? Love? I was loved? How could anyone love me? This man knew nothing about me.

“Jesus?” I sputtered between the blood in my mouth. “Remember me, when you enter into your Kingdom.” I couldn’t do anything else, but believe, for if he really was the man he claimed to be, maybe, just maybe, I’d be in a better place. “Eli,” Jesus started. How did he know my name?

“I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

His words took a while to set in my heart full of a broken past. Then, as the first sun ray hits earth after long nights, sudden warmth filled my heart. I smiled inside. Something had assured me beyond reason, that my destination had been secured.

The sun left us moments after that. The sky grew dark. I drifted in between consciousness and unconsciousness. Somewhere, in that river of darkness, in the blur of time, in the regret and hope intertwined, in his words and my assurance of a home I was finally coming to, I left. I left the stones, the lashes of whips, the cross, the life I’d led, the pain, the tears, the anger, the confusion, the pride, the lust, the loved ones, the victims of my hands.

And there it was, just moments after what seemed like a blink of time beyond my last human breath. A white light, and there He was, gleaming in His nature, a smile so wonderful it penetrated my battered soul, and he held me, hand in hand, as he led me home.

This isn’t an exact story, since I made up the names of the characters. But everything else is accurate, based on Luke 23:26-43, the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. I just felt that a story could be written from the angle of the thief hanging on Jesus’ side, of how he found forgiveness at the cross, at his final moments of death. Of course, we don’t need to wait for our dying moments to seek assurance, but it’s never too late. Happy Easter, everyone!

3 days later.
“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here. He is risen from the dead!”

Note: This story was extracted from Larry’s blog. If you’d like to see the original post, or ask the writer anything, click this. :)

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