Voices of the Passion and Easter - the Criminals

I have imagined the reactions and thought processes of those people involved in the Good Friday and Easter narrative.

I hope that it will assist you to meditate on these events with fresh thoughts.

There’s a real stench around here, that’s not helped by placing us on crosses on the rubbish tip. We can smell the sweat from our bodies that come from the exertion from the beatings we have received and the ferocious heat of the day. Our nostrils can also detect the odour of our urine and faeces which were the result of the extreme fear we have and because we were not allowed to use proper facilities, so it has remained on our clothes.

The flies buzz around us, attracted by the sweat and by the drying blood that cakes our bodies. With our arms and hands so securely attached by nails to the wooden structures, there is nothing we can do to get rid of these pests.

We cannot breathe properly as we must lift our bodies up which, in turn, causes pain in our legs and arms as the nails rip through our flesh, muscles and bones.

And yet, it is strange that in the middle of us two, there is One who does not curse, damn those who put Him in this position or call out about the injustice of being caught.
Instead, He speaks of one of His disciples looking after His mother and forgiving those who put Him there for they do not know what they do.

We know exactly why we are there because of the heinous crimes that we have committed, but this Man has not done anything wrong except to preach that He brings in God’s kingdom of love and peace.

Despite observing the differing attitude of Jesus of Nazareth, one of us carries on cursing the situation and demanding that Jesus should save us from the cross. He wants the freedom to carry on with his life as though nothing has changed – a second chance to be with his family and friends, a second chance to carry on with his life of crime.

However, the other one has a realisation that he deserves the punishment that he is getting and asks Jesus to remember Him when He comes into His kingdom. Jesus responds by telling Him that the criminal will be with Him today in Paradise, a picture of a garden away from the fetid situation that they were experiencing then.

Shortly afterwards, with His last pained breath with a final effort, Jesus cried out in triumph: ‘It is finished!’ It was a declaration that His planned work was completed.

One of the criminals will subsequently die with curses still on his breath and blaming all for everything that had gone wrong. The other criminal knows that he was rightly found guilty, but the eternal price had been paid by the One who died next to him.