Sometimes it's not enough to know the story. Sometimes you need to read it, to write it, to hear it, to say it, to see it, to meditate on it, to walk through it physically. These last few weeks of Lent, several writer-friends and I are walking through the Stations of the Cross, a way of following the last steps of Christ's life here on Earth.
We hope you'll join us here on this journey.
Today's guide is Brenna D'Ambrosio, whose website you really should go and bookmark right now. She's kind of a big deal. Married for nine years to her best friend, Brenna is the proud mama of three beautiful little girls God richly has blessed them with.
They are referred to as thieves or robbers, but the notes in my Bible tell me otherwise. They tell me that robbery was not a capital offense and more than likely they were insurgents.
Now this starts to make sense.
Here is our Jesus. Our glorious rabble rouser. The King of the Jews stuck between two common, low-life rebels. Here He is, hanging, shamed.
Did they know who Jesus was? Had they heard whispers of what He did, who He claimed to be before they were arrested, tried, and hung on their own wooden branches?
The man on the left yells out to be saved. Mocking. Angry. Abusive.
But the man on the right knows. He knows they all hang there for the same crime but that Jesus is both innocent, yet in a way that not even the disciples understand, guilty. No, not guilty of sin, but Jesus was establishing a new Kingdom. And the act of allowing Himself to hang there, bloodied, beaten, and broken was pushing the Kingdom into reality. He was in labor with the new Kingdom and that repentant “thief” saw it. He saw the way the earth was ready to shake. He recognized that while both were found guilty of insurrection, only Jesus was actually carrying out His plan. It was just in a way that no one imagined or understood.
As the sky darkened and prepared to swallow itself, maybe, just maybe, he saw somewhere the tiniest glimmer that said, “This is not the end. This is just the beginning.” The cracking in of the new Kingdom.
And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”
As Christ exhaled to speak to the man, spirit reached across the divide, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
From insurrection to resurrection.
We suffer. We know they weight of burdens. We know they weight of our sins. We resign ourselves with the belief this is just how it is, its weight, our shame, to be with us always. This is how it is going to be. But then we whisper truth often without expectation, and we are given an amazing promise. This suffering will end. There is respite. That new Kingdom is for us. We are invited in. He stops to acknowledge us. He stops to forgive us.
Everything begins to shift. He is preparing to make all things new and He stops to invite us.
“You shall be with Me in Paradise.”
For more from today's guest, Brenna D'Ambrosio, visit her website.
For more about the Stations of the Cross series, click here. Read all posts in the Stations of the Cross series, here.
Photo: Christ carrying His cross at the Gaudi church in Barcelona by Joel Miller.