Narrator With Jesus there were two others, we are told, who, like him, were condemned.
These men were not good men. One, at any rate, saw the moral significance of the situation as he hung there beside Jesus. He became a witness to grace.
The Thief [gasping] Can’t breathe. God! The pain! Just . . . to . . . get a breath. God! That other fellow’s looking at me. The far one’s angry – who has strength for anger? This Jesus, though . . . remains serene . . . in . . . agony.
Narrator And Luke 23:39-43 gives us the second word:
The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he is the Christ 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 hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Text from AFB, “The Endless Afternoon” (2009); photo by Fred Holland Day, “Seven Last Words of Christ (Second Word)” (1898).