It was right there in front of me, and no one was watching. On a normal day, I never would have thought about it. I had never considered myself a thief, but it was hard times. I needed the money. And if it was needed by the owner, he wouldn’t just leave it out all alone. I grabbed the coin purse. A few other silver pieces were laying on the table, so I grabbed them also. but just then, someone exited the nearby building, and looked straight at me.
“Hey! What are you doing?” He yelled, as I fidgeted with the coin purse trying to put it into the pocket on my robe.
I turned and ran. My heart started racing, and adrenaline overcame me. It was too easy to follow me, first of all, I left tracks in the soft dirt, and second, a cloud of dust was being formed behind me. I had to outrun him.
“Stop him. Thief. Stop him!” Came the cry from behind me. I obviously wasn’t alone. I took a glance over my shoulder, and he was right there, only about ten yards behind me, on the pursuit. I kept up my pace as best as I could, and so did he. I wove around corners, and through the town, as if I was trying to escape a maze. If he caught me, and turned me in to the authorities, the punishment would be harsh. I knew I couldn’t get caught.
All of a sudden, my path turned into a dead end. In front of me, was a wall. I tried to think of a way to get over it, but it was impossible. I turned around, and just like that, he was there.
I didn’t know what to do. I thought about giving up, but giving up meant letting him turn me in, and the penalty for robbery was one that I did not want to accept.
“You’ll pay for this,” he said as he advanced.
I wanted to explain that I was in need of the money, but even then, that didn’t give me the right. So I stayed silent. I thought that if I fought him, and punched him a few times, I’d have a chance at getting away, and him never seeing me again.
So I moved closer. He made the first move, and swung at me, but I leaned back and let his arm move right past my face. And it was then that I saw my opportunity. With my left arm, I jabbed towards his jaw, and made contact. He definitely wasn’t ready for what came next. As I brought my left arm back, I used my momentum to produce a devastating blow with my right fist. It whirled around his guard and caught his left ear, putting him on the ground.
I immediately took off running. I turned the corner looking back at my victim.
I was on the ground and dazed. For a few seconds, I was looking straight into the sky. Then I saw a helmet, and a chest plate, and then a spear. A Roman soldier!
There were two of them. The one that knocked me over picked me up, and the other one grabbed my arm with a firm grasp. I knew I was caught. I knew this was very bad and that I had made a mistake.
The man I punched spent a bit of time on the ground. The Roman soldiers did not assist him to his feet, for he was a Jew, and even though they were the authority, they didn’t like us Jews very much. When he managed to get to his feet he came over to where they were holding me yelling. He seemed very upset.
“What exactly happened?” The Roman soldier asked as he looked from me to the other man.
“Well, I was selling my clay jars outside of my home, and I decided to get a drink. I left my money bag on the table. I was only gone for a few seconds, I didn’t think anyone would take it. Then this man. . .” He said pointing at me. ” This man right here stole it, and I saw him take it right as I was walking back to my stand. Then he ran and I chased him. I know I’m out of shape, but when someone takes the money I have worked for all day, well, I am 15 again. When I cornered him I tried to wrestle him down to get my money and he punched me in the face. And then you two showed up. You should have been here earlier!”
The higher ranking soldier looked at me.
“And what do you have to say for yourself?” He asked.
I looked down in shame. I had no excuse.
They marched me to the palace, well, more like I stumbled to the palace. They chained both my wrists, and kept pushing me over as I walked to express their power. They took me to Pontius Pilate. He was the ruler over Jerusalem and I was about to be tried as a thief, and the use of violence was not going to help my case one bit.
When I stood before Pilate, there were no crowds. The two Roman soldiers were there, and the one man whom I had stolen from.
He explained to Pilate what had happened. And when Pilate asked me what had happened, I again had no answer. I was guilty. The punishment I was given was one that I thought was quite harsh. Tears started to stream down my face as he condemned me to death, on a cross! It was then that I tried to defend myself, but it was too late. Pilate had already left, and the soldiers turned me over to the prison guards.
I ended up staying in the palace jail for the night. My one hand was bound in chains to the wall, and the other one was left free. The floor was cold and damp. I couldn’t sleep, but even if I was given a comfortable bed, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep. I just thought about my life, and how I should have done it differently. I prayed, and I prayed more. I wanted God to save me. I wanted God to give me one last chance. Before I knew it, morning had come. There were no windows, and the sunlight did not penetrate my cell. The way I knew it was morning was that I could hear someone being beat out in the courtyard. It signaled that the day had started, and someone was being beat badly.
The next thing I knew, a Roman soldier was standing at the door. His keys clashed together as he found the appropriate one. He grabbed me, and unlocked my hand from the chains. He could tell that I was terrified, and didn’t even trouble with tying me up, he just grabbed me underneath the arm and walked me out to a courtyard where three wooden crosses lay.
Another prisoner was there. He also was being held by a Roman soldier, but, he had his hands chained in front of him. I did not recognize this man.
All of a sudden, a couple of Roman soldiers marched a new man into the courtyard. This man was bloody, and was only wearing his undergarments. I could tell that he was probably the man that was being beaten earlier. As the man moved closer, he looked familiar. And then, I realized who he was. I had seen this man in the temple.
They forced me to pick up my cross. And they marched me out of the barracks and into the streets of Jerusalem. There were crowds of people who lined the streets, watching as I trudged by, carrying the very thing that I would be nailed to. I knew the crowd wasn’t there for me. No one knew who I was. I trailed behind the other criminal. He was in front of me, he too carried his cross. The crowd was not there for this man either. The one that they were standing there for was a ways behind me. He was the man who had been beaten and bruised.
When we got to the top of the hill which was called “The Skull”, they ripped my robe from my back, and laid me down on the cross that I had brought up with me. Roman soldiers pierced my wrists, and my feet with nails as long as my hand. The pain was overwhelming.
I turned my head to the right, and there he was. His whole body was bloody, and he wore a crown. It was a crown made from a plant; probably acanthus. I watched as he was also nailed, and once all three of us had been attached, we were hoisted up, for all to see.
From Luke 23: 39-43 (NLT)
39 The other criminal on the cross turned his head as best as he could towards the man who was bloodied, and scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself- and us, too, while you’re at it!”
40 I inhaled real quick, and protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then I said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
43 Jesus allowed his head to swing partially towards me. He took a breath and replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”