Someday

 

Golgotha, by Scottish artist David Mach.

Golgotha, by Scottish artist David Mach.

Someday, I will go home

Someday I will go home
And I’ll find peace in the house
Of my heavenly father
I will fear, fear no more

 

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom – thief on the cross, Luke 23:42

I’ve sometimes wondered what I would do if I was on death row and facing execution. Would I be terrified? Resigned to my fate? Would I beg for mercy until the bitter end or just try to be dignified about it all? Assuming that I was actually guilty of something heinous enough to merit execution, I think I’d probably be terrified but also resigned. Hopefully I’ll never know.

Pondering execution today and reflecting on execution in Jesus’ day, I realize that there’s actually no comparison. As terrifying as it may be to go to the electric chair, I don’t think it compares to crucifixion. You’re not only assured of your death, but you’re assured that it’s going to be excruciatingly painful, unbearably slow and on top of everything else, utterly humiliating. Crucifixion is holistic death: body, mind and soul.

Given all of that, consider the two thieves on the cross. One is described as hurling insults at him: Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us! (It actually sounds more to me like a final desperate plea rather than a sarcastic insult). The other seems to have accepted his fate and actually has the wherewithal to admonish his fellow criminal: Don’t you fear God? We deserve this shit, but this man has done nothing wrong.

Not only does he recognize his guilt and accept his punishment, he can actually see that Jesus is innocent. How did he know that? And not only that, he also recognizes that Jesus is more than a mere innocent man – remember me when you come into your kingdom – he sees Jesus for who he really is: the King. Jesus responds with a gift: I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise. It occurs to me that Jesus’ response to this man must have changed the outlook of the thief’s death. If he did not have peace of body, perhaps he had peace of mind and soul.

I know down in my heart
I know it won’t be long
And I shall see the face
Of my Saviour
I will fear, I will fear
I will fear, pain no more

This song, written by David Hidalgo and Louis Perez of Los Lobos for the movie Love Song for Bobby Long, seems to me to be the song that was in the heart of this penitent thief. He was given the promise of his Saviour, that paradise was coming – soon – and pain would be gone. My prayer is that someday, I too will go home and be able to take the hand of my Saviour and experience a pain-free eternity.

Someday, I will go home
Someday, I will go home
And I shall take the hand
Of my Saviour
I will fear, I will fear
I will fear, pain no more

If you have a moment, visit artist David Mach’s website and watch the short video clip of him burning the devil. very cool.

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