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Three Crosses

From a little book by Peter Storey — given to me by a friend of my daughter’s:

"One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’
Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” (Luke 23:39-43 NRSV).

“The men who hung on the three crosses also turned them into very different instruments upon which to die.

“One was a cross of
rebellion. The felon there wasted no time on introspection, spending his last hours hurling his anger onto everyone around, including Jesus. Sadly, it blinded him to the hope right beside him and blocked entrance to what Jesus would have gladly given.
“Anger can do the same in our lives. It is corrosive and destructive. Our anger against life blocks the flow of grace with great lumps of resentment. We need to pray that the noises in our heads — our resentments, angers, hurts and hatreds — do not close our hearts to Christ’s mercy.
Desmond Tutu says, ‘God... has such a deep reverence for our freedom that [God] would much rather see us go freely to hell than compel us to go to heaven.’ Do not let your anger prevent you from discovering that the words ‘Father forgive...’ include you.

“The second cross was one of
repentance. For the second man, something important and life-changing dawned. This Jesus was indeed different. Not only was he innocent of any crime, but there was more: this Nazarene’s response, the forgiving cry that burst from his lips as the nails were hammered home, stirred a spirit of contrition in this other soul. He cried, ‘Jesus, remember me.’

“In that moment, he became the first for whom the central cross, the cross of Jesus, became the cross of

Peter Storey, Listening at Golgotha (pp. 32-34).

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