Kaleidoscope: the Crucifixion as viewed by the Unrepentant Criminal
We asked a myriad of voices to engage the crucifixion as if they were one of the characters present and write from that perspective. We gathered last week for an amazing collective of perspectives that ranged from a diverse, colorful eclectic group of people gazing at the cross. We will post each character and their angle as we approach Easter. Enjoy!
I cannot believe what I am seeing!
Earlier that day, I watched Barabbus get released. Just like that, he was let go! I couldn’t believe it! Why him? Why not me? Why does he get off Scott free? Why does he deserve freedom but not me? It’s not fair! I couldn’t help but envy him. I couldn’t help but resent him. All because another man took his place.
I had heard about this man who took Barabbus’ place. I had heard about how this man didn’t seem to do anything but heal people and feed people and love people. In the jail, I heard the guards talk about how this man barely even said one word in his defense before Pilate. He didn’t get defensive; he didn’t speak up for himself. In fact, as we were heading out to the mountain called The Skull, it actually looked like HE was the one in control. It looked like HE was the one in charge, as if he knew exactly who he was and what he was doing. I had never seen someone with such determination and resolve.
But here he was, numbered with us common criminals, marching to certain death.
The soldiers got us in place, and the moment came to drive the nails and lift the crosses. I have never experienced pain like I did in that moment. In all this, I’m watching this man they call Jesus of Nazareth. I’m on his left, and I’m watching how the soldiers are just mocking him, simply ridiculing this man. They didn’t pay too much attention to me or the other criminal, which, really, was nothing different from the usual in my life – nobody ever really paid much attention to me. I don’t even know if God paid much attention to me, if there was a God. Then the soldiers put up this sign that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” A King? On a Cross? I was confused. So I joined in on the insults, along with everybody else. If this man is who people say he is, then maybe he’d help a brother out! Once I started, I couldn’t stop – I could feel my heart get harder and harder, cold and closed, bitter and angry.
Then, Jesus started speaking from the cross. I heard him say, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Forgive them? Father? Who was he talking to? Me? Is he actually praying for these people who are hurting him beyond imagine? It made me want to mock him even more. Who does this guy think he is? I can’t believe what I’m hearing! As I was yelling, the other criminal then starts yelling at me, how I don’t fear God and how this man in between us was innocent. Jesus turns to him, and I can’t quite make out what Jesus says, but all I see is the other man’s face light up with a smile.
Then it got dark. I mean really dark. I could barely see what was going on. But I could hear him – Jesus. I could hear him give his mother to the care of one of his followers. I could hear him cry out to His God in voice that overcame the volume of all the insults. This voice speaks a louder and greater word than insult. It was the sound of utter agony and abandonment. He asked for a drink. He said, “It is finished.” He yelled out once again, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And then I heard the life go out of his breath, silent. To me, it was like he had chosen to lay down his life. I couldn’t believe it.
I cannot believe what I am seeing today. Maybe that’s the problem.