They sometimes say that the first evangelists were the women after the resurrection telling the disciples that Jesus had risen.
I’m not so sure that the first evangelist wasn’t the man on the cross.
This week I have been meditating on the men crucified beside Jesus. What were this men like? What put them there?
Man on one Side
He hurled abuse at Jesus. He wanted to know where God was at, especially if Jesus himself proclaimed that he was God. The Scriptures record that he “hurled abuse” at Jesus (Lk 23:39). When I think on what makes someone like this, I see a man who is lonely, hurt and angry. Even in his death the depth of his hurt and angry blinded him from seeing Jesus.
Man on the Other Side
When I look at the man on the other side, I can only think, “Why is this man even up there?!” He feared God, he was humble, he believed Jesus and he wasn’t afraid to stand for Jesus in his worst moment. Yes, he was a thief. But clearly he was a good man gone bad, and there was still good in him. He was able to see and admit he had done wrong. He openly feared God. And when there was nothing to go on, he believed Jesus. It was this profession of faith that led to eternal life.
So why did he become a thief? This good man. I think it was perhaps he was swayed by the angry man. Because angry men are very powerful as they fear nothing, except the thing that continues to hurt them.
Who are We?
We think that if Jesus were before us, we would see him clearly. But sometimes the hurt, anger and loneliness of life clouds our ability to see him right next to us. We ask where are you God? Why aren’t you doing anything? Instead of seeing him join us in our suffering, when he is guiltless.
The story of the two robbers really struck me hard this resurrection season. It’s been a tough season of the soul. And it’s hard to see a lifetime of unanswered prayers. But if there is anything this season I need to know, it’s the love of God is hanging there right beside me.