Who is afraid of dying? Based on Luke 23: 32- 43
I don’t understand why people fear death and talk about it the way they do. A man was born to die. For me the rule is simple kill and be killed. I have killed using all methods you can think of. Except… well, the cross. 

Let me talk to you about the death on the cross. It was by no way unique to Jesus. It was the death that real men died. You really have to be tough and would have committed some horrible sin against the Roman government before they put you through that ordeal. 

You see, death is death, whichever way you look at it. The only thing that differs is how you die. But now I know that who you die with is probably the most important thing in your life. You won’t understand, because you haven’t died before. I have. I died what is usually the most terrible death you can imagine. I think of every human being that ever lived, I have the most impressive death cv ever. 

I brag about my death the way others brag about their achievements, pardon me if I’m a bit too rough in my language, that’s the kind of life I lived.

I had no regard for religion. I had no regard for human lives. I am a man who society neglected and in turn, I terrorised society. I deserved no mercy and desired none. 

When the jailor called me out that morning, the entire prison celebrated. The only other person that was my mate in that dungeon was Barabbas.  When we were both called, the other prisoners knew that a breath of fresh air was coming into the prison. For us the end was certain and we were ready.

I had expected the crowd but this crowd was more than my expectation. I had expected to die next to Barabbas, we had a bet on who would survive longest on the cross. I was disappointed. Barabbas was nowhere. Instead I found a man who was battered, had a crown of thorns on his head – that was a new variation. I wondered what he could have done to have got such beating. He must be a very terrible criminal. But I heard the people call him Jesus, could it be the same man I have vaguely heard of but thoroughly ignored? It didn’t matter, right now each man must carry his cross. But Jesus was barely strong enough to even carry his own. What kind of hardened criminal cannot carry his own cross?

It was his cross that went up first. His nails were bigger than mine; it was almost as if someone was scared he could vanish from the cross. What kind of man could this be? I wondered why he was taking the shine off my death. No one seemed to notice us. They poured spit on him, stripped him naked and the soldiers were casting lots on who would take his garment. 

What kind of man was this? Through all the humiliation he only prayed for their forgiveness. I considered myself a hardened criminal, I believed nothing could touch me, but this man with his simplicity and unwavering love in the face of unending hostility touched something in me.

I was waiting for the soldiers to come to me. I had my bladder ready and if it is the last thing I do, I planned to urinate in somebody’s mouth. But I was seeing a superior attitude and I wondered.

This was what got me angry when the bloody thief that had no say, even in prison when I was in charge, could open his filthy mouth to join the soldiers and insult this man that was obviously wrongly accused. Yes I am depraved, but even in my depravity was a little goodness. 

I turned to Jesus and pleaded, “Lord, please remember me when you come into your kingdom.” I didn’t know I was supposed to ask for forgiveness first. I didn’t know this was the same prayer that got James and John into problem. I attended no baptism class. I never paid any tithe. I attended no night vigils, and did not know what you call the Holy Spirit. But even with my terrible past, he made me a promise and kept it. Is there a better word for a dying man than the ones I heard? 

“Today, you shall be with me in paradise”?

On earth they call me the brutal chief, in heaven they call me the blessed thief.

I lived a wasted life, but I died a good death, because I died with Christ. *No. I died IN Christ.* If you were to choose, wouldn’t you choose to die like me? What’s stopping you? If he can save me through death, why can’t he save you through life? 

Christ won’t die again, so you will never be able to replicate my cv. Forget that fantasy about repenting on your deathbed, it rarely happens. I wouldn’t gamble on that unless Jesus is lying on another deathbed by my side. Please check your death status; if you die now will you be dying in Christ or dying on your own?
*Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation. Heb 9:27,28 MSG*

The Easter Experience

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