Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The choice: Spitting or Paradise

Its truly amazing what procrastination can do... At this point I'm meant to be writing up a 15 page seminar on the "Trends in wool sheep production in South Africa." So naturally instead of writing it I logged onto Youtube and downloaded one of my favourite Christian songs that I haven't heard in a while and it struck a thought that I felt the need to write about.
The song is Don Fransisco's "Too small a price"...

"I awoke to hear the jailor, turn the key and push the door
'Get out here!' he shouted, but i stayed there on the floor
Frozen in the terror that rose and filled my brain
For I knew what they intended and I could not face the pain..."

This idea seems a little too real to me... I haven't actually been locked up in jail, but sometimes in life we do have to face terrifying situations.
Sometimes we mess up and facing the consequences seems hard or terrifying. The song is based from the perspective of the thief that was crucified next to Jesus. In the song, the thief starts off mocking Jesus, before coming to a heavenly realisation that there is something far greater than what meets the eye...

"The crowd that stood around His cross made jokes about His name
They shouted, laughed and spat on Him so I joined in the game
I said, ‘Hey! If you're the King why don't you get us down from here?
The taunt just sounded hollow and it echoed in my ears

'Cause He looked at me with eyes that seemed to reach into my heart
They shone a light on all my lies and tore my life apart
There was more that lay behind His gaze than simply blood and clay
But knowing was too much for me; I had to look away"

Sometimes God calls us out on what we've done wrong. Maybe we've followed the crowd, mocking the Saviour. Maybe we've done things wrong enough to warrant us being punished by our government, as that thief had. Or maybe it seems smaller than that, simply turning our backs on God...

Whats so amazing about this song for me is Jesus' reaction to the thief's cry of repentance...

"... And in spite of all that watched us there, it couldn't be denied
Because His righteousness and innocence were shining bright and strong
I just couldn't keep my silence and that cursing still went on

**(Talking to the accusing thief on Jesus' other side)**
I cried out, ‘Don't you fear the wrath of God even at the end?
You'll curse us both into the pit - is that what you intend?
We're only getting what we're due - we've sinned our whole lives long
But don't you talk to Him that way - He's done nothing wrong!'

Then with all my courage, in a voice not quite my own
I asked Him ‘Lord, remember me when you sit upon Your throne'
He answered me and, even then, His love was undisguised
He said ‘Before the sun has set today, you'll be with Me in Paradise' "

This passage from the song gives me goosebumps. There is so many elements to it. On one hand, you have the love that Jesus shows to someone who has been accused and hated (probably deserving so) by all his peers...
Then you have Jesus, who even having endured so much pain, to be physically worn down and broken, would use His breath to ask for forgiveness of mankind and to offer words of forgiveness and comfort to someone who literally 30 seconds before had joined in with the mockers and accusers of Jesus.
I'm sure that if I had gone through everything that Jesus had that day, I wouldn't feel like forgiving those who wrongly put me there, and least of all I wouldn't exert physical effort to offer comfort to someone who seemingly didnt really deserve it. It really strikes me that even in the last agonising hours of His life, Jesus cared more for His people than He did for Himself or His own comfort... 
Makes you wonder what that thief must have felt. It's assumed he spent his life not as a follower of religion or of Jesus. He obviously had a brush with the law that got him crucified that day. He knew what was going to happen that day. Maybe he'd spent his time on earth living a not-so-righteous life. I don't know what life he lived, maybe he slept around, lied, cheated. Or maybe he was a good citizen that happened to be in the wrong place and wrong time and tempted to do a wrong thing that got him crucified. But whatever life he lived, it didnt chenge Jesus' reaction to a plea. In fact, it doesn't really seem important to Jesus at all. I can only imagine how afraid and hopeless the thief felt on that day. Hanging on his cross, he got to share his darkest time with Jesus right at His side... Its a little reminder that we get to as well.

As a broken and despaired human, Jesus chose to reach into that man's situation and give him an out, give him hope and a promise for paradise. If I was that man, having nothing- no hope and about to die- if nothing else the hope that Jesus' words would have given me would allow me to die in peace. I know that if as a human He chose to do that, in spirit Jesus will most certainly do the same for us when we face our darkest hours, be they in our lives or when we are about to die...

All we have to do, is decide which thief we'd like to be. Continue spitting and mocking, or simply ask for the thing that Jesus is longing to give us...


  1. Really enjoy your posts, we know you are busy, but we check everyday to see if their is a new one.
    Today is very thought provoking, had never heard this song, but the words speak volumes.


  2. I agree, that part of the crucifixion story is filled with hope that only Jesus can give. It is a wide, wide span between "hope" and "no hope." I really like that picture.