Have you ever wondered why things seem clearer when looking at circumstances from a different perspective? Although it is hard to believe, Easter is almost here, and it ushers in a sense of anticipation and also apprehension on what occurred over 2000 years ago, in what can be described as one of the turning points of history, and of the world as we know it.
Guilty or innocent
With a new year comes a new film, and this Easter, The Penitent Thief tracks the story of the crucifixion, but through a different lens. The perspective of the two thieves who are often deemed as “accessories to the fact”, were also crucified on the same day opposite Jesus Christ, during what is now known as Good Friday. This film narrates the journey of two innocent boys who fell into the habit of becoming notorious thieves, and who eventually suffered the fate of capital punishment. During those times, crucifixion was the choice of torture for chief criminals, and these two thieves ended up suffering at the hands of their Roman oppressors.
However, as the story goes, they were to be crucified on the same day that a man widely known as “the Christ”, was also to be sentenced. Despite the turn of events, their encounter with Jesus Christ was not decided by fate, but by destiny. Though it is true that the two thieves chose to respond to the Christ in different ways, only one had a conversation with Him on the cross that determined the rest of his life.
A different reality
Personally, I have always wondered how conversations can have a profound impact on the trajectory of one’s life. As it turns out, sometimes the very words we speak with one another can actually alter the outcome of our future, even without us knowing it. This can especially be true when we realise that the person we speak of, or speak to, is someone of special importance.
I recall having a conversation with a colleague about my interest in travel. I didn’t fully understand why we were having the conversation, or the importance of what we were discussing at the time, but my former colleague ended up becoming my newly wedded wife. Despite the drastic turn of events, our initial conversation sparked a series of events that eventually changed my life, for the better.
Although a different tale, The Penitent Thief shows how a simple conversation actually changed the perspective, and ultimately, the reality of a convicted criminal. In the public’s eye, the thieves in the story was clearly deserving of capital punishment; caught in the act, sentenced to death, and found guilty, for all intents and purposes, they seemed to be getting what their sins deserved.
However, at some point during their excruciating ordeal, one of the criminals on the cross opposite Jesus Christ noticed His plight; despite also receiving a similar sentence and suffering the same ordeal, His response seemed the exact opposite. He seemed to be fulfilling His destiny, instead of escaping it. This seemed to have an extraordinary impact on the thief, who decided to find out why.
Knowing that his time was short, he scolded his fellow thief for his ignorance, accepted his own fate, and asked for forgiveness. The response of the Christ is equally astounding:
“And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke chapter 23, verse 43).
Despite having just encountered this felon, Jesus immediately lets him into the gates of heaven. And the most amazing thought is that this thief, who for all intents and purposes, was condemned to death, in so doing, was granted life.
Perhaps seeing things from a different perspective is what changes everything.
Joseph Kolapudi's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/joseph-kolapudi.html