Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Week: The Thief on the Cross

Dear friends,

I know that my Holy Week posts aren't exactly going to be chronological, but today, I am thinking of the story of the thief on the cross next to Jesus, since that's what Dave Abney preached about yesterday morning at Lake Baldwin Church.  

While we were at a parenting workshop on Saturday, we sat next to a man named John Immel, who works for the New Media team of the Jesus Film Project at Campus Crusade. To reach the new digital generation, John's job is to develop anime (Japanese cartoon) style video versions to be used with the 1,000 international translations.  On his web page,, you can view a nine minute video short called "My Last Day" about the thief on the cross next to Jesus.  Please note that the graphics are, well, graphic.  As in, lots of blood.  But that is the truth.  It was a sacrifice.   For those who like anime (or know those who do), this is a good way to introduce the story of Jesus's death in time for Easter.  

It also reminded me of a poem that my relative Dan Christensen wrote at my request after he was cast as the thief on the cross in a Crown Ministries movie filmed in Salt Lake City a few years ago, as pictured at left.  

You can find it most of the way down in this 2009 blog post Three Poems and the Stories Behind Them, Starting with a Funeral along with two other poems ("Saturday" by Dan and "Over Utah in January" by me) and the background of them, but here is the one poem...

The Thief on the Cross
by Dan Christensen

I stole a heart and broke it,
took time that wasn’t mine,
pocketed memories when other people
got distracted,
claimed happiness I did not buy.

I am a thief.
I know it. So does he who hangs beside me.
Even under pain of torture
unable to resist this nature,
I enlist my fellow felon in one last larceny:
The Perfect Crime.

He agrees.
And so we die common thieves
who steal my place in paradise.
I know that's an unusual, poetic, sort of unorthodox way to think of it.  But the truth is that we are all like that thief, and we all need Jesus!  Here is the actual Bible story from Luke 23:32-43... 
"Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Will you be there, too?

Virginia Knowles

1 comment:

  1. Virginia, thank you for your celebration here. May you and your family have a wonderful Easter! Dan


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