~by Louis Templeman
July 6, 2015: Keeping Company at the Cross
Jesus had company when he was executed. Two other condemned men were crucified next to him. One of them, A.K.A. the good thief, from his agony and humiliation recognized Jesus’ honor and innocence; and he confessed his shame, his life of wrong doing. Jesus did not deserve the cross. His, however, were just desserts.
After his excited utterance of contrition he found his crucifixion was transformed. No more was it the horrid slide into death and shame and the darkness of unforgiveness. His cross became Christ’s cross and on it he was transported.
Paul wrote that he bore in his body the wounds of Christ. At another time he said he was suffering to make up what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ. Paul was an exceptional person. I can more easily identify with the “good thief”.
This thief was afflicted justly; according to Roman justice. Like him I cannot see any of my own “wounds” as issuing from martyrdom, yet, by faith my suffering can become redemptive. I have borne the stripes of stupidity and wrongdoing. But in my heart-to-heart with the Crucified my bad karma (so to speak) can be transformed in to a godly sorrow. And so, since I only have a cross/punishment I deserve it can by faith become the cross I can pick up and follow Jesus.
My Dad, after losing the love of his life, faced the bitter fact that his grief over losing my mother and breaking up his family would lead him to alcohol poisoning or a traffic accident. From his own (self-designed and self-executed) cross he looked to Jesus who suffered innocently. Then, as if the sun rose on his dark horizon, he found his paradise, in sobriety and conversion. By allowing his cross to fix his attention on the cross of Christ he was able to take this cross and follow Jesus and as Jesus promised, “This day you will be with me in paradise.”
We do not suffer alone. We have company if we want it.
Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.
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