This will be the “back page” for the Fishkill UMC bulletin this Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent (Year A), 26 March 2017. The reading is from Matthew 27: 33 – 44.
There were three men on that hill outside Jerusalem. They hung on crosses where everyone could see them to remind the people there were rules to society and you paid the price when you broke the rules.
Two of the three committed crimes against people directly but the other’s “crime” was simply to question the roles of society, rules that excluded people because of actual and perceived differences. To question the rules of society was considered as bad as robbery or murder.
We live in a similar society today. There are those who suggest that there is a standard for society’s membership and if you don’t meet that standard, you don’t belong. Many people want a society where obedience to the law is greater than concern for the people.
The one criminal echoed the views of society then and perhaps today that Jesus’ mission was to ensure that the status quo was maintained at all costs and that there were people tasked with that maintenance. He and society see Jesus in terms of earthly power and might, of the rule of law without compassion.
But the other criminal understood that Jesus had sought to move beyond the “law”. He understood that Jesus’ mission was never about him but about His Father and how people were treated in God’s Kingdom. And in understanding this, the second man asked for forgiveness.
Which of the two are you? And what will you do?