Summary: This is a 1st person drama message depicting the thief on Jesus’ right hand. The setting is paradise.
Character: Theif on Right Hand of Jesus
The Setting: Paradise
(Come onto stage dressed in white robes)
I never expected the robes. I never expected a second chance. My name? It’s not important. But the story I share is. My life had been a pathetic mess. As long as I can remember, I had been a thief. Not a petty pick pocket mind you…no, I was something much more sinister. I belonged to a band of cutthroats who operated on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. It was an ideal place to ambush unprotected travelers. It is no wonder the road got the nickname, the way of blood. The travelers we robbed, we often beat without mercy. We would strip them of everything they had of value and dump their crippled bodies off the side of the road not really caring whether they lived or died.
The reasons were practical of course! We couldn’t have anyone following us! We were better off not leaving behind any conscious witnesses. Disturbing the perfect peace of Rome was a serious offense. We knew what would happen if our small camp of thieves was found (Knife gesture). The might of the kingdom of Rome would prevail. And prevail it did.
Yes. The cost of a life of greed eventually caught up with us. One of our own slipped from our camp and reported our location to the authorities. I guess he figured the reward money would be an easy score. On the night he was to stand watch, he went into town. As the sun rose a large force of Roman soldiers quickly surrounded and subdued us. The traitor? He was slain there on the hillside. At least his end was merciful. My remaining partners and I had a much worse fate in store.
We were bound and dragged like trophies through the streets of Jerusalem and locked in a filthy cell. One week later we were brought before the magistrate. He heard testimony of our crimes from witnesses and victims. His deliberation was short; his sentence was simple. He simply said, “Crucify them at the earliest possible time.”
You understand that a Roman citizen would have at least had a quick death by beheading. Not a Jew. No appeal, no mercy; just bare Roman justice for our crimes.
We were locked in a stinking pit for another week; no food, only enough water to survive. There was absolutely no chance to escape. The day came when we heard the shuffle off many footsteps. We knew it was not the jailor but a company of soldiers. Our time had come. We were dragged from our cells, stripped of our clothing, and led out into the street naked. Each of us was assigned a “cross” to carry. Imagine carrying the form of your own execution on your own shoulders.
Add to the mix the fact that Jerusalem was full of people. The streets were packed with those who were celebrating the Jewish Passover. And it seemed that my partner and I were going to be the sport of a jeering crowd of onlookers. They cursed and spit at us; they shook their fists in the air. In my shame I hurled insults and curses back.
It was then that I saw the third prisoner being led out. He wasn’t part of our band of thieves. And the contempt they showed us was minor compared to the hatred they showed him. The guards jeered and kicked him as he stumbled onto the street. This man had been so savagely beaten that he hardly looked like a man at all. His face and body were a gruesome mixture of torn flesh and dried blood. The Romans were nothing but efficient in that he was still alive. I figured his crime against Rome must have been something terrible; his sin against God must have been even worse. The one God had truly withheld any measure of mercy on this man.
He wasn’t cursing or begging. He was silent. When he spoke, he said words of compassion to the women who were wailing for him.
The guards ordered us to march forward. We were headed to the place of the skull, a hill outside Jerusalem. It was evidence that Rome was making this execution public. It had to be the third man. This third fellow must have been an extreme menace to Roman rule.
As we were prodded through the streets, the third man kept stumbling under the weight of his cross. He was so weakened from his condition that the Roman guards had to drag a man from the crowd of onlookers. They ordered the onlooker to carry the man’s cross through the streets. I muttered under my breath about the weakness of this man.
When we reached the top of the hill we were quickly surrounded by guards. They held our hands and feet in place as the executioner drove spikes through them and into the wood. We were each in turn lifted by ropes and dropped into place. Let me tell you the pain was excruciating. No man should ever have to die by crucifixion.