140: Compassion in a time of torment
The robbers, the two men who were crucified next to Jesus, did not remain silent. Painfully they turned their heads to look at Jesus, who was being mocked and scorned so much. If Jesus was the Christ, surely deliverance was still possible for them! They laughed bitterly and cried out in scorn, "Aren't You the Christ? Then save Yourself and us!"
One of the robbers had hardly uttered these words when he stopped to think. What caused this sudden change? Had he seen something in Jesus' eyes? Was it Jesus' prayer for His enemies? Was it something he had once heard Jesus say?
His soul was suddenly filled with reverence. While the other robber went on mocking Jesus, faith was born in his heart. He believed that the suffering man next to him really was the Messiah.
He could no longer stand to listen to the other robber's mockery. He turned to him and asked, "Don't you fear God, now that you have received this sentence? We deserve this punishment, for we are only being repaid for what we did. This man has done nothing wrong."
While his head was turned to the side, he pleaded with Jesus reverently. "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom."
A holy joy shone in Jesus' eyes, for this sinner could still be saved. He gave the murderer a comforting look and said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
Never before had the man been filled with such a deep peace.
Jesus continued to show love and compassion to the very end. Even while He was on the cross, His deepest desire was to help others and comfort them.
With burning eyes He looked down at the people gathered on Golgotha. His gaze rested on a small group of weeping people.
In the distance He saw the women who had followed Him from Galilee. Mary of Magdalene, a faithful disciple whom He had once released from seven evil spirits, was there. Mary the wife of Clopas, who had served Him in love, and Salome, the mother of James and John were also there. His own mother Mary was in the group as well. She stood weeping by her son's cross.
To see Him suffering such agony was just like being pierced by a sword. The prophecy of aged Simeon was fulfilled.
His mother's despair and anguish caused Jesus even more pain than His wounds. Jesus saw John standing close to Mary. John would be able to look after her better than anyone else and comfort her with his faith.
Looking at His mother, Jesus said, "Woman, behold your son." Then He said to His disciple, "Behold your mother."
They understood at once what He meant. From then on they belonged together. That day John took Jesus' mother into his house and treated her as his own mother.