This is one of my favorite parts of the Easter story in the Bible, as told by Dr. Luke:
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? 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, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Here was Jesus practicing what he had preached, in Matthew 25: showing compassion to a prisoner.
And that’s what he offers to prisoners today. Doesn’t make any difference whether they are guilty or not. Doesn’t make any difference if their past is checkered. Doesn’t make any difference if they never darkened the door of a church.
I’d especially like to pass along this Easter message to
-the prisoner whose heart was broken when he received divorce papers
-the prisoner whose wife fled with his kids, and he can’t find any of them
-the prisoner stabbed yesterday by a group of gang-bangers
-the mentally ill prisoner who was hog-tied for punishment
-the prisoner on dialysis who is still considered a threat to society by the Parole Board
-the prisoner who took it on herself to end years of domestic abuse, and is now serving life for trying to save her own life
-the prisoner who committed shameful acts while high on drugs and now cannot forgive himself
-the elderly prisoner who keeps getting robbed by predators
-the wrongly-convicted prisoner who now cannot find it in himself to forgive cops, prosecutor and judge
(add the name of a prisoner here, and his/her plight).
Songwriters Avery and Marsh put these powerful words to a delightful tune: EVERY MORNING IS EASTER MORNING FROM NOW ON!
Thank you, Jesus!
May all of us who are in one prison or another claim the message of the resurrection today.