I'm a woodworker by trade, though I doubt many people would want my job. I work for the Roman government. I help with the justice system by making sure criminals are given their fair punishment. You see, I make the crosses used in criminal executions. It's not a glamorous job, but someone has to do it. I used to take so much pride in my work. Too much pride, I'd say. I'd watch the executions, satisfied that I had a part in bringing the criminals to justice. There was one case, however, that changed my life.
I remember when the Man came to town. He came in riding on a donkey. The people were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" Many claimed this was the promised Messiah. They called Him Jesus. The Man Himself claimed to be the Son of God. I just scoffed. The Messiah? Riding on a donkey? The One to save the nation? I would have thought He'd come in on a horse, or something a bit more, well, majestic than on a lowly donkey.
Some claimed He could heal people. I never witnessed any healings first hand, and I never saw any of those people after they were healed, either. Where was the proof? Besides, they were probably part of His cohort anyway. This Man called Jesus probably planted those invalids to try to convince people He had real power. Please.
This Man did many things that irritated me, but one of them that I couldn't stand was how He blatantly refused to follow some of the Jewish laws: "healing" on the Sabbath, eating with unclean hands, eating with the outcasts, the list goes on and on. Why would the Messiah, or someone who claimed to be the Son of God, not follow the laws His Father put in place? Oh sure, I'll admit, the religious leaders added a few things here and there but nothing significant.
When I heard rumors He would be arrested, I was overjoyed. I knew He'd be found guilty of blasphemy, the severest of crimes. I got right to work on His cross. I purposely didn't sand this one as well as the others I make. I wanted Him to feel every inch of that cross.
The day of His execution finally came. There was the cross I had made, standing on the hill. They brought Jesus to the cross; He had been beaten so badly, I could hardly tell he was even human. Even I turned my head and cringed as I heard the pounding of the hammer against the nails.
As I looked at Him up on the cross, I thought He looked right at me, like He somehow knew of my part in His death. At that moment something changed. I still didn't believe He was who He claimed to be, but I did feel a bit sorry for Him. Even the hardest of criminals doesn't deserve the beating He received, and I wished I had taken the time to sand the cross a bit more.
I wanted to turn away -- to walk home. But I couldn't; something kept me there. The sky darkened, and it was only noon. I stood with my eyes fixed on that cross. I heard the Man speak with a great struggle, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." At first, both criminals were taunting Him, but later, I heard one repent. Then this Jesus said something I'll never forget. He said "you will be with Me in Paradise." Finally, His breathing became labored. I could tell He was near death. With all the energy He had left in Him, He cried out in a loud voice, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'"
At that moment, a wave of grief and understanding flooded my heart. This Man was the Messiah. With deep sobs, I fell onto the ground and cried out, "Father, forgive me, for I know what I have done."
Jesus did rise from the dead three days later, just as He said. I, along with many others, saw Him. Some people claim that we must have had a mass hallucination. I know what I saw. I still have a memento from the day of His death: a piece of the cross made by my own hands. It's now worn smooth as a constant reminder that my Savior bore my cross for me.
Direct quotes in order of appearance:
John 12:13 (NKJV)
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)
Luke 23:43 (NKJV)
Luke 23:46 (NKJV)
Other details from the life of Christ are taken from the four Gospels.