“Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23: 43

Reflection: Life is full of split second choices that can have potentially huge outcomes.  The two men being crucified with Jesus have made many choices that led them to the hill of crucifixion.  The Bible doesn’t tell us what those choices were, but in the words of the one man himself, their executions were justified.  In modern times, the only crimes that would lead to execution in many countries are the truly violent ones.  So these men may have made choices that were bad enough and violent enough to merit their execution.

But this is another time and place where God’s infinite love and mercy are just so amazing!  Equally important is the weight of the decisions we make in each and every moment.  As Jesus and the two thieves are hanging on their crosses, each man makes a crucial decision.  One man joins the crowd in mocking and belittling Jesus, even though he find himself in the exact same situation.  The other sees the crowd and sees the face of Christ, and makes a different decision.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

This simple and heartfelt request changes everything.

In one minute the good thief transforms his entire future.  By showing kindness when others chose to show hate, he gets one of the most beautiful promises in scripture- “This day you shall be with me in paradise.”  It would have been easier to join the crowd in jeering, or even easier to remain silent.  But in the very last moments of his life, this man makes the radical choice to stand up for what is right.  And that choice changes his life, and our history, forever.

Questions for prayer and reflection:

Have I ever been silent when I knew something was wrong?  Why or why not?

When have I chosen to stay a part of the crowd instead of following my own ideas or conscience?

What are 3 choices that have changed my life for the better?  How can I see God’s grace and promise in my future because of those choices?

Possible Activities:

Who is a friend you have who is a positive leader?  Write them a note telling them how their positive choices have impacted your life.

Try a faith obstacle course.  Make a maze for a blindfolded student to get through.  One student will give directions while the rest of the class calls out distracting information.  Reverse the process with a second student- the crowd will direct correctly while the friend gives conflicting directions.

Afterwards discuss the volume of the crowd vs. the volume of the friend.  Ask about the challenges etc. for both students.  Talk about being part of a positive crowd instead of a negative one.