Ticket to Paradise (from Behind the Halo)

As humans, we all fail at one time or another. Most of us have been disappointed in ourselves or others. As your read this gosple account, think about a time someone came alongside during a time of failure or disappointment. How did their efforts affect your perception of yourself or the situation?

“John, why do they torment my son so? As if their awful torture and this horrendous
execution weren’t enough? My son has only loved them…” Mary asked, leaning into the arms
that Salome offered her.

“Jesus tried to tell us that he would be forsaken, Mary. Maybe that’s why he gave you
into my care, so you would never feel like you’ve been left alone,” John said, gently touching
Mary’s hand.

“Mary! John! Listen! Did you hear them? What are the thieves saying to Jesus?” Salome
said, pointing to the hideous crosses.

One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save
yourself! Save us!” But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re
getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.”
(Luke 23: 39-41 MSG)

“Thank you, Heavenly Father, thank you for words in my son’s ear that remind him that
you have not deserted him. Thank you…” Mary’s voice drifted off into silent prayer.

Salome and Mary Magdalene motioned to the other women who had followed Jesus to
come closer and join ranks around the mother of their teacher. John stepped closer to the cross
and leaned in to hear any word from the dying men.

Then (the thief) said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.” (Luke23: 42 MSG)

“Sisters! Look!” John turned and reached out a hand to draw their eyes to the awful sight
only a few feet away.

“Jesus is pushing up like he’s trying to say something. Listen! Come
closer!

Then Jesus said to (the thief), “I promise you, today you’ll be with me in paradise.”
(Luke 23:43 ERV)

“My son!” Mary exclaimed, throwing off the embraces of the women. “How can we hope
to love as you love?” Mary cried out, the words torn from her throat, as her friends fell to their
knees.

“Lord! Forgive us for not listening…not believing,” John fell to his knees.

The small group seemed to implode under the glaring example of divine love. Each one
holding an image of their own lackluster devotion to others. Sorrow clung to them as they leaned
into one another. How could they go on without Jesus to show them the way to go?