Prison was like second home to me. I got to visit this place quite often. The stay was not too comfotable but I did have some good company. There was a rumour that I might get freed in the coming days. Now,why was I not really excited about it? I tried to think of the unlimited supply of booze my friends would get to celebrate my release. It feels great to gulp it all down and forget about everything. But at some point, I usually come back to feeling a void in myself. Alcohol has always been my first attempt to escape that void. But somehow I hate it when my head clears again and I realise all of it was in vain. Then the women. They simply go to any extent to please me. My friends try to arrange the best for me. I enjoy them but even they cannot satisfy me completely. Then some riot will happen and I will inevitably be in the frontline of it. Why? Well,why not? Life is simply unfair and some people live under the pretext that everything is alright while others like me rot away. The government seems blind to all the issues.Now all this cannot be allowed. Hence,me and my friends find a reason to start a riot. People might get killed. Women might get raped.Property will be lost. Children might be mislead. But who cares? Anyways,we are all surely going to rot in hell. And I doubt if hell is any different from my life here. So why should I stop?Ooh…this thought made my heart beat faster. Now I could not wait to get out.
I could hear my name being chanted. My supporters! That sure was a huge crowd! Strange. Usually, nobody ever stands up for people like me. Had all these folks lost it? I had been sentenced for my uprise against the Roman government. It would be quite risky to support me. Yet the whole place resonated with my name. People were so gullible and stupid. Standing there, I marvelled at their ignornace. Then I saw him.
He was an ordinary man yet there was something about him that caught my eye- something even more profound than his bruises and whip marks. Whatever did this man ever do,I wondered. His bruises looked deep and rivulets of blood were trickling down them. Then suddenly,our eyes met. I felt his gaze pierce through my soul and sinew. I tried to look away but I simply could not. I was overwhelmed with emotions. It felt like my personal Pandora’s box of wrongdoing was opened. All the wrong I had done flashed before me.I felt filthy. Naked. Guilty. For a few seconds my vision was blurred by tears and when clarity was restored, I saw Him fall to the ground. He wasn’t screaming or fighting or making a ruckus. So this is the guy they were talking about in the prison, I realised. From the prison grapewine, I had heard that this man is actually innocent. As I tried to recollect more about him, a guard started removing my chains. “You are one lucky fella!”,I heard him sneer.
I walked into the midst of the crowd chanting my name. ” We are throwing a feast to celebrate your release,buddy,” a friend said patting my back. I tried to smile but my mind was stuck on that bruised man. “There is something troubling you”,I heard the serpentine voice of my girlfriend. I looked at her. But now I was not seeing her voluptuous body. All I could see was that she was a prostitute…a filthy person….yet not as filthy as me-a murderer. I pushed her away and started running. I didn’t know where to. But I just ran. Soon I realised I was not alone. There were others running but in the opposite direction. I grabbed a young lad by his collar and asked where he was running to. “Hey, leave me. I want to watch that betrayer being executed. The whole place is there”,the boy wrestled free of my grasp and continued his run. Betrayer? Who was he talking about? Wait. Is it that bruised man I had seen earlier? If so, why does it matter to me? I didn’t have an answer. But I turned around and started running in the direction of the crowd. Am I insane? Why am I doing this? My friends were waiting for me. The feast. The wine. The women. But all I could do was run.
Then I saw him. He was on the execution pole. He looked terrible. The bruises had increased. His sides were pierced. He had iron nails on his hands. I have seen more terrible things. I have killed people more mercilessly. As a matter of fact, I deserved to be on that execution pole. This should have been me there today. That thought was overwhelming. It felt like this stranger was dying in my place. What?? Why would he do that??He doesn’t even know me…nobody loves me enough to do such things for me..would even God be able to forgive all the evil in my life??…my thoughts were so overpowering that I had to kneel. And then he looked at me. It was like he had read my thoughts. I could feel him say,”Yes.I did.”I started crying like a toddler.What did he mean by “Yes,I did”? That he was dying for me??Or that he loves me??? Or that I was forgiven???? “What do you mean??”,I tried to yell. But no words came out. Then I felt the earth shake. I opened my eyes and there was darkness around…like the sun had hidden away on seeing this man being executed. But I finally felt a light enter into my dark life. I could no longer feel the void that was in my heart. I could not explain what was happening to me. But one thing I knew. If that man could love me enough to die for me(I didn’t know how to explain this…but I knew this was true), I had to start living for him. I was a changed person. Changed. New. Transformed. Forgiven. Loved. Set apart. There was no turning back now. I rubbed my face and got up to find out more about him.Who was he? What was his purpose? I vowed to dedicate the rest of my wretched life to whatever that man stood for. That bruised man who changed my life. And it has been the best decision of my life.
“But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8