I don’t belong here. I really don’t. Paradise is the last place I expected to end up after all I’ve done. Let me tell you my story.
I am — I was — an armed robber, I guess you’d call it. Me and Jake and the others would live in caves in the Judean hills near the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. We made our living by violence. We wouldn’t take on people in the big groups that passed. They travelled together for safety. But a family alone would be an easy mark, as well as anyone fool enough to travel by himself.
Brandishing a strong staff would usually do the trick. Threaten them with a beating and they’d give up without much of a fight. But I’ve been known to break a few bones in my day, God forgive me. I don’t think I actually killed anyone, but then I never stayed around long enough to find out.
The first time I meet Jesus is when I am invited to a party in his honor in Jericho at the home of a rich tax collector named Zacchaeus. I am introduced, we shake hands, and Jesus looks me in the eye for a long moment. He can see right into me, who I am, every crime I have ever committed. Then he smiles this big friendly smile. “You know,” he says, “there’s forgiveness for you in my Kingdom. How about it?”Read More »