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This is the sermon page for Pastor Joe McGarry.  Pastor Joe currently serves as the Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Kensington, CT.    These sermons are also from previous churches he has served as well.  If you would like to learn more about Pastor Joe or the church he serves please visit

Apr 3, 2015

Reflections from the Thief who hung next to Jesus before he died.

I really don’t know how to talk with God.  I heard Jesus talk about prayer so that’s what I have been doing all day.  Praying for my life.

We hear the crowds yelling outside crucify him, crucify him!  crucify him!  We think that Barbas is going to be crucified but then they bring in Jesus.  He is barely able to stand. Did the crowds really release Barabas and decide to crucify Jesus?

Pilate comes back and questions Jesus again.  I watch as Jesus stands there not saying a word.  In frustration Pilate leaves.

We are all brought to Gogatatha.  James and I are hung on the cross.  Our arms are tied to the beams and our feet are tied around the post.  This is no way to die.

Then I see Jesus.  I was wondering why he wasn’t with us — he is covered in sores and he can barley stand.  He wasn’t tied to the cross his hands and feet were nailed into the cross. 

James is on Jesus’ left and I am on his right. This isn’t any normal crucifixion. Mobs of people are there just because of Jesus. There are Pharisees mocking him, the Roman soldiers are casting lots for his clothes.  They are offering him sour wine on a stick, and Jesus is taking it all in — he is not saying a word.

James starts to yell at Jesus too — “Get us down from here!!  They say that you can do that, why don’t you save us?  Don’t you care?”

Jesus slowly lifts his head and says “Father Forgive them for they do not know what they do.”

Forgiveness, from the cross?  I can’t imagine — what is going on here?  James does not slow down and I can’t stand it anymore. 

Out of sheer exhaustion James quiets down and the Pharisees lose interest. But I can’t get Jericho out of my mind. I can’t forget Jesus’ eyes, his words, I can still feel his hand on my shoulder.  And so I call over to him, though it’s getting hard to breathe and talking makes it that much harder.

He is in bad shape — exhausted, in excruciating pain, back oozing, breath labored. He isn’t going to last long. I can see that. But somehow I can see beyond all that. He was the Messiah, is the Messiah, no matter what those priests and Romans and Pharisees have done to him.

And when he dies, he will be with God. In a few hours, maybe less, He will reign in that Kingdom he told us about.

“Jesus,” I call.

He opens his eyes. They are the same eyes, the same piercing, loving, honest eyes.

“Jesus,” I say, “when you come into your Kingdom, would you remember me?”

His words are labored, his lips parched, but I can still hear him pretty well. “Truly, I say to you….” His voice cracks, then is stronger for a moment. “Truly, this very day you will be with me in Paradise.”

His eyes droop. He is fading quickly now. But I believe him. I do! That’s what gets me through those next few hours – knowing that God loves me that Jesus loves me and that I will be with him in paradise.