Jesus, Remember Me

I've shared some recently about my week in Taizé, France. During that week I had many spiritual "moments," if you will. What follows was one of them.  

We were singing the song "Jesus, Remember Me." As you know, these are the words spoken to Jesus by the thief on the cross. And to his request Jesus responds, "Today you shall be with me in paradise."

As I've described, the simple, repetitive nature of Taizé music really helps you settle into the words. Instead of moving through new verses with new words and meanings, Taizé keeps you still, hovering over the same words. Like a musical mantra, you linger, you remain. And after a while, the lyrics come to immerse you, like slowly slipping into a pool of water.

So as I sang, over and over, the petition "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom," my thoughts turned to the thief on the cross. Tears began to well up in my eyes as a conviction settled in my heart, "This is me. This is my petition. I am the thief on the cross."

Here's what that moment meant for me. I spend a lot of time trying to build up my moral portfolio. Deep in my heart I have this conviction that I might be able to give a good showing before the Lord when we meet, at last, face to face. I want to commend myself. "Here, Lord, are all the good things that I have done. I've written these books. Shared many words on my blog. Spoken on stages before large audiences. I've served my church--as an elder, teaching Bible classes, helping with the children, and feeding the poor. I have visited the prisoner." 

But as I sang the petition of the thief on the cross, I faced the reality that, in the end, all is grace. In the moment of his request, the thief on the cross had nothing to commend himself to the Lord. Even worse, he had no chance, no opportunity, to add anything to his moral resume. He couldn't do a quick update of his spiritual LinkedIn profile. The thief was, quite literally, nailed down. His situation was morally frozen. He couldn't, in his final moments, help an old lady across the street or give some money to a homeless person. To do even one small act of goodness, he is denied. And so, the thief on the cross is about to die with a zero in the "goodness" column. Pinned to the wood, like an insect in a specimen case, he is absolutely helpless, unable to do anything other than ask for grace. And so he asks. "Remember me." And Jesus does.

As I cried in France, that was what moved me to tears. Grace. My hope, my only hope, is in the love of Christ. As Martin Luther said at his death, "We are all beggars." At my death, I, too, shall be a beggar. Like the thief on the cross, I will come with my petition and my only hope, "Jesus, remember me." 

And the words shall come, "Today you shall be with me in paradise."

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply