Easter is often a time spent reflecting on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and the miraculous Resurrection three days later from the empty tomb (Luke 24:1-8).
Sent into this world to be the savior for all mankind, Jesus was crucified following the incessant demands of the Jewish leaders (Mark 15:13-14) at the washed hands of the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate.
As Jesus was on hanging on the cross, there were two men hanging with him (Luke 23:32-34). We know from Roman history that the penalty of crucifixion was for the worst of criminals, therefore we can infer the two men hanging next to him were as such. Continuing in Luke's Gospel, as one man hurls insults at Jesus (v. 39) the other asks to walk in the eternal Kingdom with Him (v. 42). The remarkable thing is that Jesus' love for mankind was so strong that His immediate response was not not deep thought or rebuke, rather it was simply "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise" (v. 43).
Following a surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his pelvic region in Havana, Cuba, Hugo Chavez, the 57-year-old socialist president of Venezuela, is now crying out to God to save his life and have mercy upon him.
In a recent story from The Telegraph, Chavez is quoted as saying, "Give me your crown, Jesus. Give me your cross, your thorns so that I may bleed. But give me life, because I have more to do for this country and these people. Do not take me yet."
Which brings us to this all-important question: Why turn to God, now?
Chavez is also quoted as saying, "Today, I have more faith than yesterday."
Well, apparently he must! "Yesterday" his faith appeared to be in the hands of communist Cuba with its state-of-the-art medical stations and hospitals on nearly every street corner; or so it was portrayed in leftist Michael Moore's epic failure, I mean fable, SiCKO.
As confessed Christians seeking after Jesus, despite our differences in theological perspectives, we should all strive to live the life as the man Christ himself lived. His teachings, overall ministry and life were the perfect example of loving and forgiving others.
So why is it difficult to see a man like Hugo Chavez weep and cry for mercy from God? Why do we cast condemnation upon a man with the little knowledge of his life given us from various news and media outlets? I have yet to travel to Venezuela; sip native coffee and speak to him on matters of theology, human rights or politics. Why do we find it almost comical to see someone pleading for their life as if to say, "Well, your chickens are finally comin' home to roost!"?
Perhaps I'm speaking only for myself. I want to truly believe that a man like Chavez is earnestly seeking the higher power in the Father; however, if his life were spared for a brief moment, what will his response be? Should we allow ourselves to even give such a thought?
On Calvary, according to the Gospel writers, Jesus didn't cast even the slightest qualifier as to the mercy He was about to impart. He simply heard the confession and it was as He said. Do we pray for Chavez in this matter, or do we laugh? Do we mourn for his suffering, or do we condemn with Scripture by saying, "A man reaps what he sows?"
Furthermore, what about us, Christians? While we might be quick to judge or react to the actions of Chavez, is God first in our lives; always? Are we first to turn to the Holy Spirit, always, for intercession and healing, or does He ever come in second place?