At the height of the French Revolution King Louis XVI was arrested for corruption. As he climbed the steps towards the Guillotine he shouted to the crowd. “I hope my blood will appease God's anger” His words were drowned out by the roll of the drums. He was 33 years old. 50 years earlier Dick Turpin was terrorising England, holding up the stagecoaches of the wealthy on the road from York to London. Weary travellers relived of their money on what is now the A1. A role carried out for many years by the Little Chef. Dick Turpin’s life ended at the gallows in York Town Square witnessed by those he had robbed. He was 33 as well.
A third man was executed at 33, his name was Jesus and he died on a Roman cross. No tug of a hangman’s noose, no quick release of a Guillotine blade, crucifixion was long and drawn out. Hours of pain bearing down on the body of the one sentenced to death. Three lives, three deaths, three executions and some strange ironies. All three were executed publicly in large cities at the same time of day and at the same age. Interesting observations but frankly who cares? But here's another interesting fact about these three historical figures.
Louis XVI was hated by the people because he was lining his pockets with state funds. Similarly, Dick Turpin was the most despised thief in all of England. But Jesus was loved by the ordinary people and they followed him, hanging on his every word. Even Roman Governor who signed his death couldn’t pin anything on him because he had done nothing wrong. Someone described the life and death of Jesus like this
He grew up in an obscure village where he worked as a carpenter and then for three years he travelled as a preacher. He never went to college, he never wrote a book, he never owned a house, he never travelled more than 200 miles from the place where he was born and did none of the things normally associated with greatness. He was 33 when the tide of public opinion turned against him and his friends ran away. He was nailed to a Roman cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. Twenty centuries have come and gone and today he is a central figure to the human race. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat and all the kings that have ever reigned all put together have not affected the life of mankind on this planet so much as that one solitary life.
So why did he die? If Jesus spent his days healing the sick, loving the lonely and bringing hope to the desperate, why was the Son of God put to death in that way? According to the Bible Jesus was paying a penalty, not for what he had done wrong but for what I have done wrong and it’s true for you too. When God’s perfect law is broken someone has to pay. Within weeks of the crucifixion of Jesus, reports of his resurrection from the dead were spreading like wildfire. Not only that but his followers were among the people moving in the same life-transforming power that Jesus himself demonstrated and it hasn’t stopped since. Dick Turpin is buried in a churchyard near York and Louis XVI is buried in a Basilica near Paris. There is no grave with the name of Jesus Christ on, however, there’s a very good reason for. It’s because Jesus is not dead, he is alive.