From the Cross: Today You Will Be with Me in Paradise
And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
— Luke 23:43 – Read: Luke 23:39-43
Paradise, “a garden place,” refers to the state of the blessedness from death to resurrection.
Do you ever struggle with feeling like you need to earn God’s love and favor? We can take a lesson from the thief in Luke 23:39-43: there is nothing you can do to make God love you anymore, and there is nothing you have done that makes God love you any less. As this man was about to die, he turned to Christ for forgiveness, and Christ accepted him. This shows that our deeds don’t save us—our faith in Christ does. It is never too late to turn to God. Even in his misery, Jesus had mercy on this criminal who decided to believe in him. Our lives will be much more useful and fulfilling if we turn to God early, but even those who repent at the very last moment will be with God in paradise.
The dying criminal had more faith than the rest of Jesus’ followers put together. Although the disciples continued to love Jesus, their hopes for the Kingdom were shattered. Most of them had gone into hiding. By contrast, the criminal looked at the man who was dying next to him and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” By all appearances, the Kingdom was finished. How awe-inspiring is the faith of this man who alone saw beyond the present shame to the coming glory!
Lord, may I know Your earthly humanity that endured the humiliation of the cross for the forgiveness of my pride of life sin. May I become more like You, dying to self, and filled with Your humility to set the captives free. I can only repay You with my adoration and say, “unto You oh Lord I bring my life, have Your way with me”.
Pastor Greg & Victoria Volich