Statements on the Cross: Today, You Will Be In Paradise

Luke 23:40-43
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said [k]to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
The crucifixion was a slow, excruciating day filled with torture. This kind of death was so vile that it was only reserved for the worst criminals, and no Roman citizen was to be subjected to this kind of torture. Jesus was innocent of all he was accused of but besides him there were two men who were guilty as charged; thus three crosses were raised on Calvary that day.
Understanding the context within which Jesus said this statement is important because the man he gave this promise to was not someone you would call a good man. Jesus promises this thief eternal life in paradise from that same day. Only one man was sinless among that three and so, only he qualified for eternal life in paradise.
The fact that Jesus promises eternal life to this thief reiterates why he came and why he was crucified. Just as the priest in the Old Testament would place his hands on the animal to be sacrificed, transferring the sins of the people to this spotless innocent animal, all our sins were placed on Jesus who had no sin, for our sake.
Gaining eternal life is not based on what we have done, the thief had done such evil things that he deserved to be crucified, and he knew it, yet Jesus promised him eternal life. Eternal life is based on what Jesus did on that cross and anyone who believes in that then Jesus gives them eternal life.
The thief said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
With this simple statement, he acknowledged first that Jesus is Lord, he also acknowledged that he wanted to be with Jesus, meaning he submitted to his Lordship (Lord remember me). You would not call someone Lord and ask him to remember you if you would rather not be with him nor acknowledge his Lordship over your life. Lastly, he acknowledged that Jesus was a king who had a kingdom that was not of this world. The thief knew that he had messed up in this life, he also knew that there was an afterlife and the kingdom of Jesus existed in that realm.
Sadly, though there were two guilty thieves on the crosses next to Jesus with the same opportunity, only one was willing to humble himself and acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus and only one entered paradise.
Jesus paid it all. He became the ultimate sacrifice once and for all and If we choose to recognize Jesus as Lord and Saviour we can have the confidence that we too will enter the gates of Paradise, just as the thief on the cross next to Jesus.
Reflections;
What is one profound statement that someone said to you, and it changed your life?
Are there people in your circles you consider unsavable because of the level of their wickedness? Why?
What lessons on salvation can you pick from the statement that Jesus made to the thief on the cross?
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