Day 28: With Me in Paradise—Today

Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

John 14:3
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Revelation 2:7
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Two criminals flank Jesus, hanging on crosses of their own. The one asks Jesus to save himself and them, despite his earlier insulting of Jesus (Matthew 27:44), but he was only asking for escape, not pardon. The second acknowledges his guilt, accepts his punishment, repents, puts his trust in Jesus, and asks Jesus to remember him. Here literally at the cross of Jesus we see the two responses that mankind can make to him.

See the immediate and gracious response of the Savior. I’ll do more than remember you; I’ll take you with me. And not just someday in the future; you will be with me now. This incident shows us how a man in the closing hours of his life on earth, without the ability to do anything to serve God, can repent and receive forgiveness from him. It reminds us that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. Oh, the marvelous grace of our loving Lord!

And let’s be clear about the best part of what Jesus offers. “What Jesus offers is better than paradise. He offers intimacy with himself. ‘Today you will be with me,’ Jesus said. Being with Jesus is what makes paradise paradise.” (Philip Graham Ryken) I pray that all those who read these words have received and are resting upon Jesus alone for salvation. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away:
Wash all my sins away,
Wash all my sins away;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away. (William Cowper)