Today You Will Be With Me In Paradise

Luke 23:43: Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

This saying is traditionally called ‘The Word of Salvation’. Jesus crucified between two thieves. In them are seen the different affects the cross of Christ would have on the world. One hardened to the end, nothing will change a wicked heart. The other witness Jesus’ innocence and was snatched from the jaws of damnation to be delivered into paradise that very day. He believed Jesus to have suffered wrongfully. Christ was in the depth of disgrace, suffering as a deceiver, and not delivered by his Father. He made this profession before the wonders were displayed which put honor on Christ’s sufferings, and startled the centurion. He believed in a life to come, and desired to be happy in that life; not like the other thief, to be only saved from the cross.

This should give no encouragement to anyone to put off repentance to their deathbeds. God’s grace is sufficient for our need, but our repentance should not be put to the last moment. We should repent now; there is urgency to the call of Jesus. True repentance is never too late. How true is late repentance? None can be sure to have time at death to repent. No one can be sure to have the advantages this penitent thief did. Yet, Jesus is offering forgiveness of sins to all who confess their need and respond to his grace. A Savior is only use to one who sees the need to be saved. You cannot rescue a man is no need of rescuing. Some are drowning and don’t realize that they need rescue.  The moment we turn to Jesus and say help me He will save us, offering us the same he offers to the man on the cross next to him.

Jesus on the cross is gracious and welcoming like He is now. Though He was in the greatest struggle and agony, He had pity for a poor penitent. By this act of grace, we are to understand that Jesus Christ died to open the kingdom of heaven to all who come to him honestly and openly.

Brennan Manning: The compassion of Jesus is the compassion of Almighty God, and Jesus says to your heart and mine tonight, “Don’t ever be so foolish as to measure my compassion for you in terms of your compassion for one another. Don’t ever be so silly as to compare your thin, pallid, wavering, moody depending on smooth circumstances human compassion with mine. For I am God as well as man.” Your Christian life and mine don’t make any sense unless in the depths of our being we believe that Jesus not only knows what hurts us, but knowing seeks us out, whatever our poverty, whatever our pain. His plea to his people is come now wounded, frightened, angry, lonely, empty and I’ll meet you where you live. And I’ll love you as you are not as you should be.

This is the Jesus of the gospels. He lives where we live and calls us no matter our condition and loves us no matter our situation. Jesus loves us as we are, but loves us way too much to keep us that way. Jesus offers us Eternal Life now and into the future.

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