THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF JESUS ON THE CROSS
By Uncle O
2.TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE
Luke 23:33-43 (NIV)
Jesus was crucified between two thieves. Their names are unknown. So I will call them robber number one and robber number two. In the four Gospel accounts, only Luke reports a conversation between Jesus and the two criminals. Each of them asked Jesus for something.
Robber number one was hardened to the end. He criticized Jesus. He did not acknowledge his wrongs. He challenged the kingship of Jesus; “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us”(V39).
No amount of trouble or affliction would change robber number one’s wicked heart. All he wanted was a quick fix. To be freed from the cross. Although the crucified Savior was so near him, he died hardened in unbelief.
If and when faced with pain and affliction, we too are sometimes tempted to question the Lord’s Kingship.
Robber number two softened at the very last end of his life. He acknowledged his guilt and Jesus’ innocence. He could tell that Jesus was not a fellow robber. He recognized that Jesus was the King of the Kingdom of Heaven. He said, “Jesus, remember me in your Kingdom” (V42). This was both a plea and a confession of faith.
“Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”(V43). This repentant criminal was promised “Paradise” instantly.
Let us draw three lessons from this account:
1. We are all saveable. No one has sinned beyond redemption.
2. Repentance is never too late. However, there is no guarantee that everyone will have time to repent at death like this penitent thief.
3. Jesus is the Way to the Father. (He is also the Truth and the Life). Christ upon the Cross is gracious like Christ upon the throne. He is the Monopolist of Salvation. (Acts 4:12) He alone has the power to grant eternal life. Hallelujah!
In 2006, while attending an Anglican Leaders’ Conference in Birmingham – Alabama, I met an American brother in the Lord (name withheld) who was fresh from Seminary. There was a spontaneous intertwining of our spirits. As we shared experiences, I was shocked to gather that after completing his Theological Training and Ministerial formation as a top scholar, he was denied Ordination by his ‘Episcopal’ Bishop because he believed that Jesus is the only Way to Heaven. On the contrary, his Bishop asserted that Jesus is “one of the ways” to Heaven. How sad!
“Jesus, remember me in your Kingdom”. Please make this your prayer today.
To be continued…