Last Words: Day Two
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43
Not surprisingly, grace once again flowed from the heart of Jesus to those around Him while on the cross. Situated between two criminals, Jesus is mocked as the first criminal shouts “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” The irony of the question and statement was that Jesus was indeed providing salvation by the very act of being on the cross. But, the blindness of the one man didn’t lead Jesus to call down fire from heaven or to hurl insults in return.
The second criminal rebukes the first as He says, “Do you not fear God?” He shares that they have done something to deserve their cross but Jesus had done nothing wrong. Next, that second criminal utters a request that is at the core of what we all desire. He asks:
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
In this simple statement, he is acknowledging the Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the promised One – “the desire of the nations” (Haggai 2:7). Whether we have fully come to the place of identifying it or not, we all desire to be with Jesus. We all desire to do life with God. It is the desire that makes us human and a desire that we often deny.
John Ortberg writes: “What always drives us, at the soul level, is that if I believe I cannot trust God for the satisfaction of my soul, then I will take my soul’s satisfaction into my own hands. I may not acknowledge that even to myself.” For the second thief, He was at the end of his rope. He no longer had any ability to take care of His own needs and in that moment of vulnerability he reached out to Jesus.
And, Jesus did not say, “It’s too late” or “You should have thought about that before you committed the crime.” Instead, He showed infinite mercy and grace as He gently says:
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Do you believe that being with Jesus, doing life with Him, is the satisfaction of your soul? When you reach out in simple faith, not able to bring anything to the table, He responds with “Yes, you can be with Me.” And, the hope of heaven is the hope of getting to be with Him.
Often, we settle for less than our heart’s true desire. Are you willing to be boldly vulnerable and ask God for what you really desire? To do life with Him … to be with Him.
Take a few minutes today and pray:
Father, I acknowledge that I am not only at the end of my rope but apart from You, I have no rope. I often take my soul’s satisfaction into my own hands but my prayer today is that I could be with You and do life with You. May I experience the “paradise” of living life in Your presence today as I look forward to eternity with You in heaven because of the salvation that Jesus provided on the cross. Amen.