Article: Today you will be with Him in paradise | Jacob Varghese

Let us meditate on the second word of Jesus Christ said on the cross. Luke chapter 23:43- Jesus replied, I assure you “today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus hanging on the cross, had two of the criminals or thieves next to him. Both were found guilty of their actions and were sentenced to death. Crucifixion is a horrible and painful experience one could die. Romans considered it as a most terrible horrific death that anybody dying on a cross. According to Second Corinthians chapter5 verse 21, God made Christ who never sinned to be offering for our sins so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Dear ones, I want you to know today that Jesus was on the cross with the criminals. He died the death that He was not supposed to die. There was no sin found in Him. Yet He was willing to pay that price. Between the two criminals it was a hard situation but Jesus was willing to pay that price so that He can save whole of humanity.
The two men crucified next to Jesus were very different from each other. Which one are you? They were suffering the same death. One on the right and the other on the left side of Jesus. Both the men were suffering the same execution. The two criminals find Jesus in their midst. It is as if Jesus has come to their midst not as a visitor but in fellowship with the condemned. From this we can understand there is no place where Jesus cannot enter, no situation too wretched, no plight too desperate, no circumstances too bleak. As we read the story here we can refer one as the good thief and the other as the bad thief depending on their reactions to their situations. Both were in the presence of Christ but their reactions were quite different. One says “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other one says, Jesus you are the Messiah, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Here we see the one whom I referred as good thief, though he accepted his cross, placed his hope in Jesus. The other thief was an unremorseful and impenitent thief died with his own sin. This morning you decide for yourself, which of these two are you? Do you wish to come down from your cross and continue to be of this earth OR do you wish to accept your cross and be taken up to Christ in the life to come? The good thief was a penitent thief, wise thief, grateful thief; the other one was an impenitent thief challenges Jesus to save Himself and both of them to prove that He is Messiah. One thing we understand here is that one of the thieves had clearer faith in Christ’s coming in His kingdom than the other one. This thief looked beyond death so near for both Jesus and himself, and believed that after Jesus’ death He would come to reign.

Today you and I celebrate Good Friday and we are joyful about that. But on that day when Jesus was on the cross, it was not a Good Friday but it was a dark Friday. The calm tone of all the narratives of the crucifixion is very remarkable. It moves our hearts to a passion and devotion. Look at Jesus’ reply of I assure you “today you will be with me in paradise.” By this statement, we know that it is true that those who truly repent, even if it is in the final moments of life, will be forgiven by God and accepted by Him.
The good thief looked at Jesus and said, Lord I messed up my life, Lord I did all the things wrong, Lord I deserve this punishment, is there hope for me. This criminal repents, this criminal turns to Jesus. What did Jesus say? Today you will be with me in Paradise- What a wonderful promise Jesus gives the believing thief- presence with Christ in Paradise.

Jesus giving assurance and hope for his life. Did he confess his sins? Yes. Does he repent? Yes. What did he say? “We are punished justly, we are getting what we deserve” This is his confession, his repentance and hope prompt his plea for mercy, “Remember me” I don’t know what you are going through in your life, I don’t know how your situation this morning is. If you see Jesus as your savior, if you call on Jesus’ name, if you believe Jesus can turn around your life this morning, then look to Jesus, you will be saved. Jesus gives us an assurance. This is so powerful. This morning if you need His love, if you need your life, if you need a touch of God, all you need is look at Jesus and call on His name. You will be saved.
This second word of Jesus from the cross is a word of assurance. It brings a revelation. It is an invitation for you to be with Him. Today you will be with Me, what an assurance. Dear ones, we are not with the world, we are with Jesus. Even as I end this exhortation, accept this invitation, accept this assurance, and accept this gift of salvation. Today you will be with Him in paradise.




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