“Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus said those words to one of the men who were crucified alongside him, the last words Jesus spoke to another human being before he died. To fully appreciate what Jesus said, we need to consider the following about the man who died next to Jesus.
- He had a humble and appreciative spirit. He didn’t demand anything from Jesus. He simple asked to be remembered.
- He feared God. He knew he would soon come face to face with his Maker. He understood that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
- He recognized his guilt. He looked honestly at the truth of his own life.
- He recognized that Jesus was a king. He didn’t only ask Jesus for help. He submitted himself to Jesus’ authority.
- He was a last minute convert. He turned to Jesus at the very end of his life. That was sufficient.
From those observations, what can we learn about the meaning of what Jesus said to him?
First, Jesus promises paradise to those who come to him. Our circumstances may make us feel as if we are being crucified. What Jesus offers is the exact opposite. He offers heaven.
Second, Jesus promises that we can have paradise today. Purpose for our lives, freedom from anxiety, peace in our hearts, hope for the future, the promise of eternity: all these are available to us today, if we turn to Jesus.