In Paradise

Our second last word of Jesus on the cross is also found in Luke 23 and is given in response to one of the criminals crucified next to Him (v.32).

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23.43

The only deathbed conversion in the Bible gives us hope that it is never too late to turn to the Lord, but, it is the only deathbed conversion in the Bible, so it shouldn’t give us a false sense that we can wait until the very last minute to ‘get religious’ as many people see it. 

Imagine floating down a river towards a waterfall and there is a big rock right on the edge of the drop that you plan to grab on to. Whilst you are floating towards the edge there is a man on the side of the river calling out to you with a life-saver but you reply ‘Don’t worry, I’ll grab that rock just before I fall‘. But in the course of floating down the river the current has taken you so far from the rock you can’t grab it. In the course of your floating you’ve also taken on so much water than you may not be physically able to grab it. The man on the side is willing and able to save you should you call out to him, but you never did, vainly hoping to wait until the very last second. 

Sadly, this is how many people view salvation and eternal life: ‘I’ll wait until I’m old and ready to die, then I’ll think about all that‘. Sadly, for many, they never get this chance meaning that decisions made in the here-and-now become all the more important. 

Friends, who do you need to talk to about salvation and eternal life today?

Who do you need to send this to and have them read it today?

These words spoken by Jesus on the cross are – like many others – a comfort and a challenge. For those that have trusted Him they are a huge comfort but the context they are given in brings a real challenge.

These words were painfully spoken during crucifixion but they were given nonetheless. It can be painful having these kinds of conversations with people, but follow His example and have one today.

Father, forgive them…

The first saying of Jesus on the cross is found in Luke 23.34 and we read,

…Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Even to the very end, Jesus was others-focused. This will come up again and again as we move through the last things He said in His earthly life. Others. Right up to the end, Jesus was others-focused. Right up to the end, Jesus sought forgiveness for those that did not deserve it. Is there a more poignant example of His grace in action than Jesus on the cross seeking forgiveness for those literally crucifying Him?

Don Stewart writes,

He came to earth for the purpose of forgiving sinners and He loved them and forgave them up until the end.

How about you?

Is there anybody you need to forgive? Is there anybody that you need to reconcile with? Is there anybody from whom you need to ask forgiveness? We are encouraged to seek forgiveness if we have wronged others (Matthew 5.23.24) and to forgive as we’ve been forgiven (Ephesians 4.32). Seek that today.

As we move through the words of Jesus on the cross and pause to reflect on this truly incomprehensible sacrifice, let us not overlook the practical applications in our lives. Here, as Jesus said “Father, forgive them…”, let us pursue forgiveness and reconciliation with those around us today.