As Jesus hung suspended between heaven and earth he spoke 7 amazing words from the cross.
Yesterday, we looked at the first word, The Word of Forgiveness. Today we look at his second saying.
THE WORD OF SALVATION
Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise Luke 23:43
Jesus was crucified between 2 criminals, robbers, who were most likely murderers as well. To hang Jesus between them was a calculated insult. Matthew 27:44 says that both taunted Jesus at first:
And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
But later one of them repents:
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43
The criminal saw something in Jesus.
He saw Jesus forgive his enemies. He saw him patiently bear the insults and mocking of others without reviling in return. He saw the inscription above Jesus’ head proclaiming he was a king, and was able to believe it was true and that Jesus would rule over a coming kingdom. He also realized that he deserved condemnation and he began to fear God. Obviously, God had opened his eyes and his heart, because earlier he had joined the other criminal’s taunts. He cried out and asked Jesus to save him. Jesus didn’t say, “Too late. You were mocking me just a little while ago. Now you’re just getting desperate.”
Last minute faith
DA Carson calls this “Last minute faith”. lt is never too late to believe in Jesus. You may feel like you have done too much and that it’s too late for you. But it is never too late to turn to Jesus.
Jesus is not simply a Savior. He is King of kings.
The repentant criminal said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The kingdom of God belongs to Jesus – “your kingdom.” He is King of Kings and Lord of lords and we must receive him as our king. We can’t expect him to forgive our sins so we can go on ruling our own lives and living as sinfully as before.
Jesus assures us of salvation.
And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
When we call on Jesus as Lord and King, we can know we will be with him forever in Paradise, in heaven. Jesus didn’t reply to the robber’s request to remember him with, “You’ll have to wait and see. You might be in Paradise with me.” He guaranteed he would be with him in heaven that very day. Isn’t it wonderful that we can know with certainty that Jesus will take us to be with him when we die? We don’t have to wonder if we’ve somehow made the grade, or done enough good deeds to get in, but Jesus’ death has purchased our salvation from beginning to end.