Jesus, the one who loves us most, used his last breath and his last words to address our deepest needs.
Jesus died while hanging between two criminals. In his dying moments one recognized Jesus as the King with a Kingdom, and asked to be remembered. Jesus made a surprising and powerful promise of heavento those who believe in who he is.
Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him.When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine.They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.”
The two criminals were very alike.
Both were very evil and foolish with their lives.
Both were at the end of a long road of bad choices.
Both were given their last call, a last opportunity by Jesus.
The two criminals were very different.
The first thief saw Jesus as a possible way of escape, nothing else. He had no brokenness, sorrow, or repentance.
The second thief saw Jesus as the King to be followed.
He focused on Jesus.
He feared God.
He admitted his sin and accepted justice.
He believed that Jesus is exactly who He said he was, a good and mighty King.
The second thief prayed, “When you get to your Kingdom, remember me.”
Jesus said, “Today, in Paradise.”
Heaven is real, immediate, with Jesus.
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
II Corinthians 5:6-8
Jesus is the Way.
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.And you know the way to where I am going.”
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Life hinges on Who you believe Jesus is. Jesus is the key to heaven.
Ask God to help you be sure of who Jesus is.
Commit to daily prayer and an invitation to Easter for someone who needs forgiveness.