Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Forever with the King
Temptation makes people lose perspective. The student tempted to cheat on a test can easily forget that getting caught will earn him an F. The teen tempted to cheat on a curfew can easily forget that getting caught will earn a grounding. The husband tempted to cheat on his family can easily forget that his actions will destroy that family. There are consequences to the choices we make.
The first Adam realized this when he heard that sickening thud of the gate to Eden’s paradise slamming shut behind him. Adam and Eve had blown it. Their choices had earned them a one-way ticket out of Eden. Paradise lost.
With his sacrifice, with his shouts of agony and bitter pain, Christ Jesus opened the gate that Adam had slammed shut. As you see him battered and bloody, suspended on a cross for crimes he didn’t commit, remember that Jesus is still the King of heaven and earth. He still holds the key to eternal life. He still readily opens the door to all who simply trust in him. Paradise found.
When someone asks me why I am a Christian, I usually say, “Because I find in Jesus all the things that I cannot find anywhere else in the world.” Things like hope—real hope, lasting hope, is found only in Jesus. And we need it. Every day we see promises that go unfulfilled. Every day we see evidence of man’s ugliness and spiritual deadness. Every day we see horrible tragedies that we have no answers for. We need hope.
People put their hope in many things. But only Jesus can promise and deliver on the hope of a better life after this one. When death draws near and we get ready to close our eyes, there is nothing for faithful hearts to fear. Because Jesus is there with his promise. “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”
King of life and death, draw near to me with your kindness and mercy throughout the seasons of my life. And when it comes time for me to die, be with me especially then, directing my heart to your empty tomb, to your royal power, and to the paradise that awaits me through you. Amen.