Resurrection Week: TUESDAY
Julia Ahlstrom (9th Grade, Homeschool)
Luke 23:43 “Jesus answered him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Golgotha- the place of the skull. A public place of humiliation and execution. Three men condemned to die hang on crosses. Soldiers stand guard, jeering insults, while a crowd gathers. Contrasting airs of jubilation and despair hang over the scene. Why, you ask? The King of the Jews hangs between two common criminals. Worse, He has done nothing wrong. But that is not what the crowd, and indeed much of the country, believes. This man, The King of the Jews, claimed that He was the prophesied Messiah, the one that all of the Jews were hoping would come to lead them to freedom from the Romans. Yet there He is, hanging on a cross. How is He supposed to save Himself, let alone them? It takes a criminal to teach the crowd. Let us see how this played out:
Luke 23:39-42, reads: 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus makes a profound promise, not only for the second criminal, but for you and me as well. What was it about that second criminal? Why did he receive Jesus’ promise of paradise, while the first criminal received nothing? How can you and I receive that same promise?
Think about the contrast of the two criminals and their attitudes toward Christ. One joined the crowd, heckling and taunting Him. He never recognized who Christ was. In fact, he rejected Him. However, the second criminal submitted to the punishment and to Christ’s authority. He accepted his actions and knew he was being punished justly. He knew he was a sinner. He also knew that Christ was innocent. He called Jesus, “God.” Christ saw the second criminal’s submission and recognized his confession. Jesus promised him that he would not be forgotten, and would indeed join Him in Paradise.
When you are pressed, when you are facing a consequence, when you are being justly punished, do you scorn and mock others like the first criminal? Are you defiant? Do you want to save yourself from the punishment and pain? If so, you are like the first criminal, who scorned and mocked the Son of God. Or do you react more like the second criminal, knowing you cannot save yourself, acknowledging your guilt, asking forgiveness—recognizing and appealing to the one, true Savior? If so, then like the second thief, your belief is enough and your salvation is assured! Hallelujah!