“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth,
today you will be with me in paradise.”
When He was crucified two criminals were crucified with Jesus. Whilst the one shouted and cursed the second admitted that they deserved to be where they were. He also knew that Jesus had done nothing to warrant His execution. Whilst they all hung there naked, rejected and dying he turned to the Lord of Life next to Him and asked to be remembered when He came into His Kingdom.
It was an incredible thing for one dying man to say to another. Yet in this brief encounter something had touched his spirit. Something caused him to reach out in hope – not asking for an escape from pain or death, not pleading that there was something in his life that deserved consideration – just a simple plea from the parched lips of a man whose life was seeping slowly and painfully away.
Jesus response was so full of gentle understanding, love and grace that it stuns us. He answers the man with the most wonderful promise. A promise not for some dim and distant time in the future but for the immediacy of their present day.
“today you will be with me in paradise.”
Where death had brought them together death would never be able to separate them.
In each of the three encounters we have looked at so far this week Jesus, in one way or another, accepted the outcast and gave to them the precious gift of new life. More than they could have expected or even hoped for. Such is our great Lord.
Don’t strive for what you cannot keep. Seek instead that which you cannot lose.
Lord Jesus You really are the friend of sinners. Be my friend and help me to stay close to You. Amen.