Luke 23:43

Isaiah 53:12 tells us that Jesus will be numbered among the transgressors; which is exactly what took place.  In the most spectacular sin in all of history, the Son of God is crucified between two criminals. As the people watch and the rulers sneer an amazing encounter takes place between Jesus and two criminals.

Both criminals are guilty and suffering for their crimes; both see and hear Jesus; both want desperately to be saved from death; and both are helpless to save themselves. If this sounds all too familiar it is probably because it is.

As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous–not even one. (Romans 3:10)

I wonder – can we see ourselves?  We also are guilty; none of us can say we are without sin; none of us can say we don’t deserve to suffer or face judgment; each of us wants to escape death; and like the criminals we are helpless to save ourselves.

One criminal is convinced Jesus has nothing to offer so he joins in the mocking chorus.

The other sees a King to be worshiped; acknowledges his guilt and asks for mercy.

Then it happens.  As his own life slips away, Jesus speaks some of the most astonishing words ever heard to a criminal filled with remorse – “I tell you the truth; today you will be with me in paradise.”

Magnificent is too small a word for what happens next.  This day – Jesus and the criminal with a reborn spirit are united in paradise – the place prepared by God for those he has redeemed.

And here we see Peter is right. For even as he hangs on the executioner’s cross — only Jesus has the words of eternal life.  Only the words of Jesus could guarantee paradise for a man who recognized him as Savior.

No power of hell nor scheme of man could keep the promise from becoming a reality.

Like the criminal we are invited to look to Jesus as Lord and King.  Come to the cross and hear Jesus speak. Come to the cross where hell deserving sinners find mercy and gain entrance into Paradise.

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Pastor Bob is a dedicated pastor with a passion to share the love of God with neighbors and around the world. The verse that has guided and shaped his call to ministry is Psalm 16:11, “You will make known to me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

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