Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” vss. 42-43Luke 23:39-43
It’s possible to get completely sidetracked by this little exchange between two dying men in Luke’s gospel. Because we wonder about the nature of life beyond death, we look here for clues that can help us construct some sort of timetable for what happens once we draw our last breath. We do that a lot with bible verses that make reference to resurrection. We want there to be some sort of sequence, a pattern that we can draw on as we speak of those who die in Christ. And some folks have done just that! They tell us in great detail what’s going to happen and often it includes things like resurrection, rapture, Armageddon, Judgment Day, purgatory, or pearly gates. Now having such descriptions can be helpful to some, but in reality they are pure speculation, the invention of well-intentioned imaginations. It’s best for us to simply take the words of scripture in their context and accept the message each text conveys. What we have here is a comforting promise made by Jesus to a dying man that also offers an assurance of complete forgiveness for the deeds of a misdirected life. It’s a message that every human yearns to hear, one that we can hold close in our hearts. With these words Jesus says to each of us, “Yes, my sinner friend, there is hope and forgiveness even for you.”
Thought for the Day: What feelings does this promise evoke in me?