Today, in Paradise!

Scripture reading for April 27th: Luke 23:11-43

“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be executed.  When they came to the place called ‘the Skull’, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals–one on His right, the other on His left.  Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  And they divided up His clothes by casting lots.” (Luke 23:32-34)  The scene of the crucifixion was on a hill overlooking the city that had a strange shape on it’s vertical face that made it appear to be a human skull.  These Roman soldiers had probably executed criminals there many times.  Jesus was fulfilling prophetic words written by Isaiah that stated He would be numbered with the transgressors.  (Isaiah 53:12)

It is interesting to note Jesus’ prayer from the cross recorded by Luke.  Jesus asked for mercy on those who accused Him falsely and those who nailed Him there following orders.  His thoughts were not on His own needs, but on the needs of those He came to save.  Even as the soldiers gambled for His clothes, His last earthly possession, He was calling on His Father to have mercy on His enemies, just as He had taught!  What an example of grace!  How prayer strengthened Him to avoid temptation!

These two criminals who hung on each side of Jesus heard His prayer.  One of them mocked Jesus and insulted Him, calling on Jesus to save Himself and them.  The other, humbled by Jesus’ prayer and confessing his own sinfulness, rebuked the first criminal for his insults.  “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.” (Luke 23:42-43)

How simple was the response of the second criminal!  A simple plea for remembrance and a confession of belief that Jesus had a kingdom and was a king brought a positive answer from Jesus’ lips.  The truth, according to Jesus, was that even that day, they would both be together in paradise!  Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ?  No matter what you have done or how many things you are guilty of, Jesus stands ready to hear your humble plea and confession of faith!  He came to seek and save that which was lost!  (Luke 19:10)

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