Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sunday Reflection on the Reason Luke 23:32-43 was Written

Paint by Kendall Beachey
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him [Jesus] to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left” (Luke 23:32, NIV).

Jesus was crucified between the two criminals. Right at the end of His earthly life He was still among sinners, the people He had come to save. Jesus was always like that. He hangs out in fellowship with the poor, the rich, the religious leaders, the shepherds, the fishermen, the tax collectors, the soldiers, the Jews and gentiles, children – all kinds of people – but especially, the sinners. Even now, He hangs out on the cross with criminals.

One of them asked Jesus to remember him when he came into His kingdom. He said: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v.42). Like Zacchaeus and the others ‘unclean’ people in previous chapters, this criminal turned to Jesus in his hour of need.

He, I think, wasn’t sure precisely what he was asking – he needs help that’s all. He didn’t use theological language or jargons. He didn’t use prayer formulas. He didn’t take his guitar and begin to praise and worship. He has no time to think positive, doing yoga or use a set form of words. He simply knew that Jesus could help him. Right on the spot.

And one verse away, the forgiving God-incarnate, Jesus, dying on the cross, promised that the ex-criminal would be with him in paradise, that very day. “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (v.43).

There were no conditions. This is not a cheap-grace-without-repentance teaching. The moment he called upon Jesus for help, he already changed his mind (repentance); knowing his need for savoir in his own sinfulness and receiving God’s grace and forgiveness. Jesus received the criminal as he was, and Jesus promised him more that he asked for (‘remember me’), more than he hoped for (‘today you will be with me’), and far more than he expected (‘be with me in paradise’).

Do you know what the implication of knowing
and understand this truth for you today?
It can happen to you too! Now!
It’s no different for anyone of us today.
Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation
(2 Corinthians 6:2).
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