“Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
What a very strange thing for one dying man to say to another! It was strange enough that the criminal next to Him had asked Jesus to “remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Stranger still was the response from a man Himself not far from death! Within a few hours they were both dead – yet Jesus rose from that death in power and glory and suddenly His promise to the dying person next to Him takes on a new significance.
The love and grace of God is revealed in a new and breathtaking way. After a life that appears to have been socially and morally unacceptable a crucified man’s dying acknowledgement of the Lord took him from eternal darkness into eternal life with the Lord who told him, “ Today you will be with Me in paradise.” Not some time in the future but that same day.
No conditions were placed upon him, no formal act of repentance was required, no further discussion or teaching were necessary. A very simple appeal, containing within it an acknowledgement of Jesus, and a faith that was probably not much bigger than a mustard seed, brought about an immediate and heart-warming reply. It brings out so clearly the wonderful truth and simplicity of Jesus great teaching,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Most of us do have longer to live than that man. And so we would need to look at the ways in which our lives should respond to the love and grace of God. Yet there is a simple truth that we need to accept. Our righteousness with God – that is being made right with God – depends not on us but on Jesus. This is what the Cross was and is all about. We accept it and then respond.
“Jesus remember me” – “I promise you.” Does it get clearer and simpler than that? As simple as sincerely saying “Jesus, please be my Saviour and my Lord” – and then following Him.
Lord Jesus, please help me to always acknowledge You as my Saviour and Lord – and may my life reflect this relationship. Amen.