And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Reflection from Janelle Fulwyler:
Can you remember the last time you were in pain? (Maybe you are in pain even now.) Maybe you hit your head, stubbed your toe. Maybe you were really sick. Did anyone try to talk to you when you felt this way? How did you respond?
Whenever I smash a finger or have a toothache, I tell everyone, “Just give me some space!” because I know (and they know) that if they don’t, my words will probably be angry and ugly in that moment.
Take a minute to think about Jesus’ situation here. Back up a little and read Luke 23:32-46. What does it say Jesus was doing?
He was hanging. On a cross. By nails. Big nails. Huge nails. For something he didn’t even do.
Then someone talks to him; who is it? Two people, actually.
Yes, those someones are men who deserve to be there. Men who are paying the due price for their own poor choices. What do they say?
The first one makes fun of Jesus. (Actually the both do, according to Matthew 27:44)
How would you reply, if you were suffering so, and someone had the nerve to make fun of you?
Does Jesus reply like you would have?
He waits quietly. He doesn’t even respond to the jeering. The second criminal speaks. What does he say now?
He’s had time to think, and feels the guilt for his crimes. He sees the injustice of the situation, that Jesus not only wasn’t guilty, but He also bears the weight of what both these men have done.
Plus what we have done. You and me.
The second criminal takes a step of faith. What does he ask Jesus?
“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
And Jesus, what does he say?
“Yeah right, buddy!! People like you are the whole reason I am up here! I’ve never sinned in my life! A little while ago, you were making fun of me too, and now my Father has turned His face away, and you really, really have no idea what I am going through right now!”
No. That’s what I would have said. Or at least felt. But probably said.
But not Jesus.
Through His pain, through His lonely, unjust suffering, Jesus responds with immense love and compassion: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Whoa. He forgives this guy. He promises eternal life once he dies! Out of His pain, Jesus offers hope. In the midst of His suffering, He brings salvation! From death comes LIFE!
For personal reflection or discussion:
- This wasn’t Jesus’ first gracious response in His suffering; See John 18:11, 19:10-11, Luke 23:34, and Matthew 27:11-14
- Read Luke 22:39-46 and consider how Jesus was able to respond the way He did. How does this give you hope for your own reactions to others?
- Think about the joy this moment must’ve brought to Jesus! A beautiful, joyful reminder of why He was doing what He was doing. How can we, made in His image, remember our purpose in the midst of our pain?