“TODAY… IN PARADISE”
Leslie M. John
“And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43 ESV)
“And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required” (Luke 23:24)
Pontius Pilate, the governor, conceded to the requirement of Jews and others and proclaimed death sentence upon Jesus in spite of the fact that Jesus did no wrong to anyone. Herod, and Pilate had declared that Jesus was “just” and yet they did not set Him free.
Pilate released a notable criminal, whose name was Barabbas, charged with murder and sedition, from prison, as a gift unto the Jews and gave out the illegal verdict that Jesus be crucified as they required. Barabbas, the noted criminal was released in preference to Jesus, who was perfect and holy, without any blemish and any sin; so much for the injustice of the rulers, who gave illegal sentence, and so much for Jews who called upon themselves the curse that the blood of Jesus be upon them.
“Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:25)
That fulfils the prophecy.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3)
As Jesus was being led away they forced one whose name was Simon, a Cyrenian, who came out of the country, to bear the cross after Jesus. A great company of people, which included women, cried looking at the agony Jesus, who was on His way of fulfilling the prophecies written about seven hundred years ago by Isaiah.
Looking at them the Lord admonished them not to cry for Him but cry for themselves and their children, who required that He be crucified. He said those in future who do not give birth to children will be considered blessed and those who would have children will cry out to the mountains to fall on them and hills to cover them.
The Lord wondered if such great injustice could be done to Him when He was with them, how much would be done in the days when He would not be with them (cf. Matthew 24:19; Luke 21:23; Revelation 6:16-17; Isaiah 2:21). Jesus spoke a proverb that infers that He was as innocent as the green tree in the proverb.
“For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:31)
After this the authorities sent two others, who were criminals, to be put to death with Jesus. How ignominious and hideous it was that the “Just” Lord was considered by them to be equal with two malefactors. A prophecy in Isaiah was fulfilled.
“…and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12b)
When they reached a place called “Calvary” or “Golgotha” they crucified Jesus along with the two criminals, one on His right and another on the left. In spite of all the injustice they did to Jesus, the Lord prayed to the Father saying ““Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots and divided his garments in fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 53:12a).
The people who were watching scoffed at Him saying “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” If Jesus really wanted to save Himself, he could have prayed and called for legions of angels to fight on behalf of Him, but it was not the purpose that Jesus came into this world for.
“Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53 ESV)
Apostle Paul writes about Jesus:
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Philippians 2:6-10)
The Lord came down die on behalf of sinners that they might have everlasting life by accepting Him as the Lord. One of the soldiers went offering the Lord sour wine and said “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was an inscription on the Cross that read ““This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the malefactors, who were on the cross, insulted Jesus saying “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” However, the second malefactor realized that Jesus was the Son of God and the Lord will come as king and establish His kingdom.
The second malefactor then, rebuked the first one and said to him to fear God. He said they received death sentence to die on the cross because they deserved such condemnation, whereas the Lord did no wrong, yet He was under the same condemnation as they were.
Turning to the Lord the second malefactor said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Lord Jesus took compassion on him and said “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (cf. Luke 23:32-43 ESV)
Few important points to note here are that Pilate sentenced Jesus to death even though the Lord did no wrong; much less anything that deserved death penalty. Lord Jesus had no blemish in Him. He did not sin neither did He any harm to anyone. He came to save sinners, and did all the good for mankind, and not only He healed the sick, but prayed to the Father to forgive them that crucified Him.
Roman Government treated Jesus one equal with two criminals even though Jesus did not commit any crime.
One of the two malefactors was rude and rash to the Lord and insulted him but the second one confessed that he and other malefactor justly received reward for their wrong doing. He confessed that Jesus is the Lord and that He would come as King to establish His kingdom. He then prayed to the Lord to remember Him when He comes in His glory as King.
Lord Jesus was not only compassionate to forgive the sins of the second malefactor immediately but He assured him that he would be with the Lord in Paradise the same day.
Salvation is as simple confessing by mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in heart He was raised from the dead on the third day. Today is the day to confess your sins to Jesus and accept Him as your Lord if you wish to receive everlasting life; otherwise, according to the Bible, the place of those who are not saved is the “lake of fire”.