One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Tuesday, Holy Week
Father, may we receive your forgiveness and mercy as we remember the passion and death of your Son, our Lord. Grant us faith to believe all that you have promised, and enable us to have full assurance of salvation in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
One of the criminals wants Jesus to take him to heaven. He’s a bad man. He’s a guilty man. He freely admits, “We are receiving the DUE REWARD of our deeds.” Is he deluded too? How might this man even think it possible that God would open the door of Paradise to him? Isn’t heaven reserved for good people, people that have lived a good and godly life and stayed out of trouble? How can this man think for a second that heaven is for him?
Then comes the unthinkable: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Our minds are blown. Now we ask different questions. Why him? Why then? What made him worthy of paradise and not others? And then the ultimate question, “What about me?
Many people are unsure about whether they are worthy of going to heaven. They question if they have been good enough, or if the sins they have done are too big for God to accept them. As this corona virus threatens our lives and the lives of many others, people have opportunity to ask a very real question: “Am I ready to meet God face to face?”
What about you? “If you were to die tonight, would God grant you access to heaven?” I may not have the right to ask you that question, but you can ask it of yourself. What is your answer?
Let’s be clear.
God’s word says without hesitation that none of us deserve heaven. We confess freely like the criminal on the cross, “We are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You, God, in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone…We JUSTLY DESERVE Your present and eternal punishment!”
His answer to us: “In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for you, and for His sake God forgives you all your sins!”
We, like the thief on the cross, have done nothing, absolutely nothing, to deserve Paradise. Yet we can be absolutely sure of our salvation because Jesus has born the entirety of your sin and the entire sin of the whole world upon himself. He alone has paid our debt in full at the cross. And for His sake, God gives us an iron clad promise, “Who ever believes in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life!”
Paradise is a gift given. It is a gift given to you! By God’s grace alone. Through faith alone. In Christ alone! To the glory of God alone! As scripture alone has declared. Hear the good news and be absolutely confident that this is true for you!
Please share this good news with others! They need to hear it too…before they meet God face to face.
On this Tuesday of Holy Week, I invite you to meditate on this second last word of Jesus, and as you are able, meditate on one or both of these two passages from Scripture: Ephesians 2 and/or Romans 5.
Walking with you in the journey to the cross,
Pastor Langdon Reinke
P.S. Hope you and your family are faring well. If you want to talk, call me or respond to this email. I will get your message and we can chat. We are in this together. We have help available if there are needs. Please let us know.