Links Daily Devotional

Truly He Tells You

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43, NIV)

Hazards, bunkers, thick rough, thousands of people watching (or just one person you admire!) can all cause fear to seep into a golfer’s heart. Hands get sweaty, the heart rate jumps, legs get weak, the rush of adrenaline pumps into all systems—fear is very much of a reality in our golfing lives.

But there is nothing quite like the pressure of a sudden-death playoff. Aptly named for its ability to bring every swing under the weight of the whole tournament and envisioned trophy ceremony, this form of play is most exacting and exciting!

We can fear many things in life, but ultimately, the weight of our whole existence follows us, leading us to contemplate our death. If not at the anticipation of life’s end, then at the direct facing of our death fear will come in.

Nearly every Christian, if not every person, wants to know their final destination. I will not pretend to know all the answers, but I do want to look at what the Lord Jesus said about this in today’s passage.

In chapter 23 of the Gospel of Luke, we are taken by the author to the account of the crucifixion. Barabbas, a known murderer, has been released to the crowd gathered there at their plea for Jesus to be crucified instead. In verses 20-21, we read: “Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’”  Jesus ends up on the cross, with two criminals at his side. The horrid spectacle unfolds; the Son of God himself is punished among sinners, humiliated and disgraced.

But before we are taken to Christ’s agonizing death, a subplot suddenly develops; something worth writing about takes place. One of the criminals who hung there says this in verses 41-42: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

Amazing. Mouths probably gaped open. Bystanders must have been shocked to hear this. A promise of heaven was given to a convicted criminal by the Son of God himself! This holy transfer happened in a flash (Colossians 1:13-14).

In this story, I see us, the human race. God would be just and right to punish us, for our deeds are sin before him, and death is what we deserve. But grace also shines forth in this story: Jesus, forever a herald of the Good News and bringing eternal life to us sinners, bore the full weight of sin on the cross to rescue us.

We often call death a mystery, but Jesus declaratively and conclusively promised the thief paradise. Why? I believe he wanted to teach and comfort the man, those present, and those who would read this. Assurance in salvation brings praise to his glorious and powerful grace. He didn’t save this man so that he could do good works, for he was about to die. And what service and sacrifices did this man have to perform to be saved? The glory in this story is God’s. His promise stands.

Jesus still wants sinners to come to him today. As Luke 11:13 states, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

So ask, if you haven’t. And then take heart. Jesus has taken the whole weight of your existence, and your sudden-death playoff has been canceled due to his victory. He will now carry you home, weak legs and all.

Isabelle Beisiegel

September 19, 2013

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