The Assuring Christ :: Today shalt thou be with me in paradise

Each of the seven sayings from the Cross gives us a glimpse into the nature of Jesus Christ. In the second saying, when Jesus, tells the malefactor (criminal) who had acknowledged and addressed Jesus as Lord and King (Luke 23:42), that he will be with Jesus in paradise that day, we see Jesus Christ – the Assurer of his presence in paradise.

The prophet Isaiah had prophesied of the assuring Christ centuries earlier, when he recorded that Jesus would be numbered with the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12). On the Cross, we see condemned like the other malefactors (Luke 23:39-40), this prophetic saying comes true.

Points to ponder:
Amidst this condemnation that Christ suffered, as a criminal, though he had committed no crime, Jesus speaks words of eternal life (John 6:68), words of assurance – a blessed assurance, that the one who is condemned in the eyes of man is not condemned in the eyes of God, because he who had recognized Jesus a good man, having done nothing wrong (Luke 23:41), realized and recognized that Jesus the good man was indeed God-man and that Jesus was Lord and King, who will come again in his kingdom (Luke 23:42). The criminal’s request was to be remembered for he said “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom”, but Christ Jesus responded in a manner of speaking, that there would be no need for remembrance, because that criminal was going to be with Christ that very day.

Notice how, Jesus did not condemn or remind him of the criminal’s sinful past, which by earthly standards deserved excruciating death. Instead, Jesus focused on the criminal’s saintly future – a future with Christ himself. This gives hope – hope to the vilest of sinners (of whom I am chief) and does not preclude anyone out of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The criminal died that day, yet he lived for whoever believes in Jesus, though he shall die, yet shall he live (John 11:25-26).

Also note, how the criminal’s request talks about “Jesus’ kingdom” not the kingdom of man. Jesus taught his disciples to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth. Yet many a times, we in our human fallibilities and carnal desires seek to establish our own kingdoms. Like the criminal, we must ask for God’s kingdom to come and not our own. His will, not our will be done.

And to all, who like the criminal, recognize Jesus, not solely as a good man, but as God-man, the only man in whom the fullness of God dwells (Colossians 1:19), as the Lord and as a King whose kingdom will come, Jesus is the assuring Christ with whom we shall all be, in paradise.

Is Jesus The Assuring Christ to you? In other words, have you believed in him and accepted him as Lord and King of your life?

Luke 23:39-43 (KJV)
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Isaiah 53:12 (KJV)
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

John 11:25-26 (KJV)
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

A sinner magnet

Luke 15:1 records the parable of the lost sheep. It states that the publicans (tax collectors) and sinners drew near unto Jesus in order to hear him. This led to those who were self-righteous to murmur that “Jesus communed with sinners.” At this juncture, Jesus narrates the parable of the lost sheep to imply that the “never-giving up” God would go after even the one sinner who is lost as would a good Shepherd after a sheep that is lost.

And hidden in this account is the fact that publicans and sinners were attracted (drew near) to Jesus. They came near Him in order to hear Him. What was it that they wanted to hear? Jesus was recognized to be teacher from God for His words were accompanied by miracles (John 3:2). The disciple of Christ correctly recognized that solely in Christ were words of eternal life; words that assured hope for the hopeless (John 6:68). He did not condemn anyone, evidence of which we see in His encounter with the adulteress woman, as He expressed this vocally, stating “I do not condemn thee, go and sin no more. Sinners came to Christ as they could hear only from Him words that could save and sanctify them. Jesus was a sinner magnet!

Points to ponder:
1. Do those who don’t know Christ Jesus (the lost sheep) draw near to us to hear us, as they did with Jesus?
2. Do we have the words of eternal life i.e., the Gospel of Jesus that condemns no one who puts their trust in Him and gives hope to the hopeless?
3. Are you and I a sinner magnet? Jesus was one!

Luke 15:1 (KJV)
1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

John 8:10-11 (KJV)
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Return and Remember; Remember and Return

Psalm 94:15 states that judgment shall return unto righteousness. God’s judgment on mankind was borne by His Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One; the Righteousness of God; God incarnate who returned to the world He created in the person of His Son. He remembered each one of us, His inheritance, whom he could not forsake, despite our unfaithfulness (Psalm 94:14). He returned and remembered us, and it cost Him His ALL, for Jesus made Himself nothing (Philippians 2). And by the redeeming act of Jesus Christ, who paid the wages of our sin, which is death, in FULL, our transgressions are blotted out and God has assured us that He will NOT remember our sins anymore (Isaiah 43:25). Why? Not because of our sake, but for His own sake, lest He in His Holy and Just nature, consume us for our wickedness (Isaiah 43:25).

God returned and remembered us! So what are we to do? We are to remember and return!  Through the voice of His prophet, Isaiah, God asks us to put him in remembrance stating that in order for us to be justified before God, we need to remember and plead. But did you realize that we don’t need to plead on our own? The scripture says, let us plead together (Isaiah 43:26). Jesus Christ, the High Priest, intercedes on our behalf with God and when we confess our sinful thoughts, words and deeds, He pleads our case with the Holy and Just God, the Father.

But the scripture commands us not only to remember but to return as well. It is insufficient for us to merely remember, for we must also return (Isaiah 44:22). To return is to go back. We ran from God (in our ignorance and sometimes willful rebellion) and when we return, it means that we are going back to God. In other words, we ran from God toward the world (and its lures) and upon our return we run to God away from the world (and its lures). This is true repentance. The adulteress was asked by Jesus to “go and sin NO MORE”, meaning her life could no longer be the same, ever again. She had to turn from her worldly ways to be in love with Christ, her Redeemer, who did not accuse or condemn her, just as He does not accuse or condemn us though each of us deserve to be.

God returned to His own creation and remembered us, for His own sake, costing Him His ALL.
Let us remember Him and return to Him, forsaking our ALL for His sake.

Psalm 94:14-15 (KJV)
For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.
But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.

Isaiah 43: 25-26 (KJV)
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.

Isaiah 44:22 (KJV)
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.