2nd Word: "Truly, I Say to You, Today You Will Be with Me in Paradise"
Each day of Holy Week, we will post a devotional reflection on the 7 last words of Christ from the cross.
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
We all know Jesus is loving. That’s a given. But deep down I think we wonder how loving He truly is?
It’s the question of extent that haunts us.
In other words, it’s not that we doubt His mercy; I think we wonder just how extensive is His mercy. We don’t doubt that He forgives; we just wonder how much forgiveness He truly has. We don’t doubt that Jesus is indeed benevolent; we just wonder, perhaps we fear, that His benevolence will run dry.
Well these words to a thief disclose the expanses of the Savior’s heart, and it is breathtakingly to behold.
Just how excessive is the Lord Jesus?
A wicked hardened criminal who had spent his entire life in utter rebellion but happened to have a few minutes of repentance at the end, who had defamed God with a lifetime of breaths but happened to use his last breath to ask for mercy, who wanted nothing to do with God his entire life but happened to want Him as he died, and Christ tells him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
That’s not grace. That’s silly, reckless, imprudent, irresponsible, foolish, makes no sense at all, grace.
Why do you think that God’s providence ordained a radical deathbed conversion to take place at Calvary?
Of course there are many reasons, but I’ll give you one; you are no longer allowed to question the extent of your Savior.
You’re not allowed to say you have more sin than He has grace. You’re not allowed to say you’ve used up your chances and He won’t receive you back. You’re not allowed to say it’s too late for you. You can no longer doubt the extent of the Savior’s salvation.
His commitment is far greater than your weakness.
His forbearance is far greater than your wanderings.
His faithfulness is far greater than your failures.
His grace is far greater than your sins.
But even the most seasoned saint struggles to believe this and deep down wonders if it’s too good to be true. And honestly, I understand the skepticism. After all, every other experience has taught us that this is just impossible. We live in a world of conditional love, failed commitment, limited kindness, shallow forbearance, and almost nonexistent grace. Simply put, in our world stories like this don’t happen.
But they happen in the Bible.
The challenge for us is to distrust our experiences in the world and trust the experience of the thief on the cross. It may seem to good to be true, but Jesus’ own words to this thief are telling us it is true.
How extensive is the love of Jesus? Enough to handle a thief on the cross. Enough to handle you.