This Day in Paradise...

He wasn’t just a thief… Given that the Romans were crucifying him, he was much more than that… he was probably a rebel, a thug, a murderer… a threat to the state… He had lived a ruthless life and was dying an equally ruthless death…Yet at the last minute, he found it in himself to turn to the man unjustly crucified beside him and say:
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

There's actually nothing in the text to say that he said this with any less mockery than his co-condemned had used when he said:
“Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

But most believe that he was genuine… That this was the clearest example of a last minute conversion in history.

Some people leave everything to the last minute. There’s even a famous website dedicated to finding theatre tickets, gifts and holidays for those who don’t plan ahead… But as has been pointed out by many preachers before me, few of us have the luxury of knowing when our very last minute will be… There may be websites that will whisk us away to some earthly paradise at the last minute… But if we are wanting to spend eternity in the paradise that Jesus spoke of, then it might be better not to leave it one minute more…

However, my chosen focus this week has not been the comments of those around the cross, but the seven recorded comments of Jesus himself on the cross... And despite the obvious deficiencies in this man's "conversion" experience... there is no expressed repentance, no clear confession of faith in Christ, no obvious understanding of who Jesus is, Jesus still says:
"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
If yesterday's comment points to the cross being about forgiveness, today's points to it being about God's grace in Jesus...
You'll never find me in the ultra-Calvinist camp that argues that salvation is all about God's sovereign grace and has nothing to do with us responding.... but this statement is illustrative of Jesus' grace in the face of what Philip Yancey would call extreme "un-grace."
My comment is that not only should we avoid putting of our appeal to God's grace in Christ, but remember to practice the grace that he offers to all...

A Psalm of Response
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame;
Do not let my enemies triumph over me.
No-one will ever be put to shame whose hope is in you,
but those who are treacherous without excuse will be put to shame.
Show me your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you this day and every day.
Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are eternal.
Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways;
You are eternally good, O Lord;
in your love remember me.

From Psalm 25:1-7



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