“…Today You Will Be with Me in Paradise.”

 

You know how sometimes Scripture just seems to jump out at you, or you notice something you hadn’t before? Well, I had one of those moments Friday. My pastor has a daily devotional podcast, and for the Good Friday episode this year, he opted to simply read the story of Jesus’ sacrifice for us from the Bible. When he was reading from Matthew, one verse in particular struck me (I’ve also included the preceding verses for context):

Then two criminals were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. Those who passed by were yelling insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him and said, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God rescue him now — if he takes pleasure in him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way even the criminals who were crucified with him taunted him.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭27:38-44‬ ‭CSB‬‬ (emphasis added)

“Even the criminals who were crucified with him taunted him” – but what do we famously know about one of those criminals?

Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:39-43‬ ‭CSB‬‬

This criminal, who that very day had been mocking Christ, now believed in Jesus and was saved! I had not realized before that both of the criminals had joined in the mocking, making this particular criminal’s transformation so striking. What a beautiful example of redemption right in the middle of the ultimate redemption story! God truly is so good, and this truly was a Good Friday.

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  1. DJ EJ Member
    DJ EJ
    @DJEJ

    I just watched a Lenten service on YouTube from my home church earlier today in which the pastor had another insight about the criminals on Jesus’s right and left sides through the lens of an earlier incident in the Gospel with James and John. First, the text:

    “And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”” Mark 10: 32-40

    James and John don’t know what they’re asking, for when and where is Jesus in his glory? On the cross, when He gave us the gift of salvation through his death. “And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.” Mark 15:27 As the hymn states, “In the cross of Christ I glory”.

    • #1
  2. Mountie Coolidge
    Mountie
    @Mountie

    This is probably my second most favorite verse in the Bible. My favorite verse is 1st Corinthians 10:13. I’ll leave it to you to go look it up.

    I believe that this man, the criminal,  was the very first Christian. He was the first man to ask for salvation based on faith alone. He had not seen any of the miracles, did not listen any of Christ ‘s teachings (as best as we know) yet still asked  for salvation and it was given to him. I believe that he was the first to express his faith in Jesus. The first Christian.

    I think that there is no small  symbolism to have Christ crucified between two men: one who didn’t have faith and one who did so that he could be a  gateway from doubt to faith.

    And when you think about it faith is the only thing that you have that you can give to God and Jesus as a gift. It’s the expression of your free will turned to our Savior. And it’s for this reason that, if a time machine existed, I would not go back to see Christ’s  resurrection. Because seeing  his resurrection would destroy my faith. Because his resurrection for me, from that at moment onward, would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be a matter of fact and there would be nothing that I could give to him.  My faith  would be replaced with  fact.

    If I had it to go back in time I would  come here to the crucifixion to see the first Christian ask for redemption. The first of our kind.

    • #2
  3. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    DJ EJ (View Comment):
    As the hymn states, “In the cross of Christ I glory”.

    I have a hard time  taking part in that hymn or even thinking about it without getting teary-eyed. But it’s more for sentimental reasons. It was a favorite of my grandfather’s. He lived in a shack of a place attached to the back of his run-down country store, the only business place left in what is now a complete ghost town in North Dakota.  He’d sing it while playing it on his badly tuned upright piano, his foot hard on the damper pedal all the way through each verse.  It has been almost 41 years since he died, and I miss him every day.

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Mountie (View Comment):
    seeing  his resurrection would destroy my faith. Because his resurrection for me, from that at moment onward, would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be a matter of fact and there would be nothing that I could give to him.  My faith  would be replaced with  fact.

    Faith in a fact is a perfectly possible and normal thing. Faith is trust. I trust in lots of facts. I trust in people I know to be trustworthy. Some things I know by trusting in trustworthy people; that’s what faith is.

    This is what the New Testament teaches. I can elaborate if need be.

    • #4
  5. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Mountie (View Comment):
    seeing his resurrection would destroy my faith. Because his resurrection for me, from that at moment onward, would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be a matter of fact and there would be nothing that I could give to him. My faith would be replaced with fact.

    Faith in a fact is a perfectly possible and normal thing. Faith is trust. I trust in lots of facts. I trust in people I know to be trustworthy. Some things I know by trusting in trustworthy people; that’s what faith is.

    This is what the New Testament teaches. I can elaborate if need be.

    And what is trust based on but a demonstrable history.

    • #5
  6. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Mountie (View Comment):

    This is probably my second most favorite verse in the Bible. My favorite verse is 1st Corinthians 10:13. I’ll leave it to you to go look it up.

    I believe that this man, the criminal, was the very first Christian. He was the first man to ask for salvation based on faith alone. He had not seen any of the miracles, did not listen any of Christ ‘s teachings (as best as we know) yet still asked for salvation and it was given to him. I believe that he was the first to express his faith in Jesus. The first Christian.

    I think that there is no small symbolism to have Christ crucified between two men: one who didn’t have faith and one who did so that he could be a gateway from doubt to faith.

    And when you think about it faith is the only thing that you have that you can give to God and Jesus as a gift. It’s the expression of your free will turned to our Savior. And it’s for this reason that, if a time machine existed, I would not go back to see Christ’s resurrection. Because seeing his resurrection would destroy my faith. Because his resurrection for me, from that at moment onward, would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be a matter of fact and there would be nothing that I could give to him. My faith would be replaced with fact.

    If I had it to go back in time I would come here to the crucifixion to see the first Christian ask for redemption. The first of our kind.

    I think love, followed by belief, followed by obedience, is the greatest gift you can give God.

    Jesus said both:

    If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

    If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love.

    And faith is not necessarily a belief against reason, but simply belief itself.

    • #6
  7. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Mountie (View Comment):

    This is probably my second most favorite verse in the Bible. My favorite verse is 1st Corinthians 10:13. I’ll leave it to you to go look it up.

    I believe that this man, the criminal, was the very first Christian. He was the first man to ask for salvation based on faith alone. He had not seen any of the miracles, did not listen any of Christ ‘s teachings (as best as we know) yet still asked for salvation and it was given to him. I believe that he was the first to express his faith in Jesus. The first Christian.

    I think that there is no small symbolism to have Christ crucified between two men: one who didn’t have faith and one who did so that he could be a gateway from doubt to faith.

    And when you think about it faith is the only thing that you have that you can give to God and Jesus as a gift. It’s the expression of your free will turned to our Savior. And it’s for this reason that, if a time machine existed, I would not go back to see Christ’s resurrection. Because seeing his resurrection would destroy my faith. Because his resurrection for me, from that at moment onward, would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be a matter of fact and there would be nothing that I could give to him. My faith would be replaced with fact.

    If I had it to go back in time I would come here to the crucifixion to see the first Christian ask for redemption. The first of our kind.

    I think love, followed by belief, followed by obedience, is the greatest gift you can give God.

    Jesus said both:

    If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

    If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love.

    And faith is not necessarily a belief against reason, but simply belief itself.

    And biblical belief includes repentance. No faith without obedience and love.

    • #7
  8. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Mountie (View Comment):

    This is probably my second most favorite verse in the Bible. My favorite verse is 1st Corinthians 10:13. I’ll leave it to you to go look it up.

    I believe that this man, the criminal, was the very first Christian. He was the first man to ask for salvation based on faith alone. He had not seen any of the miracles, did not listen any of Christ ‘s teachings (as best as we know) yet still asked for salvation and it was given to him. I believe that he was the first to express his faith in Jesus. The first Christian.

    I think that there is no small symbolism to have Christ crucified between two men: one who didn’t have faith and one who did so that he could be a gateway from doubt to faith.

    And when you think about it faith is the only thing that you have that you can give to God and Jesus as a gift. It’s the expression of your free will turned to our Savior. And it’s for this reason that, if a time machine existed, I would not go back to see Christ’s resurrection. Because seeing his resurrection would destroy my faith. Because his resurrection for me, from that at moment onward, would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be a matter of fact and there would be nothing that I could give to him. My faith would be replaced with fact.

    If I had it to go back in time I would come here to the crucifixion to see the first Christian ask for redemption. The first of our kind.

    I think love, followed by belief, followed by obedience, is the greatest gift you can give God.

    Jesus said both:

    If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

    If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love.

    And faith is not necessarily a belief against reason, but simply belief itself.

    And biblical belief includes repentance. No faith without obedience and love.

    I was going to say faith is an on-going thing, but repentance is done once, like turning around and walking the other way.  But I can’t say that because for me repentance is an on-going act as well.

    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    • #8
  9. MiMac Thatcher
    MiMac
    @MiMac

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Mountie (View Comment):
    seeing his resurrection would destroy my faith. Because his resurrection for me, from that at moment onward, would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be a matter of fact and there would be nothing that I could give to him. My faith would be replaced with fact.

    Faith in a fact is a perfectly possible and normal thing. Faith is trust. I trust in lots of facts. I trust in people I know to be trustworthy. Some things I know by trusting in trustworthy people; that’s what faith is.

    This is what the New Testament teaches. I can elaborate if need be.

    I would say that is a very Augustinian statement- but with your moniker that would be very redundant….

    • #9
  10. Allie Hahn Coolidge
    Allie Hahn
    @AllieHahn

    DJ EJ (View Comment):

    I just watched a Lenten service on YouTube from my home church earlier today in which the pastor had another insight about the criminals on Jesus’s right and left sides through the lens of an earlier incident in the Gospel with James and John. First, the text:

    “And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”” Mark 10: 32-40

    James and John don’t know what they’re asking, for when and where is Jesus in his glory? On the cross, when He gave us the gift of salvation through his death. “And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.” Mark 15:27 As the hymn states, “In the cross of Christ I glory”.

    Oh that is a very interesting take – thank you for sharing!

    • #10
  11. Allie Hahn Coolidge
    Allie Hahn
    @AllieHahn

    Mountie (View Comment):

    This is probably my second most favorite verse in the Bible. My favorite verse is 1st Corinthians 10:13. I’ll leave it to you to go look it up.

    I believe that this man, the criminal, was the very first Christian. He was the first man to ask for salvation based on faith alone. He had not seen any of the miracles, did not listen any of Christ ‘s teachings (as best as we know) yet still asked for salvation and it was given to him. I believe that he was the first to express his faith in Jesus. The first Christian.

    I think that there is no small symbolism to have Christ crucified between two men: one who didn’t have faith and one who did so that he could be a gateway from doubt to faith.

    And when you think about it faith is the only thing that you have that you can give to God and Jesus as a gift. It’s the expression of your free will turned to our Savior. And it’s for this reason that, if a time machine existed, I would not go back to see Christ’s resurrection. Because seeing his resurrection would destroy my faith. Because his resurrection for me, from that at moment onward, would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be a matter of fact and there would be nothing that I could give to him. My faith would be replaced with fact.

    If I had it to go back in time I would come here to the crucifixion to see the first Christian ask for redemption. The first of our kind.

    The funny thing about faith is that we don’t even muster that on our own – the Holy Spirit does it in us. If you think about it, we literally do nothing to be saved. And yet, free will is also involved – a beautiful mystery we can’t fully understand. 

    • #11
  12. Allie Hahn Coolidge
    Allie Hahn
    @AllieHahn

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Mountie (View Comment):

    This is probably my second most favorite verse in the Bible. My favorite verse is 1st Corinthians 10:13. I’ll leave it to you to go look it up.

    I believe that this man, the criminal, was the very first Christian. He was the first man to ask for salvation based on faith alone. He had not seen any of the miracles, did not listen any of Christ ‘s teachings (as best as we know) yet still asked for salvation and it was given to him. I believe that he was the first to express his faith in Jesus. The first Christian.

    I think that there is no small symbolism to have Christ crucified between two men: one who didn’t have faith and one who did so that he could be a gateway from doubt to faith.

    And when you think about it faith is the only thing that you have that you can give to God and Jesus as a gift. It’s the expression of your free will turned to our Savior. And it’s for this reason that, if a time machine existed, I would not go back to see Christ’s resurrection. Because seeing his resurrection would destroy my faith. Because his resurrection for me, from that at moment onward, would no longer be a matter of faith. It would be a matter of fact and there would be nothing that I could give to him. My faith would be replaced with fact.

    If I had it to go back in time I would come here to the crucifixion to see the first Christian ask for redemption. The first of our kind.

    I think love, followed by belief, followed by obedience, is the greatest gift you can give God.

    Jesus said both:

    If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

    If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love.

    And faith is not necessarily a belief against reason, but simply belief itself.

    And biblical belief includes repentance. No faith without obedience and love.

    I was going to say faith is an on-going thing, but repentance is done once, like turning around and walking the other way. But I can’t say that because for me repentance is an on-going act as well.

    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    Re: repentance, that’s exactly it – there’s a one-time repentance when we place our faith in Christ for salvation, but there’s also constant repentance because we still sin (for now!). 

    • #12