32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 32–43 ESV Read More
I don’t know if it works like this, but when we get to Heaven and there is a new earth and all of that, I want to track down this guy and give him a hug. He is a walking example of the fact that we are saved by faith, and not our works.
I know, I know, he did some works up there, but he was kind of bad at it. Instead of reading his words to Jesus as a last second negotiation, though, read it humbly. This poor guy knows he’s about to die. The one thief is still fighting, still hostile, but this guy has given up.
It’s also wild to consider this conversation at all. Here are two murderers being executed, and they know about Jesus. They know that He may actually be or not be the Christ, the Chosen One of God! They are probably hearing all of the taunts of the crowd and experienced a different crucifixion overall. In a few hours, they would still be alive though Christ is dead. They may have not been whipped, or maybe even tied to their crosses with rope instead of being nailed up.
In all of that, Jesus is still lucid enough while they are all hung up there to have this meaningful conversation. They know what is going on and Jesus is able to respond.
So even to His dying moments, Jesus is teaching, forgiving, and saving.
But Why Not Three Days Until Paradise?
When Jesus died, He went and preached to people that had already died and led the faithful into God’s presence. That place, however it exists, doesn’t have time. We have days because the Earth spins around (and our understanding of that is only about 500 years old, right Copernicus?) but the afterlife doesn’t have days. Instead of getting into the astronomy of days and the passage of time in the afterlife, Jesus put it into simple, understandable language like He always did.
“As far as you’re concerned, don’t be afraid of what is going to happen to you when you die. You’ll be with me, the Son of God and Chosen Savior of the World, upon your death.”
Jesus spoke to the thief’s fears in that moment, not our theological chronological hang-ups.
He says the same thing to us today. Don’t be afraid about what will happen when you die. You’ll be with Jesus, which was His highest goal since page 1. It’s true for all who believe, even if you’re a hopeless case hanging on a cross.