And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, ‘today you will be with me in paradise.'”
Are those not some of the most beautiful words in all the Bible, spoken by Jesus as he’s hanging on a cross, as he’s being mocked, as he’s being murdered in the most cruel form imaginable in that day, and he looks to this criminal hanging beside him who realizes that Jesus has done nothing wrong. He realizes, and we don’t know all the details, but he realizes who Jesus is in such a way that Jesus says to him, “Truly I say to you,” in other words, mark it down, this is guaranteed.
In Christ, we have rock-solid, death-defying confidence that when we breathe our last in this life, we will be with Him in paradise.
“Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Today, not in the future, but as soon as you breathe your last breath, you’re gonna be with me in paradise, this word for heaven, this word for the place where we are finally with God, free from sin, experiencing eternal life and eternal joy and eternal peace in him. “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”
Let that soak in, that for all who trust in who Jesus is, and what Jesus has done on the cross, in the moment you die on this earth, that day, that moment, you will be with Jesus in paradise, in heaven. You will experience the hope of your salvation. You will experience freedom from all sin and all suffering and victory over death. Jesus, we praise you for this reality.
Even as I think about the anniversary of my dad’s death, just a couple of days ago, and fresh tears, I praise you that the moment he breathed his last breath, when he had that sudden heart attack, that moment, that day, he was with you in paradise, and today he’s with you, and for the next 10 trillion years, he’s gonna be with you, not based on what he had done, but based on who you are and what you had done to save him from his sins, and for that hope that I have, for that hope that each one of us has, that no matter what happens today or tomorrow or next month or next year or 10 years from now or 50 years from now, whenever it is when we breathe our last breath, that in that moment, on that day, we will be with you in paradise.
All glory be to your name. Jesus, we trust in you with our life, we trust in you with our death, and we pray, God, we pray, for people who don’t know this confidence, who don’t have this hope, people who’ve never even heard this hope. God, we pray for the Mughal people in Pakistan, we lift our hearts, our voices together for them right now, all 1.3 million of them, no Mughals who have put their trust in Jesus that we know of, right. No Mughals who die today will be with you in paradise.
God, we pray for that to change, God. We pray for the Mughal to hear the good news of your love, the greatest news in the world, that death has been defeated and eternal life is possible in you. God, we pray, for the spread of that news, for the sending of the laborers, for the mobilization of your church to take the gospel to the Mughal in Pakistan.
And God, we pray that you’d help us to share this good news with somebody else today, knowing nobody we interact with today is guaranteed tomorrow. So help us to make the good news of who Jesus is, what Jesus has done, known today, even as we live with this rock-solid, death-defying confidence, that on that day, we will be with you in paradise. We love you, Jesus, and we can’t wait in a sense for that day. To live is Christ and to die is gain. We praise you for that reality, and we pray these things in your name, amen.