Bible Reading: Luke 23:39-56
At the cross of Jesus we see two men who represent the decision that all people have to make. Simply put: What will you do about Jesus? Will you accept Him as your Savior, or not? The answer to that question will determine your eternal destiny.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
“This is Heaven on earth.” Have you ever heard someone say that? They are somewhere that is so beautiful, so picturesque, so enjoyable, so pleasurable…that they just can’t find the right words to describe it. So, they say, “This is Paradise.” As I’ve traveled around the world I’ve seen some places that I might describe as Paradise. For instance…
- the Grand Canyon
- the Rocky Mountains
- the Bahamas
- the Alaska Mountain Range
- the Sea of Galilee.
Paradise. A place of incomparable beauty. A place that was inspiring.
Jesus talked about Paradise. When He was crucified…He wasn’t alone. The Bible tells us that two criminals were also crucified…one on His left and one on His right. One of them was obstinate and angry. He mocked Jesus. But the other one was sorrowful for what he had done and admitted his guilt. He then asked Jesus to take him with Him to His kingdom. Jesus told him, “…today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Paradise. The word “paradise” comes from the Persian language and spoke of a huge, enclosed woodland area, or reserve. Maybe something like a national park that is maintained and cared for. It is beautiful with rich plant life and picturesque scenery. It is a place of calm, and peace, and security. Food and water are plentiful. Paradise.
Notice what Jesus said about Paradise. First, He told the man that “today” he would be in Paradise. That tells us what happens after we die. There isn’t any waiting. You don’t go somewhere else, first. You go straight to Paradise. Second, you go there with Jesus. The man asked Jesus to take him with Him to His kingdom. Jesus replied, “…today you will be with Me.” So, when you die, if you are a believer in Jesus…you will be with Him, in His kingdom. Wherever Jesus is…you will be. And third, Jesus said that he would be in “Paradise”. Now, what, and where is Paradise? Paradise is Heaven. Where is Heaven? Where God lives. The moment that you die…you immediately go with Jesus to where God lives in Heaven. Paradise.
But you need to pay careful attention, here. There were two men crucified along with Jesus. One was stubborn. And instead of taking responsibility for his sin…he tried to make Jesus responsible to do something about it. People still try to do that, today. They try to blame God for the evil and sin that is in the world, and for the evil and sin that is in them. They refuse to take responsibility for their sin. That man closed his eyes and died. Then, the next moment, he woke up and at that moment began to pay the full penalty for the responsibility of all of his sin…forever, and ever…in a place called Hell. But the other man said that they deserved their punishment. He admitted his sin and his guilt. Then, he turned to Jesus and asked that He take him with Him to Heaven. And that is just what Jesus did. He forgave the man’s sin and took him to Heaven. Just imagine…that man is hanging from the cross in pain, in agony, feeling guilty for all that he had done wrong. He closes his eyes, takes his last breath, his heart stops…his last moment on earth. Then, He opens his eyes, takes his first breath, his heart starts…his first moment in Paradise. Just imagine. No more suffering. No more sorrow. No more pain. No more tears. Paradise. Heaven.
The choice that those two men made represents the choice that all people have to make. Where are you going to spend eternity? Will you refuse to confess your sin and accept Jesus as your Savior? Or, will you confess your sin and ask Jesus to be your Savior and to forgive you of your sin? That is the choice that we all have to make. And that decision is the most important choice that you will ever make because it will determine where you spend all of eternity…Heaven, or Hell.
Paradise. Shut your eyes and think of the most wonderful, amazing place that you can imagine. Got it? Doesn’t even come close. Let your imagination fly to its greatest extent…and you’re not even close to what Paradise is going to be like. And then, realize this…the greatest thing about Paradise is not what it is, or where it is…but Who is there. God. In Paradise, you will spend all of eternity in the presence of God. Now, that is Paradise! I’ll see you there.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,