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“Remember Me!” Luke 23:32-43 Key verse(s): 42-43:“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise’.”

Did you ever notice that there are some problems that no matter how long you work with them or how hard you try to peer into them, there just aren’t any answers to be found? I’m talking about those real humdingers that not only give you pause but actually carve out a wide swath in the course of your day. These are the posers that twist and convolute inside of your head, squirming to get out but simply not finding the way. When a multiplicity of factors collide, each wanting to go its own way, the effort to sort out which direction is the best can often lead to full cognitive collapse. Given enough time and anguish, the problem which seemed innocent enough at the start rapidly becomes an evil menace. The more you pound away at it, the more recalcitrant it becomes. The face of the problem, although defying your best efforts to solve it, you know is really not that impenetrable. Yet, if you miss the initial opportunity to grasp it, your own sense of frustration has a way of “painting” a layer of impossibility over what might otherwise be a very solvable issue. That’s when putting the problem aside for a time is often so rewarding. Attacking it again later, frustration removed, will often reveal a fairly transparent and innocent face that was always waiting to be discovered if only you had taken the time to be patient.

It’s like that for Christians as well when we look into the face of life every day. We always have the choice to peer through eyes that are wondering and full of faith. Or we can choose to look through eyes that are predisposed to become frustrated unless we get what we want in the exact time frame that we want it. Over time we have a way of “painting over” life with an almost impenetrable coating of frustration. In the quest to “understand” within the time frame and parameters of our own self-interest, we lose the opportunity to “find the answers” that were always waiting there to be found. Author M. Corcoris writes: “I was once conducting a rap session with high school teenagers. I told them that they could ask me any question on any subject, and I would try and answer it. Their questions were typical of ones I had received in similar sessions scores of times before.

As the session drew to a close, one girl toward the back, who had not said anything, raised her hand. I nodded, and she said, ‘The Bible says God loves everybody. Then it says that God sends people to hell. How can a loving God do that?’ I gave her my answer, and she came back to me with arguments. I answered her arguments, and she answered my answers. The conversation quickly degenerated into an argument. I did not convince her, nor did she convince me. After a few more questions I dismissed the session. After the session I approached her and said, ‘I owe you an apology. I really should not have allowed our discussion to become so argumentative.’ Then I asked, ‘May I share something with you?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ So I took her through a basic presentation of the gospel. When I got to Romans 3:23 and suggested that all of us were sinners she began to cry. It was then that this high school senior admitted she had been having an affair with a married man. The one thing she needed was forgiveness. When I finished the presentation of the gospel, she trusted Christ. The reason she did not believe in hell was because she was going there. In her heart she knew she had sinned. Her conscience condemned her, but rather than face the fact of her guilt, she simply denied any future judgment or future hell.” (M. Cocoris, Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, Moody, 1984, p. 163.)

When we look for answers gilded with our own understanding, we can never hope that we will find them. The world, even Jesus’ own disciples, looked upon Him as He hung upon that cross through eyes that sought to understand in terms of their own reason and logic. Some could not understand why if He could heal the sick, even raise the dead, why He could not come down from the cross. Some wondered why the one “who would redeem Israel” could come to such a wretched end. His death had become their impossible problem, their terribly perplexing and seemingly unsolvable issue. The harder they sought to discover the answer, the more their own prejudicial understanding sought to conceal it from them. Only one man got it. The thief on Jesus’ right hand, perplexed by what appeared to be the death of a “righteous” man, looked into the eyes of innocence and, refusing to put himself into the equation, was pulled right down into Jesus’ heart wherein he found the answer. Jesus was a king and the kingdom He promised was one he wanted to be in. He simply pled, “Remember me!” Oh that we could face every day of our lives with that simple plea; to put away our understanding, look up into those innocent eyes and plead, “Remember me, Jesus . . . remember me!”

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