Summary: The second saying of Lord Jesus on The Cross
“TRULY I SAY TO YOU, TODAY YOU SHALL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE” – LUKE 23:43
We learned that the first work to be accomplished to re-establish the relationship between God and us is forgiveness of sins. Now we are about to look at the second work. This second work is represented by the second saying of Lord Jesus on the Cross. We can find in the Bible that the Lord had spoken these words with a criminal who was crucified along with Him.
In fact we know that two criminals were crucified along with the Lord. But, while one criminal continued abusing Him, the other pleaded Him for mercy. The Lord had spoken this second saying with this second criminal. The first criminal did not understand the Lord properly. He did not put faith in Him. But, the second criminal came to know at least some thing about the Lord, and kept complete faith in Him. This second criminal is a representative of every one who is going to put faith in the Lord. The promise that the Lord made with the second criminal, i.e., “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise”, belongs to every one who is going to put faith in Him. Like in the first saying where the Lord pleaded with the Father to forgive the sins of those who crucified Him, and for the sins of all human beings, so also in the second saying, the promise which the Lord made to the second criminal belongs to him, and also to all those who are going to put faith in Him.
Now we shall look to the second great work represented by the second saying of the Lord. The second saying of the Lord, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise” means “I am giving you Eternal Life”. Therefore the second work is that, Eternal Life is given to the human beings who believe. The first work is the granting of forgiveness of sins. The granting of Eternal Life is the second work. First is forgiveness of sins. Eternal Life is only after that. What an order there is, in the sayings of the Lord! Till the seventh saying, each one is uttered in its own order. Before we finish meditating the seventh saying, we might marvel exceedingly seeing the great order in which they had been uttered. Without forgiveness of sins there is no Eternal Life. Only those who have life can have fellowship with the Living God and worship Him. Therefore Life is very important in the strengthening of our relationship with God. Jesus Christ is Eternal Life. That second criminal understood this truth. He believed and received Eternal Life.
God did not choose us to perish. Our God has no beginning. He existed always and will exist always. He is beyond time. He possesses life without an end. God’s will is that we too should be with life without an end, living along with Him, serving Him, and worshipping Him. Everlasting relationship with God will be possible for us only if we live forever. But, death entered into us due to sin. This death is a hindrance to have fellowship with God. Lord Jesus Christ was manifested to remove this hindrance. With the Cross as the witness, He is giving the promise of Eternal Life to all those who believe. It is as if Lord Jesus is proclaiming to them, “I am giving you Eternal Life. This is true. For this I do not hesitate even to be sacrificed on this Cross. My desire is strong. Death cannot obstruct it. This Cross is the witness between you and Me.”
The first criminal did not believe Lord Jesus. He heard the first saying of the Lord, “Forgive them”. But he was not able to understand the never-ending love in those words. He was not able to see the underlying great Godly glory in Lord Jesus, who appeared to be meek and helpless on the Cross. He cared only for that which he was able to see with the eyes of his flesh. He thought that Lord Jesus was incompetent and inefficient. He gave more importance to save his life in this world than to Eternal Life in Heaven. He gave heed only to the words of abuse and mockery which he heard with his ears. He felt it an insult to be crucified along with Lord Jesus.
But, at the same time, even while he was listening to those abuses, even while he was listening to those mocking words, he was not able to know that the whole creation was marveled by the love of the Son of God, and that millions of angels and heavenly hosts were marveled by the work of salvation being accomplished by Jesus Christ the Son of God, and worshipping God trembling with fear and with a resounding voice like that of many waters. He was not able to hear those voices with his spiritual ears. How good it would have been for him if he had heard the voice of the angels worshipping while he was hanging on the cross! But he was only able to listen to the voice of the evil men reproaching the Son of God fearlessly! He surrendered to the circumstances which were visible to his eyes. He lost Eternal Life. What a pitiful condition!