“Today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
There is a cartoon movie that came out a few years ago called “Wreck-it Ralph.” It is a story about Ralph, a video game character who was a “bad guy,” but who no longer wanted to be a “bad guy.” The show starts with a bunch of famous video game “bad guys” sitting around a circle in a Bad Guy Anonymous Program. I loved this scene because it took me back to my childhood playing the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System for the novice). The meeting ends with all the “bad guys” standing up and saying, “I am bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There is no one I’d rather be than me.”
Do you have a favorite “Good guy, Bad guy” duo from your childhood? Explain.
Luke 23:32-43 says, “Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 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. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
What does this passage say about the men next to Jesus on the cross?
Who are the bad guys and who are the good guys in this story?
Who did Jesus say would be with Him in paradise? When did He say he would join Him in Paradise?
When you think of paradise, what comes to mind?
Several verses speak of eternal life.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelation 21:4-5
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
“I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Philippians 1:23
“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.’” 1 Corinthians 2:9
“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8
What do each of these verses say about the paradise of eternal life?
Paul adds more insight in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
According to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, why is it that we as followers of Jesus “do not grieve like others do who have no hope?”
Matthew 27:38-44 adds more information about the crucifixion, “Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’’ And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.”
What other insight does this tell us about the men next to Jesus on the cross?
John MacArthur explains that that word “robbers” in Greek is “lestes,” “Which denotes a brigand who plunders as he steals. These men were not petty thieves or even common robbers, but cruel bandits who took pleasure in tormenting, abusing and often killing their victims.”
Who else was mocking Jesus? What did they say?
Many times we put people into “Good Guy, Bad Guy” groups. We can look at the robbers next to Jesus and do the same thing. However, when we study the Bible, we find that both were bad guys. Both were cruel people who ridiculed Jesus. One though, through the amazing grace of Jesus, came to an understanding of who Jesus was, and because of that, he will spend eternity in paradise.
It was not just “criminals” who needed Jesus and who became followers of Jesus.Acts 6:7 says, “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”
What rings so wonderfully true in Acts 6:7? What is happening to some of the priests?
Hebrews 12:28 adds, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
What does it look like in your daily life to “offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe?”
The cross brings us to a place of knowing that God is the only one who is good. Jesus is the only sacrifice that could pay the penalty required of sin. Today I challenge you to think about the praise that our Savior deserves. May you worship Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. May our lives be an act of worship in everything that we do.