Paradise | Devotion #6: Few Words
Wes McCullough | Production Director
“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Luke 23:43
There is a simple and profound concept conveyed in this one verse; your salvation comes from faith in Jesus alone. Sadly, some are taught that one must be baptized and have a long record of good deeds to reach Heaven. Luke 23:43 shows us that even in our final minutes we can receive salvation and be headed for Paradise.
It is good to look at some context surrounding this verse. Jesus is on a cross between two criminals. In these two criminals, we see opposing ways humanity responds to judgment. Some respond with indignation and denial, lashing out with anger, mockery and blaming others. On the contrary, some recognize and admit their guilt and accept that they are rightfully due punishment.
It is interesting that the repentant thief recognized Jesus’ royalty and lack of sin through such minimal interaction. He witnessed the verbal onslaught against Jesus and saw how severely He had been beaten. Jesus responded, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). At that moment Jesus was focused not on His physical suffering but on fulfilling God’s plan. It was certainly a life-altering revelation for the thief to see the servant King in action.
As someone who is not much of a talker, I find it encouraging that the repentant criminal did not need a wordy and dramatic prayer to receive salvation. He spoke to Jesus the best way he knew how, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). God knew his heart, his repentance, and that he had turned to Jesus for salvation.
Years later, Paul would write to the church in Ephesus, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). From the repentant thief, we learned that God’s salvation is instant. There is no payment of good deeds required, nor a lengthy life of obedience. Come as you are and be welcomed into the family of God.