Hope

Story

Jesus found himself executed between two criminals.  One joined in the taunting of the crowd – but the other recognized that Jesus didn’t deserve to die. He asked Jesus for mercy even after his death.

Jesus hadn’t spoken much about Paradise, except in pictures.  But he had spoken about what he called The Kingdom of Heaven – the unshakeable hope that God’s plan for the world will be fully realised. By promising the thief that he would be with him today, Jesus was indicating that there is hope beyond death, and that hope started there and then.

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Luke 23: 39-43

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Luke 23: 39-43

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.”

Luke 23: 39-43

One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!”

But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”

He said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”

Luke 23: 39-43

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.”

Application

From the Cross, Jesus spoke about something that was waiting on the other side of death. It’s quite normal to sometimes doubt that there is life after death, or something called Heaven, but when you do wonder about it, remember the promise of Jesus to a thief who in his last moments, saw the truth.

Questions

If you had been one of the criminals crucified next to Jesus, do you think you would have been mocking him or asking him for mercy?

What does hope look like?  What do you hope for?

Is being hopeful a matter of personality, or a choice?

If you believe that God’s plan for the world will one day be fully realized, how would that affect your life now?

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