Happy Easter, everyone! He is risen! I hope everyone's having a wonderful day. This is one of the most amazing holidays of the year - a day to celebrate the miraculous resurrection of Jesus. Of course, the chocolate rabbits are a nice bonus. Today I want to talk about something I was thinking about when I was reading my Bible last night.
To me, one of the most powerful passages in the Bible is Luke 23:39 - 43.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God?" he said, "Since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." 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."
These verses have stuck with me since the very first time I heard them, and every time I hear or read them I'm a little awed. It's amazing to think that this criminal was able to see that the crowds were wrong and that Jesus really was the Son of God, that he would stick up for Jesus in the situation, and that this one action would allow him to go to heaven.
I think one reason this passage is so powerful is that it shows us how easy it is for us to accept Jesus as our savior and ensure that we will join Him in heaven when we die. This criminal sentenced to death did exactly what we need to do. He believed that Jesus was the Son of God. ("Don't you fear God?" and "This man has done nothing wrong."), admitted that he had sinned ("We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.") and accepted Jesus as his savior. And that was all it took. His past deeds - which were horrible enough for him to be killed for - were forgiven, and Jesus told him, "Today you will be with me in paradise."
It's that easy for us, too. If we admit that we are sinners and that we can't get to heaven without Jesus's sacrifice for us on the cross, believe that he was the Son of God and sent to save us, and accept him into our heart, we'll be saved, and we'll be able to spend eternity in paradise with Him.
It's a pretty good deal, isn't it?