475. THE GOOD FRIDAY CROSS THAT DIVIDES HUMANITY. Luke 23:39-43. [Paradise or Lostness]

We know that Good Friday is called “Good” because of the good news associated with it. It is the good news that Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins and to bring guilty sinners back to a holy God. The attitude we take to the crucifixion of Jesus has eternal consequences. We see this on that first Good Friday in the crucifixion scene. The scene is of 3 crosses, each with a victim nailed to it. There are two criminals and the third is Jesus. 

One of the criminals is said to have “railed” at Jesus, “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” Luke 23:39. “Railed” is the Greek word, [blasphēmeō; βλασφημέω] meaning to speak of God or divine things irreverently, to blaspheme, to mock. There is no sense of humility in his words. He wanted Jesus to do what he wanted Him to do, namely to rescue them all from their crosses. But there was no way that Jesus could affect such a rescue. He knew that it was the will of God for Him to die on the cross. There was no other way forgiveness could ever become available for humans except through His death, bearing all the sins of the world in His own body on the cross.

The other criminal looked at the scene of Jesus hanging on the cross, differently. That led him to rebuke the other criminal saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:40-41. We see in his words a number of things. We see his humility in recognising himself as a sinner. A sinner who deserved punishment for his sins. We see his recognition that God was to feared because of his sin. We see also his recognition that Jesus was innocent for He had done nothing wrong. Then from his lips came some of the most astonishing words ever uttered by human lips as he addressed Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:42.

They were amazing, for who looked less like a king than the weak mutilated body of Jesus hanging on the cross. The first criminal had mocked Jesus. The second criminal recognised Jesus as the victor in the situation. He saw Him as a king, who would shortly after His death become a King. He wanted to be part of Jesus’ kingdom as he asked for mercy from this king by asking Jesus to “remember” him.

Then came the astonishing words from Jesus as He said to the second criminal, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. Why were His words so astonishing? Because the criminal had done nothing to deserve any pardon from sin. There was nothing spectacular he could do in the future to merit any consideration for acceptance in Jesus’ kingdom, for he would soon be dead. But Jesus saw him as being with him in paradise. How? Because he had met the requirements we all need to meet to enter into Jesus’ kingdom. He had repented of his sin and turned in faith to Jesus for acceptance into His kingdom. Paradise awaited the second criminal who repented of sin and turned to Jesus. Lostness forever awaited the other impenitent criminal who would not turn to Jesus in repentance and faith.

There was one other astonishing thing in what Jesus said. He said, “Today.” The second criminal was accepted just as he was, and on that very day he would join Jesus in His kingdom. What a blessing it is for humans to know when they come to Jesus in repentance and faith He accepts them immediately. There’s no such thing as Purgatory for them to go through as a means of getting them prepared for heaven. They belong to Jesus from the moment they turn to Him. As the NKJV puts it, “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” It reminds us as St Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Salvation comes by receiving a gift, not by having to work for it.

“Today.” What a beautiful comforting word. It meant a great deal to me almost 4 years ago when my beloved wife went home to be with the Lord. That very day she passed in the presence of Jesus and so I was able to write these words on the plaque above her burial place, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8. What a blessing it is to know that as we go through the pain and grief of losing our loved ones, that right now they are at bliss in the presence of Jesus.

“Today!” I had thought that I would not write anything today but having been to morning church today I came home with a deep desire to write on this passage describing the scene of the three crosses.  AND the good news that comes out of that passage. I believe it was the Lord prompting me to write something that would be of benefit to someone, somewhere in the world who needed to read it. I want to be the Lord’s instrument in the same way that St Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, “In a favourable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favourable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.“ 

“Today!” my dear reader, the Lord may be calling you to come to Him, TODAY! He may be knocking on the door of your heart as you did on mine over 65 years ago and I responded to His invitation to me in Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” THAT DAY as I opened my heart to Jesus, I began a new life as a new creature in Christ leading to a wonderful fulfilling life in marriage, family life and ministry so that TODAY I am eternally grateful to Jesus for these words from Jesus on the cross, “It is finished!” On that day He offered the one sufficient sacrifice for sins so that forgiveness  could become available for the people of God throughout the world through all the ages. AND ALSO for the assurance of Jesus’ words to us, as he says that on the day of our death, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Good news on Good Friday! For you and me! TODAY!

Blog No.475 posted on Good Friday 07 April 2023.

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Coping With Personal Grief, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, New Covenant, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, Sanctification, TOPICS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s