Luke 23:43, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
In Luke chapter 23 we read about the suffering and death of the Son of God who came into this world to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). When the Lord was hung on the cross, there were two thieves with Him, one on either side (Matthew 27:38). The thieves railed on Him in the same manner as the chief priests, scribes and elders (Matthew 27:41-44). At some point during the crucifixion, one of the thieves manifested a much different spirit than he had previously shown. According to Luke 23:40-41, this one thief began to rebuke the other by basically saying, we deserve what we are getting, but Jesus does not. This same thief asked Jesus to “remember me”. Without question, it is evident that the Spirit had worked a direct work on this man’s heart that he would say such things. To think, as this man hung between heaven and earth on a cross, beyond the help of mama and daddy; beyond the help of an earthly priest; beyond the help of any man should cause us all to conclude that God’s eternal grace is powerful, direct and works without the help of feeble man.
In our study verse, we read the Lord’s words to the thief. The Lord’s words in this verse were (to the thief) and have been of great comfort and peace to the children of God throughout the generations. Jesus told the suffering man, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Notice it was “To day”. Not in two days; not in three weeks; not in one thousand years, but “To day”. Praise God, it was that day when the thief closed his eyes in death he (soul and spirit) immediately opened them in the presence of God. Jesus also told the suffering thief he would be “with me in paradise.” The thief understood by these words that his suffering soon would end. Even though the thief was in much anguish and turmoil, the very thought of all of that ending in an instant and being in “paradise” must have given him a sweet peace that could not be purchased by this world’s goods. This thief also understood that the very day he heard the precious words of the Savior he would be in “paradise.” The word which came from the Redeemer’s lips literally means an elevated, beautiful and fully cultivated land. When we compare this word to what we understand the Land of Canaan was to the children of Israel, we are easily persuaded that the paradise which Jesus spoke of is far better. The Land of Canaan in the Old Testament was a good land, but a land that required work and physical efforts to possess and defend. The Paradise which Jesus refers to is an elevated, or a land above that. It’s also a land of rest (fully cultivated). By comparing 2 Corinthians 12:2 and 12:4, we understand it to be the “third heaven” which Paul mentioned (first heaven – Genesis 1:20; second heaven – Psalms 8:3; third is superior and above the first and second). According to Paul, this is a glorious place where Paul heard words that no language could explain. Truly this is a place where the children of God, in a moment, will forget all the toils of this life. A place where the faith and hope of the elect will end. A glorious place far above this world, and a place where the predestinated will rest forever and ever. Amen!