And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. ~Luke 23:43
The garden isle of Kauai is called “paradise” by vacation experts. Paradise brings to the mind a place of blissful beauty, a tropical garden setting, peace, safety, and an irresistible haven of rest. The ancient Persians described paradise as a shady, well-watered hunting reserve with enclosed walls where animals were kept for hunting. Paradise is also synonymous with heaven. Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.”
There is the wonderfulness of paradise.
There is no place like paradise! It is the abode of God, and where Jesus sits at His right hand. The angels surround the throne of God, celebrating His holiness. It is the home of the redeemed of all ages. Old Testament believers and all who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior will be there. It is a place of beauty. In Rev. 22, we have a vivid description of the New Jerusalem. We are told of its streets, its walls, and its gates. It is a place of perfection. Everyone in heaven is immortal and incorruptible. It is a place that will never grow old. Jesus described it as “my Father’s house [that has] many mansions” that He is preparing for all who receive Him as Savior.
There is the way into paradise.
The thief on the cross knew that he would soon leave this life as he hung on that cross next to Jesus. He became sober and thought about where he would spend eternity. He cried out to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” He had a repentant heart, and desired to spend eternity with Jesus. He came as a sinner who deserved to be punished for his sins. By faith, on that cross he believed that next to Him was the promised Savior Who was suffering and dying on the cross for that man’s sins. He believed that Jesus was satisfying God’s righteous demands for his sins. He acknowledged that Jesus was the sinless Son of God and that only Jesus could save him. That simple prayer he prayed expressed incredible faith. At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The thief accepted by faith that being born again occurs instantaneously, the moment a sinner accepts Christ as his Savior. Jesus gave this man great assurance when He said, “Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.”
There is the waiting for paradise.
Peter encourages us about the prospect of paradise when he said it is “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time,” 1 Pet. 1:4-5. If you are saved, paradise is waiting for you. It is waiting to for you to take your place with all who have preceded us into heaven already. For every person who has yet to call on the name of the Lord to save you, paradise is waiting for you. It is waiting for you to reserve your spot. It is waiting for you to say, “I believe,” so that Jesus can begin preparing a place for you. To the dying thief, his fear of death and where he would spend eternity was allayed when Jesus said, “Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.”
Paradise is the free gift of God! Unlike any garden paradise on earth that might require air travel and entrance fees, heaven is God’s free gift to everyone who believes on Jesus as Savior. The psalmist said, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, Zion city of our God.” There is no place like the eternal paradise that God has prepared for you.
Have a heavenly God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Isaiah 13-17