All of us have seen the moment dramatized repeatedly on T V or in the movies. Someone gets shot. Folks run to the victim’s side, hold their head in their arms, and then the person breathes one last time, closes their eyes and dies. In real life I’ve witnessed this moment many times. For example, when my dad’s splenic artery ruptured and he collapsed, our family saw dad struggle in intensive care trying to recover. When there were no signs of recovery and it was clear that we were only prolonging his suffering. We had the oxygen removed and in a few minutes he stopped breathing, his heart stopped, and dad was gone. Where did he go? Who can give us an authoritative answer, and how can we know that our destination is Paradise?
Millions know the story about Jesus being crucified on the center cross between two thieves. Both Matthew (27:44) and Mark (15:32) tells us that the two criminals joined in ridiculing Jesus, challenging Him to save Himself, but Luke goes on to record that one of the thieves had a change of heart.
“Now one of those hanging, one of the criminals, was reviling Jesus. ‘If you are the Messiah, save yourself and us!’ But the other one rebuked him, ‘Don’t you fear God. We’re both facing the same judgment? And we’re getting what we deserve. We’re paying the consequences for what we did. This one, on the other hand, has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered, ‘Count on it. Today you will be with me in Paradise.’” - Luke 23:39-44
When it comes to destiny, what made the difference between these two executed criminals? One kept right on ridiculing Jesus. When he did for a second recognize that maybe Jesus might have power, all he could muster was a selfish request for Jesus to save his skin.
The other thief powerfully demonstrated a different heart. First, he revealed that he knew the One we actually do need to fear—God. Second, he made no excuses. He came clean about his guilt and accepted the justice of his punishment. Then he turned to the right person and asked Him to remember him, affirming that Jesus would rule in the Kingdom worth being a part of. This simple act of true repentance and trust was all it took. When this thief died, he arrived safely home in God’s home.
When that time comes and our breathing and heart stops, who are we depending on? There’s only one person who can say, “Count on it! Today, you’ll be with me in Paradise!”
Like the thief, my dad believed in Jesus the Messiah, and so do I. Today, are you still cursing God under your breath or maybe simply denying that death could come at any time? Why not join us and trust in the Savior who actually can guarantee Paradise?
LORD, thanks for the comfort Jesus’ promise gave to me and our entire family when you called dad home. Thanks that he gave his life seeking to help others to believe in Jesus and I pray that someone reading this devo today will turn to the Savior.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!
You can also listen to weekly messages from Dave on OnePlace.com.