Today's Reading: St. Luke 22:1-23:56
“And He said to them, “Amen. Amen. I say to you, this day you will be withMe in Paradise.” (St. Luke 23:43)
Happy Holy Week! In the name of Jesus. Amen. Jesus is innocent. He is holy, without spot or blemish. He is the sinless Son of God. He is the mercy and grace of God.
He even asks for those who crucified and mocked Him to be forgiven. They don’t know what they’re doing. If they only knew who He was, what He was doing, they wouldn’t be doing this to Him!
He refuses to think evil of them—even though it sure looks like they know what they’re doing! Instead, He puts the best construction on their behavior. This is how God is! This is what holiness is!
And as they mock Him, using His words and titles to do so, tempting Him to be some other Christ than the One who saves us, one person finally gets it.
A robber–crucified for his theft realizes what is going on. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom!” How could the religious leaders, the holy people, all get it so wrong, and this robber, this sinner, get it right?
The robbers, the sinners, the prostitutes, even people as evil as you and me are the ones that He is hanging there to answer for. All that He has done, all that He has said—from the creation of the world, until this moment on Good Friday—has been to save you from your sins.
“This day you will be with me in paradise,” He promises that robber. It was true, too, without a doubt. The robber was with Jesus in paradise from that moment on, because He was with Jesus, the One who saves Him from His sins.
You don’t have to wait for it—His paradise is yours, too. “This day,” He comes to you in His Words. This day, He reminds you of your Baptism when your sins were washed away. This day, you eat the very Body and Blood of One crucified for your sins. His gifts deliver His paradise to you, today.
There is no paradise for Jesus, no heaven, no salvation, unless you are in paradise with Him, in heaven with Him, saved by Him. This is why He came—to give away paradise to sinners like you and me. Happy Holy Week! In the name of Jesus. Amen.
“Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare Your only Son but deliveredHim up for us all to bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”
(Collect for Holy Wednesday)
Reflections for the Epiphany and Pre-Lent Seasons are written by the Rev. George Borghardt, pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Conroe, TX and the Higher Things Conferences Executive. Comments may be sent to the author at the following address: email@example.com
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.