“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” - Luke 23:43
Jesus was crucified and put to death, with two criminals on each side of Him. One of them joined the mocking crowd in his ridicule by saying to Jesus, “If you are the Christ bring yourself down from the cross and save us also”.
The other thief, however, saw something more in Jesus than just being a fellow thief or criminal who had been sentenced to death. He looked beyond the blood-soaked body, the matted hair and swollen face. Although crowned with a crown of thorns he saw a king, and asked, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.”
Just a simple prayer brought immediate forgiveness and assurance to the thief. Paradise was the place where all the saints of the Old Testament went upon death. Jesus referred to it as a place of comfort where they would be in Abraham’s bosom.
When Jesus died He first descended and then ascended far above principalities, powers and rulers of darkness. He went to Paradise with the thief upon death and He took those who were there out of captivity and with them ascended to where Paradise is now located in the third heaven.
Paul, the apostle, says in II Corinthians 12 that he was taken to Paradise in the third heaven and saw and heard things that were indescribable. Paradise or heaven as we call it now, heaven, is located above the atmospheric heavens, the stellar heaven. The third heaven, where no astronomer has ever probed, is where the throne of God is, and all those who have been cleansed and redeemed through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and myriads of angels.
Jesus said to the thief “today” not someday. The moment of death ushers you into the portals of heaven – if you have received Jesus. If you have not done so yet don’t put it off another moment.
Dear heavenly Father, I know without You I am lost, but in and through the Lord Jesus I can be saved, forgiven and have eternal life. I receive Your forgiveness and cleansing through the blood of the Lord Jesus. Help me today to be a living witness to the love of God.