” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43.
In life there are many things we treasure; things which we consider meaningful.
There is however, something which I’m sure I can safely say is common to most of us. Most of us like to be remembered. – Whether it’s a letter in the mail to wish us for our birthdays; – a card when we are unwell, – or a phonecall from an old friend, just to say g’day.
Reminders that we are not forgotten. That we are remembered!
In the above text, we see a thief on the cross next to Jesus. He was a criminal – convicted for his crimes, judged and sentenced to death. When people looked at this man, many of them would have formulated their opinions about him. Some good, mostly bad.
Depending on the nature of their dealings with him in life, they would remember him in that way in death. The proud and self-righteous would have looked down their noses at him, and remembered him as a common thief. Those who had been victims of his crimes, may have looked at him with bitterness, and remembered him as one who had stolen from them.
Of course, there may have been folk in that crowd who loved this man, irrespective of what he had done. Perhaps family, friends – those near and dear to him. They would remember the good times that were had and treasure those forever.
It’s interesting – This thief in our text turns to Jesus in his hour of death and says: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. Even though it would be nice for someone in that crowd to have good memories of him, he was not asking to be remembered by man. In fact he knew that if he was remembered by others, it would mostly be for the bad things he had done. What he was looking for in his hour of death, what he needed more than anything else, was not the remembrance of man, but the remembrance of God!
He knew that with the remembrance of man came gossip, judgement and condemnation! With the remembrance of God, would come mercy and forgiveness! That’s what this thief on the cross was asking for – for Jesus to show him mercy: “Jesus remember me – be merciful to me a sinner!”
What was Jesus’ reply? “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The irony of the matter is, even though this man was asking to be remembered by Jesus, he was never forgotten in the first place. The very fact that Jesus was there dying on the cross, was because He indeed remembered, in mercy, that thief, as well as all of humankind. It was because of the very love and mercy of God, in the first place, that He gave His own precious Son to die for the sins of the world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
This thief probably had some time to prepare for this hour. From the time he was found guilty and sentenced to death, I doubt there was much else he would have been thinking about. He knew that at some point or another, he would stand staring death in the face.But here, friend, when standing on the threshold of eternity:
he is comforted by the presence of Jesus;
he is comforted with the fact that not only would Jesus be there alongside him as he took his last breath in time, but also that he would be with him and he with Jesus in all eternity! What greater joy than this?
Even thought they could not physically reach out to each other, I’m pretty certain this man felt:
the embrace of the Saviour’s forgiveness;
the warmth of His love!
This man, in his hour of death, knew that he was remembered by Jesus!
What about you today, dear friend? Do you know that you are remembered by Jesus? Do you know that God loves you so much that He gave Jesus for you? Do you know that the Saviour is reaching out to you, as He did to that thief on the cross.
You say to me, but Pastor Wayne, I have not made time for God! How could He possibly have time for me? The thief on the cross spent most of his life rejecting God through his actions, and his attitudes. He may have forgotten God, but the loving Heavenly Father, did not forget him. He gave Jesus for Him. He gave Jesus for you! May you know today that you are remembered by Jesus!
In your grieving, in your hurting, Jesus remembers you and that He is with you. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” Psalm 147:3.May you know that you are remembered!
In the valley experiences of life, when it seems you stand alone to face the storms coming your way, Jesus remembers you and stands alongside you, saying: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you!” Hebrews 13:5.
At the end of life, when standing on the threshold of eternity, when about to say goodbye to the toils and burdens of this life, all who believe in Jesus, God’s gift of love to this world,have the blessed hope, the blessed assurance that the thief had on that cross – “today you will be with me in paradise” As the forgiven children of God; as those who have been moved by God’s grace to repent of our sins; we have the blessed assurance that when we close our eyes on this earth we will be ushered into the presence of our loving Saviour! That we will “be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord”2 Corinthians 5:8.
What bliss to know that in our hour of death; when our labours on earth are over:
That we need not fear.
That death has lost its sting!
That the grave has lost its victory over us!
That as we stand and stare death in the face, holding our hand is the giver of life; Life Himself, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
The hymnwriter, Henry Lyte, says:
“Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes. Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies: Heaven morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee: In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”
Oh what a comfort and joy- The joy of being remembered by Jesus!
May you know that you are remembered by Him!