Bible Study – #4 “Today”

467359811_640The text for this study is taken from Luke 23:39-43.  This text is from the crucifixion of Jesus.  We don’t normally copy over the exact text but it seemed appropriate this time.  Keep in mind, this is text taken while Jesus hung on the cross, between two other “criminals.”

 

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

 

For me, there has always been something tragically beautiful about the crucifixion.  I realize that sounds a bit morbid but hear me out.   A man gave up his life for me.  A man was tortured, hung on a cross and died for me.  What is not beautiful about that?  But that’s not the only beautiful part of this story.  He did all of this for everyone, including the thieves that hung beside him.

 

As I type this, I struggle to find the right words for this study so I’m just going to ramble on (like I do best) about what is so astounding to me, about this story.

 

Jesus told that criminal that he would be with Jesus TODAY.

 

Are you hearing me?  TODAY.

 

There was no “I’ll swing by and get you when I come back in three days.”  Or “Hey, let me chat with big Papa and we’ll think about it.”  Or “Let me think about it, I’m a little preoccupied right now.”

 

He said TODAY.  Right now.  As soon as you take your last breath, the next one will be taken in glory.

 

Isn’t that amazing?  Isn’t that epic?  Doesn’t that give you chills?  If it doesn’t, it should and let me tell you why.

 

God forgives those who ask for it.  Instantly.  You don’t have to wait, you don’t have to do penance, you only have to ask.  BOOM.  Done.  God just asks that you believe in him.  This criminal clearly believed that Jesus was the Messiah.  He confessed this with his mouth when he asked those mocking Jesus why they weren’t afraid.  Then, he simply asked that Jesus remember him when he got to his kingdom.  He acknowledged Jesus was Lord, asked for forgiveness and it was done.  Done.  Done.  Done.  Here are a few scriptures you can read on your own time to back this up:  1 John 1:9, Acts 3:19, 2 Corinthians 5:17…I had to Google some of these, I need to be better.

 

God loves us.  It’s true.  He loves us so much that he sent his son to die for us.

 

This small scripture may go unnoticed by most and certainly isn’t really thought of when you think of Jesus’ last moments on the cross and I can understand why.  There was quite a bit going on in those last hours of his life but it strikes something in me (and chokes me up with tears, and causes me to rant to Brian and Jules about how awesome this moment was) that he says “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

 

This makes my heart sing.  Crazy, unfathomable love.  It’s hard for me to understand but I can relate to this criminal in the sense that I need redemption.  I need to be saved.  I need a savior.  I need this kind of love.  I need someone to love me beyond what I’ve done, beyond the mistakes I’ve made, beyond what I think of myself.

Questions:

1.  What do you think paradise means in this context?

2.  Put yourself in the shoes of this criminal – what do think his emotions/thoughts were after Jesus said this to him?

3.  Think of another promise God has made in the Bible that has stuck out to you.  Explain why.

4. What kind of criminal do you think you are?

5.  What does “today” mean to you?

Advertisements

5 comments on “Bible Study – #4 “Today”

  1. michele hoskins says:

    Well…thinking on this is more than amazing. Jesus hais suffered so much yet can still bring hope to a criminal.
    1. Jesus is promising a perfect life to a believer. Paradise to me is no worries and perfect peace. Jesus is promising this man the same reward that he himself will receive.
    2. I am sure that he believed what Jesus said because he truly believed in him. Im also sure he was just completely amazed.
    3.Romans 1:5-6 5.Through him we received grace and a commission as an apostle to bring about faithful obedience among all the gentiles for the sake of his name. 6 You too are among those who have been called to belong to Jesus the Messiah.
    Jesus gives us grace freely so that we can be apostles and spread his promises to those who feel they dont deserve it. Just like Jesus did for the criminal on the cross. We have to let those whom society look down on know of Jesus promises. He gives us the tools….we have to use them.
    4.If I had to define myself as a criminal….I would say thief….I “rob Peter to pay Paul” Lol
    5. Today to me means….right at this moment!!!

  2. julessuman says:

    1. The word paradise makes me think of the Garden of Eden – the “original” paradise. When man and God were not separated yet by sin. When man could walk and talk with God and there was peace. I believe this is a picture of heaven that Jesus was talking about.
    2.In Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32 BOTH criminals were described as mocking Jesus during his crucifixion. Obviously at some point the thief realized that he was wrong and repented right then and there. This shows me the power of the holiness of God. That a thief had such a powerful change of heart (keep in mind this is all happening while they are hanging on crosses!). As the thief asked Jesus for mercy I think at that moment, he knew that Jesus is the only answer. There is no true hope without the power of Jesus.He showed so much faith by asking. Just prior to this he had been a part of the mocking, and now he was asking for Jesus to save him. That takes some serious faith. Even though he was hanging on a cross looking at death, he had to have an amazing feeling of freedom!
    3. “For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5). I think this promise sticks out to me because it brings me so much comfort. I could lose everything I love in this world, and God will always be here. He will never fail me. He has my best interest at heart…and he loves me with a love I can’t understand.
    4. If my “crime” is something I do that God says I should not do – then I would be guilty of being a worrier. God promises that he will work all things out for good, yet I worry and try to control.
    5. Today means not only right now to me – but also, forever. When Jesus said “Today you will be with me on paradise, it meant, today – and every other “day” forever. That’s pretty amazing!

    Susan – thank you for shedding new light on the part of this story that is often overlooked. It’s such a great story of hope and belief and faith. And of the saving power of Jesus.

  3. Roxann says:

    #4….. What kind of criminal am I ?? I am a forgiven criminal!! It’s always amazed me that God seemingly can forgive any “size” of sin……the “smallest” to the “greatest”. We humans are the ones who add those adjectives to our transgressions, I think. That He can forgive a murderer as easily as a liar or a thief is beyond my understanding. In researching this verse, I read that no sin/crime for the two on either side of Jesus’ cross is stated….only that they were criminals. To me that means that any of us could have hung there that day…..from the “smallest” sinner to the ” largest”. Acknowledging his sins and repenting (verse 41 & 42) turned the criminal on the cross into a forgiven criminal just like me!

    • julessuman says:

      Wow…what a great answer! Thank you so much for sharing this. It could have been any of us. Thats an amazing thought. Sometimes I cannot find words to thank God for forgiving me and sacrificing all for me…because I’m certain I’m not worthy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s