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Indeed #3: Glimpses of the Resurrection on the Cross

April 1, 2010

Tomorrow is Good Friday.  At our Good Friday service several of our pastors and elders will each spend a few moments reflecting on one of the last seven phrases spoken by Jesus while He suffered on the cross.  I want to be careful not to overlook the weight and significance of Jesus’ death, but I cannot help but worship God as I see the victory of the resurrection woven into the scandal of the cross.  Here is my reflection for tomorrow night on the phrase, “Today you will be with me in paradise,” from Luke 23:39-43:

Have you ever taken a moment to think about why today is called Good Friday?  If you know anything about the events that we are celebrating tonight, wouldn’t you assume it would be called Bad Friday.  Think about this: a man is betrayed by His best friends and He is taken through a trial that is full of lies and deceit, yet given a death sentence anyways.  Prior to His torturous death, He is beaten and humiliated and then forced to hang, probably naked, on a blood-stained, splintering piece of wood, designed to kill Him slowly.  What’s good about that?

In Luke 23:39-43, in the second of seven statements that Jesus makes before He dies, we see what was good about that day and what has been good every day since.  At the same time Jesus was being crucified two other men, who were truly guilty, were being crucified along with Him.  One of them turns to Jesus, acknowledges that He is God, and asks Jesus to remember him when He resets the balance of this world.  Because of this man’s faith, Jesus says to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Here, in the worst of circumstances, we are told why this is good.  It was good and it is good because even before it happened, Jesus was able to promise this man the glory of His resurrection.  We call it Good Friday, because without its horrible events the plan that God had been orchestrating for thousands of years could not have been completed.  This criminal, guilty of a crime on earth and guilty of sin before a holy God, was promised forgiveness and an everlasting life in glory through the only possible Savior, because Jesus knew that He would not remain dead, but would rise from death and defeat it once and for all.

We call this Good Friday because even though its events were tragic, its fruits were victorious!  Today, we stand in the same condition that this criminal did; guilty, but for all those who put their faith in Jesus, we are guaranteed a life in paradise.  Have you asked Him?  If you haven’t, will you?

In a couple of days we will celebrate the resurrection, but the glory of God’s plan is displayed in Jesus’ words to this criminal.  Because of his faith, Jesus guarantees him eternal life.  Even before His death the hope of the resurrection is already present and it continues to be present today.  That hope becomes your hope when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.  Will you put your faith in Him and anxiously await true life in paradise?

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