Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom
(42) Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (43) Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43
There is a fascinating statement made at the cross, just minutes before Jesus died. He was bordered on either side by criminals who where under the same death sentence as He.
One of the men hanging beside him began to hurl insults. “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” As soon as the words left his mouth, the other criminal spoke up. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Amazingly, the second criminal instantly turned toward Jesus, called Him by name and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Was he talking about a nationalistic kingdom as many suppose? Certainly not. Listen to the request while, in you mind’s eye you view the picture of the three men on the cross.
Both of the criminals are going to die. They knew that and everyone around them knew that. Jesus, the third one in the picture was also going to die. Three men were going to be dead before 6:00 PM. They were all impaled upon their own cross. They were not going anywhere. They are all three stuck there until they die, which the Romans were about to hasten and bring about. They may have been alive, but as for the picture, they were dead men.
So now you have a soon to be dead man asking another soon to be dead man to be a part of His kingdom. Don’t you think that is a bit remarkable? Dead men don’t usually rule kingdoms.
This partner in death is seeing what the bulk of Israel was too blind to see. He saw Jesus hanging there in a positive death situation, yet he asked for a partnership in that kingdom. He believed that Jesus was there and that He was there about larger matters. He knew and understood that Jesus was dealing with kingdom business, while he, himself was only there to serve his death sentence for the wrongs he had done.
This thief, a common criminal, saw what the doctors of the law and even the High Priest of Israel could not see. What you have here is another like Abraham, in a sense. Abraham reasoned to the resurrection when told he must offer Isaac, his son. This common criminal was able to see past death, look higher into the work of God and know that Jesus would not stay dead. He knew Jesus was about bringing the Sovereign Reign of God back into full view for the world to see, and he wanted to be a part of it.
Jesus jumped on it. It is those Abraham-like people He is looking for. It is this kind of people who shatter nations and bring God back into full view for the world to see. Resounding from His lips came the words, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
God’s kingdom is about righteousness, justice and truth, and He calls people of faith to participate in bringing those qualities back into His creation. And do you know what? I want to be there. How about you?