The Lord’s Supper (or Communion) is when we take time each month to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf and remember his great love for and forgiveness to us. We are currently in the midst of a series of monthly posts during which we are exploring the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice by considering his seven last words on the cross. The following reflection was shared at our Good Friday Service on March 25, 2016, by one of our church attenders, Jeremiah Sweet.
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” —Luke 23:43
For the past several months I have been working closely with the most broken of families; families torn apart by the darkest parts of the human heart. Part of my job includes taking youths out of their home environment, into the community, and taking time to talk with them.
Two weeks ago I was meeting with a young boy from just such a family. My intent was to discuss strategies for staying out of fights at home and in school, but when we began talking our conversation took a much different path.
The youth asked me what I would be doing for Easter Sunday. I explained in detail. The youth then asked me if I believed in a Heaven and a Hell. I answered, “Well yes, I do.” I reciprocated the question to him, and he said: “I don’t really know, but I was wondering: who gets to go to heaven anyways?”
This was the last thing that I expected to hear, but from it I was able to witness to the young boy.
I decided to share this personal story will all of you because it offered me so much hope in the power of salvation and God’s forgiveness, just as this scene from Jesus’ crucifixion offers us all that same hope. My best guess is that one of the last things everybody present at Jesus’ death expected, including the other prisoners, was for Him to offer a condemned man a place in paradise; but He did. One of the last things that I expected during my time with the little boy was for God to make Himself present; but He did.
So I have no idea if the boy I met with was saved that day. I do know that just as God saved Adam and Eve at the beginning; just as God saved the prisoner on the cross at the end; God can invite anyone into paradise, even when they least expect it.
This story of Jesus and the prisoner on the cross offers hope for salvation and forgiveness to everyone.