Paradise

“I tell you the truth. Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Every photo, recreation, or re-enactment of the crucifixion is so…ugly. And none of them can compare to what it must have been like to actually be there, to take in the scene with your senses.

To smell death in the air.

To hear cries of pain and struggle.

To feel the anxiety of waiting for someone who is struggling with every ounce of strength not to die, to lose his last ounce of strength. It had to be horrible.

And Jesus promises paradise – the complete opposite of the immediate circumstances. Except for one thing: Jesus is here.

That’s the first photo that came up when I googled “paradise.” I can’t say I disagree.

But paradise wouldn’t be paradise without Jesus. A lot of people imagine Jesus on His throne when we see Him, and we get to go up to Him and thank Him in the most heartfelt way possible for dying to pay the price for our sin.

I imagine something a little more green. Like when Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden, and God walked among them. Like when Moses spoke with God face to face, as a man would to His friend. Like it must have been for that inner circle of disciples – Peter, James and John – who got 3 years of total access to Jesus.

Can you imagine?

And to whom did Jesus make this promise? A thief condemned to die, hanging on a cross and living with regret for the final moments of his life.

It’s not about a place. It’s not about the view. It’s about being with Jesus.

(Lent 33/40)

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