WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today…”
Luke 23:43 (NLT2)
When the sun rose that Good Friday, the penitent thief was looking at his last day on earth. For him, “today” meant death and condemnation. Little did he know that in a few short hours, “today” would hold a very different meaning. The thief found hope in the most hopeless place imaginable in his day – the Roman crucifixion site. Dying next to him was the One who held the keys to death, hell, AND heaven. What he received that day was the promise of an immediate entrance into heaven after death.
The Apostle Paul was convinced of this reality. “We would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8 NLT2). Jesus made no mention of purgatory or soul sleep. The promise that Jesus gave in that instant had a time stamp on it: “Today.” The thief began his last day on earth with no prospect of pardon or hope. In a few agonizing hours, he would take his last breath. Because of his faith and Jesus’ offer of grace, hope crashed the party that despair was throwing on the thief’s behalf. Today, through faith in Jesus, you have that same hope. The moment you close your eyes in this world, you will open your eyes in the next. Who will be the first in line to see you? The One who would rather die than spend eternity without you.
Why do you think Jesus doesn’t require that we go through purgatory or intermediate training before entering heaven? What does Jesus’ offer of immediate entrance into heaven after we die say about God’s grace and desire to be with us?
Praise God for His amazing grace through Jesus. Thank Him for giving us immediate access into His presence the moment we take our last breath on earth.