The setting is on Mount Calvary and Jesus has been sentenced to die on a cross. With Him are two criminals cursed with the same fate for crimes they have committed. As they hang, waiting upon their inevitable death, a conversation between them has begun:
“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at (Jesus), saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And (Jesus) said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).
If you were to describe the object of Jesus’ promise, paradise, how would you describe it? Would it be beautiful? Tropical? Magical? Or is paradise more of a state of being? No heartaches, no sickness, no anxieties, no death. Or maybe you imagine a mix of all of it.
The truth is, we could never imagine what paradise is like because nothing we have experienced in this life comes close to its reality. Paul said as much in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Paradise is something that only could come from the imagination and creative power of God. Its perfection in every sense where “(God) will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, not crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Paradise is a place where each person thinks of others before themselves, where caring, loving and mercy towards our neighbors are as important to us as life itself. It’s a place of endless possibility and the end of frustrations. It provides opportunity to every person and a place where limits to one’s potential vanish. Paradise is an abode filled with God’s Spirit and surrounded with the kind of Godly love one can feel in every moment.
Paradise is a place prepared for all those who place their faith and trust in the Savior of the world, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
If we want to have a glimpse of what paradise is, then we need to trust in God to show us. Every now and again He will provide a sneak peek into paradise in the selfless action of another or through special insight given to us through His Word. Sometimes we see paradise in the beauty of God’s creation or in the miracle of life. For those who open the eyes of their soul to see it, God provides clues as to what we should always expect in the place we will one day make our home.
On this earth, we only see a foreshadow of what is to come. Unfortunately, because of sin, we are also forced to live a life under its curse. Sin has brought with it the realization of our own limitations without God. In this life we witness all the ugliness of bad decisions and foolish ways.
Praise be to God that He provides us a way from this plain to the next. Because of His Son’s unselfish giving of Himself, we have a much brighter future. Because He loved us enough to die for us, we have the prospect of paradise to look forward to. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Are you ready to claim paradise? Have you surrendered your life to Christ’s leading? If so, you have something to look forward to that is greater then you could ever imagine. If not, God is calling you to greater things than this world could ever provide. All He asks is that you believe in Him and let Him guide you. Come to repentance and trust in the only one who can provide you an eternal paradise. He prepares a place for you. Are you ready? Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father thank you for all you have done to prepare us for paradise. Strengthen our faith in You and help us to share the Good News to others so that they may one day see You as You are in a place that is greater than we could ever imagine. Amen.