You Will Be with Me in Paradise

The Pardon of the Good Thief

The Pardon of the Good Thief – Public Domain

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish additional material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Luke 23:39–43 (ESV)

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

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Father, Forgive Them

1 John 19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 23:32–34 (ESV)

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; John 19:18

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was crucified as a criminal though he was innocent of any crime. An innocent man hung on a cross between two men who were truly criminals. But this was the plan and purpose of God. Jesus knew this. He knew he had to die as a sacrifice for our sins. So, when he looked out from the cross at those who were responsible for his suffering, he did not seek vengeance. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus sought forgiveness for the guilty, which was his mission from the very beginning.

Today, Jesus seeks the same for you and me. We too have sinned against God and are guilty. We deserve the wrath of God. However, Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins to pay the penalty that we cannot. When we repent of our sins and turn to him in faith, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them.” And the Father does. What a wonderful and merciful Savior!

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True Peace

John 1427 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 14:27–31 (ESV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus’ words here were meant to comfort and encourage his followers before his time with them came to an end. He told them that he was leaving peace with them and it was a peace that the world could not give. Jesus’ peace must be understood in light of the cross. His sacrificial death brought peace to all who believe through the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. Those who belong to Jesus no longer have to fear the wrath of God because of sin, but have the hope of eternal life in a new creation without sin. The world can never offer peace because it is steeped in sin and evil that only bring pain and suffering and heartache.

Peace with God. What a wonderful thing! Consider the words of the old hymn, A Mind at Perfect Peace with God:

A mind at perfect peace with God;
O what a word is this!
A sinner reconciled through blood;
This, this indeed is peace.

By nature and by practice far,
How very far from God;
Yet now by grace brought nigh to Him,
Through faith in Jesus’ blood.

So nigh, so very nigh to God,
I cannot nearer be;
For in the person of His Son
I am as near as He.

So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves the Son,
Such is His love to me.

Why should I ever anxious be,
Since such a God is mine?
He watches o’er me night and day,
And tells me “Mine is thine.”

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Redefining Passover

Mark 1424 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Mark 14:22–25 (ESV)

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:15-20

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus shares the Passover meal with his disciples, he redefines the symbolism of the elements that were used in the meal. Passover was a time for Jews to look back and remember God’s deliverance and provision when he brought them out of slavery in Egypt. However, Jesus told his disciples that the bread and the wine were pictures of him. They represented his body and blood, which would be given for the salvation of all believers in just a few hours. Jesus was delivering mankind out of slavery to sin and into eternal life in the presence of God.

Each time we go to the communion table, we should be reminded of the truth found here. Jesus is the deliverer of his people. He willingly gave his life as a sacrifice and invites all to trust in him for forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life. Just as the Jewish people trusted in the blood of the lamb spread on the door posts in the time of the Exodus, we are called to trust in the blood of Jesus, the true Lamb of God, for our salvation. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!

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Oh, How He Loves Us

John 131 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Mark 14:12–17 (ESV)

12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. 17 And when it was evening, he came with the twelve.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:17-20; Luke 22:7-14

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus approached the cross, we are reminded that he was fully aware and fully in control of the events at hand. The disciples asked about preparations for the Passover. Jesus sent them ahead with very specific instructions regarding who would give them a place to gather and also what words to speak to the man. The disciples found everything just as Jesus had told them they would and they prepared the Passover.

When Jesus went to the cross, it was not because he had failed. It was the central part of God’s plan to redeem mankind. Jesus went to the cross willingly, knowing exactly what lay ahead, just as he knew about the man who would give them a place to prepare for the Passover meal. By doing this, he continued to show his gracious love for his people. He knew he had to suffer and die and he was willing to do it for each of us. Praise the Lord!

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The Words of Jesus

John

Reading the Word

John 12:44–50 (ESV)

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The word of God cuts two ways. For some, the word brings salvation and life. These are the people who hear the word and trust in it. They believe Jesus is the Savior of mankind and place their faith in his atoning sacrifice. They demonstrate this faith through obedience to God’s word.

On the other hand, the word of God also brings judgment and condemnation for some. Jesus warns in today’s passage that the Father will hold accountable those who reject Jesus and his message. Jesus came to bring light into a dark world. His message was that all have sinned and must repent and trust in Christ for salvation. To reject Jesus is to reject the message given from the Father.

We must never treat Jesus and his words as merely interesting sayings. He was not a philosophical guru. Yes, he said many wise things that were, and still are, challenging. The most challenging and the most important teaching of Jesus is that he is the eternal Son of God who speaks with the authority of God and came to bring salvation to a lost world. To reject Jesus is to reject the word of God and the only means of forgiveness and salvation. We must weigh the words of Jesus carefully.

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Blind Eyes and Hard Hearts

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are currently reading through the life of Jesus Christ. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 12:37–43 (ESV)

37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

It Had To Be this Way

Purple Cross

Reading the Word

John 12:27–36 (ESV)

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus’ journey to the cross was coming to an end, he felt the weight of the circumstances. His soul was troubled. The crucifixion was no small thing for Jesus. He was concerned to his very core. However, he was not going to ask the Father to take the hour away. Jesus knew that he had to go to the cross. It was the very reason he came. It was through the cross that mankind would be saved and there was no other way.

One common question that readers of the Bible often have is if there is any other way for people to be saved other than faith in Jesus. There are two things to be said about this. First: Jesus said that he is the only way to the Father in John 14:6:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Second: if there was another way that we might be saved, then Jesus did not have to die. To say that there are ways of salvation other than through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is to devalue what Jesus did at Calvary. Jesus went to the cross precisely because there was no other way for us to be reconciled to God and have eternal life. The cross shows us just how serious our sin problem is and the great cost of our redemption. Jesus, the Son of God, had to die. It was the only way.

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Life for All through Death

wheat

Reading the Word

John 12:20–26 (ESV)

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In John 12:19, the religious leaders state the need to get rid of Jesus because the “whole world has gone after him.” In the very next verse, we read that there were some Greeks who had come to worship and wanted to see Jesus. By telling us they were Greeks, John informs us that these visitors were Gentile converts, likely converted because of what they had heard from or about Jesus. The whole world truly was going after him!

Word reached Jesus that the visitors wanted to see him. It may seem that Jesus’ response had nothing to do with his Greek visitors, but his response is actually very fitting. He spoke of his coming death and resurrection by using the illustration of a grain of wheat. It is through the death and resurrection of Christ that all believers find salvation and eternal life in the presence of the Lord. This is true for everyone, both Jew and Greek. So, when this group came seeking Jesus, his response was to tell them how to find life. It would come through what was about to take place over the next several days.

For all people, salvation comes through the One who lived a perfect, sinless life and gave himself as a sacrifice. He was crucified and placed in a tomb, but death did not hold him. He rose from the grave in victory over sin and death and now gives life to all who will turn in repentance and faith. Jesus had to die and be resurrected so that we could have life through him.

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The Heavens Will Be Shaken

time lapse photo of stars on night

Photo by Jakub Novacek on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:29–31 (ESV)

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus described what it will be like when he returns. The heavens will be shaken and when the Son of Man appears in power and glory, the nations will mourn. Why will they mourn? The world will realize that the gospel that has been proclaimed and denied is true and that the opportunity for salvation has passed. Jesus will send out his angels to gather those who are his.

We must realize that time is running out. As Christians, we have to understand the urgency in preaching the message of salvation and the coming kingdom. Our families’, friends’, and neighbors’ eternities depend on hearing the gospel from us. If you do not know the Lord, today is the day to reconcile with God while there is still opportunity. He sent his Son to pay the price for our sin. We must repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness and life. God has shown us his love and grace in Christ. Turn to him today.

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