Letter: Happy Easter!
Billions of Christians in the world will celebrate Jesus’ death on a cross and his resurrection again this Easter season. They know that those are the events God chose to save people and the world. Two thieves were hung on crosses alongside Jesus. God’s plan can be seen even through the thieves! Jesus was reviled, just as we all so often reject God’s plan with our “I deserve it” attitude. Like so many of us, one thief demanded, saying, “if you are the Messiah, save us.” We too can think we deserve something from God.
However the other thief, in an amazing act of faith, did just what God asks us to do regarding the Savior God sent. That thief acknowledged his sentence of condemnation as the “due reward of our deeds.” As Jesus told all to repent. That thief acknowledged Jesus’ worth and lack of sin, saying “but this man has done nothing wrong.” As Jesus said, he himself is the sinless sacrifice for our wrongs. That thief acknowledged that Jesus is the Lord of the recreated world to come, saying, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” That thief turned to the only one who can bring us to his kingdom, through repentance, belief and acknowledgment of His kingship.
Jesus’ response to the thief was the same as it is to anyone who accepts Jesus’ invitation: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” The origin of the word for paradise evokes Eden, and so promises life immediately and restored life when God completely renews the world. Jesus offers His salvation to any repentant believer. Christians thus proclaim God’s plan; it is his work in Jesus, not our attempts to be good. It is our belief and acceptance of Jesus that matters, just like the thief.