About Paradise

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives: https://www.pexels.com/photo/green-coconut-trees-457876/

Luke 23:36-43 the soldiers also mocked {Jesus}, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This Is The King Of The Jews. 39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

As Jesus hung on the Cross dying for our sins, He did not suffer just from the nails – but from the mocking crowd around Him. To be right, and know you’re right, and yet to be accused of wrong, is one of the worse sensations in the world. Jesus knew He was right. He knew He was the Messiah. And yet, as Jesus hung from the Cross, He said nothing in His defense. This was prophesied by Isaiah:

Isaiah 53:7 (ESV) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

The soldiers mocked Jesus. “If You are really the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”. Jesus said nothing. They offered Jesus “vinegar” – actually “vinegar mingled with gall” (Matthew 27:34). This was actually a small kindness, this offering of vinegar. The “gall” or myrrh (see Mark 15:23) was a substance that – mingled with weak alcohol or vinegar – dulled the pain of crucifixion. Jesus refused the vinegar the first time it was offered. Why? Because the Bible says:

1 Peter 2:24 {Jesus} his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus paid the full penalty for our sins. It was not until later – after Jesus bore our penalty – that He allowed Himself to drink some of this drugged vinegar (John 19:28). This, too was prophesied of the Messiah:

Psalm 69:21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

The soldiers mocked Jesus. The Cross He hung on mocked Jesus.

Luke 23:38 a superscription also was written over {Jesus} in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This Is The King Of The Jews

This was Pilate’s way of taking a dig at the Jewish Leaders (whom he hated), and lightly mocking Jesus. When criminals were executed by the Romans, a sign was usually placed above their head to tell all what their crime was. Jesus’ crime was This Is The King Of The Jews. Some passing by would read this sign and suppose that Jesus tried to lead an insurrection against Roman Authority. Pilate mocked Jesus.

Jesus was mocked by one of the two criminals that hung on Crosses next to Him. If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. The thief or murderer – we don’t know exactly what his crime was – was mocking Jesus. Then the other “malefactor” {Greek κακοῦργος kakoûrgos, [pronounced kak-oor’-gos], meaning}evil doer spoke up. This man speaks a number of words, to which Jesus replies:

Luke 23:43 … Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Now that’s what I want to talk about tonight. Jesus said NOTHING when He was nailed to the Cross, and NOTHING when He was mocked. But when one of the malefactors asked Jesus remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom, Jesus replies with TODAY shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.

What Was “Paradise”? What Is “Paradise”?

The word “Paradise” is found three times in the New Testament. It is found in Jesus’ words to the thief (“Today shalt thou be with me in paradise”). It is found in:

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Paradise” is also called “the third Heaven”. The FIRST Heaven is the atmosphere around our earth (see 2 Samuel 21:10; Daniel 4:33), our skies. The SECOND Heaven is outer space, where the stars are (see Genesis 15:5; 22:17; Exodus 32:13). The THIRD Heaven is – at the time Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 12, the abode of God Himself.

In the Old Testament under the Old Covenant, people became saved by faith in God. The Scripture says,

Genesis 15:6 And {Abram} believed the Lord, and {the Lord} counted it to Him as righteousness.

Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness

Abraham, David, Moses, Isaac, Jacob – all of the Old Testament believers did NOT go to the Third Heaven upon dying. Under the Old Covenant, God gave Israel a system of animal sacrifice and blood offering to temporarily cover their sins. God told His Old Covenant believers:

Leviticus 17:11 the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that the animal sacrifices were but temporary, shadows of the coming Messiah. We are told:

Hebrews 10:1-4 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

It was NOT POSSIBLE for the blood of an animal to take away our sins. Why? Because WE ARE NOT ANIMALS. We are humans, created in the image of God. Believers under the Old Covenant temporarily covered their sins with animal sacrifice. Our Lord Jesus came from Heaven to take away the first animal sacrifices by becoming the once and for all Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (Hebrews 10:9-10, 12). The Old Testament Saint was saved by believing on God’s promise of the future Messiah. But as animal blood was but a temporary offering for sin, when the Old Testament Saint died they did not go to “Heaven” but to “Abraham’s Bosom”.

Animal Sacrifice Was Not A Key
That Brought Anyone Into Heaven

If animal sacrifice were suitable for salvation, then it was a waste of time, and a terrible cruelty, to send Jesus Christ to this earth to die on the Cross. But the Bible makes it clear that the Blood of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ ALONE makes payment for sin. Christ was incarnated as Jesus, that is, Eternal God became perfect Man:

Galatians 4:4-6 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

It is the Blood of Jesus that covers our sins. It is the Blood of Jesus that sends the Holy Spirit to indwell and adopt us. The Lord Jesus declared:

John 14:6 I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father BUT BY ME.

Our Lord Jesus came from Heaven to this earth to live a sinless life (see Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5), so that He could die for our sins (see Romans 5:8; John 1:29). Jesus did this in submission to the Father’s will (see Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42; Acts 2:23). It is His Blood and His Blood alone that gives us entrance into Heaven:

1 Peter 1:18-19 ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

No one can come to the Father, but by Jesus” (John 14:6). The Old Testament Saint, at death, did not ascend into Heaven. Our Lord Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3:13 … no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

No one ascended into Heaven after death until Jesus returned to Heaven, having paid for our sins on the Cross.

The Old Testament Saint did not go to Heaven, but to Abraham’s Bosom. This is why when Jesus told the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, He said:

Luke 16:22-23 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

Abraham’s Bosom” was a place of comfort and waiting that the Old Covenant Believer went to before Messiah went to Calvary. Once Jesus made total atonement for our sins, He “descended first into the lower parts of the earth” (Ephesians 4:8-10) to “lead captivity captive”.

I believe that the Old Covenant Saints were in Abraham’s Bosom when Jesus appeared. Presenting Himself as Messiah, He led the Old Testament Saints into the third Heaven or Paradise. Before Jesus went to the Cross, Hades or Hell had two compartments. Billy Graham notes in his sermon “Is There A Hell?”:

And this story {of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16}, the word hell is used, translated hell in our authorized version, though it’s actually Hades, because Hades was in two compartments apparently: one was called Paradise, and one was called the place of torment. And they could apparently see across the gulf between each other.”

Evangelist Andrew Wommack notes:

Even though these Old Testament saints were blessed, they were not able to enter into the presence of the Lord because the atonement of Christ had not been completed. So, in that sense, they were captives. When Jesus died, He descended into ‘Sheol’ and took the captives captive. He took them to heaven, into the very presence of God and vacated that part of ‘Sheol.’ Now, all that’s left in ‘Sheol’ is hell. In the New Testament, the Greek word that is used to refer to this area is ‘Hades’ and it is only applied to the place of torment.”

No one entered into Heaven proper until Jesus Christ
made payment for our sins.

When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you leave this life to go not to Abraham’s Bosom, but Paradise or the Third Heaven.

Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

How Does One Get To Paradise?

We are clearly shown how to get to Heaven in our focal text.

Luke 23:40-41 … the other {malefactor} answering {his friend} rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

First, you must REPENT to be saved.

The Gospel message is, Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). The word Repentis the Greek compound metanoeō, which means “to change the mind”. One malefactor mocked Jesus, but the other malefactor changed his mind about his life and his culpability. He said “we are suffering JUSTLY”. He did not see his crucifixion as a mistake, a miscarriage of justice, but rather something he and his companion richly deserved. Notice that this believer was clearly supportive of Jesus. Jesus said:

Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Luke 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord

Second, You must receive Jesus as LORD and Savior.

The Bible tells us in,

Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV) Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I have heard preachers say that you can receive Jesus Christ as Savior alone and you’ll be saved. I do not believe the Scripture supports this. The Lordship of Christ is central to the redemptive work of the Cross. The Bible says:

Romans 14:8-9 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

Jesus Christ both LORD and SAVIOR of His people. Dr. R.G. Lee said in his sermon “The Name Above Every Name”:

When the Caesars and Charlemagne, the Napoleons and Wellingtons and their so-called splendid victories are forgotten, the multitudinous trophies of His saving power, in enjoyment of His endless fruits of His blood-bought victories, will sing the praises of His peerless name. There never was a name like the name of Jesus — so representative of sacrificial love at its best. And someday, ‘every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord — to the glory of God the Father.”

Third, You must cast your life wholly upon Jesus.

Luke 23:42 … he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

This new believer does not ask Jesus to get him off of the Cross as his companion did. He just asks that Jesus remember him when the Lord gets to His Kingdom. When Joseph, imprisoned in Egypt for a crime he didn’t do, interpreted a dream for the Chief Cupbearer, he asked him:

Genesis 40:14 … think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this {prison}

Sadly, the Chief Butler/ Cupbearer forgot all about Joseph once freed from prison, and did not remember him until much later (see Genesis 40:23). The Chief Butler was, I’m sure, a good man. But unlike the Chief Butler and his forgetfulness, Jesus told the believer:

Luke 23:43 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.

Paradise is the place where Jesus is. Jesus said,

John 12:26 (ESV) 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.

The Bible tells us that, at the end of time, there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth. John the Revelator wrote,

Revelation 21:1-4 I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Before Jesus went to the Cross, Paradise was in Abraham’s Bosom. After Jesus went to the Cross, Paradise in in the Third Heaven with our Lord. But at the end of time, Paradise will not just be in Heaven, but it will be on earth. The New Jerusalem will come down from Heaven, and from this place Jesus will rule and reign. I am so ready for Jesus to return. How about you?

May God touch your hearts with this, His Word. If Jesus is not to you Lord and Savior, I pray that today will be the day you give yourself to Him. In the power of the Holy Spirit, and for the glory of our God. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
This entry was posted in General, Luke, Sermons Preached and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.