When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing. The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.” The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.” One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:33-43, CEB)
I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise. Interesting.
This statement in the CEB has no punctuation. Normally there is a comma around today, either before or after, placed there by the translators because there is no punctuation in the original text. But this implies that that day when Jesus said this to the thief both of them would be in paradise. And yet we confess in the creeds that Jesus died, was buried, and then descended into the dead. So was he in paradise that day? Or did the thief go with him to the dead and then into paradise?
But this is a weird way to see a king, isn’t it? Jesus hanging on a cross with a sign that says “This is the king of the Jews.”
And we still believe that Jesus is king. And he will watch over us. And I always will because I have received the promises and seen the proof that I need to know that Jesus is king and will come back again to fulfill the kingdom of God.
We shouldn’t worry about the comma or when the thief was with Jesus in paradise. the important thing is not when but that he was. And so we all will be.
Loving People. Loving God.