“Today You Will be with Me in Paradise”
March 25, 2016 — Good Friday
For reasons that are pragmatic and biblical and theological, I have never gambled or participated in the lottery. And because of that, Raye Jeanne and I taught our daughters not to gamble. And that makes a situation that Emily encountered last fall more than ironic. Walking home from the bus stop one day, she spied an unscratched lottery ticket on the ground and picked it up. Then she scratched it off. Later she told me, “I thought it was a winner, but I’ve never seen one before so I didn’t know.” So she took it to the nearest convenience store and he affirmed her suspicion. It was a winner — more than $300! Free. Right there on the ground for anyone to pick up!
Talk about being in the right place at the right time!
Of course that story pales in comparison to the greatest account ever of being in the right place at the right time. When this man’s story began, it seemed much more like being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was a thief. I imagine it started with petty thefts as a young man, but the older he grew, the bolder he became. He was undoubtedly caught on numerous occasions, likely promised to reform, and every time he went right back to his old practice. He ran with the wrong crowd and did the wrong things that the wrong crowd does. And the last time he stood in court after being caught one final time, the judge decided that this man was a hardened criminal with no hope for change. The judge would never deal with him again — he sentenced him to death. That’s not a good day. He was in the wrong place when he was caught. He was in the wrong place in court. And he was in the wrong place the day he went to his execution.
Or so it seemed.
One of his immoral running buddies was sentenced with him and they were both going to die the same day, next to a third man they did not know. That third man is a man you and I know — the Lord Jesus Christ. And that is what turned this man’s improbable wrong place circumstance into a glorious “right place at the right time.”
It is in this setting that we have the second of Jesus’ seven declarations from the cross. His first word was a general offer for forgiveness to those who were crucifying Him (Lk. 23:34). This second word is a word of amazing grace and sovereign provision.
Download the rest of this message from Luke 23:39-43.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.