Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Day 149: Luke 23:26-46 & Psalm 145 - What Happened to Jesus After He Died on the Cross?

Today's Reading: Luke 23:26-46 & Psalm 145

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What Happened to Jesus After He Died on the Cross?

What Happens to Believers When We Die?

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him,“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” - Luke 23:42-43, ESV 

It's amazing how much we can learn from a very brief conversation recorded for us in Luke's Gospel. When Jesus was crucified, He was on a cross between two criminals, one on His right and the other on His left. While Jesus was surrounded by mocking crowds of people, one of the criminals joined in the mockery. Even as this man was hanging on his own cross, fighting to breathe, he chose to use some of his last breaths to ridicule Jesus. Meanwhile, on the other side, the other criminal was aware of the fact that he deserved death and Jesus didn't.

Then, amazingly, this dying criminal looks at the dying Jesus of Nazareth and believes. He believes that Jesus is the Christ and that, even though He is dying on a Roman cross, He will still come into His kingdom, and so he asks Jesus to remember him when He does come into His kingdom. Jesus responds simply, humbly and powerfully: "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."

In this brief exchange between dying men, we have three vital questions answered: 

1. What happened to Jesus after He died? it is evident that after Jesus died, His body was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. However, Jesus Himself, in His soul, went to paradise. We know this because He promised the criminal, "today you will be with me in Paradise."

2. What happens to believers when we die? Do our souls sleep in the grave, unconscious until the Day of Resurrection? No, like Jesus, while our bodies are buried, our souls are with the Lord in Paradise. This proves that we have a soul that lives apart from our body when our body dies, and that we go to the presence of God when our bodies die, if . . .  

3. What must we do to be saved? The criminal on the cross could do nothing but believe in Jesus and ask Him for salvation. He could do no works. He could not be baptized. Thus, He shows us the minimum and essential requirement for salvation: saving faith. Saving faith is the God-given ability to see Jesus for who He is and to trust in Him alone for salvation. So we, too, will be with the Lord in Paradise when we die, if we believe in Jesus and trust Him alone for our salvation.

One of the ways we can see that the Bible is the word of God is how much we can learn from what seems like such a simple conversation. In reality, a whole world of answers opens up to us in every line of God's amazing book!

Prayer Based on Psalm 145:

I will extol You, my God and King,
    and bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You    and praise Your name forever and ever.
Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and Your greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend Your works to another,
    and shall declare Your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
    and on Your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of Your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare Your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of Your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.

You, O Lord, are gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
You are good to all,
    and Your mercy is over all that You has made.

 All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord,
    and all Your saints shall bless You!
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
    and tell of Your power,
to make known to the children of man Your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

You, O Lord, uphold all who are falling
    and You raise up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to You,
    and You give them their food in due season.
You open Your hand;
    You satisfy the desire of every living thing.
You are righteous in all Your ways
    and kind in all Your works.
You, Lord, are near to all who call on You,
    to all who call on You in truth.
You fulfills the desire of those who fear You;
    You also hear their cry and save them.
You, Lord, preserve all who love You,
    but all the wicked You will destroy.

My mouth will speak Your praise, Lord,
    and let all flesh bless Your holy name forever and ever.  

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