Today you will be with me in Paradise

Suresh Kumar

Revd Suresh Kumar
Church of South India

As a young boy I heard from somebody that a person can be saved even at the last few moments of his life. But that does not mean that people have to wait until the last chance! This is an important teaching because in Indian traditions the human life is divided into four stages and ‘Sanyas’ the ‘ascetic/seeking god' stage is towards the end of human life on earth.

The second word Jesus said from the cross deals with a situation like this. A thief whose life is about to end, seeks salvation and prays to Jesus for his destiny. Maybe he was not expecting his life to end so soon and in a way like this.

The thief is not alone. His companion who is going through the same ordeal responds from the same context in a very different way. He wanted to be saved. But his expression is different and his request is very different: "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" He seems also broad minded, he wants to save himself and his friend. He also suggests the Messiah to save himself.

Do you see what I see? Two people who come from the same background with similar experiences can see different things. I think both the thieves saw Jesus as the Messiah, both wanted to be saved. But the phrase ‘being saved’ is used differently. One wants to get out of this cross and punishment because his neighbour is a powerful guy with some extraordinary powers. The other guy sees Jesus as the the suffering messiah who is condemned unjustly. He dare not ask what he wants to ask, rather he would petition for a simple remembrance.

Prayer is a beautiful tool to approach God. But we need to know to whom are you praying and what our petition is. Knowing God begins with the relationship, willing to go with Him and acknowledging our own shortcomings is a good way of progressing in this divine relationship.

As the world becomes ‘more civilised’ and people become more ‘educated’ the sense of self evaluation, accepting the human failures becomes difficult. On the contrary, seeking salvation with selfrighteousness and/or based on the authority and power of Jesus is becoming common.

Which one of the two are we identifying with?


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