Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." ~ Luke 23:42-43I love this exchange between Jesus and one of the criminals on the cross. I love that Luke included it in his account of Jesus' death. I picture so much going on in this scene. Insults being hurled, women crying, soldiers giving orders, 3 men struggling for every breathe. Death was on the doorstep. Pain was unimaginable.
For those 2 criminals on either side of Jesus, this was it; life was on it's final countdown; justice had been served. They were getting what they deserved in the eyes of those who enforce the law.
Yet, there was hope. Though one criminal "hurled insults," the other asked Jesus to remember him.
And just like that, by placing his faith in Jesus, this criminal entered paradise when he breathed his last.
Absent in his earthly body; present with the Lord.
Present with the Lord.
If only, we accept Him as our Savior.
Tony made this very decision in his early 20's. I'll forever be grateful to his best friend, John Wheat, for modeling the way, for investing so much time and energy into Tony, for telling him how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Thank you, John, thank you.
On March 23, 2010, around 6 p.m. EST, Tony Edge breathed his last breathe; he left his earthly body; he joined Jesus in heaven.
He entered into paradise.
Because of the cross, because of the resurrection of Christ, I grieve the loss of Tony with an undeniable Hope. I know where my Tony is. He's with Jesus.
Jesus. He is risen.
In all my years of celebrating Easter, none have been so meaningful as these 3 since Tony's death. It's as if for the first time, I truly know the full weight of the sacrifice and love Jesus poured out for us...because the one I loved most on this earth has experienced paradise first-hand.
Paradise. It's not just a trendy word on the latest Coldplay album. It's heaven. It's a real place. It's my final destination.
And I pray, I believe God, that it's the final destination for countless others too.
Dearly loved, celebrating Easter,