“Paradise Restored”

Our Lenten Devotion for Friday, April 8, comes to us from Steadfast Love which features reflections and prayers by Ed Arle and Gil Duchow with inspiration from the works of Henri J.M. Nouwen.

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43 NIV

 

“Paradise Restored”

“Jesus didn’t throw the cup away in despair. No, he kept it in his hands, willing to drink it to the dregs. This was not a show of will power, staunch determination, or great heroism. This was a deep spiritual yes to Abba, the lover of his wounded heart”

(from Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri J.M. Nouwen, page 37Henri)


While Jesus was on the cross, there was an extraordinary encounter that gives us and all believers a sure and eternal hope. Jesus promised the repentant criminal, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” But for the next three hours, darkness reigned. Despite Jesus’ plea, his heavenly Father did not remove that dreaded cup, which was filled with sin and shame and suffering. Jesus then freely accepted the Father’s will. He knew there was no other way that sinful humanity could be restored to a right relationship with God. This was not simply a show of willpower. This was a total yes to the will of his Father, despite knowing that it would mean total separation from the Father’s presence for those hours of utter darkness. Then it was finished. Jesus’ mission was accomplished. Sin was fully atoned for. Death would soon be conquered. And Paradise was restored for us and for all who live by faith in Christ.

 

Friends –

Our hope comes from the blessings of Christ’s sacrifice. Even in the darkness of his lonely suffering, Jesus reminds us that God’s grace is always with us, promising us life in Paradise no matter what our earthly lives have been like.

--Pastor bea


Prayer:

Victorious Savior, I praise you for drinking that cup to the dregs so that Paradise would be restored for me and for all who say yes to you. Amen.