It happens a thousand times a day. Okay, that may be a hyperbole (exaggeration for emphasis), but it happens daily, and usually several times a day. One of our children will come up to us with a request. We love our children, and would LOVE to give them every good thing. But on many occasions, the thing they’re asking for would not quite be the best thing for them.
They’re great at a birthday party, or a state fair. They’re even awesome at a friends’ house. Some people may have the ability to own one as a pet, and take care of it well.
We do not. Even if our daughters would love one.
In Luke 23:43, we see Jesus loving one of God’s children, by responding to His request a bit differently than expected. We hear about this story all the time. It’s about the men who were hung next to Jesus at Golgotha, crucified for what they’d done against Rome and the people. Both mock Jesus, but one has a turn of heart and eventually asks Jesus, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
At this point we generally hear something about how Jesus spoke His agreement, and the man attained “salvation”.
But as we look closer, we see Jesus not quite giving the man what he was asking for. We know that Jesus was viewed by many as not just a theological savior, but as a political savior also. The “messiah” who would free them from Roman rule, and establish the Kingdom of God (think Rome, but with God instead of Caesar) on earth. This man is suddenly convinced that Jesus is the messiah, and wants to be remembered when this Kingdom of God comes about.
To this, Jesus smiles with love, and offers the man something even better. Freedom from the desire to be in power over Rome. Jesus points the man toward “paradise”, a place of existence in the presence of Jesus, to await the completion of what God has begun. Sure enough, the Kingdom of God is launched in Jesus Christ. But even in His dying moment, Jesus takes the time to redirect someone who wants power and “being”, and offers something even better – His presence.
Isn’t it good to know that when we pray, God loves us enough to give us more than we even know to ask for???