A conversation held above the earth

Spiritual Outlook with K.A. Zachary

Would you like to hear the words of a conversation that took place above the earth? I am talking about a real documented conversation recorded in the New Testament. The conversation I am referring took place between Jesus Christ and the two thieves who were crucified with him as they were suspended between heaven and earth (see Luke 23:39-43).

Affixed to crosses and lifted above the earth, Jesus and those crucified with him conversed. One of the two thieves could only think about living another day. This person said to Jesus, “If you are who they say, get us out of this situation” (Lk.23:39). He was refusing to think about death. He only wanted a way of escape that he might continue to live.

The other thief saw things differently (Lk.23:40-42). First, he accepted the fact that the day of death was upon him. Second, he rebuked the other thief for his selfishness and the harsh words of mockery that he had spoken toward the innocent man being crucified with them. Third, having heard every breath and word Jesus directed to the crowd below, he began to believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. Fourth, he asked Jesus to remember him when he entered His kingdom.

This man knew he needed rescue from an eternal punishment. Convicted of his need, he trusted Jesus for salvation, even though Jesus was on a cross beside him (a miracle of God’s grace). Jesus said to the man, “This day you will be with me in paradise” (Lk. 23:43). Jesus, the innocent Son of God, died and resurrected to provide salvation for those who repent and believe.

Little has changed in the two thousand years since the conversation held above the earth. Many today, like the first thief, are only thinking about this life and living another day to serve their selfish desires. Others, like the second thief, realize that this life is temporal and death is certain. Such wise people consider the necessity of making plans for their departure from the temporal life. However, of the many who have thought of making preparation, not all have turned to Christ and trusted his work on the cross as the way to God. The individuals who mock the message and work of Christ have no hope of truly knowing God in this life or spending eternity with Him in the life hereafter.

Some may strongly object to this message, but only in this life will such objections and complaints be heard. Only here and now may people mock the message of God’s grace in the atoning work of Christ on the cross for all who will believe. However, when our day of departure comes and we are just a little above the earth, we will know there are only two types of people — those who did not trust Christ and those who did.

The persons who trust Jesus Christ to be their savior may confidently face their day of departure, for only they have a lasting word of comfort from the conversation that took place just above the earth. All who have called on Christ for salvation, believing in their heart that He lives to save, may claim this word of comfort from Christ when they depart, “This day you will be with me.”

Note I did not include the words “in paradise.” Why? The place Jesus and his new disciple went that day (paradise) no longer exists. When Jesus resurrected from the grave, he paved the way to the Father. The New Testament apostolic teaching is, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Jesus said it this way, “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am there you may be also”(John 14:1). Having heard the details of the conversation that was held above the earth, may I ask, “when you depart will you be with Christ in the place he has prepared for those who call Him Lord?”

Submitted by K.A. Zachary, Pastor of New Covenant Church, 215 Florida Ave., Denham Springs. Contact Rev. Zachary at 225-664-0858.