Invitation to Worship
What would you say is the most powerful phrase in the English language?
Last week I asked what you what you thought was the most powerful word. This week I switch to the most powerful phrase. For me, one of the most powerful phrases is, “I love you.” When you tell someone you love them it can turn even the most hardened person around. Which seems to be the case in this Sunday's Gospel. One of the criminals on the cross with Jesus seems to hear of the love of God through Jesus and he reaches out to Jesus in his last few moments on this earth. Jesus forgives the man and says, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
This Sunday I will be talking about the power of love and forgiveness in our lives.
PS. This will be my last Sunday with you folks at Abundant Life Lutheran Church. I wanted to say a big word of thanks to all of you. You have definitely made Karie and me feel right at home. It has been an absolute pleasure and honour to be your pastor over this little while.
This Sunday’s Lessons:
Coming of the shepherd and righteous Branch who will execute justice
I will be exalted among the nations. (Ps. 46:10)
Hymn to Christ, firstborn of all creation; peace through his blood
Jesus is crucified between two thieves: you will be with me in Paradise
ushering in an entirely new order -- a world and order and reign and kingdom characterized by new life, hope, grace and above all love -- the kind of love that never wearies in extending and receiving second chances.
Earlier in the story Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him and told him he would have a second chance to return and strengthen the other disciples (Luke 22:31-32).
Jesus does "save" someone in this story--the criminal. "Today, you will be with me in paradise." The word paradeiso is Persian in origin and refers to a garden or park. In the period just prior to Jesus, paradeiso was a special place in Sheol for the "righteous dead." In the intertestamental literature, the "righteous dead" were those who had taken up arms against Judah's oppressors and who were crushed for their efforts.
Background and situation: The basic source is Mark--see Mark 15: 22-32 and also Matthew 27: 39-44--to which Luke has introduced some new elements. Important texts to hold in thought are Luke 4: 3-12, 6: 28, 9: 35, Psalm 22, Psalm 69: 21, Isaiah 53: 12, Acts 2: 36, 3: 17.
Text: Among the changes Luke makes to Mark is the use of kakourgo rather than lestai to describe the "criminals." The meanings of kakourgo include "criminals," "malefactors," or even "evil-doers." Lestai, on the other hand, refers to "robbers," "bandits," or even "revolutionaries" or "insurrectionists."
Luke is explicitly associating Jesus with criminals. Luke likes to present Jesus as on the same level as the people.
The offering of "sour wine" (oxos) is an additional detail of derision. Oxos was not sour so much as it was cheap. It was poorer-quality wine which had been watered down, and was a common drink for soldiers and for common people.
By the time of Jesus, there is reference in Jewish writings of the period indicating that the Messiah would open these gates of Paradise and free these freedom fighters. Thus, paradeiso is an eschatological image associated with the work of the Christ. Today, Jesus and the criminal will be with the "righteous dead" in Paradise. In just a few days, the gates of Paradise will be broken open.
salvation becomes a reality to this criminal and a possibility to any of “the lost” (see also 19:10). Luke adopts the term “paradise” (paradeisos) from the Jewish literature of this period; it signifies the realm of eternal bliss in God’s presence where righteous persons go after death.