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  • Chad Werkhoven

Luke 23:39-43 - True Story

Bible 'stories' convey history and explain deep theological truths. Plus they're fun to learn!


Luke 23:39-43 CONTEXT: Jesus has been nailed to the cross in between two criminals. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 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.”


Listen to passage & devotional:


 

Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 4: The Canonical Books


This week we'll be focusing on some of the different literary genres included in the Bible: Narrative, poetry/wisdom, the epistles, and apocalyptic.


We include in the Holy Scripture the two volumes

of the Old and New Testaments.


They are canonical books

with which there can be no quarrel at all.


In the church of God the list is as follows:

In the Old Testament,

the five books of Moses—

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy;

the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth;

the two books of Samuel, and two of Kings;

the two books of Chronicles, called Paralipomenon;

the first book of Ezra; Nehemiah, Esther, Job;

the Psalms of David;

the three books of Solomon—

Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song;

the four major prophets—

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel;

and then the other twelve minor prophets—

Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah,

Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk,

Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

In the New Testament,

the four gospels—

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John;

the Acts of the Apostles;

the fourteen letters of Paul—

to the Romans;

the two letters to the Corinthians;

to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians;

the two letters to the Thessalonians;

the two letters to Timothy;

to Titus, Philemon, and to the Hebrews;

the seven letters of the other apostles—

one of James;

two of Peter;

three of John;

one of Jude;

and the Revelation of the apostle John.


 

Summary

Today's summary is a repost from May 29, 2023


This is a story of two criminals, one hanging on either side of Jesus, but both looking at their present situation from vastly different perspectives.


To call them 'criminals,' or even 'thieves' as the older translations put it, is an understatement. In modern parlance, these guys would be classified as terrorists or insurrectionists guilty of murdering multiple people and fomenting violence wherever they went.


Regardless of how they're referred to, they represent two different types of people in this world. The one insults and belittles the Son of God hanging next to him, since God is not giving him exactly what he wants. The other better understands the reality of the situation: God is giving the both of them exactly what they deserve. It's this ability to look past the lies that come from within - an ability given by the Holy Spirit - that results in the proper attitude as he approaches his maker: This second, humbled criminal fears God.


But notice this properly grounded fear of God doesn't result in terror and dread, rather it brings about one simple request to the Savior innocently suffering the same punishment as him: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."


Jesus' reply, likely coming between gasps for air as he hung, forms the foundation for one of the most comforting doctrines in the Bible. He says to this sinner turned saint, "Today you shall be with me in paradise."



Dig Deeper


One of first questions you need to ask when studying a passage of scripture is "what is its context?" Knowing the reasons it was first written helps determine how to interpret and apply it. A big part of a passage's context is its genre: is it historical narrative, legal, poetic, a letter, or apocalyptic (revealing the future)?


Today's passage is a narrative account. In other words, it's a story with a plotline. This particular story happens to be a small chapter in the bigger story of Jesus' crucifixion.


But be careful with that word: story. We call these accounts Bible stories, but they're not fairy tales, legends or myths meant to convey a few simple moral lessons. They are historical accounts. These things actually happened.


Although Bible stories are interesting and engaging (re-read how Luke tells this story and notice the literary beauty!), they illustrate deeply profound theological truth. Here we read of unregenerate man's desire to fight with others and insult our creator until his dying breath. We see the massive conversion that takes place in the repentant criminal, and hear the promise that Jesus will remember him in paradise. Best of all we see that our Savior has the power to overcome death and bring those who trust in Him into paradise!


Biblical narratives are one of the best ways to understand the Bible's overall message for both brand new and more well-seasoned Christians, so know them well!



  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father God, who judges justly and calls all sinners to account.

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for the Bible's stories and ask for the desire to learn more of them;

  • ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:

 

Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Acts 5

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