(For the next seven days, we’ll be posting daily devotions about Christ’s Last Words from the Cross. Some of our regular contributors – Sarah, Jody, Doug & John – will be writing them. If you have any comments, meditations, or prayers to add to each post, please put them in the comments section.)
Today, you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:39-43 NIV
Long before there were Itunes, mp3s, and CDs, only vinyl albums and LPs existed. My Dad had a great LP collection of some of the best singers and entertainers in the world. These included Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tony Bennett.
He also had a terrific collection of original soundtracks of musical movies. One of my favorites was that of the musical ‘Kismet’, starring Howard Keel. The movie is set in ancient Baghdad and is all about a poetical con artist who uses his charisma to charm his way to the top. It’s a highly entertaining and very funny musical. Most of the music is ripped off from a classical Russian composer called Borodin.
For me, the best song in the movie is sung by Vic Damone, who plays the young Caliph. It’s called “Stranger in Paradise.” It’s one of the most beautiful love songs ever heard or seen in the movies. Borodin’s melody is wonderful. When my Dad died in 2002, the organist at the crematorium in Scotland played it as we left his memorial service. I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to my Dad, who sought to find God all of his life.
When Christ mercifully hears the thief’s prayer from the Cross, He is putting into action the Gospel of salvation in its most basic form. The thief cannot perform any good deeds, nor can he serve Jesus as both of them are painfully dying on their crosses. All that the thief can give Christ is that which Jesus has asked of many people throughout His ministry: his heartfelt faith. For Christ, this is all that is necessary to be with Him – a pure faith that is not a means of escaping punishment, but a way of surrendering completely to Christ and of allowing Him to save the sinner’s soul.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are all guilty of sin and steal moments from our lives that should belong to You alone. Help us to faithfully give You our hearts this Holy Week, and to gratefully experience the loving salvation that You graciously offer all of us. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John “Stushie” Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He writes the daily devotional “Heaven’s Highway.”
Today’s artwork is called “Two More Days.”