The God Paradox
(Glorifying God devotions by Pastor Christopher Chia)
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 22:43).
Picture this: Jesus – painfully betrayed, falsely accused, brutally beaten thrice and now cruelly nailed to a cross – promises a penitent criminal beside him paradise.
Jesus – a man experiencing hell himself promising others heaven – is a rather ludicrous prospect to believe in!
It’s as ludicrous as a failed school dropout promising to tutor fellow students to a distinction. Or a bankrupt dishing out financial bailouts to friends. Or a dying surgeon offering life-saving surgeries to patients.
So, there are three main possibilities of who Jesus truly is at this stage. He is either a deceitful liar or he is a deluded lunatic.
Or, unbelievably, he could be a straight shooter speaking God’s saving truth to our deceitful hearts.
In this passage, Luke records the already suffering Jesus as the further aggrieved victim of three relentless taunts on the cross.
Firstly, the rulers taunt him (23:35). Insult to injury is rubbed in by the soldiers’ taunt (v37). Finally, the other disenchanted crucified criminal rails against Jesus (v39).
Three taunts but one repeated message: “If you are king of the Jews, save yourself.”
Each of these three main characters dissecting Jesus’ death are spiritually blind. Yet, their very human taunts – in God’s sovereignty – actually turn out to be backhanded confirmations and fulfilment of who Jesus truly is.
Jesus IS God’s endtime and eternal king who came to save – not himself or Israel alone – but all of us from Satan, sin and death.
Jesus – experiencing hell himself on the cross but promising paradise to the penitent criminal – is not ludicrous or a lie. It is the ultimate paradox because it is the God paradox.
In the Cross of Jesus, we come face-to-face with a God who turns Good Friday into Easter Sunday. At the cross, we meet the God who wins by losing. A God who saves by dying.
What does that mean for you and me? The God Paradox radically changes our reality paradox.
Living under king Jesus, we need spiritual lenses to see that reality is not what it seems.
As someone said: “God is most revealed where he is most hidden.” Inglorious death leads to glorious resurrection.
So it was with Christ, so it is now for Christians. Our God often chooses to work through suffering.
The passing anguish of Gethsemane and agony of Calvary leads to eternal victory and joy. Initial persecution leads to final praise. Disappointment leads to fulfilment. Suffering leads to salvation.
Perhaps you cannot see clearly through your tears for a parent, a spouse or a child. Perhaps you cannot feel anything aside for your pain for a dear friend. Or you cannot stand under the crushing weight of your problems.
May you be graced to humbly embrace the God and good paradox found in Jesus and the Cross.
Jesus dying as a helpless king to save us is not ludicrous. You and I pretending to be kings of our God-forgetting and self-ruled lives is ludicrous.
May this Good Friday bring real change to your heart and home. Trust that God is most revealed where he is most hidden. It is Jesus’ way to life.