Jesus, remember me, when you come into Your kingdom.
In our parishes, we have sung that verse throughout Lent. We read the verse on Palm Sunday once every three years. St. Luke, alone among the four evangelists, recorded the plea of the repentant criminal on the cross next to Jesus’. [Spanish]
Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom.
Making this plea required heavenly faith. The criminal said these words to a wretched Galilean rabbi, so near death that he obviously would not survive another hour, with no apparent prospects whatsoever of coming into any known kingdom.
Even to begin to fathom the depth of the faith involved in the criminal’s plea, we have to back thousands of years.
God promised Abraham descendants as numerous as… the grains of sand on the seashore or the stars of the sky. Even though Abraham and his wife had long since left their childbearing years behind them.
God gave them Isaac. But then what happened? God asked Abraham to offer Isaac in sacrifice. Abraham prepared to obey.
Now, Abraham believed that God would make good on His promise to give him and Sarah countless descendants. And Abraham willingly prepared to sacrifice their only heir. How do we possibly figure that? Hebrews 11:19 gives us the answer. Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead.
Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.
In a way, Abraham said these words to Christ–since only Abraham’s faith could move anyone to say them to the rabbi hanging on the cross. The criminal saw Christ dying in pure innocence, out of love for the Father and for us, as the pleasing sacrifice that Isaac represented, until the angel stayed Abraham’s hand. And the criminal reasoned that God could raise His Son from death.
Everyone with the faith of Abraham, then—all of us, arcing as we are toward our own inevitable death, gazing at Christ dying on the cross in agony, with no earthly hope—we plead with the perfectly pure, but utterly forsaken One. We reason that God has the power. Jesus, remember us, when You come into Your Kingdom.
And, with blood dripping into His eyes, with hardly any strength in His diaphragm left, even to inhale enough oxygen to speak, He calmly assures us: You will be with Me in paradise.