"today you will be with me"

More painting this week, and hopefully getting our Illinois drivers' licenses, preparing to lead Easter worship, and we also happen to be both preaching at another church on Good Friday. It's an ecumenical service in Princeton, with seven different people speaking on the last words of Jesus. I got this part:

The people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews."

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong."

And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

And Jesus said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Lk 23.35-43)

I think I'm going to focus on the fact that this criminal was the only one speaking up for Jesus; everyone else just standing by. Maybe because he had nothing left to lose. He is very close to Jesus right then, sharing his experience (because Jesus chose to share his experience), closer than the others.

Also, these seem to be the only words of "good news" that Jesus spoke during the crucifixion. Like his other announcements of good news throughout his ministry, these words are for the poor, afflicted one looking for God's mercy. For the others he prays, "Father, forgive them."