Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).
1. I’ve always asked “too many” questions. This verse was the source of my earliest question I can remember. I was six years old, attending a Presbyterian church with my mom. Presbyterians say that Christ “descended into hell for three days,” so I asked the pastor “then, how could Jesus tell the thief that he would see him that day in paradise.” The pastor’s answer was something like “kids ask the best questions!”
I still don’t know the answer to this question, but I’m not committed to the notion of Jesus going to Hades.
2. This word “paradise” makes me feel both joyful and foolish. Joyful because this world hurts, and I'd like to go somewhere that doesn't. Foolish because it must be this kind of talk that led Karl Marx to declare that religion was the opiate of the masses. And yet it does speak to one of the greatest human longings, to be free from this world and its cruel constraints. I guess I ask, “so what’s the evidence that this paradise exists?” For me, the primary evidence is Jesus, both in the plausibility (particularly versus any other explanation of His life) of the Gospel accounts of his life, death, and resurrection being true, as well as my personal experience with Him in my life. He’s with me; I interact with Him; I would be lying if I said otherwise.