Today’s author is Prince of Peace’s Music Coordinator, Milt Warkentien.

We’ve finally arrived at Holy Week. This past Sunday we got a look at what’s to come and sang “Jesus Remember Me” during communion. It’s a hymn that reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses in Luke. In the Gospel of Mark the two crucified with Jesus both taunted Jesus: “Those who were crucified with him also taunted him” (Mk 15:32b); but in Luke 23: 39-43 it reads, “One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? 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 have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

Photo by Sébastien Jermer on Unsplash

Paradise! What a wonderful image. What comes to mind when you think of paradise? Is it a white sand beach somewhere? Is it a beautiful Mountain View? Is it a sunset, or sunrise, on a lake somewhere? Could it be a day with family? Whatever the word paradise makes you think about I’m sure it’s a special place, or moment, in your life, but I don’t think it can compare to what Jesus offers to the criminal, and us, salvation. 

As you journey towards the cross the next couple of days, I urge you to reflect on the cost Jesus paid for us to have paradise. 

I believe the biggest impact I’ve felt during Lent this year has been part of the passages Scott Tunseth found from Mother Teresa, we heard on a Wednesday night service. 

“Whatever form we are, ​able or disabled, ​rich or poor, It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing—a lifelong sharing of love with others.​​ I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at an individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. ​Just one, one, one. ​You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each other. As Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, ​You do to me.” So you begin . . . . I begin. I picked up one person— Maybe if I didn’t pick up that one person I wouldn’t have picked up 42,000. The whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if I didn’t put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less. Same thing for you, ​same thing in your family, ​same thing in the church where you go. ​Just begin . . . one, one, one.”  

Jesus gave his life for our salvation, and in John 13:34 Jesus gives a new commandment, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  If we look at this new commandment and then consider the cost Jesus paid for our salvation, we will probably be overwhelmed thinking that there’s no way we can live up to that, but Mother Teresa gives us a chance by saying to not look at the masses, but look at an individual, for she can only love one person at a time. What might paradise look like in our neighborhood if we loved like Jesus? What might paradise look like throughout the world if we loved like Jesus? On the final stages of the Journey to the Cross I also urge you to think about how you might be able to love another, and another and maybe another. Dear God, as we reflect on the cost you gave for our salvation may we also strive to live our lives with love. May we begin, one, one, one. Amen