Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ. 1 Peter 4:13 (NIV) Now why does Peter say, “Rejoice…that you participate in the sufferings of Christ?” Because if you share in his sufferings, you will also share in his glory (4:13). Christ was despised and rejected in this world, but now...
“Today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
What was this like for the thief? And what does the experience of a Christian believer look like immediately after death?
Jesus promised that the thief would be with him, and he said that it would be today: “For you death will be an immediate translation into the joyful presence of the Father in heaven. You will be with me!”
Jesus died before the thief, and he committed his spirit into the hands of the Father. When the thief died, he went immediately into the presence of Jesus. After all that he’d been through, there was no post-traumatic stress for him in heaven, no wounds from the past, and no fears for the future—only complete healing in the presence of Jesus.
The experience of the thief is a prototype for the death of every believer. “While we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord… We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6, 8).
When a believing loved one dies and you wonder, “Where are they now?” your first answer should be: “With Christ!” You will draw great hope from the clarity of this answer. They are away from the body—that is why we lay the body to rest—and they are at home with the Lord.
How might this truth bring comfort to a person?