In answering the petition of the thief on the cross, what promise did the Saviour make him? "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." Luke 23:43.
What noted tree is in Paradise? "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." Rev. 2:7.
By what river is the tree of life? "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river was there the tree of life." Rev. 22:1, 2.
NOTE. - It will be seen that the tree of life is not only in Paradise, but is on either side of the river which proceeds out from the throne of God. This shows that the tree of life and the throne of God are both in the same place. and that Paradise is therefore the dwelling place of God.
How long after Christ's crucifixion, did His resurrection take place? "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day." 1 Cor.15:3, 4.
What did He say to Mary on the day of His resurrection? "Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father." John 20:17.
NOTE. - This was the third day after the promise to the thief, and yet Christ could say He had not been to Paradise since His crucifixion. As no one can for a moment question the truthfulness of the Saviour on either of these occasions, we must look for harmony between His statement, though it may be at the sacrifice of previously cherished opinions.
What was really the thief's request? "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom." Luke 23:42.
When had Christ said that He would take His followers to Himself? "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 14:3.
When and how will all the righteous, both living and dead, be with Christ?
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thess. 4:16, 17.
NOTE. - It is manifest from these scriptures that the time for taking the righteous to dwell with Christ is at His second coming, and not before. Then the penitent thief, doubtless, will be remembered by the Lord, and given a place in His kingdom.
Why did Christ use the word "today" in His answer to the thief? Simply to give emphasis to His promise, as that was the usual way of doing so. See Zech. 9:12. Christ had been proclaiming that He would have a kingdom (Luke 19:12-15), and when He was taken by the Jews to be crucified, and was actually in the throes of death, His claim was ridiculed (Matt. 27:29, 42), and even His disciples forsook Him. The thief, notwithstanding all this, believed the Saviour's words, and made his dying request to be admitted into that kingdom when it should come. To make His promise emphatic, the Saviour said: "Verily I say unto thee today." A simple change of the comma from before "today," placing it immediately after that word, solves the whole difficulty that may exist in any candid mind, and harmonizes all the scriptures on this point; and this is allowable, since Inspiration has nothing to do with the punctuation of the Scriptures. That is of human origin and modern invention, and should never establish the meaning of any scripture, contrary to its harmony with other passages.
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