You Don't Have to Fear Death
“‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.’ And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” (Luke 23:42-43, NLT)
God’s mercy is something you’ll need your entire life, especially when you’ve messed up and when you don’t have what you need.
You need God’s mercy because of death.
Death is inevitable. We all are going to die at some point. The mortality rate in the world is still 100 percent!
Many people fear death, but God doesn’t want you to. In fact, he shows you how to not be afraid of dying.
Luke 23 tells of a dying man who received God’s mercy. You may remember the story: When Jesus went to the cross, he was hung between two criminals. The Bible says: “One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, ‘So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!’ But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong’” (Luke 23:39-41 NLT).
One criminal made fun of Jesus and acted as if death is the end of life—but he was wrong. Death is the start of eternity, either in heaven or hell.
The other criminal said, in effect, “Don’t you realize the seriousness of your situation? You are about to go face-to-face with God in a matter of seconds, and here you are, putting down Jesus.” Then he turned to Jesus and said, “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (Luke 23:42 NLT).
How did Jesus respond? “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NLT).
Now that’s last-minute mercy! The thief realized his greatest need was forgiveness for sins, not relief from pain. And he knew he couldn’t save himself. So he simply said, “Remember me.” And Jesus said, in effect, “That’s good enough.” Jesus’ response showed that he even had power over death.
When you accept the mercy of Jesus, you don’t need to fear death—all because of what Jesus did on the cross.
Talk It Over
What does Jesus’ immediate response to the criminal—“today you will be with me in paradise”—say about his willingness to show you mercy?
Has someone ever made fun of Jesus in front of you? How did you respond?
Jesus took time to love and show mercy, even while dying on a cross. Take time right now to thank God for his deep love for you, and ask him for help recognizing opportunities to show mercy to others.
Easter’s Promise: No Condemnation for Those Who Belong to Christ
Because of what Jesus did on the cross, you have no need to fear death. Jesus has paid for your sins and prepared a beautiful eternity in heaven for you. But you can’t earn eternal life. You have to accept that gift by trusting in Jesus. The Bible says, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).
If you’ve never received God’s mercy, why wait any longer? If you’re ready to step across that line and make a decision to follow Jesus, pray this prayer:
“Dear God, I need your mercy. I know that one day I’m going to die and face eternity. In my life here on earth, I’ve messed up. I have loved other things more than I have loved you. I’ve lived by my plan, not yours. I have sinned, and I ask for your forgiveness. I want to live by your plan, starting now.
“Jesus, thank you for being so merciful and for dying on the cross for me. I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I could never be good enough to get into a perfect place like heaven. So, just like that thief on the cross, I say to you: “Remember me.” I ask you to save me, not just from hell, but from the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that keep causing me to stumble over and over in the same way.
“Thank you for your mercy! Please accept me into your family. I ask all this because of what you, Jesus, did for me on the cross at Easter. I pray in your name. Amen.”
If you just prayed to accept Jesus, please email me at Rick@PastorRick.com and let me know about it. I’d like to send you some free materials to help you start your journey with Jesus.
This devotional © 2022 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.