The Power of Redemption
Matthew 27 and Luke chapter 23. We’re using the month of April to look at some of the most … well, I would say the most powerful words ever spoken. Those words are the final words Jesus spoke from the cross. The reason I say it’s the most powerful words is, they’re not a large statements or seven statements Jesus makes, but it is for the greatest battle that has taken place in all of history. That battle is for your soul. So what is stated here matters. When we think about Christianity, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the pinnacle, it is the foundation for which Christianity finds itself. In fact, the Apostle Paul said in 1st Corinthians 15, “If Jesus hasn’t been resurrected from the grave, we’re the most pitied of any people group because we rest our faith on that hope.” What Jesus accomplished on the cross and seeing that to fruition through his resurrection is what gives us hope in our own resurrection.
Jesus speaks these final seven statements from the cross. Last week we looked at the first one, which, when Jesus goes to the cross, the first words he utters is a prayer for us, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” We talked about the power of forgiveness and what that looks like for the forgiver and the forgiven. Interesting thing about the lack of forgiveness, when we hold on to unforgiveness in our lives, it traps us in the past because we’re carrying out vengeance based on events in the past. When we grab a hold of forgiveness, it allows us to walk in the newness of love, and the example for that for us was the cross of Christ, because at the cross Jesus paid for your sins and put that in the past so that you could experience forgiveness, and through that forgiveness experience love in them today.
God is Love, God does love. When we are forgiven in Christ, we get to walk in the appreciation and experience that love for which he desires to lavish on us. Forgiveness is a powerful thing. We see in Jesus that when he goes to the cross, I think when Jesus prays, “Father Forgive them,” the particularity of that moment, I think he’s specifically praying for those that are around him. Now, God’s forgiveness transpires beyond that. It is available for all of us. But the reason I think when Jesus is at the cross praying, “Father forgive them,” that he’s just referencing those at the cross is because Jesus is righteous, and it is unjust for him to die in those moments at the hand of these individuals. Rather than see God bring fury from heaven to bring judgment against these people, Jesus prays for their forgiveness. But it’s an interesting thought at the cross that when God could call legions of angels to attack, he chooses rather to forgive.
Today we’re going to look now at the practicality of such a statement, that when Jesus prays this prayer, he also lives it out. He expresses this forgiveness in these moments on the cross in a very personal way. He shows us how forgiveness brings two thoughts; relationship and reconciliation. Now, even you as an individual you can be a forgiving person, but you can’t force another heart. Just because you’re forgiving doesn’t mean the other person is forgiven. It’s like in relationship to Jesus. Jesus is forgiving to us, but it’s not until we come to Christ for that forgiving spirit of which he provides that were actually forgiven. We need his forgiveness. In that being forgiven, we find reconciliation and relationship, because God is a god of reconciliation. We’re called to be people of reconciliation. Being a forgiving people doesn’t mean you go in this world and you try to force people into forgiveness. It means we just simply open up the door for those when they are ready to find forgiveness.
In the book of Matthew, you see Jesus praying this prayer and someone within the context of this story is about the find that forgiveness in Jesus. If you’re familiar with the cross of Christ, most of us are aware that when Jesus was crucified, he was crucified between two criminals. You probably refer to them as either thieves or robbers. That’s how the text of scripture describes them. I don’t think it was any accident Jesus was crucified between two thieves. In fact, I think an incredible story comes out of this for us. But even Isaiah 53:12 says this, that Jesus was numbered with his transgressors. But when we relate to these thieves, there isn’t much we know about them. Not even oral tradition teaches us anything about these thieves. We don’t know who they were, if they had family, what their names were, what crimes they committed exactly. In Jesus’s Day, the word thief was actually more of a blanket statement for a criminal.
They most likely had stolen something, but to warrant crucifixion, it had to be something pretty severe. I mean, they just didn’t still an apple from the marketplace. What they stole, it could have been someone’s life, it could have been someone’s innocence, but whatever it was, it warranted crucifixion to satisfy the justice in Rome. When you read a story about these two individuals, and I think really anyone in scripture, whether they’re someone that’s walking in truth or someone that’s opposed to God, I think it’s good for our souls not to distance ourselves from relating to them. Now, that might be a little shocking because this morning I’m going to tell you how you’re like the thief on the cross. But don’t worry, I want to end this with some hope. You could even ask the question, “Okay. Thief on the cross being crucified? I know I’ve done some things in my life. But how in the world are you going to relate me to a thief?”
But I would say the power of this story is seen and how you connect to what happens in the life of this thief. When you read Jesus’s presentation of his kingdom, which the gospels are full of his kingdom, you think on Sunday morning you gathered and you went to church. Now you didn’t actually come to church. You are the church. Jesus dwells within us. Wherever we are, we worship Him. We congregate as God’s people, as the church. But here’s the interesting thing about church. The gospels only use the word church three times. But did you know over 70 times Jesus talks about the kingdom? In fact, most of the time when Jesus talks about his kingdom, he’s not talking about the future. He’s talking about the present. In Matthew chapter five, Jesus starts this declaration of his kingdom. In the very first verses, it tells us he goes up on this mountain and he begins to deliver the very first message he shares with people.
When Jesus starts his message, it is an incredible beginning because in Jesus’s Day, religious people, like the Pharisees or even people that worshiped in other religions, they saw things that happen to them as either favor a judgment from God. So if they’re in bad experiences in life, the gods are against them. If they’re the elite of society, then the gods are for them. They’re the untouchables in a positive way. People look at them and think, they’re so wonderful, we could never be like them. In the Jewish day, that was the pharisees. The pharisees were the religious elite. You can’t be like them. And God loves those people. But then when Jesus presents his kingdom in Matthew five, listen to this, rather than talk about the spiritual elite, this is where he starts: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Jesus’s kingdom pictures isn’t about the elite. It’s about the broken.
In fact, I would even say in looking at the beginning of his introduction of his kingdom in sharing this message that, Jesus would rather have one broken spirit, than 10,000 self righteous pharisees. God works in that heart. To the self righteous, they see no need for Jesus; but to those who hunger, to those who are broken, that’s what his kingdom is about. And then this presentation, Jesus does something interesting. We’ll get to Matthew 27 in just a minute. But Jesus does something interesting in Matthew 21 … verse 21 Chapter Five, he then goes here, he says, “You shall not commit murder, and whoever convinced murder shall be liable to the court.” Again, how is this relevant to you? I mean, how many murderers we have present today? Jesus loves you, but … I mean, … Then verse 22, “But I say to you, that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court. You have heard that it was said you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her heart has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Here we have in this story, Jesus starts with the broken in spirit. But then as you follow his message for three chapters, Matthew five, six and seven, Jesus preaches. Then he goes after the really self righteous. He wants them to see their need for God. The way he does it is through these verses here. He starts with these verses, and he starts talking about the murderer and he starts talking about adultery. But then he makes it a little personal. In Jewish law, they would look at these laws and be like, “I never killed anybody or I’ve never committed adultery.” Jesus says, “That’s great that outwardly this has never happened in your life.” But the problem isn’t just the behavior. The problem that rests in your heart. So Jesus takes it a step further. So rather than just modifying our behavior to sort of self righteousness, Jesus is saying, “What really needs to transform happens with inside of you.”
So I think we can see this in the story, but let me just ask the question. I alluded this passage last week, but let me just ask this question, because sometimes I don’t think we get the full picture of what Jesus is communicating with these thoughts here. Have you ever stopped to wonder why Jesus picks these two sins? Out of all the things Jesus could have said as an illustration, murder, that seems like a very … or are you talking to a jail here? This is a very limited crowd of people. If you want to get something more relevant for us in alive, I can think of a lot more sense to pick, than just murder. Why is Jesus picking this? Then he takes it a step further and said, “Anger in your heart is what produces murder?” I think the reason Jesus picks these two sins is because, under Jewish law, the punishment for the sins was death. What Jesus is doing by taking these sins a step further to talk about anger and lust in your heart, this is recognizing in our lives, all of us are guilty.
So when you think about the thief and you think, “Okay, what do I have relevant with this thief in my life?” Honestly, the difference between us and the thief is that we have the same sin that rest in our heart. It’s just the thief played it out in his actions, but on our heart rest death. Now let me back away and say that I’m so thankful in reading this verse, that Jesus started where he did in the sermon on the mount. Because, rather than just stand before you in the sin and just say, “I’m a piece of garbage,” what you see in the beginning of Matthew chapter five, and the reason Jesus started here, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Because in the midst of the brokenness of that sin, we can recognize, and I’m loved. God wants to desire to do something new in me. God has identity for me, and there is hope for me. So when you think about the thief on the cross, what Jesus is doing, in Matthew chapter five, is the consistency of something they did throughout all of his ministry, all the way to the cross.
That in the midst of our sin, God provides a place for all of us to come to him to find that newness in our lives which he is creating for us on the cross. Here’s how it transpires in Matthew Chapter 27, it starts in verse 38, “At that time, two robbers were crucified with him. One on the right and one on the left. And those passing by were hurling abuse at him, wagging their heads and saying, “You are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. Save yourself. If you are the son of God, come down from the cross,” in the same way that chief priests also along with the scribes and the elders were mocking him. The robbers who had been crucified with him were also insulting him with the same words.” Let’s just hear the story, when Jesus is hanging on the cross, and he didn’t have a friend in the world, everyone’s mocking him in these moments. Everyone’s cursing him.
We were celebrating Palm Sunday today. This is the day traditionally where they shouted, “Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” which means save us now, and just a few days later, crucify. All the way down to the robbers even joining in. I mean, they’re choosing to use the last hours of their lives, not to say I’m sorry to their mamas, but they curse at Jesus, mocking him. Then something interesting happens. Luke 23, we’ll pickup where we left off last week in verse 39, one of the criminals who were hanged there were hurling abuse at him saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” But the other answered, rebuking him and said, “Do you not even fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation, and we indeed are suffering justly for we’re receiving what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Two thieves ridiculing him, and now Luke shows us one thief has a change of heart. Why did he change his mind?
When I think about this, this is a little speculative, but I don’t think one thing led the thief to change his heart towards the Lord. I think it was likely a series of interactions. Most likely the thief was aware of Jesus and heard the stories of Christ. The thief heard Jesus speak his few words from the cross. I mean, like the Roman soldier, the thief saw how Jesus embraced the cross, which is probably one of the most shocking things. We shared this a little bit last week. These two thieves were crucified before Jesus, and when they went to the cross … I mean, think, if someone’s about to nail you on the cross and this is your last ditch effort to not hang from a cross, to have nails pierce through your body until you suffocate to death. I can tell you how that’s going to go down for me. Every chance I get to bite you, I want to rip off your ear, spit on you. Yell at you, whatever. If it’s leading to the cross, I am kicking and screaming, go to all the way. Finally, they get these to pin down.
But then Jesus comes. How does he take the cross? He embraced it. It’s like he laid his life down willingly. Can’t tell you one of the most incredible things about what makes Jesus sufficient for you, is that he paid for you willingly. Before an eternal God, sin is to be paid for eternity, because God is eternal. But hearing the story, eternal God pays for our sin in a finite moment. The reason he’s adequate, it’s because, one, he was spotless and two, he was willing. Jesus didn’t have to go to that cross. He could’ve brought himself down. No one really crucified Jesus. He laid his life down. This criminal sees this and he sees Jesus pray for his enemies. The thief had even represented himself as an enemy, cursing at Jesus, and Jesus prayed for him. And perhaps the thought of the thief is, if God can forgive all these people who mocked and beat and crucified and spit on him, perhaps God could forgive him.
And this thief comes to Jesus who modeled that love and forgiveness, and he prays, “Father, forgive them,” and he comes to this Jesus that declared this kingdom, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst. Blessed are those who are broken in spirit.” Jesus could have called angels down at any moment. Yet Jesus chooses to bear our sins and forgive. I think about the demonstration of Jesus in this moment and how that helped bring the change in this thief’s heart. I think about our own lives, how we respond. No doubt in your life you have people that may not like you. If you don’t, now you might in the future. How do you react? What’s motivating you in response to that honor to yourself or to the Lord? I mean, has your attitude been one where you feel even when someone’s against you, you have the opportunity still to share the gospel to that person without shame.
I mean, could you imagine this thief in this moment, if Jesus had just responded with fury because he would have been just to do so. But rather it’s in grace that when his heart finally is sensitive to the Lord, that Gospel of grace and forgiveness resonates. It’s like this. Someone cuts you off on the interstate, and the next section you have to get off for gas and Lo and behold, you’re standing behind them in line. How would you feel if you had to share the gospel with them? What if they were just saying to the cashier in front of them, “Man, I really need to know Jesus.” You’re thinking, “Aw man, I told you were number one when you went by with the wrong finger.” Ashamed to share? Or did you walk with grace? Jesus in this moment does this for this thief. Here’s the most incredible thing, the irony of this all.
When you think about Jesus’ crucifixion, all his friends, the crowds that follow him, the irony of this story is, the only person that stands to defend Jesus in these moments, not that Jesus need is defended, but the only person that rises up and says anything, it’s the criminal. It’s the one on the cross. I mean, the only words that you have positively spoken relating to Jesus, to anyone that’s connected to him at all in these final moments of his life, it’s the criminal hanging on the cross. Then he utters these words in verse 42, and he was saying to Jesus, “Remember me when you come in your kingdom.” Now, we may not catch it in this phrasing, but these words are very powerful in the day of Jesus. I mean, he’s referencing Jesus’s kingdom which Jesus talked about. But when you talk about a kingdom, you’re automatically representing it. If Jesus is the one who uplifts this kingdom, who rules this king, and then that makes Jesus the what? King. Every kingdom has a king, and in these moments, he’s confessing Jesus as king.
In the time of Christ, the word that we will read in scripture when they’re referencing Jesus as King is Lord. But the interesting thing about this statement is, in Jesus’s Day, to confess the statement about Christ, I mean, that would get you killed. In time of Jesus, in the early church to say, “Jesus is Lord,” was to go against Rome, because during the time of the Romans, Caesar was Lord, Kaiser Kurios. They showed loyalty to him because he was the king. It was his kingdom, and they believed Caesar to be God. To pronounce another king in his kingdom, that could be the end of your life. Here’s this thief turning to Jesus in submission. I am no longer lord of my life, but you are. Jesus gives this incredible statement. This thief on the cross has an incredible story to share, not just at the Easter, but at anytime with anyone. Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today, you shall be with me in paradise.”
What does that mean? This shocking statement of pronunciation Jesus gives over a criminal. In the story you see how powerful Jesus’s forgiveness is. Jesus prays, “Father forgive them. They know not what they do.” Jesus demonstrates the incredible grace of his forgiveness by coming to this criminal and saying, “Forgiveness. Today you’ll be with me in paradise.” Some people don’t like the statement by Jesus because the thief, if you think about it, he never did a single work for God. He never served God, he never tithe, he’s … baptized. No religious work. Yet, what does Jesus say and promised him? Today, for you, paradise. What exactly is paradise? Out of a disdain that to think that someone could be in the same presence and eternity with a thief, they assume that obviously there is heaven and then there’s paradise, and paradise must be a lower form of heaven because the thief doesn’t deserve God’s best. I mean, it’s nice Jesus is being gracious to him, but where exactly is this thief?
Truth is, no one’s getting to heaven by what they do. We get to heaven because of what Jesus has done. That’s the shocking, profound, powerful, gracious, forgiving statement of the story. Then our self righteousness when we like to think it’s about us. Though we’re created in God’s image, and though we are important, it’s about Him. In fact, when you look at the word paradise, I think it’s important just to get an idea of exactly what Jesus is promising this thief. Paul in a wonderful passage of scripture, in 2nd Corinthians chapter 12, he really defines for us what paradise is and he starts off in 2nd Corinthians 12:2, he says, “I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago, whether in body I do not know or out-of-body, I do not know, God knows, such a man was caught up to the third heaven.” What in the world is that? Jesus had an interesting way of describing heaven.
You can imagine in a day and age where you didn’t have a telescope to look into outer space, how you might look into the expanse of the sky and conceive what weights out there. Here you are on earth and you see the glory, the radiance of God and all of his creation. The Jews in describing and thinking about God in heaven, what they did is they categorized layers to the atmosphere. Some Jews had as many as seven, but the most popular view which Paul holds here for the Jewish people is three. The way Jews categorically saw heaven is, they talked about the expanse where the birds dwelled and the clouds were, that was referred to in their theology as the first heaven. The place where the stars were, that was the second heaven. But the place where God dwelled and the only place where God’s dwelled was the celestial, and that was referred to as the third heavens. So in Jewish mind, when they talked about the being in the presence of God for them it was always the third heaven.
In fact, you can read about the expanse of the heavens, like Psalm 19. It talks about the heavens declare your glory God, and they’re thinking about all of creation, everything beyond us and all that God has made, layers where the birds dwell to the stars, to where God himself is, the presence of God. The third heaven. Then Paul does something interesting because he’s writing to a dualistic audience here. So whether outer body, I do not know, God knows, such a man was caught up to the third heaven. He says this, verse three, “And I know how such a man, whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know, God knows.” verse four, “Was caught up. Look at this, into paradise, and heard the inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.” What’s Paul doing here? He’s writing to both Jew and gentile audience. The Jew they understood what the third heaven was as a slush to presence of God.
To the Gentile world, their picture of Heaven was paradise. It was a Persian word in this derivative. Their idea of this blissful garden of which they would live. So Paul is taking both of these pictures of heaven and is showing them as one word by interconnecting or intertwining these two words, just using them as exchangeable within this text. In our culture today, we don’t have multiple words to refer to the … well, I mean we have words, individual words to refer to the atmosphere into the end of the universe and the galaxies. Then we have one word to talk about heaven. When the Jews talk about third heaven that is their picture where God dwells. In fact, I would say it like this, the Christian picture of Heaven is one place in the presence of God. It’s the most inclusive heaven of God’s people.
When you think about religions and their pictures of heaven, different religions have different ideas, what happened is like, but for the Christians because of not what we do, but because of what Jesus has done, and we trust in that our promise is all of us together as one big family in his presence forever. And to the thief, Jesus promises this. What was the thief’s worst day of life has become filled with the greatest expectation of hope because of the grace of God in his life. You ask people today, how do you get to heaven? The response often is, because I’m a good person. The unfortunate part of that statement is it bypasses the cross altogether and identifies us as the one that merits our salvation based on our ability. But the Christian answer isn’t I get to heaven because I’m a good person, but rather I get to heaven because I’m a forgiving person. It’s not what we do, it’s what’s been done. That’s why for us, the thief becomes the greatest illustration of the grace and forgiveness of God.
Not even able to lift an arm because it’s nailed to a tree. God forgives and promises him any eternity with him. Bible says in 2nd Corinthians 5:8, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” I love this phrase and Hebrews 10:14 that says, “For by one offering, one offering Jesus made. He has perfected forever those that are sanctified or set apart for Christ. Jesus in one offering covers my past, present, and future sin that would separate me from him so that I could experience that joy for which he has created me for in him.” I want to be frank and say, well, I love the promise of paradise for believers. The most powerful thought in Jesus’s statement isn’t the idea of paradise. The most powerful thought and the statement is the words Jesus speaks right before that when he says, he says in this, “Truly I say to you will be with me in paradise,” because the only reason paradise can happen is because the presence of God is made known in his life.
The truth is what makes Heaven Heaven is God’s presence. Revelation 21 that, “We will no longer have tear in our eye, but we will be present with our king.” Jesus makes Heaven Heaven. For us today, that phrase is still important, that Jesus is with you. God is with you. You think about this as a thief on the cross. People mocking you and shaming you. In these moments on public display is your fall. What does he hear from God? You are wanted. You are loved. God has a plan for your life. Now, on the mind of the thief, the idea of paradise is important because he’s at the end of his life. And what hope does he have? He’s just moments from his breath. So he knows the final moments that he closes his eyes, what awaits him? The promise of paradise is important for you. What’s going to happen to you when you die? Knowing that secure helps you walk a little more confident in your day. God loves me. I mean, if he can forgive the thief that’s nailed to cross, never did anything, God can forgive me.
He cares about me. He wants to be with me. He created me for that reason. But when we think about paradise, here’s the danger guys. Sometimes Christians see the Gospel just in terms of paradise. Meaning, the Gospel’s preached, salvation is brought, Jesus rescues our soul. Eternity is promised. Then we sort of forget about today because we’re thinking about tomorrow. Or even the Christian hymns, we’ll get together and we’ll sing songs sometimes and everything’s singing about, “When we all get the heaven … ” however that goes, or I mean, “I’ll fly away.” Just pick a song. All about getting into heaven. Here’s the problem if you focus so much on heaven. Christians that are just focused on heaven become no earthly good. You just hear the Gospel and think you got your … get out of hell free Card, your twitter your thumbs just waiting for the day. But the important part to think about and consider is Jesus’s kingdom is bigger than that.
When Jesus talked about his kingdoms, over 70 times in the gospels and most often when he referred to his kingdom, it was dealing with the present. Jesus’s presence is with you. Even the disciples, when they thought about Jesus and what he represented in his kingdom, look what they said about Christ in Acts 1:6. So when they had come together, they were asking him saying, “Lord,” this is after Jesus, his resurrection, he’s been with his disciples 40 days and they’re talking with Jesus. This is his last moments on earth before he ascends into heaven. They’d come together. They’re asking him saying, “Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom into Israel.” And he said to them, “It is not for you to know the time or epics, which the father has fixed by his own authority.” It’s like, “Look guys, you guys are all just thinking about you know what’s coming tomorrow.”
But he says in verse eight, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses both in Jerusalem and all Judea and Sumeria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” What Jesus is saying is that his resurrection doesn’t just matter tomorrow. It makes right now matter today. Jesus is saying, “Stop focusing on tomorrow, to the neglect of where God wants to lead you today.” In fact, Paul said in Romans 8:11, “The spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.” You think about the story of the thief on the cross, “You will be with me in paradise.” What an incredible power? What an incredible forgiveness? How great is that God? And then you think about your home life and now you can say, and thinking about Romans 8 and Act 6, and that same resurrection power that move that way in the life of the thief to transform his life for all of eternity is with me right now. What does that mean? How should you respond? How should you pray? What should you do?
You think about the thief, God’s promises this thief his presence for eternity because this is all the remaining hope that the thief had. His days were done. But for those that don’t have to worry so much about tomorrow because they have the ability to focus on today. It’s good to be reminded we can be so heavenly minded, that we are no earthly good. Sometimes when we think about the life of this thief, I know religious tendency within our heart wells up to say, “I’m not that guy. I’m better than that.” But when I think about this story as it relates to our lives, I like the thing guys … sometimes, some of as Christians we confuse our battlefield. Jesus I think has these moments at the end of his life, the cross, so that this story can shock us to say to us, “Look, the thief isn’t the target for us because we’re against the thief. Rather the thief is the target for us because we’re for him.”
Just as Jesus fought the battle on the cross for his soul. So Jesus fought the battle for your soul and he calls you to join him in that battle for the souls of others just like this thief, because all of our hearts, all of our hearts, need that grace. That’s what the presentation of His kingdom was about in Matthew chapter five. So you think about gathering as God’s people. Here we are on Sunday. Sunday for us shouldn’t be the ending point to our week, but rather the starting point in the call of Christ to make a difference. Jesus went to battle for this thief and in relating to Christ in our lives, Him as king and His kingdom, we belong to this kingdom, now represent this kingdom. So we go into battle representing our king, who by His grace transforms lives.
If the thief matters, everyone matters. In this room, how we encourage, how we see the stories, launching a point for what Jesus wants to do on our soul, recognizing that that resurrection power that brought Jesus from the grave rest in us today because presence is with us. It’s important. And greater than that, beyond these walls, the relationships that you have, the way that you react when you stand in line at the gas station having told people they’re one. Are you using the right finger? The story of this cross, there’s hope for everyone, so than we can rest in the power and the presence of Jesus today. Paradise is great and I’m glad in Jesus, we belong there. But so is His presence right now and His kingdom made known in your hearts that you could release it into this world by caring for the souls around you.