We will address the second of the two most popular verses that many use to debate that once we die, we shall immediately be with the Lord. This one is the famous verse spoken by Jesus Christ while He was on the cross. A thief crucified next to him had repented and asked Jesus with a prickle in his heart, "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Luke 23:42
Firstly, We want to make sure our readers don't miss this. The thief asked for Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into His kingdom. This doesn't occur until the second coming of Christ when He comes to receive His heavenly kingdom upon earth and the saints (us) shall reign with him for a thousand years. We also have several articles about this with many scriptures from the Bible. CLICK HERE if you would like to read more about this.
Going back to our point,
Jesus then turns to the thief in love and compassion and says:
"Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise ”(v43)
Let us remind everyone of the rule of the Bible. The Bible never contradicts itself. Keeping that in mind, let us understand all truth for there can only be one.
Why would Jesus tell the thief on the cross that he would be with Him today when Jesus told Mary after His resurrection that He had not yet ascended unto the Father yet? "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.." John 20:17
Why would Jesus tell the thief that he would be in Paradise with Him TODAY, and then tell Mary a completely otherwise story that Jesus had not yet ascended to His father yet three whole days later? That'd be a pretty cruel lie if it were what we thought it really was. But it wasn't.
Our Bible is the English translation of the original Hebrew and Greek text. It is the written Word of God in English, but the punctuations aren't infallible. It's amazing how one tiny comma can make a sentence mean an entirely different thing. With that in mind, let us remove the comma and take another look at the verse again,
Assuredly I say to you today you will be with Me in Paradise
Now try this,
Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.
Now we can see what a difference placing a simple comma can be!
When we die, we are asleep in the graves awaiting the coming of Christ. He promises us this, "I will come again and receive you to myself.." John 14:3 We are not received unto Him before then, but at His coming.
The dead are asleep in their graves and are unaware of everything below. All shall die even the righteous and the wicked, (Ecclesiastes 9:2,3). For the wages of sin is death, and since Adam sinned, all have sinned because of him and all shall die. Jesus shall come again and redeem us from our graves, and then death is swallowed up in victory at His coming.
"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." 1 Corinthians 15:54
Read all of 1 Corinthians 15 for a detailed description of how the dead in Christ shall be brought out of their graves at His coming, and then they shall receive incorruption and immortality. They are mortal first before they are immortal and this doesn't occur until the last trump on the last day. That is the blessed hope we look for, that Jesus shall come to receive us, and there we shall ever be with the Lord.
Job speaks of the wicked in chapter 21 and says, "Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb." (v32) And Job being a righteous man knowing his fate said,
"As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come." Job 14:11-14
Job is asleep in the graves and waiting there for his change to come where he will be raised immortal and incorruptible. Job knew he would have to wait until the heavens be no more, after the wrath is past which aligns with 2 Peter 3:10, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."
Job is waiting for the Day of the Lord. So is the thief on the cross. So is the dead in Christ. We see that the wicked do not live again until the thousand years are passed, this is the resurrection unto damnation ( John 5:29, Rev 20:5)
Are our loved ones looking down from heaven at all the things we do and waiting for us there? It is a beautiful thought, but it is not truth. Our loved ones are actually very blessed because they do not know about all the things going on earth at the moment. The beautiful thing is that they won't have to miss us or experience the pain of longing to be with us again. At their last moment of awareness, they saw our faces. At their next moment they shall see us there with them and Jesus will be calling us all together unto Him. What an extraordinary moment it shall be!
We prayerfully urge our readers to continue studying about this and learning more about this. Please take a second glance at all these verses about the grave and about the resurrection, and try looking at it this way. See if it makes more sense and see if it matches all the other verses. If it be truth, it shall.