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The Last Word on Hope

. 2 min read

17-18
Feb 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Call
to Worship, Psalm 25.1-10
Children,
Matthew 4.1-11
Message,
Luke 23.36-45
Discussion
guide
The
most painful things that have happened in my life:
      Loss of children to miscarriage
      Transition from evangelical/Pentecostal
world to UMC
            And my parents’ doubts
      Loss of a lifetime dream – starting a
church from scratch
      Loss of dad
Always
found myself in Robin’s arms
And
in the arms of God
Two
main characters in the exchange around this last word:
1.
The criminal who prays to Jesus
·       From
the perspective of the Romans, he was a radical terrorist, out to upset their
kingdom
·       From
the perspective of Jesus’ kingdom, he was someone who advocated violence
instead of peace
·       If
you were aligned with his world view, he was dying a martyr’s death. Otherwise,
he was either a terrorist or a failure.

2.
Jesus himself
Threefold
taunting of Jesus, by leaders, soldiers, criminal (Fitzmyer, 1501)
·       Save
yourself (a failed savior)
·       If
you are Messiah/King (a failed king)
Only
thing we know of that was written of Jesus in his lifetime: the inscription
above him on the cross, “This is the king of the Jews” (1502).
      From the perspective of the other criminal,
Jesus was a failure – not a king or a savior.
Yet
the other criminal prays, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”
·       When
kings die, their kingdom is over
·       What
made him think that Jesus was yet to come into his kingdom? Stanley Hauerwas
asks, “What made it possible for one criminal to recognize that this loser
hanging on the cross will come into a kingdom?” (Cross-Shattered Christ, 38).
·       The
story doesn’t tell us, perhaps because it is beside the point.
·       Perhaps
this unanswered question is a clue to understanding what Paul means when he
writes that even faith itself is a gift of God.
Ordination
& last miscarriage
      Prayer that the process would pause long
enough
Jesus
answered the criminal’s prayer: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
A
promise of life after death, yes (even prior to resurrection!)
And
much, much more
Three
key expressions in the answered prayer:
·       “Today”
an intensive present, “here and now” – even while dying
·       “with
me” is the primary location, no matter where we are we are with Jesus
o  
Living or dying, we are “with the Lord forever”, 1
Thessalonians 4.17
·       “in
Paradise” is the secondary location, being “with Jesus” is being “in Paradise”
o  
Paul’s ecstatic vision paired with thorn in the flesh
o  
Promise in the Revelation to those who overcome
o  
Eden garden
o  
Experience of the exiles
Ambrose,
“More abundant is the favor shown than the request made” (Fitzmyer 1508) –
ordination/miscarriage prayer

Answer
to our prayers at final miscarriage

Resources:
Stanley
Hauerwas, Cross-Shattered Christ
Jürgen
Moltmann, The Crucified God
Joseph
A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke
X-XXIV