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Tickets to Where?

Tickets to Where?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

5:21 PM

Luke 23:43 - "And Jesus said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.'"


Eddie Money passionately sang in the 1980s, "I've got 2 tickets to paradise."  Recently this song has had a revival of sorts even though it is over 20 years old.  Ed Reed, safety for the Baltimore Ravens, sang it at his team's pep rally before they departed Baltimore on their way to New Orleans and a Super Bowl title.  And Travelocity (I believe) also uses the song in one of their recent travel commercials. 

"I've got 2 tickets to paradise".  If you were the one singing the song what would the tickets say on them?  Where would you be going? What do you consider paradise?  Some people would say the Hawaii, others might say Alaska.  For some it would be Florida and for others in might be a remote resort in the Caribbean.  Others might say something simpler, just a trip to the beach or Gatlinburg, or just having a stress free night at home.

Other people would say that paradise for them is a place where their worries are gone.  Or a place where they didn't have to worry about sickness, or work problems, or relationship issues.  Where is paradise to you?

Jesus promised the thief on the cross that "he would be with Him in paradise."  There has been a lot of debate over what Jesus meant, but I think the simpler approach is the best, He was telling the thief that he would be with Him in heaven.  Heaven a place that is paradise.

That's pretty amazing isn't it? The thief got a ticket to paradise and he paid absolutely nothing for it.  Go back and read that statement again: he paid absolutely nothing for it.  The thief brought nothing to Jesus.  He didn't buy his ticket.  He didn't earn it.  He didn't deserve it.  The only thing that he brought to Jesus that day was his sin.  And in what reformed theologian Martin Luther called "the great exchange", Jesus took his sin and gave him a robe of righteousness.  The thief had to have that robe if he was going to get into paradise.  He had to be ready and clothed for the "marriage supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19).  It was his ticket so to speak.  He had one ticket to paradise, that he paid absolutely nothing for. 

What is paradise like? We don't know for sure, but we are told that it is a place of fullness of joy.  Why? Because Jesus is there, and He tells us "in His presence there is fullness of joy."  It is a place where "there is no sickness" for there is a tree in the midst of it with fruit  for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2).  It is also a place where there is "no weeping, no crying, no mourning, no pain."  In other words heaven is a place where there is no sickness, death, temptation, sin, pain, or reason to cry.  There are no problems and no relationship issues in heaven.  Sin and its damaging effects does not dwell there.

It is also a place that is our home.  Jesus says, "In His Father's house there are many mansions,…..and I go there to prepare a place just for you."  It is a place where Jesus prepares us a place.  What do we know about that place? What kind of house is it? A mansion? A room (as others translations render it)? I'm not sure it matters because it is a place where our Father is and because of that it is our HOME.  We long for heaven because heaven is our home.  We were created and redeemed for it. 

The question becomes do we have a ticket? The thief did, he brought nothing, all he did was turn to Jesus in faith and repentance (repentance means to change your mind in one sense and the thief definitely changed his mind because earlier he had been mocking Jesus, now he turns to Jesus and cries out to Him for help).  He obviously turns to Jesus in faith because He believes that Jesus has a kingdom and is thus a King.  So he says, "remember me when you come into your kingdom."  But because he turned to Jesus in that way, He was graciously given a ticket.  He was given the promise of God, "today you will be with Me in paradise."

What about you? Is your ticket "punched"? Have you repented of your sins and placed your faith in Jesus?  If so you should sing with an even greater passion and joy than Eddie Money or Ed Reed did, as you belt out, "I've got a ticket to paradise."  It's a place so wonderful that we can't even begin to conceive what God has in store for us who love Him.