When we lived in Arkansas, Lisa and I were invited to a dinner party to honor the 40th birthday of a friend. His wife did an immaculate job of decorating and preparing for the group that gathered. The table was set, complete with name cards that assigned seats to each dinner guest. Except me. It was a funny oversight, but at the same time, a bit awkward. Have you ever been forgotten? Have you ever felt that God has forgotten you?
Sometimes we feel forgotten by God, especially when our fail proof systems hit a glitch. Any number of life’s challenges…bills, kids, marriage, employment, health…can cause us to wonder if God’s really paying attention to us. If you’ve ever felt that way, then the second saying Jesus spoke from the cross is for you.
Jesus’ words are spoken to one who is simply called a “thief.” To refer to him as a thief is a bit understated. He was more than one who stole stuff. He was a professional criminal and an insurrectionist, an enemy of the Roman Empire. Many would have labeled him as a “bad person.” He was deserving of death even by his own admission.
It’s fascinating that the thief appealed to Jesus’ memory. “Remember me…” I must confess that it’s a bold request, given that Jesus probably had a lot on his mind already. Jesus responds, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Or, “I will not forget you.”
In our pain and adversity, we echo that same request… “Remember me…” and he does.