Jesus promised the thief, who believed in Jesus’ innocence, that he would join Jesus in paradise.
One of the criminals who were hanged raled at him, saying, “Are you not he Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to hm, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).
Where and what is paradise? Also, where did the Spirit of Jesus go after He left His body hanging on the cross? And what body did Jesus use to make Himself known to his disciples and followers? At one time, there were as many as five hundred, who had seen and recognized Jesus, tangibly (I Corinthians 15:6). Then, what exactly is and where is paradise? When we are looking and speculating as to what paradise might be, in heavenly terms, the words of Paul need to be considered:
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I am understood (I Corinthians 13:12).
It is comforting to believe Paul’s description:
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no man comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.
The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, bu is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have he mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:9-16).
And when Paul was allowed a glimpse into paradise, he could not talk about it, nor could he describe it (II Corinthians 12:1-4). The same can be said about Jesus’ promise of many mansion in paradise waiting for the arrival of Jesus’ followers whose hearts are no longer troubled. However, the follower of Jesus must get ready here on earth and he must be ready to be picked up and taken to paradise when Christ returns (John 14:1-7). Note, in particular, John 14:3: “And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
The Thieve’s Request was not for Paradise
The thief accepted his punishment, and he begged Jesus to remember him when He takes over His Kingdom. This indicated that this criminal believed that Jesus would be his final Judge when the dead would rise and face eternal condemnation. The thief offered to make up for his mistakes in Jesus’ reign. Paradise, for this man, meant that he would not be judged for his faith and his remorse for what he has done. Jesus took the man to the place where the dead rest from their labors and would be raised to live with Christ in His heavenly Kingdom (Revelation 14:13). According to Ephesians and I Peter, Jesus did go down to the “souls in prison” and Jesus did share the good news with them.
Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to them.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things (Ephesians 4:8-10).
For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him (I Peter 3:17-22).
After Jesus had preached to the “souls that rest,” He appeared on His Resurrection to Mary Magdalene in a visible form; however, Jesus had not yet ascended and descended from the Father.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and ne at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to ther, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for have not yet ascended to the Father; butt go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her (John 20:11-18).
The Testimony of the Disciples Regarding Their Risen Lord
John Zebedee’s witness:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with the eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also o you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete (I John 1:1-4).
The witness of Peter:
Therefore I intend always to remind you of these things, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to arouse you by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. And I will see to it that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the mountain. And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (II Peter 1:12-21).
The witness of John the Baptist:
And this is the testimony of John, when the News sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, he did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What the? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” And he answered, “No.” They said to him then, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of he Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Then way are you baptizing, if you are neither the CHrist, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered, “I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing .
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:19-34).
Jesus demonstrated to Thomas the Twin:
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and putout your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:24-29).
What was the Risen Body of CHrist Like and what will His Follower’s Body be Like?
Jesus had a multi-purpose body. He made Himself visible, tangible, and transferable. Jesus could pass through material obstacles like airwaves and appear anywhere He needed to be. In the twinkling of an eye, Jesus could be in heaven and on earth with his disciples (Matthew 28:20).
Paul, the Apostle has his own vision on what the life in the spirit would would be like:
But some one will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of a body do they come? You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animas, another kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of man of the dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren; flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, the this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:35-57).