Jesus in his dying moments has a profound conversation with those dying alongside him. One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!” But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise."
Amazing! Two people in the same situation and such different responses. One criminal rejecting God to the very end but the other is a different story all together. The other criminal wasn’t good, he wasn't religious, he hadn’t spent his life being kind, generous or godly. In fact he probably was the opposite. So what had he done to earn paradise or heaven? Nothing! Jesus as he was dying next to him showed him love and the man accepted it. Jesus’ love was a free gift to the man and that gift transformed him in his dying moments.
So what happens to them? Where you have a 100 Christians, you’ll get a 100 views. Lets look at just one of these 100 views - the author C S Lewis, who wrote the Narnia books. C S Lewis believes there is definitely a life after this and that in essence we go where we want to. He said- ‘There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’.
He saw that some people desperately desire eternity with Jesus. But many others, like the first criminal, curse God to the very end of life and beyond. C S Lewis says ‘I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the gates of hell are locked on the inside.’ If this topic interests you, can I urge you to read all of his thinking in the form of a story in his book The Great Divorce. In it a bus pulls up in Hell and takes some of the inhabitance on a tour round heaven. It’s a great story, full of strong images, profound thoughts and strong caricatures that leave you a little uncomfortable. You won’t be able to put it down because you want to find out what they do in the end. Enjoy!