The first ever Christian

Who was he?

Over the past 2,000 years billions of people have put their trust in Jesus Christ.  That is why they are called Christians.  But who was the first follower of this big world religion?

You probably expect that one of Jesus’ twelve disciples would have secured this title.  Since these 12 men had three years to learn from and listen to their Master.  Or is this honour to be bestowed on one of the many women who followed the Rabbi?  It is said, that women understand with the heart and that belief in God comes from the heart.  Or was it one of the big teachers of that generation, who was the first to see the light?  We find the answer in Luke’s Gospel:

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke chapter 23 NIV Translation)

Facing death one of the criminals turns to Jesus and asks him for help.  A Christian is someone who understands that without God’s mercy he is lost for all eternity.  This criminal is the first person who believes in Christ’s Kingdom.  Jesus’ death is not the end, but the beginning of history.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This simple sentence is a distilled profession of faith.  It contains everything that defines a Christian. “Lord, I deserve damnation; I need salvation, redemption, forgiveness and hope.  I want to live, I do not want to die.  You can guarantee me a place in heaven and thereby give me eternal life.”

A single cry out of deepest despair.  Jesus’ answers him with also one sentence: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The title on the front page of today’s Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung is “Attacking death.”  It outlines the many efforts undertaken by several worldwide companies to stop aging and dying.  The hope of “eternal life” seems to be ingrained in us humans.  Immense sums of money are being invested to prolong lives.  The answer, however, consists of just three words: “Jesus remember me!” /KDJ

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