While talking with my JW friend Mark, I mentioned that I had a question about the thief that was crucified on the cross next to Jesus. Most Christians will (rightly) use this verse to support the concept of the immortality of the human soul. “Today you will be with me in paradise,” says Jesus. But I didn’t bring up that issue. Before I could ask my question, Mark began to give the standard WT explanation of the verse, that the “correct” translation should place the punctuation so that it reads “I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise.” I let Mark finish his recitation, then said, “Yes, I’m aware of that debate, but I have a different question, one that most people don’t notice. Jesus said that the thief would be “with me,” that is, with Jesus. If paradise is on the earth, how could the thief be with Jesus?” Mark only said, “I don’t know.” I then went on to talk about Paul’s description of “paradise” as also being “the third heaven.” Mark was puzzled, and had no answer.
Mark called me while I was asleep. So he talked with my wife. She did a great job of giving her testimony of what God had done for her through Jesus. She also did a great job of saying “I don’t know” about stuff that she had no answer prepared for, saying also that she would do further study. And I woke up enough to hear her respond to his view of the coming “paradise on earth.” “What about the thief on the cross,” she said. “How could he be ‘with Jesus’ if Jesus is in heaven and the thief is on the earth?” I smiled, knowing that God wanted Mark to talk with my wife instead of me that day. God uses a number of his disciples to witness to those He is drawing to him.