Faithlife Sermons

The Good Thief

Crucify Him!  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Here we see a sinful man come in contact with the Suffering Christ. He is met with grace and it changes his outcome.

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Intro

Many of us today are familiar with this symbol… Show picture of the cross.
This is a Roman Cross
Long before it was jewelry, it was a symbol of execution
It is the equivalent of an electric chair guillotine!
Thousands were crucified but we know/identify with this symbol because of ONE
This 7 week journey that we are about to embark on is the story of the humanity and divinity of Jesus
Hebrews 12:3 CSB
3 For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up.
“He endured so we can endure.”
On the last Thursday before He would go to the cross Jesus had a final meal with His disciples. He told them of His intentions and is ready to prepare himself for what He is to suffer.
After the meal He leads his closest disciples/Peter, James, John to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with Him.
He is in anguish and praying for comfort and strength
His closest disciples/apostles fall asleep on Him...
Another disciple, Judas arrives and betrays Jesus with a kiss
And a mob arrests Jesus
Jesus ends Thursday being denied by one of His closest friends and followers Peter and being a part of a very unjust trial that began at night!
He then is severely beaten and mocked
On Friday morning he faces a legitimate court among the Jews and they question His Identity as the Messiah and son of God. Jesus responds with certainty on Friday morning “I AM”
Jesus is taken to a Roman governor by the name of Pilate who qustions Jesus and finds no fault. He has the power to release but gives in to the crowd who is swayed by the high priests.
Jesus is taken away, beaten into what looks like hypovolemic shock, and then Jesus being weakened is tasked with carrying His cross.
He is so weak a man named Simon from northern Africa is tasked to help him carry His cross.
At 9AM on Friday morning his identity as Messiah is questioned and Jesus is mocked and sneered at, yet Jesus makes sure that He mediates on their behalf. He asks the Father to forgive them!
It is still Friday morning...
Our story continues on Friday morning...
The cross is on the hill, the nails have penetrated his flesh (feet & wrists), a title of kingship has been placed, Jesus has been lifted up on the cross, and a crowd stands watching as He along with two criminals slowly die...
insert image here of Jesus w/ criminals on the cross.
Page 519 in Pew Bible
Luke 23:39–43 CSB
39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The picture painted here is one of sadness as we see the son of man crucified as a guilty man among some very bad men. When examining the parallel gospels we see that these men began their Friday morning taunting our savior (, ). But we will examine on this morning the hearts of the men on the cross.
Matthew 27:44 CSB
44 In the same way even the criminals who were crucified with him taunted him.
Mark 15:32 CSB
32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with him taunted him.
I need for you at this moment to consider the fruit tree. When planted a seed has the potential of all other trees to mature and produce fruit when fully matured. We are a bit like trees in the fact that we mature and we produce fruit but our fruit is not of the edible variety but deal in the realm of actions. When we choose to sin against God it is our fruits being displayed for the world to see. Unlike trees we decide what our fruit will look like. Our fruits will be based on spiritual nourishment and what we choose to infuse into our hearts/minds. If you choose to fill your hearts with ways of stealing and making up excuses as to why it is OK then you may find that you will and are producing the fruit of stealing. If you are over-consumed with pornography, being sexually pleasing to other people, and lack the desire of a marital commitment you may produce the fruit of fornication. Jesus lets us know in that “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” What you put in will surely come out especially when pressed as we are about to see these three men are pressed and their true fruit begin to show.

A Troubled Heart

Luke 23:39 CSB
39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
lk 23
We see in other gospel accounts that both criminals are taunting Jesus.
While he is in the darkest and possibly the last moments of his life, his true character shines through.
For some the fire will cause the impurities to rise to the top to be removed by the one who can change. But for others the fire only causes the impurities to be seen more clearly. The difference is that one has someone who can change them and the other does not.
This thief is trash talking Jesus!
In his last moments of life while he is fighting for the ability to breath he chooses to use his breath to challenge another dying man!
This is head shaking territory until we realize that we do the same.
We could be breathing our last breath on this earth and instead of choosing life (with God) we choose pain.
“Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
This thief is troubled in the fact that he chooses an inward focus instead of outward.
He seeks to save his own skin.

An Open Heart

Luke 23:40–41 CSB
40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”
rebuke him
There is always room for righteous correction
“Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment?”
“You disrespect God because you are not decent enough to respect a dying man!”
With the other Gospel narratives showing us that he played a part initially in the trash talking towards Jesus but now he corrects.
V41
We begin to see that he realized they deserved punishment for their sin
Jesus did not deserve what it was that He was going through.
When an open heart is pressed and faced with trials it seeks another way. It does not continue down the path that got them in trouble.
Luke 23:42 NRSV
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He is not seeking redemption but only asks that Jesus remember him.
lk 23 40-41
He comes to BELIEVE that Jesus is king based on the fact that he says he has a kingdom.
He does not ask for a lot.
Maybe because of his past...
But he does not yet understand the GRACE of God!

A Gracious Heart

Luke 23:43 NRSV
43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Luke 23:42–43 NRSV
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Jesus responds with an affirmation/fact that on this very same FRIDAY he will be with Jesus in Paradise.
Here Jesus is being crucified by choice and He chooses to save!
What Jesus does
Paradise- This word is derived from another word which describes an enclosed garden. It was the same word used in the Greek translation to describe the Garden of Eden. It is also what Jews believed was the resting place after death for those who were righteous.
Jesus tells this openly unashamed sinner that he is going to inherit a place that is reserved for those who have lived righteous lives!
THIS DOES NOT PROMOTE DEATH BED REPENTANCE
THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT ONE DOES NOT HAVE TO BE BAPTIZED. THERE WAS NOTHING TO BE BAPTIZED INTO AND THE ARRIVAL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR ALL MAN WAS NOT QUITE THERE YET.
Because of the recognition of the authority of Jesus Christ this sinner was allowed to be saved on that very same day!
Jesus shows us that although He is being slowly killed He’s still in control!
And that is how a thief can be good! That is how an unclean man who disrespects the son of God can learn to respect Him.

Conclusion

The day that Jesus was hung on a cross He chose to be in that position for you! He chose to hang between two criminals, as if He were one too! He knew that we would be in sin and yet he endured so that we could endure. He understands that our hearts have strayed from God. He knew that we would at some point believe the lies of the adversary. But God has given us a path back to the peace and providence of Eden. A paradise where God provides and the worries and cares of humanity disappear. Who wants to be GOOD this morning?
The day that Jesus was hung on a cross He chose to be in that position for you! He chose to hang between two criminals, as if He were one too! He knew that we would be in sin and yet he endured so that we could endure. He understands that our hearts have strayed from God. He knew that we would at some point believe the lies of the adversary. But God has given us a path back to the peace and providence of Eden. A paradise where God provides and the worries and cares of humanity disappear. Who wants to be GOOD this morning?
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