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Rebellion and Redemption

Gospel of Luke   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Luke 1:1–4 ESV
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
PRAY
Luke 23:39–43 ESV
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the 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 him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Ridiculing the Christ

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him - These men that were crucified with Jesus were more than common thieves. They were rebellious insurrectionists. They had committed crimes that were worthy of death under Roman rule. These men are both hanging upon their own cross and will be dying shortly though the death with be grueling and painful.
Luke tells his audience one of the two that were being executed treated Jesus with the same contempt as the rulers of Israel and the Roman soldiers who were present. He is speaking a stream of insults against Jesus. When one rails against another this is speaking toward someone is such a way to bring harm or injury to one’s reputation. This is a blasphemous assault. The criminal is calling Jesus into question. He is mocking him and his claim.
Psalm 22:7 ESV
All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
Saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” - This demand for Jesus to rescue himself had been heard two previous times. The simply point is that Jesus must rescue himself in order to prove that he is the long-awaited Messiah, the chosen One of Israel. The criminal adds a selfish demand along with his challenge of Jesus. He wants Jesus to save both of the other men who are being crucified at this moment.
Saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” - This demand for Jesus to rescue himself had been heard two previous times. The simply point is that Jesus must rescue himself in order to prove that he is the long-awaited Messiah, the chosen One of Israel. The criminal adds a selfish demand along with his challenge of Jesus. He wants Jesus to save both of the other men who are being crucified at this moment.
R.C.H. Lenski writes:

“Art thou not the Christ?” with its interrogative word οὐχί (the strong οὐ) which implies that the question must be strongly affirmed shows how this impenitent malefactor wanted Jesus to be the Christ, wanted it for his purpose. He will let this Christ save himself, but he must then certainly save also him and his companion. That is all he wants a mighty Christ for, to escape the cross and death, to go on living his wicked life, to cheat justice. There is no shadow of repentance, no trace of faith in Christ.

Rebuking the Ridiculer

But the other rebuked him - This is interesting. The second criminal that is being executed takes to the defense of Jesus. He reprimands, corrects or admonishes the first criminal who had railed against Jesus. In short, he sees something very wrong with what is happening to Jesus. However, this was not always the case.
Matthew 27:44 ESV
And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Mark 15:32 ESV
Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
Saying, “Do you not fear God - Do you not have any respect for the Lord? The point here is that as these men are closing in on their death, it is not the time to be hurling insults at someone, especially when that someone is the Messiah of Israel. The criminal should be seeking to have God’s mercy and pardon.
Since you are under the same condemnation? - The criminal is stating a plain fact. All three men are receiving the same punishment. The have been sentenced to death and that judgment is being carried out against them all. In this regard, they were the same. However, there is more to say concerning this situation.
And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds - It is emphatic in the original that the criminal is highlighting his and the other criminal’s guilt. He is admitting that they are getting exactly what was deserved based upon what they had done. He admits that they are being rightly punished.
But this man has done nothing wrong. - This man, the one hanging between us, who has not said anything in his own defense. The criminal is stating that Jesus is different from them. He is receiving death, but he has not done anything that is deserving of this punishment. Literally, he has done nothing that is out of place. Pilate has three times claimed Jesus’ innocence, Herod agreed and now there is a third that recognizes the Lamb of God’s purity.

Requesting Mercy of the Christ

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. - The request is made directly to Jesus, the one who saves. This is a very strange thing to ask someone who is hanging on a Roman cross, an instrument of certain death. The criminal asks Jesus not to forget him or to call him to mind. What does he mean by this? He is simply asking Jesus to save him. When? He is asking to be saved when Jesus comes into his kingdom. He is referring to Jesus’ reign, rule and dominion as the Messiah. He is not certain as to exactly when this kingdom will come. However, this indicates that the criminal did not think that death on the cross would bring any harm to Jesus’ claim as King. He believed that Jesus would rule in his kingdom.
Psalm 106:4 ESV
Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them,

Redeeming the Repentant Criminal

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you - Certainly, I assure you, you can count on what I am about to tell you or you can trust this.
Today you will be with me in paradise.” - Before the sun goes down or sets, before the end of this day you will be remembered. Your salvation and deliverance is coming to you today. On this day, you will be joining me in paradise. What does Jesus mean by paradise? Paradise is the forever abode of the righteous.
Philippians 1:21–23 ESV
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
Philippians
2 Corinthians 5:6–8 ESV
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
There will be, of course, a future consummation of this reality. The presence of the Lord will be enjoyed more fully by his people in body and spirit after the final resurrection and the completion of all things pertaining to salvation and redemption.
Revelation 2:7 ESV
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Practical Application

Carnal men are focused on the physical world to the neglect of the spiritual.
Romans 8:6–8 ESV
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
When there is no fear of God, one acts with dangerous foolishness.
Romans 3:18 ESV
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Romans
Proverbs 14:12 ESV
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
In about the same amount of time as the repentant criminal was with Jesus in paradise, the unrepentant one had entered into eternal torment.
Believe and keep on believing in Jesus.
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:36 ESV
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Rejoice in the God of pure grace.
In the narrative, Jesus died before the other two. The first trophy of his grace brought into the presence of the Father after the actual atonement was a condemned, executed, godless criminal, who trusted in him.
Rejoice in the God of pure grace
There is a fountain filled with blood   Drawn from Immanuel’s veins; And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,   Lose all their guilty stains:   Lose all their guilty stains,   Lose all their guilty stains; And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,   Lose all their guilty stains.
2 The dying thief rejoiced to see   That fountain in his day; And there may I, though vile as he,   Wash all my sins away:   Wash all my sins away,   Wash all my sins away; And there may I, though vile as he,   Wash all my sins away.
The dying thief rejoiced to see   That fountain in his day; And there may I, though vile as he,   Wash all my sins away:   Wash all my sins away,   Wash all my sins away; And there may I, though vile as he,   Wash all my sins away.
3
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood   Shall never lose its power, Till all the ransomed ones of God   Be saved, to sin no more:   Be saved, to sin no more,   Be saved, to sin no more; Till all the ransomed ones of God,   Be saved to sin no more.
4
E’er since by faith I saw the stream   Thy flowing wounds supply, Redeeming love has been my theme,   And shall be till I die:   And shall be till I die,   And shall be till I die; Redeeming love has been my theme,   And shall be till I die.
5
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue   Lies silent in the grave, Then in a nobler, sweeter song,   I’ll sing Thy power to save:   I’ll sing Thy power to save,   I’ll sing Thy power to save; Then in a nobler, sweeter song,   I’ll sing Thy power to save.
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