Praise the Lord. Its good to be back and see you all again. I bring greetings from the saints and ministers down at Living Word Tabernacle. We really had a wonderful time of fellowship with them last weekend. I believe they are walking on the same path we are, making a B line for the cross. Running as fast as we can to Jesus. Looking to him to lead the way. And escaping from these things that have proven out to be just a bunch of man-made ideas. So let us keep them in prayer, and also all the saints around this world who coming awake to the truth.
So let me jump into the message this evening. I am going to look at some verses that really blessed me this week as I looked over them. But before I get to them, let me remind everyone of the past few messages. I have been taken this line of thought for a few months now in these evening services. My aim truthfully has been to record these message to put on the new website. Most of the message I have preached over the past year I have not been recording. But I wanted to have something for people to listen to when I launch the site. And probably we can start posting up all our regular messages there online once we move into our new building next month. Lord willing. But just to refresh us all on some of the ground we have already covered.
Summarize last message
Jesus was arrested and taken for his trial. A bunch of hypocrite religious leaders put together a sham trial so they could maintain their grip on power and keep up their religious façade. As Peter denied the Lord three times, and Judas was committing suicide, the Lord was being taken to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor.
Pilate, like many people in this world when they are confronted with Jesus, wanted nothing to do with him. He kept looking for a way to avoid making a decision on Jesus.
He tried to let Jesus go. Tried to get the Jews to do it. Sent him to Herod. Tried to create a dilemma for the priests, so they would pick Barabas. Tried to satisfy them by just beating him.
But in the end, Pilate found the thing which would allow him to condemn an innocent man to death: his friendship with Caesar. And so, in the end, Jesus was sent to the cross.
As Jesus said, how else could the scriptures be fulfilled?
So let me pick up reading in Luke 23. And this evening we will look at the crucifixion of our savior.
13 And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,
14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:
15 No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.
16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him.
17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)
18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:
19 (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)
20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.
21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.
22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.
23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.
24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.
25 And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
So there is the whole sad story. In the end, the people chose Barabbas. They chose a killer over Jesus. A man with blood on his hands. And while the killer went free, Jesus went to the cross. Let me continue with verse 26.
26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.
The cruelty of this whole process on Jesus is hard to describe. Making him carry his cross, its like making him dig his own grave. Its just another level of cruelty.
And we see Jesus was so weak from the beating he had already suffered, that he was struggling to carry the cross. And so the Romans grab this man, Simon. A man who is just walking along, minding his own business. They grab him suddenly, and force him to carry this heavy burden.
And when I read this verse, it reminds of something Jesus said to Peter. Jesus said, take up your cross and follow me. And here, in this little passage, Simon is literally taking up a cross and following Jesus. And he lays out a little pattern, one I think we can learn something from.
Because when Jesus said, take up your cross, he was not talking about a literal cross. There are people, even in Corydon near where I live, they will take a literal cross. And they will carry it around town. And that certainly gets some attention, and makes some people interested. I am not saying that is wrong. It is a little weird though.
But that is not really what Jesus was talking about when he said take up your cross.
It’s a deep saying, and it has different layers of meaning. And in the context of that verse, Peter had just been arguing with Jesus, insisting he would never die. The cross was not something Peter wanted to deal with. But the cross is something we must all deal with.
We can’t leave out the cross. But we have to take it up, we have to keep it central.
I heard a preacher say one time, we have to preach a cross shaped gospel. And to me, I thought that was a good saying. We can’t preach a gospel that neglects the cross. We can’t preach a gospel that leaves out what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus has to be in focus, and we have to be willing to take up the cross, especially in that way.
And a lot of us, we came from places where they pretty well never took up the cross.
Not in that manner. They really want nothing much to do with the cross. That’s why they never talk about it. What did Jesus say to Peter when he wanted nothing to do with the cross? He said get behind me Satan.
Some of these people who have abandoned the cross, they have abandoned the truth of what Jesus did for us. We just have to say get behind us Satan. I want that cross, I want to hold onto it. I want to carry it with me to the end of my days.
And you know, this is a story I told before. I will tell it to you again. There is a moral to it.
But after the civil war was over, they was going to have a big celebration in Washington DC. And they got together a big orchestra, and they asked Abraham Lincoln, they said,
What song would you like us to play. And Lincoln said, I’d like you to play Dixie. And the people all started to get upset. Why, you can’t play Dixie. That’s the enemy’s song.
They started to really make a scene. And they said why in the world would you want us to play Dixie? And Lincoln said, well we won the war. Its our song now.
I love that story. Because there is the moral to the story. You and I, we are the winners. Jesus has already won the war. And we are on the winning side. And everything that belongs to the enemy, is the spoils of wars. And we have a right to them. Every phrase, every song, everything in this holy book. It belongs to us.It is our heritage as children of God.
And I am not about to cede one inch of it to the enemy. Because none of it belongs to the enemy. It belongs to the winners. We have already won this war. And the spoils belong to us now. And as we take up the cross, and we share the truth about it, the enemy has no say. Their voice is silenced. They are defeated, in Jesus name.
It maybe takes me a little time. But I am getting my armor on. And in Jesus name, I am going to march on Jericho. In Jesus name we are going to put to flight the armies of the enemy. And we are going to do it with the cross.
You know those silly old movies way back in the day, black and white. And they show dracula the cross and he bursts into flames. That is not too far the truth, in a spiritual sense. That is exactly what happens to the enemies of the Lord when they are confronted with the cross.
And I am not talking about two pieces of wood nailed together. But I am talking about what those two pieces of wood mean. What they symbolize. Its stronger than an atomic bomb. The power of the cross. The power of the resurrection. That is what we have today.
What Jesus did on the cross, that is enough to save you and me. Jesus is enough. What he did is enough. And faith in what he did, is enough. And to add anything else to that equation for salvation means you do not believe Jesus is enough. And you do not believe what he did is enough.
And we come from places where they do not believe Jesus is good enough. That is why they have invented all these other things. All these rules you can’t find in the bible. All these revelations you are supposed to memorize to go in the rapture. All these special men you have to listen to. All these special groups you have to belong too. They have come up with all those things Because Jesus is not good enough for them.
So while others are placing their faith in all those kinds of things, Which the bible clearly tells us are not capable of saving a man, I am placing faith in nothing less Than Jesus, and his righteousness.
Jesus is good enough for me. But Jesus is not good enough for awhole lot of people. That is why they shy away from the cross. That is why they don’t preach it. Because it contradicts their message. But as for you and me, let us take up the cross and follow Christ. Let’s point to Jesus. Lets bring it all back to him. And the cross, it will keep things in focus.
And the cross has another aspect to it. You know, the cross don’t really fit into a prosperity gospel either. A name it and claim it religion. And quite of places we have came from preached that stuff too.
God is a healer, he meets our needs, he is a provider, and we can count on him to be there when we need him. Absolutely! But sometimes powers beyond on our control grab us off the street and throw a cross on our back. Something comes along out of the blue, unexpected, just like happened to Simon. And while Simon carried the cross that was forced on him. Jesus was walking right beside him.
We don’t seek out burdens to carry. We don’t seek out hardship, that would be foolish.
But when it comes our way, when this world forces a burden on us. Jesus is right there beside us. And if in this life, you find yourself unexpectedly beneath a burden, like Simon.
Then you can do the same thing Simon did, you can look over to your side, and see can your precious savior, right there, going through the same ordeal with you. You can look at the thorny crown, you can realize what he did for you. What he did you set you free.
And as you you look on Jesus, that burden starts to feel a little lighter, and a little lighter.
And when you finally get to the place where you can lay your burden down. You can kneel down at the foot of that cross and worship Jesus. Because he was nailed to the cross, so you didn’t have to carry that burden for all eternity. He was nailed to that cross, so you could lay your burden down. And that is where Simon was headed.
He was headed to a place where he could lay down his burden. And where Simon laid his burden down, is the exact same place each of us can go to. We can find that same place where we can lay our burdens down. And it is on Mt Calvary. That place where Jesus made a difference. That place where Jesus won victory over death, hell, and the grave.
And I am not talking about a physical place. But a spiritual place. We can spiritually sit down at the foot of the cross anytime we desire. And we can look up on the beauty and love of our dear savior. And we can lay our burden down and rest there. Looking at the author and the finisher of our faith. Turn with me to Mark 15, I have one verse there I would like to put with this.
21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.Mark 15:21
Now Cyrene, that is what today we call Libya. The people who live there are Africans
And Simon was no doubt an African man. And as we read here, it mentions the name of his two sons. And this is an interesting little verse.
Mark does not really tell us who Alexander and Rufus are, other than the fact they are Simon’s sons. But, it is pretty safe for us to assume that whoever Mark was writing this gospel down for, they knew who Alexander and Rufus were. They were so well known to his readers, Mark didn’t feel like he needed to explain anything about them. So no doubt, these were two men who were sitting in a church somewhere.
And it is not too far of a leap for us to see a whole story here in this verse. Simon, perhaps his heart was so touched by what happened the day he carried Jesus’s cross. Something about Jesus, it touched him. And he became a follower of Jesus. And it didn’t stop there.
That testimony of the cross he had to bear. That testimony made a difference in the lives of others. His own children heard and saw that testimony of their father. And they too came to faith in Christ. And here all these years later, as Mark writes down this gospel,
There sits Alexander and Rufus, men known in the early Christian community. Men whose lives were touched by Jesus, through the cross their father bore.
That is quite a thought. As I read over these verses, I enjoyed just letting my mind on dwell on that. It was comforting. No one likes to bear a burden, but when you can look and see that someone came to Jesus because of it, Then it was worth it. If you can look back and the burden you bore, and you see how some good came from it, Then in your heart, you can know it was worth it.
You and I, we have not went through things for no reason. We have not had to bear a burden for no reason. I believe we can already see our Rufuses and Alexanders. I believe we can already see the fruit that has come from our labors. And when you see that, let it be a comfort to you. We have a destiny to meet. There are some more Rufuses and Alexanders who need to hear us tell about the cross.
So be encouraged. Let us keep on preaching the good news. Remember what Paul said,
The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. There are lots of people who will call you a foolish virgin or something like that if you preach the cross. Oh those baby Christians, they like to preach the cross. Just foolish virgins, and maybe not even that. So they think. The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. But unto us which are saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18)
Turn back to Luke 23 with me. And I will pick up at verse 27.
Weep Not For Me
27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.Luke 23
This verse also really presents a picture to me. I don’t know about you, but a lot of times when I study, I get stuck on some verses. They just draw me in. And verse 26 and verse 27 and verse 28. They really drew me in as I was preparing for this message. I can just visualize Simon carrying the cross, and Jesus walking beside him. There are the roman soldiers surrounding them. And standing along the street side, and following along behind Jesus is a great company of people. Many many people.
And they are crying, bewailing him. And Wailing, that is something loud and noticeable. This is a noisy crowd following Jesus. There are a few thoughts that come to my mind as I read this. If you went back to verse 21, just six verses ago, the crowd was shouting crucify him. But here in verse 27 – just six verses later – it is a very different kind of crowd. Its another large crowd, but they are not saying crucify him. They are crying and wailing for him. These people care for Jesus. They are sympathetic towards him.So much so their hearts are breaking and they are weeping over what is going to happen to him.
This tells me something. Jewish society was very divided over Jesus. There was a multitude saying kill him, but there was also a multitude crying over him on this same day. It helps me realize that this plot to kill Jesus was mainly an act of the leadership, the priests. It was something they engineered. The desire to kill Jesus was not a unanimous thing by a long shot. And they had to be very careful to keep all of Jesus friends and supporters out of the way, and fast track plot to kill him. Its why they did all their work in the dark of night, in secret.
And now as all these many people who loved Jesus are following him and weeping and wailing. And if we went to the other gospels, we would find that Mary and Martha and other women Jesus knew was in this crowd following him. Some the people weeping and wailing were strangers, and others were people who knew Jesus very well. They are looking on a man they loved, and man who had done so much good.
You remember Mary, she was such a misunderstood woman. When Jesus came to her house, she sat at his feet to learn. And Martha accused her of being lazy. But Mary wasn’t lazy, she just wanted to hear Jesus. And then Mary also was the woman who anointed Jesus feet with oil. And Judas rebuked her. Judas thought Mary was wasteful. Here these women, they were misunderstood by the people around them. But Jesus had been different.
The world misunderstood them, but Jesus saw them for what they were. Jesus saw their hearts. He saw that Mary loved God, and wanted to understand. That is why she sat at his feet. He saw that Mary loved Jesus, and that is why she put oil on his feet. And when Martha and Judas and others had bad things to say about them, Jesus was one who defended them. Jesus was the one who understood them. Perhaps, maybe they felt like Jesus was the only person in the whole world who understood them. And they loved him as their dearest friend.
And now, this man who had done them so much good, This man who had been there for them when they needed him, This man who had showed them love, and compassion, and mercy, They are watching him go to his death. And they weep, And they wail, For Jesus. I can just close my eyes and see that scene. I can just feel in my own heart what they must have been feeling.
But look what Jesus says in the next verse.
28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
My, that is something. And I actually take my title from this verse. My title is still Footprints of Jesus, But my subtitile is, weep not for me.
28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
And we notice here Jesus, when he says these words, he is not addressing Mary, or Martha, or the other women who were his companions. He was addressing the women of Jerusalem, the other women. And we can read in his words, that these other women were weeping, perhaps for the wrong reasons.
Jesus is going to be ok, but they are going to perish unless they come to faith in Christ.
What is happening to Jesus is very sad, but what for Jesus it is not going to be the end
But for them, unless they recognize Jesus for who he is. Unless they can realize the law they are following is not enough to save them. Unless they can come to understand that the sacrifice he is making for them. What he is going to do on that cross. And what he is going to prove when he resurrects.
Unless they can understand that is their sole means of salvation, they are doomed
I am sure Jesus was glad to have their sympathy. But Jesus desired for something far more than their sympathy. When we look at Jesus, and his death, our response towards it needs to be more than sympathy for what he went through. It needs to be more than an emotional connection to his suffering. And what is happening here with Jesus, the wailing and the crying, it is coming from a place of sympathy and sorrow.
And Jesus, in these words, he turns things around. There is something worse than what he is going through. There is something worse coming for these people, and they need to be more concerned about. And in part, Jesus is pointing towards the terrible destruction that is going to come upon their city and their people. Many of these people are going to be exterminated in a cruel purge by the Romans in a few more years. And Jesus has that in mind as he speaks these words to them.
But he is also looking at something deeper, something more impactful. He is looking at their eternal destiny. He is looking at a fate far worse than dying a natural death. He is looking at what comes upon those who never come to faith in Christ. People who never realize that Jesus is their only hope. People who never realize that Jesus is the way out .
They love Jesus, they care about Jesus. But they don’t have faith in him for salvation.
Their faith for salvation is in other things.
He is looking at the destiny of people who will be in such a state that they will beg the mountains to fall on them, to hide them. But there is no escape, there is not getting away. And, he says to them, weep not for me. But weep for yourselves. What is happening to me is awful. But what is going to happen to you is far worse.
And his words are not a condemnation, but they are invitation. It is an invitation Jesus has extended to all mankind. For God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotton son, that whosoever should believe on him might have eternal life. God did not send his son to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved. Because the world is condemned already. And Jesus is not condemning these people, he is inviting them.
And today, if anyone listening to this, should realize their state. They should realize they condemned. Jesus offers a way out. He offers forgiveness. He offers a way you can take
He offers a truth you can hold onto. And he offers you a new life to live. And I have no doubt, that some of these same people Jesus is speaking to. Some of the people wailing and crying this day. Some of them ended up saved on the day of Pentecost. Some of them became part of the church. They forsook that religious system they were part of, That had all these impossible hoops they had to jump through to be saved. And they came to saving faith in Christ.
And if you are listening today, and you recognize your need for a savior. Jesus freely saves. Come to him today. Jesus was nailed to a cross, and he suffered and died. So that we could be free. Turn with me to Isaiah 52, and we will read just how salvation works. The prophets foretold how salvation works. They told how we would be saved. Peter, Paul, John, the apostles shared it in their epistles. But I want to go read it from Isaiah.
13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:Isaiah 52
This is talking about how badly they beat him, he was marred. His appearance was so awful, it astonished people. But this had to be done so his blood could cover the sins of the people of the nations.
15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?Isaiah 52-53
The plan of salvation is wonderful and it is simple. Its powerful, and it is full of mercy and compassion. And to a lot of people, especially like those we have come from. They believe the plan of salvation is too good to be true. The plan of salvation is just too simple for them to accept or believe.So they spice it up, with all their own ideas. They add things in, because they can’t believe the bible.
And I think that is part of why Isaiah asks this question. Who actually believes the plan of salvation, the way it is in the bible? Who can believe the report? Who is this arm of power revealed to? Who can accept it? Who can bow beneath the cross, and recognize the work of Jesus for what it was? I love how this chapter opens with a question! Asking the reader directly. Will you believe what you read? Lets read about it.
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.Isaiah 53
This is wrote in such simplicity, there is really no way to get this wrong. But that is why I believe so many of the preachers we left behind never read these parts of the bible. Because it would undermine so much else they try to do. But this is very simple.
We are all like sheep who have gone astray. Every last one of us has sinned, we have fallen short. But Jesus. Amen: But Jesus. I love that simple phrase. But Jesus. That makes all the difference. We were all lost in sin, and without hope. But Jesus came, and God laid all of our iniquity on him. Every sin and every shortcoming, it was laid on Jesus. Every sin we have committed in our past, every sin we may commit in our future. It was laid on Jesus. And Jesus took the punishment that we deserved. Instead of pouring out his wrath on us. God poured it out on Jesus.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Our transgression, our sin. That is why he died. That is why he suffered. And God does not double punish sin. God has already carried out the judgement on our sins. And he carried that judgement out on Jesus. And we are not going to be punished. Because Jesus bore our punishment already.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Right there it is. Jesus Christ, our perfect, righteous , sinless savior. The spotless lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. His death justified us. He bore our penalty. He died so that we can go free. He justified many, because he bore their iniquities, on the cross. And what is the end of the story?
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Jesus is going to divide the spoil. I talked about the spoils of war earlier. Jesus won, and now everything belongs to him. Jesus is King of glory, king of all good things. And that spoil, those things he won. He is going to divide them up, and share them with us. And how is all this possible? What enabled him to be able to do that?
Because he hath poured out his soul unto death, and he bare the sin of many. He made intercession for the transgressors. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, to die on a cross. So that whoever believes on him can go free. It is that simple.
When we believe on him, and we are baptized in his name. Our sins are remitted. That baptism symbolizes dying with Christ. It’s a watery grave. And we go in and we die with Christ. And we come up as a new creature. And we receive the holy ghost, it is a promise
We are baptized into his body. And through the spirit, he lives in us. It’s simple
And the walk with him, from day to day, We bear the fruit of the spirit. We show other people what Jesus is like. By this shall men know we are his disciples, because we love one another. And when we love one another, we have fulfilled the law. That’s it. And if we have Jesus, we are going in the rapture, or the resurrection. Whichever it is for us. That’s it .
And I keep saying that’s it. Because that really is it. All this extra stuff people have been putting on us for our entire life, It was just bondage. You don’t need to hear seven thunders to go in the rapture. That has nothing to do with it. The people who told us that were making things up.
You don’t ever need to hear the name of William Branham or Raymond Jackson, or any other of these special teachers. You can go in the rapture in anyway. And the people who told you that you need to hear them were making things up.
When they tell you that you need to follow a list of rules you can’t find in the bible, or you can’t go in the rapture. They are just making things up.
What you need is Jesus. He is the truth, the way, and the life. And when you tell people they need those other things, they have belittled Jesus, they no longer believe what he did was good enough. They don’t believe the truth of him is enough to save. They don’t believe he alone is the way. And they don’t believe the example of his life is good enough.
But I will tell you what I believe. I believe Jesus is enough. I believe what he did is enough. And I believe if I seek to live a life like his, that is perfect life. And I believe if I trust in the truth of him, that is enough truth. And I believe if I follow him, I am going the right way.
And I can’t go along anymore with people who don’t believe that is enough. Because they have departed from the gospel. They have belittled Christ. They have subtracted from him too much. And I can’t do that anymore. Because he is everything to me. I love him to much to do that.
There were a whole of people weeping and crying over Jesus that day he went to the cross. And on the surface, you could tell they really care for Jesus, and held him in high regard. But that wasn’t good enough. And that is why Jesus would say, weep for yourselves.
There are people today, they need to weep for themselves. Because they are not much better off than these people crying for Jesus that day. Their hopes are in a false religious system, and in things that can never bring them salvation. And unless they lay hold of a true faith in Jesus for who he really was, and what he really did. Their fate is going to be worse than the one Jesus suffered on the cross.
Turn back with me to Matthew 27, and we will get to the last part of my message tonight
35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
36 And sitting down they watched him there;
37 And set up over his head his accusation written, This Is Jesus The King Of The Jews. (They intended that to be mockery, but they wrote the truth.)
38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.Matthew 27
What a terrible horrendous scene. I shudder just to think about what this had to be like
Jesus is surrounded with hate, viciousness, and evil. The devil is on a rampage in these verses. But the last thing I would like to look at is these two thieves hanging besides Jesus.
The Repentant Thief
And notice there in verse 39, both of the thieves, they are saying hateful things to Jesus
They are both saying mean things to him. But as they hand there next to Jesus, one of those two thieves, he starts to see something. He initially spoke against Christ, but somewhere a thought entered his mind.
Somewhere it crossed his mind, that maybe, maybe this is the son of God. Maybe Jesus is who he said he was. Maybe Jesus was someone who could forgive him and save him. Here this man, he is at the end of his life. Its all about to be over. He has done some bad things. Bad enough things to get the death penalty. There is no time left to go and make things right. There is no time to go get baptized. There is no time go live a perfect life. Its all over. And he is staring hell right in the face.
But something happens. And these things are hard to explain. But, somewhere the Holy Spirit was moving on this man’s heart. He knew, there was never anything he could ever do to make things right. He knew there was no way he could ever be worthy of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
I know a preacher one time, he disagreed with me, he said we are worthy of salvation. There is something about us that merits salvation, he said. But you know, that is one ugly lie. No one is worthy. In fact, if you think you are worthy, that itself is a sin. Its the sin of pride.
But where we come from, pride is baked right in. A lot of those beliefs were designed from the ground up to appeal to the prideful heart of man. Sin is baked into the foundation of their beliefs. Satan is smart. If he can convince you sin is good, then he has you.
But if we think salvation has anything to do with our merits, with our works, with something in us of us, that itself is the sin of pride. And you cannot be saved through sin. Your sin only serves to condemn you further.
But you can be saved through grace. By recognizing that you are not good enough, and you never will be. By recognizing nothing you can do can save yourself. By recognizing that you are completely at the mercy of a kind and loving God. Who will save you, not because you are good, but who will save you because he is good.
And that is what this thief is about to experience. The truth is taking hold in his heart. And he is realizing how hopeless he is, and how lost he is, and how desperate he is, and how unworthy he is. And lets see what happens.
Turn back to Luke 23 with me.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.Luke 23
Save us, then we will believe you. This first thief has things backwards. Jesus not does not save us, and then we believe. No, first you have to believe, Then he will save you. Don’t come to Jesus proud. Don’t come to Jesus demanding. Come to Jesus humble.
Come to Jesus knowing that on your own, he owes you nothing. But that his love is infinite. And his love for you will never let you go.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.Luke 23
Lord, please, remember me. You are the only hope. Please Jesus, remember me. Have you ever prayed that way? Jesus, here I am getting what I deserve. Please, remember me. Please, show me mercy. The thief had nothing to offer. He didn’t even really have a life to offer Jesus. But he asked for a little mercy. Just remember me. Don’t let me be a forgotten soul. I think that is about the smallest thing you could ask for. Please Jesus, at least let me be a memory. I’d rather be a door keeper in the house of the Lord. The smallest thing in that heavenly kingdom is a million times better than the alternative.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
What a statement. What a promise. That thief died with hope in his heart. And then that thief opened his eyes in paradise, and Jesus gave him a hug. That is the power of the cross. That is the power of a cross shaped gospel. Hallelujah! We may not be thieves or killers, or on death row, like this thief. In fact, we may be the best living Pharisee you ever met. But that makes us no more worthy, with no more merit of salvation, than that thief had. We need Jesus just as desperately as he did. And so does the whole world. But sometimes it takes circumstances to bring us to that realization. And I thank God today, that you and I have been found by his saving grace.
44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.
48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.
49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
As I bring this message to a close, let me finish with just one last thought
Jesus was always in control
Jesus was in control. He was never helpless on that cross, although he appeared to be.
He could have called 12 legions of angels at any time and came down from the cross
It was not nails holding him to the cross, it was his love for us.
Jesus told Pilate: you have no power over me except it be given thee from above. Jesus said, I have power to lay my light down, I have power to take it up. You and I have the same power. We can lay down our lives before Jesus. And if we do, we can take up a new life. The life of Christ. And I am so thankful to have him in our hearts today.
Next time, Lord willing, I will be close to wrapping this series of messages up. There are about 12 other things in here I thought I would look at around this. But I think it is about time to switch topics. So Lord willing, I will look at the resurrection next time, and that might be my last lesson in this series.
So let me close in prayer
My God, I thank you for all my brothers and sisters that have gather here tonight.
I ask you bless each one of them and help them.
Lift us up Lord, help us to be witnesses of you and your greatness.
Help us point souls to the saving power of the cross.
Help us lift up the banner of the cross.
Let us exemplify Jesus Christ.
And let the gospel of truth set free the souls who are today in bondage.
Help us Lord Jesus we pray.
For thy glory,