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April 18, 2022 2:00 am
I think I can say without exaggeration that my wife and I and our children when they were at home with us made it a practice that we would not miss a Sunday night service particularly on Easter Sunday because we did not want to be in Thomas's misery for a week.
Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room on that night and Thomas was absent and he was a miserable man for a week until Jesus in kindness and grace appeared one week later so I don't think you're gonna miss anything is. I know you're not gonna miss anything like Thomas Smith but when we absent ourselves from the assembly of the saints, we Wear the lesser fort we missed something, and I'm just a kind of person I will miss anything I want to be where the people of God are gathered. So thank you for your presence here tonight. I want to take us to Calvary tonight and see a precious scene one my favorite ones very tender scene where Jesus is on across and two men, one on his right and one on his left. All for the gospel writers tell us of these two criminals. Steve's malefactors, but Luke is the only one who gives the detail of the penitent thief that will be our focus tonight. Romans chapter 5 in verse 12 says, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned and that leads us to the universal nature of death. Death is because of sin, and because all have sinned, all are subject to the penalty of sin save one man the Lord Jesus Christ's death was unique in a number of ways, but it was unique number one in that his death was not the result of his sin was a result of sin, but it wasn't his sin. He died on the cross of Calvary for sin, not for his sin, but the sin of all that God would put on him of the elect of God's death was unique in a number of other ways. He arranged his own death. He arranged the circumstances of his death he determined when and where and how he would die. He determined with home he would spend his last remaining hours. Just don't turn your Bible and be but eyes want to touch on a few verses of Scripture to reinforce this idea that he arranged his own death. John chapter 2 in verse 19. If you want to jot these down is going to read diverse Jesus answered and said to them, destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. Then the Jew said it is taken 46 years to build this temple, then you will raise it in three days, but he was speaking of the temple of his body. Therefore, when he had risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this to them and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said John chapter 2 John chapter 10 Jesus said I am the good shepherd and I know my sheep and I am known of my own as the father knows me. Even so, I know the father and I lay down my life for the sheep and other sheep I have which are not of this fold them. I must also bring in. They will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
Therefore my father loves me because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again this command I have received from my father. Then in one of those accounts that recount very death of Jesus. John chapter 19 we have these words were Pilate's questioning Jesus. Pilate said to him like this is John 19 verse 10 Pilate said to him, are you not speaking to me.
Do you not know that I have power to crucify you and power to release you. Jesus answered, you could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above.
Therefore, the one who delivered me to you has the greater sin. So Jesus's death is unique in that he planned it. He determined it all the details of it. So let's banish from our minds and beheld by God to dissuade others who are of the opinion that it Jesus just fell on hard times. He got himself in a military situation and you he was a victim of the Roman government. He really didn't come to die, but he became expendable. No know he came on a mission he came on purpose.
He came to die for his people. The hymn writer says it so well.
He could have sent 10,000 angels to destroy the world and set them free. He could have, but he didn't so the death of Jesus is unique. How did he spend his last hours upon the earth that he spend it with his family, his friends his disciples that he spend that in communion and fellowship with his heavenly father. No, he spend it in the presence and company of his enemy. And that's a fulfillment of prophecy as a 5312 prophesied that in the last hours he would be numbered with the transgressors. The two thieves on either of his signs, so Luke 23 is were going to focus our attention tonight. The 23 along with where art thou right there. Luke 23 Luke 23 verse 32 tells us that there were also two others criminals lead with him to be put to death. Criminals. Matthew tells us that they were the robbers, a malefactor wrongdoer.
But again, Luke is the only one who gives us the particulars in this tender scene of a penitent thief that's going to be our focus. So consider with me tonight that penitent thief number one consider with me his hopeless condition is hopeless condition. He was a lawbreaker.
He was a robber. He was a thief. He was a malefactor and he soon would die and he would die a just punishment for his crimes within hours. This man will pass into eternity. He was guilty, guilty of sin that would condemn him for all eternity.
Mark 1532 tells us.
Matthew 27 verse 44 tells us that he, along with the other thief entered into the mocking and the taunting and the insulting and the reviling of Jesus. They join their voices with the crowds not to minute minimize the horrific nature of the death of crucifixion that he was going to endure.
It was nothing in comparison to the eternal torment that awaited him after he breathed his last agonizing breath is condition was hopeless. And that's the condition of every man outside of Christ. He's hopeless.
There's nothing he can do to save himself. There's nothing he can do to remedy his condition. There is nothing you can do in his own strength in his own power. Men are hopeless. They are helpless to earn favor with God and we never want to forget the reality of the depravity of the human heart. Men of no power.
Men have no ability hopeless and they are helpless.
But not only do we see is hopeless condition we see number two is honest confession is honest confession notice as the soldiers mocked him.
In verse 38.
The soldiers also mocked him, coming and offering him sour wine and saying if you're the king of the Jews, save yourself in this inscription that was written over him in letters in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. This is the king of the Jews. Verse 39 says, then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed him say now if we didn't have the other gospel accounts would know that both of the malefactor.
Both thieves reviled in Moncton taunted Jesus, but Luke tells us then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed him saying if you are the Christ, save yourself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation, and we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this man has done nothing wrong is honest confession number one.
He confesses his guilt. He confesses his guilt we receive verse 41 on the due reward of our D he was owning his sinfulness is honest confession, he confesses his guilt. He also confessed, confesses the sinlessness of Christ, in contrast to them who were receiving the due reward of their deeds. This man has done nothing wrong. He says as he rebukes the other was a point where he was joining with him joining his voice with this one, but not anymore confesses his guilty confesses the sinlessness of Christ. He confesses his just condemnation. We are receiving the due reward of our deeds.
He understood that he confesses that he also confesses that he fears God.
Notice the rebuke that he offers or he issues to the other the other answering rebuked him, saying, do you not even fear God and the implication is that he had become a God fear not, I was an instantaneous thing he hadn't been a God fear all his life, but all the sudden something is changed.
He's not the same person.
He confesses that he fears God. At some point he saw himself as a hell deserving center you see the. The irony of what's transpiring here. Here is a king on a cross king on a cross. The natural man says it's foolishness. The natural man cannot comprehend, but this man confesses the kingship of Christ Jesus says he makes this request.
In verse 42 then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
It was acknowledging that this one hanged on this center across had a kingdom and it was future and he wanted to be a part of it in for the Beta kingdom. There's got to be a king. We say how is this even possible. Well it's possible in the same way that Peter gave a great confession when Jesus said when do men say that I am and they said well, some say your John sums that your logic, Jesus said, but who do you say that I am Peter said, thou art the Christ, the son of the living God. What did Jesus say in response to that flesh and blood hath not revealed this to you with my father which is in heaven. Flesh and blood did not reveal these things to this penitent thief on the cross. What we are what were privileged to see in the tenderness of these moments as cruel as they are as horrific as they are is the work of redemption taking place were seeing a man being born again forcing a man being regenerated the spirit of God has come upon a man who was dead in his trespasses and sins. And now he's evidencing spiritual life. It's amazing your member in John chapter 19 may be don't remember but let me recall it for you. The chief priests of the Jews said the pilot do not write on this platter do not write the king of the Jews right. He said he was the king of the Jews and Pilate answered what I have written, I have written now we know what these two men are guilty of that is the cause for their crucifixion and the question is why is Jesus being crucified. What is the crime.
What is he guilty of must take a moment to hear what John records force in John chapter 19 well will start John chapter 18, three times were going to have the testimony of Pilate concerning the innocence of Jesus in John chapter 18 verse 34 Jesus answered him, are you well, let's start in verse 33 then Pilate entered the Pretoria him again called Jesus and said to him, are you the king of the Jews, Jesus answered him, are you speaking for yourself about this or did others tell you this concerning me.
Pilate answered amides you your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you to me what have you done Jesus answered my kingdom is not of this world.
If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here. Pilate therefore said to him, are you a king then Jesus answered you say rightly that I am a king.
For this cause I was born and for this cause I have come into the world that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice. Pilate said to him, what is truth and when he said this, he went out again to the Jews, and he said to them, I find no fault in him at all. Pilate said notice and chapter 19 verse one. So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him and the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on his head and they put on him a purple robe. Then they said, king of the Jews and they struck him with their hands. Pilate then went out again and said to them, behold, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no fault in him.
Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe and Pilate said to them, behold, the man therefore when the chief priests and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, crucify him, crucify him.
Pilate said to them you take him and crucify him for I find no fault in him. So Pilate three times says I find no fault in him and him at all. So again the question what is Jesus guilty of the next two verses tell us why he's there on the cross. The Jews answered him, we have a law, and according to our law he ought to die because he made himself the son of God. Why is Jesus dying on the cross because he's God because he is the son of God, and that's why God in his providence superintended even this inscription, no were not going to yield to those who say don't say he is a king of the Jews say that he said he was the king of the Jews and Pilate said what I've said what I've written. I've written so there it is, for all the world to see all the passerby ecstasy, the king of the Jews, Jesus is and was the king of the Jews, so he's dying for being God. That's why I think Mark Webb not Mark Webb, Don Theobald reminded us that world that hates Christ and hates his church hates us because of our association with Christ in his church and they want to do to us what they would do to him if they could get their hands on him were saying what they did when they got their hands on God back to the penitent thief.
He confesses the Lordship of Christ. He says in verse 42 he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom is confessing the Lordship of Christ. In other words, I I I yield myself to you.
You are Lord was life is coming to an end. What what how was he going to serve his Lord. He had no prospect. He had no thought that he had time to serve, but he was confessing Jesus as Lord. Now he couldn't do anything to save himself he couldn't get off the cross, he couldn't get to Jesus. So Jesus was brought to him what we see number one is hopeless condition which seen his honest confession. Consider with me. Number three is heavenly salvation. Verse 43 in response to his humble request. Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
Verse 43 Jesus said to him, assuredly, I say to you today today you will be with me in paradise again where beautifully shown that salvation is a sovereign supernatural work of God's grace, forcing the evidence of the regenerating work and power of the spirit of God. And when this man breathed his last breath, which wasn't going to be very long. From this point he was going to be with Christ in paradise in heaven, on the authority of Jesus.
I think with me, Jesus is being mocked by the religious leaders because he could not save himself if you're the king of the Jews, save yourself.
He was being mocked because he could not save himself, yet he saved others, including the thief by what by not saving himself as the promise that this penitent thief would be with Jesus in heaven that very day invalidates the Roman Catholic teaching regarding purgatory that day.
Today you will be with me and paradise so that forever invalidates this erroneous teaching of purgatory. It also sounds the death nail to any system of works righteousness. This man was going to be in paradise.
Not because of anything he did write could be anything anymore demonstrative than the reality and the fact this man could do nothing for himself didn't do nothing for himself. This penitent thief had neither time nor opportunity to do anything that could be construed to merit salvation in this account also gives tremendous hope for our unconverted family members and friends. This man was saved at the last possible moment and is JC Ryle so eloquently puts it to thieves on the cross. Once saved, so that no one need to spare, but only one so that no one will presume Burley Moore sent a YouTube video of Alister Bay preaching at the end of the sermon about this penitent thief party brought it to my attention and I watched it and Alister big uses a bit of sanctified imagination and he says so imagine this man showing up in paradise showing up in heaven and he's been question how did you get here on when you don't know. I don't know well do you understand the doctrine of justification.
What's that, have you been baptized. No are you a member of a church somewhere. No, but we gotta get somebody else in here for this interview. So when is Creighton of consternation in heaven. So begin to question the man some more in the manse is all I know. All I know is the man on the middle cross that I could come. That's it. That's why I'm here.
You only way you or I will ever get the glory get to heaven get the paradises because Jesus is made a way for us to be there because we all deserve eternal death. We can do nothing to save ourselves. Salvation is in the person and work of Jesus Christ and him alone. I thought about a verse of Scripture and and I thought you know James tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble thought about that. In this context. Here's a man who's been brought to humility and what is what is happened God is given grace that this proud man might become humble, that he might call upon Jesus and that's what we need. Salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end and he's the offer and the Omega, the beginning and the end I wanted to be sure that it was JC Ryle that made those statements about to thieves and it was indeed JC Ryle and I found a sermon 2011 or post on September 18, 2011 and let me bring this message to a conclusion by citing some things that JC Ryle said he says to malefactors were crucified together with our Lord.
One on his right hand and the other on his left. Both were equally near to Christ both saw and heard all that happened during the six hours that he hung on the cross.
Both were dying men both suffered acute pain. Both were like wicked sinners and needed forgiveness. Yet one died in his sins as he had lived hardened, impenitent and unbelieving, the other repented. Believe tried to Jesus for mercy and was saved. He says a fact like this should teaches humility. We cannot account for it. We can only say, even so father Ford seems good your site. Matthew 1126. How is it that under precisely the same circumstances. One man is converted in another remains dead in sins, why the very same sermon is heard by one man with complete indifference and sends another home to pray and seek Christ. Why the same gospel is hidden to one and revealed another all these are questions which we cannot possibly answer. We only know that it is so and that it is useless to deny brothers and sisters believing what we believe about salvation and the way in which God saves sinners the way in which God saves sinners is that he gets all the glory.
No man gets any not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he has saved by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost must be earnest and are praying let's be trusting of a God who sovereign God is kind of God is merciful God who delights to show compassion you say well how do we explain the salvation of this man was man hung on the cross he been around Jesus.
He heard the seven well, he didn't hear all seven sayings of Jesus on the cross, but he probably heard six of them. When Jesus said to tell us diet is finished, he may have already been dead but he heard and saw the compassion that Jesus had for his mother as he commended her to John the apostle, he heard the words father forgive them for they know not what they do. He heard the witness. The centurion who said and I think the penitent thief it already died with the penitent thief says behold this indeed is the son of God was his testimony what he would. His life was affected by so we don't know what exposure he had to Jesus prior to being condemned to hang on the cross so my point is that we should just be mystical and bewildered about how and how indeed God saves men and women. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God and that should be a mystery to us so we should make every effort we can to have our loved ones sitting under the preaching of the word of God, exposing them to the word of God witnessing to them. Setting the word of life before them and trusting that God will use it in their lives for good, but again, there's wonderful encouragement here and hope but also a warning not to presume, so if there's those here tonight her outside of Christ. You've heard you've seen the testimony of a penitent thief you're shut up to the mercy of God that that's your only hope in our prayer is that God will do for you what he did for this penitent thief who could do nothing for himself. Don't be under the of the foolishness in the lie that there something you can do there's nothing you can do to save yourself. God must do the saving must bow and pray father, thank you for your word. Thank you for Jesus who came to seek and to save that which was lost. Thank you for this tender account of this penitent thief man who deserved to die. A man who was under the just condemnation for his wrongdoing and yet the Savior had compassion on them had mercy on them and for those of us who are in Christ who will one day be in paradise in heaven we will we will we will hear or see or converse with this man. One day in glory. Thank you for this beautiful gospel picture the gives us hope shows us the way of salvation that glorifies your son in the saving of sinners, father, bless this word to our hearts and to any who are here who are outside of Christ for them to did for this penitent thief. We pray in Jesus name, amen