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March 1, 2021 2:00 am
Many people wonder if they've done too many bad things in order to be saved by God. In the message "Jesus Loves Criminals," Skip tells you the remarkable story of two criminals who were in Jesus' company.
This teaching is from the series Jesus Loves People .Links:
This week's DevoMail: https://connnectwithskip.com/devomail
Jesus was a friend of sinners. You know he's all that in the Bible, the friend of sinners. I wish more of us had that reputation.
She is a friend of sinners. He's the friend of sinners see this is been Jesus style all along. When he was born he was born among animals in a major Jesus died, he died among criminals. This is divine humility can do as a believer share the hope of Jesus with others today on connect with Skip Skip explores Jesus interaction with two criminals in the hope you can find in their story before we begin. Here's a great resource that will give you fresh insight on what Jesus resurrection means for you. The aftermath of 2020 has left many of us wrestling with questions about the future and wondering what's next here Skip I think that's a question by the way that people ask anytime there is a catastrophe any kind of catastrophic event causes people to ask the question, what's next.
There's a car accident that happens about what's next guy to be able to walk after this disease strikes someone. What's next my going to be sure, if somebody we love dies, we ask what's next. My going to be able to go on. We want to help you live with confidence no matter what the future holds by sending you a powerful collection of Easter weekend messages from Skip I say on the hope of the resurrection. Anything's possible. If the one who said he's going to die and rise again, died and rose again. That means all of the promises Jesus ever made our possible and can come true. That's why it's called a living hope the morning that changed everything with skip. I think it's a DVD collection of six life-changing Easter messages and it's our thanks for your gift of $35 or more today to help connect more people to the living hope of Jesus Christ to get online securely visit connectwithskip.com/offer port call 800-922-1888, chapter 23 today as we get into the teaching with Skip people die differently.
What I mean by that is, some people died peacefully. Some people die restlessly. Some are very confident. Some are very fearful sound. I joyfully some guy angrily people die differently because, in part, people live differently and how you live will to a large degree.
Determine how you die in the 1700s. One of the most outspoken critics of Christianity was a man by the name of Boelter took lots of potshots at Christ at the church was very persuasive and very arrogant in his speech, but on his deathbed.
His last words were these I am abandoned by God and by man.
I shall go to hell. Oh Christ oh Jesus Christ and he moaned like that for hours afterwards. The nurse that attended him said I would not attend the death of another unbeliever in Europe for all the money in Europe when Mahatma Gandhi was on earth and fought for the independence of India.
He was pluralistic in his outlook when he died. It was a very different picture. His last words were these. My days are numbered for the first time in 50 years. I find myself in the slough of despond all about me is darkness and I am praying for light, very different from men like Martin Luther who when he died, said God is the God from whom come salvation God is the Lord, by whom we escape death or when John Knox, the great Scottish reformer died. His last words were live in Christ Diane Christ, and you need not fear in the flesh, the death comes upon us. In our story in Luke chapter 23 we discover a deathbed conversation.
There are two men, two criminals, both of them hopeless. Both of them heartless. Both of them.
Christ lists then there is one of the two criminals, to whom Jesus Christ actually promises happen. Maxim Cato is a pastor and a very very great author. He said that he has struggled, he struggled in one of the greatest struggles he ever had. He said one of the most difficult truths he had to come to grips with was the greatness of God's grace to reach somebody like a Jeffrey Dahmer. Have you heard that name Jeffrey Dahmer if you know him, it sends chills up your spine. He was the Wisconsin murderer who not only murdered his victims, but raped many of them dismembered them and eight them as low as you could possibly go Noel. He was in prison he made a profession of faith in Christ.
I know I know what a lot of us think. Yeah right. He got religion.
But when Roy Radcliffe, who was a local pastor was invited to come to the prison because a prisoner wanted to get baptized.
He had no idea that it would be Jeffrey Dahmer who wanted to be baptized, so he baptized him.
But in the weeks to come. This pastor spent every week with him one hour a week talking to him discipling him and that pastor said you know I believe it's a true conversion look at is that I struggle with the idea. I know Jesus as Savior, but could he say somebody that bad that vicious a criminal and he finally said I come to rest in the truth that forgiveness for criminals like Dahmer is at the very heart of the gospel.
Jesus loves criminals and I'll tell you why we should even pay attention to this because there are so many of them now the United States of America has the second highest incarceration rate in the world, second only to Russia. The current prison population is about 2 1/2 million people. But I wonder if you can guess how many Americans have criminal records venture to guess about 20 to 25% know that means that means one out of every four people you meet has a criminal record and assess the ones that have been caught. The rest of us have been got yet. One out of four, so this is a very poignant issue and I speak to you not a somebody on a high horse. I speak to you as somebody who's been arrested before, I had the police come to my door. They put handcuffs on me. I was carted off to jail. Both my mother's heart, but that's been 023 months ago so things have dramatically changed my life since that was a long time ago but nonetheless I speak a little bit from some personal experience. I remember when I was applying to the FBI for chaplaincy and I had to have a background check, and they said I fill this paper I want you to tell us everything you've ever done. I still come on now everything is at Skip working to find out what color shoelaces you want second grade so I would just have full disclosure will hear in Luke chapter 23 we have a foxhole conversion. We have somebody on their deathbed, who turns his life over to Christ another story. In this part of the crucifixion neatly flows into two sections, Jesus and his relationship to the criminals plural and then Jesus and his relationship to one particular criminal singular story of Jesus in the company of criminals and then Jesus and the converted criminal. I want to take you. First of all to Luke chapter 23 verse 32. There were also two others criminals lead with him to be put to death when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left, criminals, Cory Goss is the Greek word means really bad dudes literally evil working men evil working men," Goss know we are not told what they did.
We are not told their names were just given this generic name criminals, but the other two Gospels.
The other two synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Mark actually's tell us what the crime was specifically says in both of those Gospels.
There were two robbers or thieves who were crucified with him. The word means bandits and it refers to bandits who pillage after they steal. So these are not petty thieves. These are heartless criminals. Those who would steal and then take pleasure in and hurting their victims or killing their victims or abusing their victim and very possibly, these two criminals on the cross with Jesus were associated with Barabbas, the notorious criminal who should've occupied the middle cross. But he was released and Jesus died in his place something else. Both of these criminals. We believe were Jewish for two reason simply because this was a Jewish nation. This is a Jewish city. Most people were Jewish at the time, but also in the conversation of the one speaking to Jesus. There is language employed. That would lend us to believe that this is a Jewish man or a one time a practicing Jewish man get the picture. There is Jesus dying with two criminals and just the fact that Jesus is dying among criminals is not accidental. It is not incidental. It is intentional 700 years before the crucifixion. The prophet Isaiah said that he would be numbered among the transgressors. In other words, it was always part of the plan of God that when Jesus died, he would die among criminals. Why, why would that be in the plan of God. Simply because Jesus was the friend of sinners. You know he's called out in the Bible, the friend of sinners. I wish more of us had that reputation. She's a friend of sinners. He's the friend of C. This is been Jesus style all along.
When he was born he was born among animals in a manger.
When Jesus died, he died among criminals. This is divine humility born among animals died among criminals born in a cave died on the cross. This is the friend of sinners dying among sinners. I wrote a blog this week from a pastor in South Carolina named Perry Noble and something that he wrote he wrote this to his church, by the way, just stop me in my tracks.
He said Jesus never intended for the church to be a group of isolated self-righteous angry people yet I meters people like that. He said in the past. The church is spent so much time debating with people over social issues that we forget to love people like Jesus told us to. We have to remember that he will that we will reach way more people through conversation than with condemnation. So Jesus dying among criminals shows us divine humility so shows us something else though it shows us human opportunity. Here's two men die next to Jesus. Both having an equal opportunity Jesus was an equal opportunity Savior. There's two people just as close to Jesus. Both of them committed the same crime. Both of them were dying the same death.
Both of them were reviling the same Lord. As you'll see in a minute. One dies saved the other guys lost both had the opportunity to different outcomes. You know why because proximity and opportunity don't guarantee eternal destiny this because you are close just because you observe just because you heard just because you were exposed, doesn't mean you will be saved. So Jesus in the midst of criminals divine humility human opportunity.
Look at verse 32 and verse 33. Notice that were introduced to criminals. I highlighted the word verbally but go down to verse 39 says, then one of the criminals is two criminals. One of these two who were hanged, and 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 that you are under the same condemnation, and we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds. But this man has done nothing wrong and then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom and Jesus said to him, assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise. Luke tells us about one of the criminals hurling insults to Jesus blaspheming, blaspheming, and then the other wants and what are you doing this.
This is where we need the testimony of the other gospel writers to get the full picture because as the crucifixion began, and went on every one was hurling insults at Jesus priests elders rulers soldiers people in the crowd and and both not one both of the criminals.
Both of them both Matthew and Mark draw our attention to the fact that everybody's voices was against Jesus.
Listen to this artist read one of the text. This is Matthew 27 verse 44 where the crowd the priest, the elders, the soldiers are mocking and jeering in the text says even though robbers plural. Even the robbers who were crucified with him reviled him with the same thing. So here's the picture I want you to get everyone is piling insults and jeering upon Christ even to criminals who were dying that you got to be pretty low to be dying in excruciating death and muster up enough energy to mock somebody dying next to you, but that shows you the power of the moment and everybody is insulting Christ, and so they went along with but then something happened and Luke highlights what happened. Suddenly one of these criminals grow silent in his jeering. Suddenly, his mind becomes very clear about what is happening with him and with that other man named Jesus who is dying suddenly in his mind there's a clear thinking a lucidity. He has never experienced before. There's a sudden change of heart.
There's this massive transformational 180° turn internally and a set of mocking he stops and he rebukes the other criminal who is mocking and he reaches out to Jesus Christ.
Verse 39, 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 to you, not even fear God, seeing that you are under the same condemnation, and we indeed justly, for we have received the due reward of our deeds. But this man has done nothing wrong. But he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom sees that assuredly, I say to you, you will be with me in paradise. What happened what happened to this man was it that he heard what Jesus had just said. Father forgive them better know what they're doing and that Manny was dying just dawned on him thought, forgive them. Is that possible could I be forgiven or was it that he saw the sign over Jesus. That said, this is the king of the Jews, and he thought really that's what they're saying about him is the king of the Jews could could he be my king pretty rule and reign over my life. Even at this late hour, or maybe just picking up some of the thoughts of the crowd. They were jeering him and saying he saved. There is himself. He cannot save maybe the thief that he saved others. How did he say brothers and is it possible he could save me.
Whatever it was he had some realizations some epiphany that caused him to stop what he was doing rebuked his friend and trust in Christ before you get to suspect that such a thing is possible.
Let me give you a parallel account of somebody else who had this happen.
Saul of Tarsus at this happen. He became Paul the apostle and happen instantly to papers in hand. He's leaving Jerusalem. He's going out to incarcerate and eliminate people who call in Jesus Christ in Damascus while is on the road. He gets knocked off his horse by the Lord thrown into the dirt is blinded and is instantly transformed. It's a miraculous occurrence of the extension of God's grace.
This is Jesus in the company of criminals.
Now that zero in on this conversation with this one criminal Jesus in the converted criminal.
Did you hear the promise that our Lord makes to him. He says assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise. Question why did he say assuredly means truly are. Verily, if you like the old King James, why did he just say you be with me in paradise. Now, he said assuredly, I say to you, you will be with me in. You know I said that is that so hard to believe because this is unthinkable. This is on imaginable.
No one in the Scripture is given more explicit assurance of forgiveness and heaven from Jesus Christ, as this man. And yet no one ever seen more outwardly undeserving than this man Jesus promise a guy like that instant heaven. How is that possible how can you say today you will be with me in paradise. That thief didn't get baptized. Yet Jesus didn't say we know what if you got the cross get baptized. I'll think about it. He never gone to church. He never did a good work. But Jesus said, assuredly, I say. In fact, his prayer when even that great was very self-centered, remember me when you come in your kingdom. That's all it takes. There's a realization of your heart that leads me to say to J you will be with me in paradise folks is one of the greatest demonstrations of salvation by grace through faith not works, is one of the greatest demonstrations of what it says in Titus chapter 3 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, that Skip with a message for you from the series Jesus loves people. Right now you Skip to tell you how your support helps keep these messages coming your way and connect more people to the good news of Jesus.
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Again, that's 800-922-1888 now real quick. We want to invite you to follow Skip on social media to get important updates and biblical encouragement. Just follow Skip on Facebook, twitter and Instagram all the latest from Skip and from this ministry that's asking that Skip HPI CIG coming up tomorrow Skip Heitzig shares how you can have the eternal hope of Christ, no matter what your past Jesus that he will be with me in paradise. You get the answer here is a criminal saying I just want to run them or me when you come in your kingdom in Jesus. And remember, you want with you working at me in my kingdom together and fellowship with Skip presentation of connection communications to go through