June 24, 2016
Luke 23:32, 39-43
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We are looking at the three people who were crucified on Golgotha Hill outside of Jerusalem. The central cross held Jesus, condemned to die in the place of the insurrectionist and murderer Barabbas. The two other crosses held thieves, also called robbers and criminals – one crucified on either side of the Lord. The Scripture giving the most detail of this is Luke 23:32 and 39 through 43:
There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death….
And one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If
You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, re-
buked 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.” 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
We learned in the last blog that most likely these two criminals were also fellow insurrectionists and murderers, perhaps the chief lieutenants in Barabbas’ rebel army. So they were doubly condemned as rebels and as murderers – both capital offenses! Their very public crucifixion was a warning to others who might be thinking of rising up against the imperial government and murdering the Roman oppressors. Last time we also saw that…
• Sin has its payday! (See Numbers 32:22; Romans 6:23; Galatians 6:7-9).
• SomeOne else made full payment for sin – Jesus Christ! (See Isaiah 53:5, 6; II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:24; Revelation 1:5)
Let’s go on…
• A sobering observation was made concerning these two criminals (I can’t remember who said it): “Two were crucified with Jesus. One was saved, that we might not lose hope. But only one was saved that we might not presume upon God’s grace.” Yes, God is gracious! But we dare not presume that grace will always be available to save us!
I have a dear friend with whom I have often shared the gospel. I remember urging him to accept Jesus as his Savior. But he replied, “Oh, maybe someday before I die. I’ve got a lot of living to do now before that!” My friend is presuming upon God’s grace! James tells us in James 4:13 through 16 (International Standard Version):
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and
such a town, stay there a year, conduct business, and make money.”
You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? You are
a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you
should say, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live—and do this or that.”
But you boast about your proud intentions. All such boasting is evil.
Jacob, in Genesis 27:2, was right when he said, “…I do not know the day of my death.” And Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (see I Kings 5:29-31), at the end of his life tells us in Ecclesiastes 5:8, “No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, and no one has power in the day of death. There is no discharge in that war….”
Perhaps the two crucified with Jesus did know the time of their death. But they had no power to retain the spirit and keep living! Why then did only one turn in faith to the Lord and find eternal life? Part of the answer might be found in Proverbs chapter 1. And I highly recommend that you reread three blogs written on September 13th and 16th, 2013; and October 27th, 2014. I pray the truths related in these three blogs will shake you to the core! I wish my friend who is putting off God’s grace given through His Son would read and heed the warning of these blogs!
Another part of the answer is that Jesus Christ is a gentleman! While He died for all (see II Corinthians 5:14, 15) He will not force all to accept Him as their Savior! This is why in the Bible there are pleading invitations (see Isaiah 55:1-3; Matthew 11:28-30; II Corinthians 5:20; Revelation 22:17). God has given man free will and so responsibility! We are held accountable as to whether we accept or reject Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives!.
• It does not matter how great we think the sins are that we have committed. When we put our faith in the Savior, “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7). This criminal who put his faith in Jesus was an insurrectionist and a murderer! And he was also a blasphemer! Why do I say he was a blasphemer? Because Matthew and Mark both tell us in their accounts of the crucifixion that “…those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.” (Mark 15:32). Obviously, somewhere along the way he changed his mind. And when he did, he was so completely cleansed from his sins through his trusting in Christ that Jesus told him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).
Saint Paul was also a persecutor (see Acts 26:11) and murderer of Christians! (See Acts 7:58; 26:10). And he was a blasphemer of God who tried to caused other believers to also blaspheme and deny the Lord Jesus! (See Acts 26:11). In I Timothy 1:15 (Contemporary English Version) he declares, “‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ This saying is true, and it can be trusted. I was the worst sinner of all!”
In our third blog on Loved To The End! we will look at the characteristics of the faith of this criminal who was saved as he died on a cross next to Jesus.