Independence Baptist Church
P. O. Box 70 124 South Main Foristell, Missouri 63348 636-673-2180 April, 2001
The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross
The Second Saying – The Word of Salvation
By Wayne Reynolds, Pastor
LUKE 23:42,43 "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
In Isaiah 53:12, the Bible states "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." Seven hundred years before the crucifixion took place, the Bible prophesied that Christ would be hung on a cross between transgressors. But why did God want his only begotten son to perish between two thieves? Wasn’t it enough for Jesus Christ to come into the world and take the form of sinful man? Wasn’t it enough for Jesus to die on the cross? Why did Jesus die between two thieves?
Reason number one. Isaiah 53:3 states, "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." Jesus Christ was hung between the two thieves to show that men really despised him, that they counted Jesus Christ as nothing more than a common criminal.
But notice again--Christ was not only despised, he was rejected. John 19:19 reveals that Pilate wrote a title, and placed it above Jesus on the cross. The title read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." This title was accurate, Jesus was the King of the Jews, but the Jews rejected him as their king and crucified him between two thieves as though he were a common criminal. Jesus crucified between two thieves made the Devil believe he everything was going his way, but he was wrong. The Devil was unknowingly yielding to Christ’s power because Christ was fulfilling the events prophesied 700 years before.
Reason number two. The salvation of the thief on the cross reveals that Christ was not helpless as He hung on the cross. Christ had all power in heaven and earth, and to show he had all power, He saved the soul of the thief.
There are many external evidences that reflect a "weakened" Christ. A few examples should suffice:
ØPeter denied the Lord three times. (Luke 22:54-62)
ØAll of Christ’s disciples followed him afar off or left him completely. (Mark 14:27)
ØChrist was blindfolded and tried at night, which was against the law. (Matt. 26:34)
ØPilate beat Jesus with a cat o’ nine tails, and the soldiers put a crown of thorns on His head, and a purple robe on His body, and mocked Him. (John 19:1-3)
ØJesus stood before the "court" of Pilate and Herod. Both of these men confessed that they could find nothing wrong with Jesus or the things He preached. Pilate’s wife even told Pilate not to have anything to do with Jesus, because of some dreams she had. (Matthew 27:19) But Christ was taken anyway. Barabbas was released. Jesus was taken to Golgotha where He was stretched out on a cross and a nail driven through each hand and each foot. Christ’s naked body was raised up high in the air for all to see His shame.
Do these events reflect weakness or strength? To the sinful human eye, these external evidences reflect weakness, but to the spiritual eye, there is always victory in Christ. Jesus demonstrated His power by saving a soul from burning forever in the flames of hell.
Notice also that the thief was saved:
Before the three hours of darkness,
Before the triumphant cry "It is finished,"
Before the rending of the temple veil,
Before the quaking of the earth,
Before the centurion’s confession, "Truly this was the Son of God."
How was it possible the thief saw that Jesus was the Son of God when there was so much evidence of external weakness? John 3:8 states, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." The thief saw Jesus as the Son of God without any external evidence because the Holy Spirit of God convicted him of his personal sinfulness, and brought him to understand that Jesus Christ could and would forgive him of all his sinfulness. Surely we do not understand the power of God, even to know when it is possible for a person to be saved. We never know when or how God will use His Holy Spirit to convict a lost person of his sins.
Now let us take a look at the thief himself. Lest you would think the thief was saved because he was better than the other thief, read Matthew 27:44, which declares, "The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth." At the very first, neither of the thieves saw any good in Jesus. Neither of them thought Jesus could save their souls nor help them in any way. The Holy Spirit made the difference when He touched the soul of one of the thieves. Luke 23:39-43 gives the account of the change of heart and mind by the one thief. "And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 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. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Both thieves saw exactly the same thing. Both thieves mocked Jesus. Both thieves were under the same righteous condemnation. But the Holy Spirit came to one thief and Jesus saved his soul.
All lost people are in the same condition as these thieves; away from God, and headed for an eternity in hell. If you say you are not a thief, read Romans 1:21, which states, "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." If you have ever stolen anything, or ever had one bad thought, or ever said anything evil, or ever sinned, that action reveals that you are just like the thief and need the blood of Christ to cleanse you from your sins. Isaiah 1:18-20 emphasizes your need of Christ by stating, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."
Notice the thief was not saved until he came to the place he knew he could do nothing to help himself. The thief came to know that only Jesus could save his unworthy soul. Then Jesus did save him.
Notice also the thief said "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into thy kingdom." The thief knew in his mind that Jesus was the Son of God. But that didn’t save him. Many people might believe in God, but they might also remain unsaved. Listen to James 2:19, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." When the thief came to know Jesus as the Son of God in his spiritual heart, when he cried out to Jesus to remember him, then Jesus saved his soul.
Please recognize this very important point: you may know that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is able to save you, but if you don’t confess to God that you are a sinner, and trust His shed blood to the salvation of your soul, you will die in your sins and spend eternity in hell!
Look at some things the thief realized about himself, and Christ:
ØHe believed in a future life and in judgment. The thief knew that Jesus was dying for him and that Jesus would live again because he said "Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom."
ØHe knew he was a sinner. In Luke 23:40,41, he declared, "…thou art in the same condemnation. And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds…"
ØHe recognized that Christ was sinless. In Luke 23:41 the repentant thief publicly states, "…this man hath done nothing amiss."
ØHe saw that Christ was a king that has a kingdom. In Luke 23:42, the thief said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom."
ØHe believed Christ was his master when he said, "Lord…"
ØHe believed in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Luke 23:42 "…when Thou comest…"
Notice Christ’s answer. "…Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise." This tells us that when a saved person dies, he goes immediately to be with His Saviour.
If you are not saved, it is the prayer of Independence Baptist Church that you, like the thief on the cross, see yourself as guilty before God and that you repent of your guilt, and trust Jesus Christ, letting Him forgive you and cleanse you of your sinfulness.
Contact a member of Independence Baptist Church and tell them what God has done for you. Come to services and relate what Christ has done for you before the church, receive scriptural baptism, and begin a lifetime of faithful service to a loving God who is able to provide all your needs in this present world, and in the world to come.