Thou Be With Me In Paradise”
Last Sayings on the CROSS series – 2
Text: Luke 23:32-43
Aim: To reveal the reactions of people
to Christ dying on the cross
Have you ever notice the calm tones in all
the narratives on the crucifixion? I mean when we listen to the broadcast of
sporting meets, historical events, or incidents of great tragedy we hear the
commentator’s excitement, the broadcaster’s enthusiasm or the
reporter’s sympathy, but each Evangelist limits his Gospel account to the
recording of bare facts, without the trace of emotion. How amazing it is, that
the story which, till the end of time, moves hearts to a fervent passion of
love and devotion, should be told without any colouring.
Nonetheless, I can not read any account of
Christ’s pseudo-trials, mistreatment and crucifixion without having all
kinds of thought about the emotions that went through people a that time.
It’s impossible for me to meditate on my Saviour’s sufferings and
the events surrounding His death and resurrection without having a load of
The songwriter said, “I love to tell
the story.” Today we will visit the place called Calvary and hear a part
of its story again.
Calvary, where we
witness God at His best and man at his worst.
every man journeys if he is to be saved.
place of the skull that has become the place of hope, forgiveness, and proof of
Calvary, the hill
where Jesus died that we might live.
Jesus could have called 10,000 angels to set Him free but He died alone for you
Christ was led outside the gates of
Jerusalem to hill called Calvary. On this hill the Bible has recorded the death
of three men on three crosses.
In the centre was
The Cross of Redemption,
where Jesus died for all mankind.
At one side of
the Saviour was The Cross of
Rejection where a thief died in his own sins rejecting the love of God.
On the other side
was The Cross of Reception,
where a second thief cried out for mercy and God in the flesh, forgave his
sins, saved his soul and promised to take him with Him to Paradise that very
There is an old and true division of the work of Christ. It divides it into three
parts—prophet, priest, and king.
people suppose that these separate acts of Christ’s ministry are carried
out as separate functions. That is, they believe the Lord Jesus ceases to be
the one before He becomes the other.
The truth of the
matter is that ALL His work is prophetic,
that ALL His work is priestly,
and that His prophetic and priestly work is the exercise of His kingly
authority. Nonetheless, the divisions are true and they help us to clearly
and definitely understand the wide range of benefits of Christ's mission and
Note: three groups round the Cross:
Vs. 28 –
“daughters of Jerusalem;”
deriding scribes and the mocking soldiers;
Lastly, the two
Each group presents to
us Christ in one of the three characters of his minisrty. The words that He
spoke upon the Cross, with reference to others than Himself, may be gathered
around, and arranged under, one of the threefold aspects of Christ's work.
The prophet said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for
Me, but weep for yourselves, for the days are coming.”
The priest said, “Father, forgive them, for they know
not what they do.”
The king, in His
sovereignty, ruled the heart of that penitent man from His Cross. Our
Lord’s crown, in spite of the smoke and the agony of His death, shone
brightly to the dying man. It was by His death that King Jesus opened the gates
of the kingdom of heaven unto all believers when He said, “This day shalt
thou be with Me in Paradise!”
By so saying, Christ
revealed that He had the keys of heaven and hell. He and He alone gives passage
men, two choices, two destinies.
It is interesting how differently the same
circumstances work on different natures.
First Man – A guilty thief who apparently died in
agony & dispair found momentary relief in taunts, flung from lips dry with
torture at a fellow Sufferer.
seems that very innocence of the precious Lord Jesus provoked hatred from his
Second Man – He was just as guilty as the first.
was led by his punishment to recognise that he deserved the due reward of his
was softened by Christ’s prayer — “Father forgive them; for
they know not what they do.”
was softened by the knowledge of Christ’s innocence.
hoped the same mercy, which was so generously bestowed on those who inflicted
His pain and suffering, might stretch to include who rightly and justly
suffered with Him.
Life is full of choices. It is amazing how right or wrong
choices can change our lives.
that moment, the dying thief had a clearer faith in Christ’s coming into
His kingdom that any of His disciples had.
hope of the disciple crumbled as they watched Christ submitting to humiliation;
as they realised He would NOT resist His assailants; their hopes gradually died
with Jesus on the Cross.
the man—the penitent thief—he looked beyond death and believed he
could have life—life that would see our Lord in His kingdom to come.
Listen to his pathetic plea, “Lord, Remember me…”
was a hope in sharing in Christ’s royalty, solely, based on the fact of
faith in Christ’s claim of being the King of kings.
was amazing hope in one who was suffering the same as He.
second man was just as guilty as the first. BUT man can only be saved when he
first becomes convicted of his sin.
Jesus said in Luke 13:3 – “I tell you, Nay:
but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
is more than simple remorse.
It is more than turning over
a new leaf. It is a Godly sorrow that leads to a change in our life.
is a change of mind set.
is a forsaking of self-righteousness and a turning to God’s
is leaving our will at the door and entering into God’s will for our
is a forsaking of self AND an acceptance by faith of the Saviour.
is a turn from unbelief to belief.
is the forsaking of effort and the start of trust.
is the natural, spiritual fruit of conviction.
is the willful, conscience, rejection of ones sinful past and a yearning for a
spiritual God centred future.
Cross has Power to Draw Men to Itself
of the future history of the world and of the Gospel is typified in the events
of the Crucifixion
starts the prophetic fulfillment of Jesus Christ’ own saying: “I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men unto me” (Jn. 12:32)
Here also is a striking instance of the universal law of the working of the
Gospel, in the two contemplations of the Cross.
men beholding the same event, having the same circumstances, respond in exact
is the history of the Gospel, wherever it goes and no matter in what age it us
is be preached equally to every man.
same message, offered on the same terms to all.
stands before us in the same loving attitude.
is the result?
will be a parting of the whole group of those to whom it is
presented. Some to one side and some to the other.
b. Just like a
magnet passed over a heap of metal filings: it will gather out all the iron and
leave behind the rest.
the attractive power of the Cross goes out over the whole race, Jesus said, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men unto me.”
from some—there will be no
In some hearts there will be no
yielding to the attraction.
b. Some will remain rooted, obstinate and
steadfast in their place.
some, the lightest word will be
enough to stir the pulses of their sin-ridden hearts, and bring them broken and
penitent at Christ’s feet.
5. To one Jesus is a “savour of death unto death; and to
the other the savour of life unto life.”
C. If we
contrast the penitent thief with his previous history and his present feelings,
with the people who stood around, and rejected and scoffed, we shed some light
on the reasons why the Gospel is not accepted when it is offered to them.
principle thing: NOT gross extravagance or vehement transgressions, BUT
self-complacency, self-righteousness and self-sufficiency.
is it that Scribes and Pharisees turned away for the Lord Jesus Christ? THREE REASONS:
of the pride of wisdom.
of a complacent self-righteousness that knew nothing of the fact of sin, that
never learned to believe themselves to be full of evil.
had become a mere set of traditions and dogmas. Worship became ceremonial with
no concept of a personal relationship with the Creator.
Cross not only has the power to attract men to it, but
III. The Cross has a Prophetic Power.
Cross points to and foretells of the Kingdom. We are never to separate Christ’s
dying for us with His coming for us.
the Romans mocked Him by crowning Jesus with thorns and gave Him a reed for a
sceptre they provided us with a powerful symbol.
crown of thorns – proclaims sovereignty founded on suffering.
sceptre of feeble reeds – speaks of power wielded in gentleness.
the sharp thorns pierced His brow – He wore a diadem of the universe.
Him up on the Cross – lifted Him up to be the Ruler and Commander of the
Cross creates links to the kingdom—the kingdom lights up the Cross.
came to be the Saviour—the Saviour comes again as King.
fact that He comes as King means He is the Saviour that was here and crucified.
kingdom He establishes is full of blessing, love and gentleness.
Cross means we can have boldness before Him in the day of judgement, BUT the
Crown means He will receive us into His kingdom.
certain as the historical fact —Jesus died on Calvary; so certain is the
prophetic fact—He shall reign and you and I will stand with Him.
a. On His return: a kingdom and a
judgement-seat will be set up, the universe will be gathered; it’s
subjects will be separated, a decision will be made as to who enters the
kingdom, and then execution of judgement.
b. Ask yourselves this question: When the
Lord Jesus’ gentle eye, with its piercing lightning falls on me, individualises me, summons me to its
bar—how shall I stand?
1) 1 Jn. 4:17 – “Herein
is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the Day of
2) The penitent
thief request: “Lord, remember me
when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.”
IV. The Cross
has the power to reveal and open the way to Paradise >> READ >> Vs.
reply from the Cross was spoken in royal style—as Monarch of the
1. “When Thou comest”—whensoever
that may be—“remember
me.” “I will only one of many and am not very significant,
please don’t forget me.”
“Verily, I say” –
While still on the Cross our Lord claims a clear vision to determine the future;
a claim of authority over the future!
3. “Today thou shalt be with Me”
– Declaration of continuance; continuance of an unbroken personal
existence. As God, Jesus has not beginning and no end.
Christ’ reply is the promise of a reality of a state of continued blessed
consciousness with Him.
consciousness in which men are aware of our union with Him—the Lord of
eternity is the giver of eternal life to everyone who believes.
2. “Thou shalt be with ME” –
Christ’s acceptance of the penitent thief is followed by an assurance
that the companionship which begun on the Cross will continue in the centuries
3. “WITH ME” – makes any
place a “Paradise” wherever that soul is.
right choice of the second thief Teaches us much about salvation.
is the work of God not the reward of human effort.
thief never joined a church, never was baptised, never took of the Lords
Supper, never gave a penny in the offering plate.
never went to a Catechism or conformation class, never stepped one time into a
confession booth, never read the Book of Mormon, or the writings of Ellen G.
White, or the Jehovah Witnesses “Watch Tower.”
man never even had a chance to fall asleep during the preaching, never had a
chance to love his neighbour or to keep the Golden Rule, nor did he have
opportunity to repay his victims.
faith, he simply cried out for mercy and God in His wonderful Grace, saved him
Salvation can come to any one.
was a murderer before he was saved.
was a cursing sailor.
at the well was a fallen woman.
work at what would be equivalent to the Revenue Commissioners.
was a physician.
and John had such tempers they were known as the Sons of Thunder.
was a run away slave.
whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
3. Salvation is a personal choice.
4. Salvation is an instant one time relationship or
experience not a process.
are either saved or you are not.
have trusted Christ and your past, present and future sins have been forgiven
or you are still in need of salvation.
there been a time or event in your life that you can look back on and say at
that time, in that place I trusted Christ and He saved me?
Nailed to the Cross, my sins are there,
Nailed where crowds gathered around can
Stripped of all my self will and pride,
Naked I stand at the Saviours side.
There on the Cross where He hung for me,
He bore MY sins, thank God I am now free,
Nailed to the Cross, yes nailed to the
Praise God my sins are nailed to the Cross.
18 March, 2001