In John 19:18, we are told – “They crucified him and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.”
First, notice the Cross of Rejection.
In Luke 23:39, the Bible says “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”
Notice some things about this particular thief.
No admission of his guilt.
He is not interested in admitting he is wrong.
He is just mad that he has gotten caught.
He has worldly sorrow.
In other words, he is not sorry that he has offended God, sinned against God.
No! He is sorry that he got caught.
The Bible tells us about the end result of worldly sorrow.
2 Cor. 7:10 – “the sorrow of the world worketh death”;
James 1:15 – “sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death”;
Rom. 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death”.
Here is a man who is reaping what he has sown and he doesn’t like it.
You see all his life this man sowed to his flesh.
The Bible tells us the result of this in Gal. 6:8 – “he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.”
Next, notice this thief’s Skepticism or Unbelief.
He says to the Lord “If thou be Christ…”
This is devil talk.
In Matt. 4:3, the devil said to Jesus, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”.
In the garden, the devil said to Eve, regarding what God had said to her and Adam in Gen. 3:1, “Yea, hath God said…”
Remember, whenever you find skepticism and doubt about what God has said, you will find the devil is behind it. In this particular case what is subject to skepticism and unbelief is salvation.
The devil is the author of confusion.
He wants people to doubt what the Word of God says especially about salvation.
So, they will end up in the lake of fire. He would rather have people in some false religion that will send them to hell, like the group called “Heaven’s Gate” who ended up killing themselves over a comet believing they were on their way to heaven.
These folks believed a lie.
The Bible says about people who will not receive the truth, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thess. 2:11.
These people had to be deluded to do what they did.
The Bible tells us who the father of lies is, Satan., “there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Jn. 8:44
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:6, how we are to come to God, “…for he that cometh to God must believe that he is,…”
One must come believing not with skepticism, doubt, or unbelief.
The Bible tells us of the eternal destiny of the unbeliever in Rev. 21:8 , “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
On the Cross of Rejection notice lastly, The Lack of Humility.
Instead of being humble and looking for mercy, we are told this thief in Luke 23:39, “railed” on Jesus.
The word “railed” means to utter reproaches; to scoff; to use insolent and reproachful language.
Isn’t this what happens most of the time when you try to witness to someone about being saved?
This thief still had some pride in him to act this way towards the only one who could save him.
The Bible declares, “Pride goeth before destruction…”.
This man so desperately needed the saving grace of God.
The Bible tells us about the prideful person in James 4:6, “…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Pride is what sends a person to hell.
The prideful heart attitude of “I don’t need God. I can save myself.”
This thief needed to turn to the Lord for mercy because the Bible tells us in Psalm 103:8, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.”
This thief needed to fear the Lord, because according to Psalm 103:17, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him.”
Titus 3:5, tells us that God saves us “according to his mercy.”
Instead on this Cross of Rejection hung the unrepentant thief.
He had no guilt or shame for what he did.
He had no belief in the Son of God.
He had no humility because of his predicament.
Ever since he breathed his last breath, he has been burning in hell, along with all the other skeptics.
But the only difference is now he is a believer. Amen!
Second, notice The Cross of Reception – Luke 23:40-42.
Notice a few things about this thief that hung on The Cross of Reception.
First, he feared God.
In Luke 23:40, we read this thief said to the thief that hung on the Cross of Rejection, “Doest not thou fear God”.
The Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”.
He knew that God controlled his destiny.
He knew that God was the judge of things.
Second, he realized that he was a condemned man with no earthly way out.
Notice his words in verse 40, “seeing thou art in the same condemnation?”
Third, he acknowledges his sin – verse 41, “…we indeed justly”.
The Bible tells us that “all have sin and come short of the glory of God.”
“As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one.”
Acknowledgment of ones sin is the first step of getting saved.
A person must first acknowledge they are a sinner.
If a person does not see themselves as sinner then there is no need to be saved.
This is why the Pharisees during the time of Jesus did not repentant and submit to the baptism of repentance under the ministry of John the Baptist.
They were self-righteous, trusting in being the physical seed of Abraham to save them.
Nothing has changed much the religion of the Pharisees is still around today.
Today, most folks are trusting in something else other than the shed blood of Jesus Christ to save them.
Fourth, the thief on the cross of reception acknowledged he deserved his sentence – verse 41, “we receive the due reward of our deeds”.
He knew clearly that he reaped what he had sown.
In other words, he said “I am guilty for what I have done and deserve to be in the predicament that I am in.”
He acknowledged that he deserved his death sentence.
He was sorry for his sin, not that he got caught but because he sinned against God.
This man had “godly sorrow”.
The Bible tells us that “godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of:”
Lastly, this thief acknowledged that Jesus did not deserve the death sentence – verse 41 “but this man hath done nothing amiss.”
He realized and acknowledged the sinlessness of the man next to him.
However, concerning himself he knew and admitted that he was a sinner and deserved his sentence of death.
What we see here is the steps of someone getting saved.
There was only one last thing for this man to do and praise God! he did it.
He turned to the center cross, the third cross, The Cross of Redemption and uttered these words – verse 42 “And he said unto Jesus, Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
We want to notice the thief called Jesus, Lord.
This is very important because “Lord” is a title of deity.
It is interesting all the so-called modern versions remove “Lord” in this verse, in essence removing the dying thief’s saving confession of faith from Him.
Instead of going to paradise these new Bibles have this man going to hell.
The new Bibles are guilty of stealing.
Stealing or taking away from God’s word.
Who is behind all of this?
The devil because the Bible tells us he likes to take away the Word of God from the heart of man.
The thief realized that only the Lord Jesus Christ could save him from the situation.
The Bible tells us “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Unlike the other thief on The Cross of Rejection, the thief on The Cross of Reception had no doubt who Jesus was.
He came to Jesus humbly, admitting his sin, accepting his sentence of death, and crying out to God for his mercy.
This thief believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to save him.
John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
Finally, notice the third cross, The Cross of Redemption.
Redeem means to “buy back.”
Jesus buys back from the slave market of sin, from eternal damnation in a lake of fire all those who call upon Him to save them.
The Bible tells us concerning Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross. Rom. 3:24 “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”
Gal. 3:13 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.”
The law was given by God to Moses to show you and I that we are sinners.
That we like those thieves all deserved the sentence of death, not just physical death but more important spiritual death in a lake of fire.
Col. 1:14, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
1 Pet. 1:18 tells us what actual redeems us, “…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Notice Jesus response to thief on the Cross of Reception – verse 43 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
You talk about “Good News”!!!!
Where could you find any religion in the world that could tell you, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Show me one religion in this big wide world, that will tell you for sure, “You are going to paradise ( heaven) and all you had do was ask to go there through trusting in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the atonement of your sins. The bottom line is there isn’t any.
Only Bible Christianity can make that promise, because it is based on the man on that third cross, The Cross of Redemption.
Which side of that cross of redemption are you on?
Your eternity is counting on it!
Rejection or Reception.
Rejection will end you up in the lake of fire for eternity where your undying soul will burn for time and eternity.
Or Reception will end you up in paradise (heaven) for time and eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you have never asked the Lord to remember you, won’t you ask him right now?
Paradise is awaiting for you.
All you have to do is ask to go through the shed blood of the man on The Cross of Redemption.
The Choice you make on this side of Eternity will determine where you will be on the other side of Eternity.