Summary: It is about the 2 criminals on the cross, and how they represent the 2 different kinds of people in the world: Those who follow Christ, and those who deny Him.
I want to share with you a story of two different people in Jesus’ life, and how they made two very different choices. I want to tell you the story of two people who are very much like you and me. It’s a tale of two sinners. Do you remember seeing in the movie two criminals being crucified with Jesus? Do you remember the difference in the way that these two men responded to what Jesus was doing for them on the cross? It’s an incredible picture of the rest of us. I never really even thought about it this way until I saw this movie. Check these verses out with me:
39“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’” 43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:39-41 (NIV)
As I said, I never really saw it this way until I watched the movie, but these two men who are being crucified with Jesus are really a representation of the rest of mankind. You see, there are really only two kinds of people in this world: People who are followers of Christ, and people who are not. When it comes to the last day, when it all comes down, that is all that will matter. How much money you made? It won’t matter! What kind of house you lived in? It won’t matter! What kind of car you drove? It won’t matter! What will matter is this: Did you choose to follow Jesus with your whole being? Did you choose to live out the purposes for which you were created? Did you love God, and did you give your life to Him and Him only. That’s what will matter. None of this material stuff, what’s on the outside. The only thing that will matter is the spiritual, your devotion to Christ and living the way that He has told us to live.
That’s what these two men represent on the cross. They give us a picture of us and of the rest of the world, and I think it’s one worth looking at, especially at this time right now when the whole world is talking about it. We have the greatest opportunity in a long time right now to share Jesus. Amen? I think that we need to understand the tale of these two sinners so that we can know how to talk to others about the gospel of Christ.
SO, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE HERE?
What’s the big difference between these two men? I mean, they were both getting what they deserved, right? They both had done things that made this sentence of being crucified just, so what’s the big difference between them? There are some HUGE differences between these men, and I want to show you the first one right now:
First of all,
ONE HAD A CHANGE OF HEART, while THE OTHER ONE HAD A CALLOUSED HEART.
Now you say “Brian, what are you talking about, the guy who is asking to be in Heaven with Jesus seems like a guy who really loves Jesus. Well yes, you’re right, but he wasn’t always that way. As a matter of fact, earlier during the crucifixion, he was hurling insults at Jesus too. Look with me in Mark 15:32.
32“Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”
Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”
You see, this verse shows us that they both were insulting him in the beginning there. They both were denying Jesus. They both wanted nothing to do with him. You see, we all have been at that point at some moment in our lives. You know, when you wanted to do your own thing. You wanted to live for yourself, instead of living for something bigger than yourself. You got caught up in materialism, or drugs or alcohol, or adultery and fornication. Maybe you were a thief. But, you know where that ultimately leaves you, right? It leaves you empty. It leaves you with nothing but a hole in your heart that can only be filled by God. That’s where both of these criminals were. For some reason, even though their judgment was staring them in the face, they were still defiant. They still wouldn’t seek the mercy that God wanted to grant them. They both were still full of the emptiness that Satan wants each of us to fill.