Summary: The Thief crucified beside Jesus was forever changed with his face to face encounter with the Saviour.
A Changed Heart
Series: “face to Face”
Sunday sermon / July 15th
Intro: the man we are looking into today isn’t even named in Scripture. He came face to Face with Jesus in the most horrible way. They were crucified together. And actually there were three men crucified that day.
The Old Testament prophecy told of these two,
Isaiah 53:10 KJV “…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.”
All four Gospels include something about these two other men. Matthew and Mark record almost identical details:
Text: Mark 15:28 /
Matthew 27:38 “Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." 41So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42"He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ’I am the Son of God.’" 44And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Text: We’ll look at a detail only John includes at the end of the message but first let’s look at Luke 23.
He includes something unique to the other accounts:
Luke 23:39-43 “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" 40But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." 42And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 43And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Matthew and Mark both record the same message, the two thieves reviled Jesus.
Luke says something different. He says that one of the men cursed and jeered him, while the other defended and pleaded for mercy from Jesus.
As I believe the Scriptures are inspired and “God breathed.” Therefore, they are completely accurate both doctrinally and historically.
I believe we are seeing the before and after snap shots of a man transformed by a face to Face with Jesus.
Luke records yet another amazing story of the workings of God’s grace.
What did this man see or hear that so quickly and dramatically changed his heart?
Before we consider what changed the one, let’s consider who these guys were:
I. Lost, Condemned and minutes away from eternity
a. According to society, they were beyond hope
i. Even though the Roman government was ruled by a Dictator King who claimed to be god. They had a fairly developed form of government.
ii. In fact, much of today’s law is based on the Roman law.
iii. These two thieves would have had a trial, with witnesses and their conviction and sentencing was done orderly and according to Law.
But, in 1787, a group of well-known and powerful Philadelphians (called the Philadelphia Society) convened in the home of Benjamin Franklin. Dr. Benjamin Rush spoke on the Society’s goal, to see the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania set the international standard in prison design. He proposed a radical idea: to build a true penitentiary, a prison designed to create genuine regret and penitence in the criminal’s heart. Not simply to contain criminals. The concept grew from Enlightenment thinking, but no government had successfully carried out such a program.
Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 and broke sharply with the prisons of its day, abandoning corporal punishment and ill treatment. This massive new structure, became one of the most expensive American buildings of its day and soon the most famous prison in the world.
Each prisoner had his or her own private cell, centrally heated, with running water, a flush toilet, and a skylight. Adjacent to the cell was a private outdoor exercise yard contained by a ten-foot wall. This was in an age when the White House, with its new occupant Andrew Jackson, had no running water and was heated with coal-burning stoves.
The Penitentiary would not simply punish, but move the criminal toward spiritual reflection and change. But the proponents of the system believed strongly that the criminals, exposed, in silence, to thoughts of their behavior and the ugliness of their crimes, would become genuinely penitent. Thus the new word, penitentiary.