Summary: The power of Jesus to save is manifested through the redemption of a convicted thief.
A CROOK AT THE CROSS
Luke 23:43 “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Title: “Crook at the Cross”
1. Jesus talks about heaven in Matthew 13 utilizing 7 different scenarios.
a. Matt. 13:24 – Wheat and Tares – grow together
b. Matt. 13:31 – Mustard Seed – least of seeds, greatest of herbs, tree/birds
c. Matt. 13:33 – Leaven – in meal and whole loaf
d. Matt. 13:44 – Treasurer – hid in field, is found, and buys field
e. Matt. 13:45 – Pearl – seek goodly pearl, finds, and buys it
f. Matt. 13:47 – Net – gathers every kind
g. Matt. 13:51 – Householder – brings forth old and new treasures
There is an ultimate irony that he is being crucified between two malefactors…….Let’s break down that word Malefactor.
a. Fact – something with real demonstrable existence, truth
b. The ultimate fact for a Christian is the will, the way, and the word of God
c. Factor – is one therefore who does the will, walks in the way and lives by the word of God
d. Benefactor – is one who is so blessed for doing the will, walking in the way, and living by the word of God that their cup runs over and they bless others.
e. Malefactor – therefore is one who does not do the will of God, neither walks in the way of God, nor follows the word of God.
f. Jesus would say it is one who would place his hand upon the plow and look back. That person is not fit for the Kingdom of God. Such a person would be considered a sinner….a transgressor of the law….a crook!
I have been blessed in my life to have interacted with some of the great theological minds of this day. I have been blessed to attend some of the fine theological institutions. But my true Christian learning has not been from the halls of the academy, nor from the feet of those who teach theology. My true Christian learning has come from persons who never went to the schools of higher learning, but to the school of hard knocks. They taught me something very meaningful. Not theology, but kneeology. How to get on your bended knee and get a pray through. How to have a little talk with Jesus and tell him all about my troubles. He will hear your faintest cry and he will answer by and by.
It was the kneelologists who revolutionized my understanding and reading of Scripture. They told me that you have to make the Bible your own. They told me that when you read scripture remember to read it from the perspective that if you don’t see a name. Put your name in there.
Therefore, since we don’t see a name associated with these two malefactors….put your name there. Jesus was crucified between Talbert and Amos….between Miles and Willard…..between Timothy and Everett…..put your name in there. The characteristics of a malefactor, sometime is like you and me….because we sometimes don’t do the will of God,
We sometimes don’t walk in the way of God….we sometimes don’t live by the word of God.
In other words, don’t look so harshly at these malefactors, because if the truth is told, any one of us could easily be a Crook at the Cross.
You see we as humans birth children into the world but our society creates crooks. Our children are not born crooks…crookss are made and not born. This is good news for somebody who has a proclivity for ghettoistic conduct (just made that word up!). Crookish behavior is not the natural state of your soul. But a template…a frame, a paradigm designed to keep you living below your destiny. Short of your potential..substandard living and disenfranchised dreams is what crooking is all about.
Now please, I know some of you are thinking “Pastor Swan I know you’re not talking about me…you’re talking about my cousin, you’re talking about pookie nim but not about me. But I’m asking you to shake off your bourgeois paradigms for a minute and realize that all of us have some crook proclivities..ghetto tendencies and countrified activities. This is a derivative of country and ghetto. I make this declaration so we can enter into this text honestly, clearly and without a false veneer of religiosity, which strangles our ability to see through the Holy Spirit that God is always using crooks to do God’s work.
Let me break it down so you understand what I am trying to say…there was a crook named Noah, who was drinking too much gin and juice and got drunk on the eve of reconstruction. There was a crook I know…actually he was a pimp named Abraham who pimped his own wife…anytime you go into a strange land and lie and say this aint my wife …this is my sister and yall can have her and do what you want with her…it sounds like pimpin’ to me! There was a crook named Jacob…Jacob was a hustler who stole his brothers birthright…there’s a crook I know by the name of Moses…if you got Moses mad he would give you the royal BEAT DOWN but God said I wanna use him to liberate my people. There’s a crook and a player I know by the name of Samson..who went to the wrong barbershop and lost his strength. And what about that crook…the baller…shot caller named David. If there ever was a crook..it was David..pimpin Uriah’s wife…having the man killed..but God said David was a man after His own heart. God uses thugs!