Summary: This is a sermon I preached for Easter.
Title: “A Hill With Three Crosses” Script: Lk. 23:32-43
Type: Easter/Evang. Where: GNBC Easter Sunday 2021
Intro: The story is told of a Southern Gospel group that was called “The Resurrections”. The story took place back in the early 1970’s. It seems as though the singing group were going to be performing on that upcoming Sunday evening at a Baptist church in the mountains of Western North Carolina. That morning they were performing at a church in Knoxville, TN. The 2.5 to 3 hr. drive would have been no big deal to be to the church by 6 pm. However, there was an unexpected, freak snow that closed the pass between TN and NC. Finding a pay phone, the group’s manager called the pastor to explain why they wouldn’t be able to perform that night. The dejected pastor posted a sign on the church doors: “The Resurrections Canceled.”!!! I thank God this Easter Sunday morning that the Resurrection wasn’t canceled! Now listen, on Good Friday at about 3 pm, it looked to all passersby that Sin and Death had won, but that wasn’t the case. On Good Friday afternoon, had you been an eyewitness just outside of the city, you would have seen three men dying together on three separate crosses. Those three men and those three crosses give us important insight into how we can live our lives and why.
Prop: The 3 Crosses of Calvary demonstrate 3 responses to mankind’s sin.
BG: 1. Easter Sunday or better, Resurrection Sunday. Most important day in history. Christ raised from dead.
2. Might wonder what has to do with you. EVERYTHING! Familiar story 3 ind. Died on Jerusalem hillside that Friday before Easter Sunday. Each cross tells a powerful story for you and me today.
Prop: 3 Crosses of Calvary demons. 3 Important Responses to Mankind’s Sin and salv. offered in Xst.
I. 1st We See a Cross of Rebellion – A Man Dying in Sin. vv. 32-39
A. On this Cross we see a bitter/angry man Dying in sin.
1. Who was this man who was Good Friday’s witness at the Savior’s side?
a. The Bible defines the man by his guilt: “criminal” vv. 32-33. Sadly, we are all amazed at the depth of depravity to which human beings are able to sink. How many times have you watched the news or read a paper and found self shaking head at the evil that man can commit in this world? Illust: Many horrified past week – In NYC an elderly Asian American woman walking to church, Attacked by a man nearly 3x size screaming racial insults saying: “You don’t belong here.” While 3 other men stood by without doing anything to help. Worse, assailant was on parole for 2002 murder…of his mother!
b. V. 39 gives insight into this man’s soul. This condemned man joins the contemptuously taunting of Christ. It wasn’t enough that Xst had been falsely charged and convicted of a crime He had not committed. Not enough that He had been beaten within an inch of His life. It wasn’t enough that He had to suffer the indignity of clothes stripped off of Him and then divided among His captors. It wasn’t enough that He was nailed through wrist and feet to a rough-hewn cross. Now, hanging between heaven and earth, suspended in space and time, Insulted by the passersby as well as, the men on either side of Him!
2. What do we know of this man?
a. Very little. The Bible does not name the man. Tradition calls him “Gestas”.. may or may not be. What was he like as a little boy? We don’t know. When did he start his life or crime? Was it early or late? We don’t know. What was the first criminal act undertook? What was his family like? Did he have a wife? Children? All we know is that he had a mother.
b. Gestas, if we can call him that, had violated the law and the law had won. The law had convicted and condemned him for his violations and now he was being put to death for his crimes! Even in an era that was much more calloused than our own, crucifixion was a cruel punishment. The Romans limited it’s use mainly to slaves and rebels. Enough Jews were dying of crucifixion that a guild of woman had formed to brew a stupefying drink to help ease the pain of those being so punished. (Christ refused this drink to remain in control of faculties.)
B. What do you and I have in common with this criminal dying on the Cross of rebellion?
1. I find in just an initial glance that we have 4 items in common with this man.
a. We are profane like this man was: The definition of profane is to treat something sacred with irreverence, or contempt. PROFANE is this man’s response to Christ upon the cross! It’s profane when in a debate over a recent piece of legislation Rep Jerry Nadler (D -NY) said in response to a Republican Rep’s reading of Scripture: “"what any religious tradition describes as God's will is no concern of this Congress." Profane is the way most people uses the Savior’s name as a swear word. And yes, PROFANE, is our continued ignoring of what He did for us.