Summary: The Bible is full of contrasts. This message talks about the contrast in the two theives. They started out the same, but ended up very different. Explore the process and see how they ended up.
The Bible is an interesting book of contrasts. Among many, you have the following:
Cain and Abel—the first two sons of Adam, one choosing a good path, the other choosing an evil path.
Abraham and Lot—two relatives, one selflessly gives up everything for God, the other selfishly follows his own way.
Jacob and Esau-twin brothers, one was a manly outdoorsman, the other tended to help his mother.
David and Saul—the first two kings of Israel, one choosing not to seek out God, the other choosing to seek out God.
Peter and Judas Iscariot—two of Jesus’ disciples who betrayed him, one sought forgiveness and the other sought suicide.
Today, let us look at yet another startling contrast as we read from the book of Luke…
Before we start into the message, let us look at the similarities of these two thieves...
Both these men were convicted by the same legal system.
Both were guilty of their crimes.
Both were condemned to die the same death.
Both were at the mercy of the crowd.
Both were looking at the same Jesus.
Now another similarity that we want to focus on is the fact that, not only were they both guilty of a crime, but they were both guilty of blasphemy! “And they that were crucified with Him reviled Him” Mark 15:32. They were engaged in the act of bringing reproach to Jesus and upbraiding His ministry! In fact, verse 39 says that one thief “railed on him, saying, If Thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.” The word railed means to blaspheme. FROM THE VERY START, THEY WERE BOTH IN OPPOSITION TO CHRIST.
The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And the Bible further tells us that “sin is lawlessness.” In other words, we are all guilty of breaking the law. In the book of Genesis, we are told that man was made by God, a sinless creature with the ability to make his own decisions. God said that He had planted an entire garden for the man, Adam, and that he could eat fruit from any tree but one. That was God’s simple law. But Adam and Eve decided to take their own path and eat the forbidden fruit. NOW FROM THAT TIME UNTIL NOW, WE HAVE ALL BEEN SINNERS, CONVICTED BY GOD’S HOLY LAW.
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Romans 8:22
“By man came death…” ! Corinthians 15:21
“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:21
These verses tells us that because of Adam’s sin that we spoke of just a few minutes ago, we are all guilty and convicted. The sin we are talking about is the bad things that we do. We are already in a guilty state. W are merely waiting for our judgment.
Verse 40 and 41 shows us a contrast from the first thief’s statement. He chastises his cohort, “Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds...” The word condemnation here means judgment and damnation. What he was saying is that this man between the two of them was receiving the same punishment They had been found guilty, judged and were now being punished.
Earlier, we mentioned that the Bible tells us that each and every one of us have been found guilty and condemned. It would seem that we are just waiting on our judgment. “He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already…” John 3:18. The word condemned here in John and in our text from Luke both mean judged. JUDGMENT HAS ALREADY BEEN PASSED ON YOU!
What is this judgment? Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” James 1:15 says, “when lust is conceived, it bringeth for sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death..” What is this death? In the Bible, death always means separation. Physical death is the separation of the flesh and bone body from the soul. Spiritual death, spoken of in these two verses, is our separation from God.
What does this separation from God mean? READ JOHN 5:27-29. The word for damnation in the last verse can also mean a separating. See, the Bible is clear that God hates sin. There are 15 separate sins in the Bible which God says He hates. God hates sin and cannot allow it in heaven. The reward for sin is eternity in hell. This is what the Bible tells us about hell:
It is forever.
There is torment of separation from God.