Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: A lot of people believe that there were just two thieves hanging on those crosses on Calvary’s mountain. Well, Luke lets me know that there was some more thievery going on that day...

And Then There Were Three Thieves…

Scripture Text: Luke 23:39 – 43

Introduction: Under normal circumstances, it doesn’t feel good to be taken from. It’s different when I give it to you or you have a need and I share what I have with you. It’s another thing altogether for you to see me with it, want it, but not want it to the degree that you’re willing to work like I worked for it. You just want what’s mine so you can make it yours. The message has many varying dimensions, but I looked at the text and discovered that those two thieves that were hanging next to Jesus had made a career of crime. This is just my personal opinion; thieves and robbers have needs and wants just like I do, and they’re people just like me. [But] They don’t see the need to work like we do; the mentality of a thief is that his victim will work for it, and when the hard part has been done, the thief will just take it with the intent of enjoying it even though he didn’t have to work for it. The cross of Calvary is a representation of several things happening at the same time; for instance, the old Covenant was done away with and a new one was instituted. The power of God may have come into question before when Jesus was living, but it was undeniably lucid at this point in history as He was at the point of death. I believe that the devil was actually looking at the whole scene like a nervous bookie on game day [sweating and crossing his fingers]. Not only was the old Covenant done away with, but even in the midst of laughing and mocking and humiliation and pure hatred, a new breed [a new race] of people was born at that moment the Master said, “It is finished.” [But] I beg to differ with most theologians; I wish to suggest that there were three thieves on those crosses, and they all had different characteristics. What are you talking about, Rev? Well, you’ll discover something about each of them; I found that one thing about the first thief was that THE FIRST THIEF WAS ONLY CONCERNED WITH HIS EXISTENTIAL SAFETY.

Luke 23:39 – Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”

The amazing thing about this thief is that even with him hanging next to the Master, his mind is still on himself. This first thief wants the Master to show a display of power so that the thief will not have to pay the penalty for what he actually did. “First thieves” want you to give them what they want and if they don’t get it from you, they will discount everything about you, but even in that they’re still taking from you. In actuality, this thief was no different from the devil in Matthew 4 when he tempted Jesus, because the thief wished to derail the Master’s assignment strictly for his own benefit. The first thief had a problem because he wished to manipulate Divine assistance for his own devilish agenda. I would think that this man didn’t call on God too often when he was robbing others; I would dare suggest that this man didn’t pray to God to help him reform and turn to a life of helping and serving others. This COULD’VE been the one time he talked to Jesus in his entire life, but when he opens his mouth, you’re caught speechless because you can’t believe that he would say what he said. [But] Before you put your mouth on the first thief, the truth of the matter is that there are “first thieves” who show up every Sunday who don’t pray – who don’t consult God until they get into trouble – who don’t come to the house of the Lord until there is something they have to endure for something they were actually guilty of. The first thief has not come under conviction; he is leaving it up to Jesus to get him out of the hot spot he’s in without having to repent, reform, or apologize. Let me see if I can bring it down the road to our house: the first thief wants to do what he wants to do and then challenge Jesus to get him out of the consequences that are the result of doing what you want to do. First thieves don’t want to be accountable for their decisions, because a first thief mentality is, “Let me do what I want to do and then you come and rescue me from the consequences.” [And] As a result, I’ll make a symbolic suggestion within a literal situation: THE FIRST THIEF DIED FROM THE CONDITIONS OF SIN. [But] There was also a second thief on the cross that day, and he was sentenced for the same crime that the first thief committed. [But] Something caught me that was different about this thief. Even though the first thief was concerned only for his existential safety, I’m glad that THE SECOND THIEF WAS COMMENDED FOR HIS EXPECTANT STATEMENT.

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