Summary: Every conversion was unique and each was remarkable in its own way, but perhaps the most remarkable convert in Jesus’s earthly ministry was the thief on the cross. 1) It was based on a remarkable prophecy; 2) the thief prayed a remarkable prayer; & 3) Jes
Christ’s Most Remarkable Convert
April 16, 2000
(Skeleton of this outline comes from Preach for a Year #3, pp. 63-64. The meat on the skeleton is mine alone and should not be held against the author of Preach for a Year. :-)
TEXT: Luke 23:32-43 – “And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
It’s difficult to choose the most remarkable convert of Jesus, since every conversion was unique and each was remarkable in its own way.
During Jesus’ ministry there were many remarkable conversions:
--There were converts among the rich, such as JOSEPH OF ARAMATHEA.
--There were converts among the religious, such as NICODEMAS.
--And there were converts among the rejected, such as THE WOMAN AT THE WELL.
But the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the most remarkable convert in Jesus’s earthly ministry must have been the thief on the cross.
In this story, you have the paths of three men meeting in death:
--Two were completely guilty; one completely innocent.
--Two were paying their debts to society; one was paying our debt of sin.
--One died IN sin, one died TO sin, one died FOR SIN.
What makes this conversion so remarkable? Let me share three remarkable things about the conversion of the thief on the cross:
I. NOTE FIRST A REMARKABLE PROPHECY – Verse 32 – “And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.”
Turn with me to Isaiah, chapter 53, that great Messianic prophecy that predicted the Lord’s death and the payment He would make for our sin.
In our text we just read, we’re told us that Jesus died between two criminals. This was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9 – “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.”
Jesus was to make His grave with the wicked, which He did when he died between two criminals. He would die between them and His grave would be near them. Note also the prophecy that his grave would be “with the rich in his death.” All four Gospels tells us that a man named Joseph of Aramathea asked Pilot for the body of Jesus and then placed it in a sepulcher belonging to him (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51; John 19:38). Joseph was a wealthy man, thus fulfilling the second part of this prophecy.
ALL prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and many of them converged at the cross. Fulfilment of prophecies about Christ is one of the great proofs of Christianity.
Here are just a few prophecies about Jesus fulfilled on the cross:
--His side pierced, fulfilled in Zecheriah 12:10
--His cry “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, foretold in Psalm 22:1
--The mocking by the multitude, predicted in Psalm 22:6-8
--His hands and feet would be pierced, foreseen in Psalm 22:16
--The casting of lots for His clothes, anticipated in Psalm 22:18
--None of his bones would be broken, prophesied Psalm 34:20
--He would be given vinegar to drink, as recorded in Psalm 69:21
--And the prophecy we just looked at that He would die with the wicked and be buried in a rich man’s grave near the wicked found in Isaiah 53:9