Summary: There are many remarkable conversion stories in the Bible, but none as remarkable at the thief on the cross—the most unlikely person ever to ask to go to heaven. This sermon explains why he had the audacity to ask this every thing of Christ on the cross.
Christ’s Most Remarkable Convert
April 13, 2014
TEXT: Luke 23:32-43 – “And there were also two other, malefactors [evil-doers, or criminals], 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 [clothes], 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.”
There are a lot of remarkable conversion stories in the Bible. Probably the most well known is PAUL’S conversion on the Road to Damascus. Then there was THE PHILIPPIAN JAILOR’S conversion after an earthquake after Paul and Silas’s prison worship service.
There were some pretty remarkable conversions during Jesus’ earthly ministry too. There’s THE WOMAN AT THE WELL—a woman of loose morals—whom Jesus engages in conversation and who believes on Christ after discussing living water. There’s every kid’s favorite story of the tax collector ZACCHAEUS who was so short that in order to see Jesus over the throng of people, climbed up into a sycamore tree and Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come on down, because today I’m going to your house today!” – He did, and before Jesus left, Zacchaeus had come to faith in Christ.
But in my opinion, the most remarkable convert in the Bible was the thief on the cross. Think of what happened: The paths of three men meeting in death.…
One on each side, with Jesus in the middle.
Two of them were completely guilty; one was completely innocent.
Two paid their debt to society; one paid our debt for sin.
What makes the thief on the cross’s conversion so remarkable?
I. FIRST BECAUSE A REMARKABLE PROPHECY WAS FULFILLED
Verse 32 tells us that Jesus died between these two criminals. We don’t know all that these two men did, but Matthew calls them thieves in Matthew 27:44, which is why we often talk of “the thief on the cross.”