Summary: Calvary represents a "Crossroads" for those needing to make a decision about Jesus Christ.
For many Christians, Easter is our favorite Sunday of the year…Unfortunately, we sometimes fail to adequately communicate the significance of the Holiday to our children.
A Pastor once asked a group of children why we celebrate Easter…One young girl raised her hand and said, “The whole family gets together, watches football and eats lots of turkey to give thanks to God for everything we have.”… “No” said the pastor, you’re thinking of Thanksgiving.”
Then a little boy piped up, “We decorate the house and buy presents for everyone.”… “No”, said the pastor, “you’re talking about Christmas.”
Finally, a young girl spoke up. “Easter is when Jesus died and they put him in the tomb.”…The pastor broke out in a broad grin, because this was his young daughter who came up with this answer…But he stopped smiling when she continued, “And everyone gathers round the tomb to see if He comes out so we’ll know whether we’re going to have six more weeks of winter.”
I invite your attention this morning to the 23rd chapter of the Gospel of Luke as we consider the events leading to the Resurrection of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ…In Luke 23 we find the record of the crucifixion of JC…Before Jesus could experience the Resurrection, He had to endure the crucifixion… And what I find so remarkable is that even in Jesus’ final hours upon this earth—even as He hung in agony on a cross at Calvary, He was offering hope for a brighter future for those at the Crossroads of their lives.
Luke 23:32-43 32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The scene portrayed in these verses has been repeated countless times throughout the centuries…Not by men on crosses, and not by people facing execution for their crimes, but by men and women at the crossroads of their lives…Making decisions about what to do when confronted by the reality of the crucified Christ…Some of you are at that point today, and the decision you make this morning may well influence your eternal destiny.
This passage speaks of three crosses…The first is the CROSS OF REJECTION.
I. THE CROSS OF REJECTION
I’ve often found it interesting that Jesus was hung between two men who had been caught, convicted and condemned for crimes they had committed…What a contrast between those who were being punished for their wrongdoing, and the One who had never done wrong, yet suffered the same earthly fate.
The NIV describes these other two men as criminals = Matthew & Mark refer to these men as robbers…The old KJV calls them malefactors…It was a word that describes evil doers, those who used violence to achieve their means…In all probability they were insurrectionists who had advocated a violent uprising against the Roman government.
Luke tells us in v. 39: One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
One of the criminals = we don’t know his name, his age or anything else about him…We don’t know if he had a wife or children or what he did for a living when he was fomenting insurrection…He is one of countless individuals mentioned on the pages of inspired Scripture about whom we know next to nothing.
We’re told that he hurled insults at Jesus…He shouted blasphemy…But of course, he was simply joining in with the crowd.
• Verse 35 tells of the people & the rulers who sneered at Jesus.