Summary: The pain & agony they felt was reaching its peak. And the thieves begin to speak again to Jesus. As they do, listen to their requests, & then listen to the answer that Jesus gives. (Powerpoint available - #111)
Luke 23:20-23 says, “Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’
“For the third time he spoke to them: ‘Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have Him punished and then release Him.’ But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that He be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.”
Matthew 27:27-31 says, “Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head.
“They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said. They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again.
“After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him.”
Luke 23:32-35 says, “Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be executed. 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.
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up His clothes by casting lots.
“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.’
And Matthew adds, “In the same way the robbers who were crucified with Him also heaped insults on him” (Matthew 27:44)
This goes on for some time, but then something very interesting happens. Listen to Luke 23:39- 43. "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself & us!’
"But the other criminal rebuked him, ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’"
D. As we hear these words, we need to realize that by then Jesus & the two thieves had been hanging on their crosses for several hours. The pain & agony they felt was reaching its peak. The suffering & misery of the hours of hanging in the hot sun had taken its toll.
PROP. In the midst of all that, these two thieves begin to speak again to Jesus. And as they do, I invite you to listen to their requests, & then listen to the answer that Jesus gives.
I. THE TWO REQUESTS
A. There are two different requests, given by two different thieves as they hang on either side of Jesus. And by their requests it seems to me that both of the thieves showed that they knew something about Jesus.
The first thief began with a question, "Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself & save us!"
Why, those words are similar to the words of Simon Peter in Caesarea Phillipi. When Jesus asked the question, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."