Summary: This is an Easter sermon on the two men on crosses next to Jesus.
The good, the bad and the ugly
Luke 23:33, 39-43
The last week of Jesus life is such an amazing story. Starting with last Sunday, Palm Sunday, when Jesus rides into Jerusalem with everyone cheering for Him and calling Him the Messiah, then four days later He is arrested for blasphemy, claiming to be the Son of God. Then He is tried and condemned to die on a cross, the death reserved for criminals. He is crucified and rises from the grave three days later.
So many people playing major parts in this drama, the finicky crowd, Pilate who could not make up his mind, Judas who betrayed Him, the religious leaders who felt threatened by Jesus, the disciples who deserted Him and even denied knowing Him, the criminal who was released instead of Jesus, Barabbas, and the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus.
With the behavior of each of these people it is almost as if we can see ourselves in many of these roles, the crowd, the betrayer, the religious people.
Today I would like to look at the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus. The title for today’s sermon is “The good, the bad, and the ugly.”
Video: The good the bad and the ugly theme tune w/pictures
That was one of the best western movies ever made, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Even though it came out in 1966, starring Clint Eastwood, the music has become legendary.
It was a story about three men, one was good, one was bad, and one was just plain ugly.
Today we want to take a look at another group of three men who were hanging on crosses together 2,000 years ago. One was good, one was bad, and one was just plain ugly. The three men were being punished for crimes, but one was not guilty!
We are going to read today in the gospel of Luke but before we do, let’s take a moment and honor God’s Word.
Honor God’s Word
Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
What an incredible book. It stands forever. Every word in it is eternal. We have been looking at some of the reasons why we can trust this book over the past few months, especially when it comes to prophecy.
No other religious book or so called prophet has ever come close to the accuracy of the prophecies of this book. Over 2000 prophecies already fulfilled spoken hundreds to thousands of years before they happened.
Let’s look at an example of a prophecy about Jesus:
In Psalm 22 we read a prophecy about Jesus and the way he was going to die. It describes death by crucifixion which was not even used at that time. This was almost 1000 years before Jesus was crucified and the normal way to punish Jewish blasphemers was stoning at that time. But Jesus was crucified on a cross. The Psalm said He would be on the cross in the daylight hours as well as in dark and His hands would be pierced. He would be surrounded by people who mocked Him. This is exactly what happened to Jesus, even though He hung on the cross in the daytime, we read in the gospels that it was dark from noon to 3PM. Even the exact wording of the mockers was prophesied. Psalm 22 said the mockers would say, “He trusted in God let’s see Him deliver Him.” And this is exactly what the mockers said to Jesus when He was on the cross. Can you imagine, a person a thousand years before it actually happened describing exactly what people are going to be saying to Jesus as He's hanging on the cross? It absolutely boggles your mind. The Psalm even said that the people would gamble for his clothing. This prophecy was fulfilled by Roman soldiers. We read that they bet on who would receive Jesus clothing after He died.
The accuracy of this prophecy is not coincidence. It is not something that Jesus could do himself. Some were fulfilled by Jesus, Himself, some were fulfilled by the religious leaders who hated Jesus, and some were fulfilled by the Roman soldiers and one was fulfilled by God the Father when He made it dark from noon to 3PM.
The statistical chances of this kind of accuracy is in the realm of impossible. Prophecy is one of the ways we can be assured that this book is truly God’s Word and can be trusted, that is why we study it on Sunday morning.
Let’s read the story of the original ‘good, bad and ugly.’
Let’s meet the three men Luke 23:32-33, 39-43
The three men are being led to be crucified! (vs. 32) We don’t know what these two criminals did, but apparently they were caught convicted and sentenced to die along with Jesus.