Summary: In this message we will see how the cross took one thief from condemnation to paradise.
“Saved By The Cross”
Charles Colson in his book Kingdoms In Conflict, tells how
Back before the collapse of communism the government of Poland issued an order that all crucifixes were to be removed from classroom walls, just as they had been banned in factories, hospitals, and other public institutions. Many church leaders protested stirring waves of anger and resentment all across Poland.
Ultimately the government relented, insisting that the law remain on the books, but agreeing not to press for the removal of the crucifixes, particularly in the schoolrooms.
But one zealous Communist school administrator decided that the law was the law. So one evening he had seven large crucifixes removed from lecture halls where they had hung since the school’s founding in the twenties. Days later, a group of parents entered the school and hung more crosses. The administrator promptly had these crosses taken down as well.
The next day two-thirds of the school’s six hundred students staged a sit-in. When heavily armed riot police arrived, the students were forced into the streets. Then they marched, crucifixes held high, to a nearby church where they were joined by twenty-five hundred other students from nearby schools for a morning of prayer in support of the protest.
Soldiers surrounded the church. But the pictures from inside of students holding crosses high above their heads flashed around the world. So did the words of the priest who delivered the message to the weeping congregation that morning. "There is no Poland without a cross."
SUCH is the impact of the cross…
“But I when I am lifted up from the earth , will draw all men to myself.”
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it IS the power of God…” 1 Cor 1:18
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance, that Christ DIED for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was BURIED that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Cor 15:3
We are in the 4th week of series of messages that we are calling the impact of the cross. What we have been doing in these messages is attempting to see how the cross impacted those who were there 2,000 years ago.
SO far, we have looked at the Roman soldiers who were unmoved by the cross (because of familiarity, prejudice against the people of God, and material possessions). And we’ve looked at the disciples who were distressed by the cross (because they were disillusioned with Jesus, they were distraught by the evil in the world and they were disappointed in themselves).
Last week, we looked at the cross from the perspective of Jesus’ enemies who were delighted by the cross (they envied, they feared and they hated Jesus.
TODAY, we want to look at the cross from the perspective of another person who was there – This morning we want to take a look at one of the thieves, who when he looked at the cross on that day 2,000 years ago – was SAVED….
Now there isn’t a whole lot of information about these guys in the bible – we meet them for only a brief moment in the final day of Jesus’ earthly life.
Here, is what Scripture says about these guys….
“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.” Luke 23:32-33
“In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” Mt 27:44
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and 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.” The he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43
Like I said, not a whole lot of information – BUT nevertheless within those verses is a powerful story.
I mean, talk about a day NOT turning out as you’ve planned – when he woke up that Friday morning, all this thief had to look forward to; was pain, crucifixion and death. BUT before the day was over – he found himself in paradise with Jesus.
Listen – that’s the power – that’s the impact of the cross…. To the world it may seem foolish but to us who are being saved – the cross IS the power of God.