Summary: Both thieves on the cross insulted Jesus... to begin with. Why did the 2nd thief refuse to accept the love and promises of Christ? What drove him to curse Jesus even as he was dying?
When the police arrest a suspect – what’s the first thing they are required by law to do?
That’s right - “read him his rights”. "You have a right to remain silent ..." etc.
What’s the official name for that process?
The Miranda Warning.
When a suspect has been read his rights they often say he’s been “Mirandized”
Few people realize that the Miranda warning originated from a Supreme Court ruling in 1966. Ernesto Miranda had been in and out of the Arizona State juvenile courts for more than a decade. He had a long record that included convictions for armed robbery assault, burglary, and attempted rape. And Police also believed that he was a sexual predator.
He was arrested on March 13, 63, and charged with stealing $8 from a Phoenix resident. But police were actually interested in him in regard to a rape that had occurred in which he was considered the prime suspect. They questioned him for two hours and bluffed Miranda suggesting that a woman who’d been assaulted 11 days earlier - had picked him out of a line up. He signed a written confession, and rec’d a sentence of 20 to 30 years for the kidnapping and rape of the 18 year old mildly mentally retarded woman.
His lawyers attempted to get the conviction overturned arguing that Miranda had never been informed of his constitutional rights. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and in a 5 to 4 decision the court agreed, and the conviction was overturned on June 13, 1966.
Miranda was eventually tried a second time, convicted of the crime, went to prison, and served almost 10 years total in prison. He was paroled in December of 1972.
On January 31, 1976, Miranda got into a fight in a tavern in Phoenix over a $3 bet. When he went to the bathroom to get the blood off of his hands he was stabbed to death. Police arrested a suspect who chose to exercise his "Miranda rights" and was released.
Ernesto Miranda was 34 years old when he died. (Richard Ellis)
APPLY: Ernesto Miranda wasn’t a very nice man.
Throughout his life he’d been involved with armed robbery, assault, burglary, and attempted rape. He died as he lived… a violent man.
And some might say that in his death, Miranda only received what he deserved.
When Jesus was crucified he was put to death between two thieves.
They were guilty men… one of them said as much.
As criminals they were not Mirandized… they were simply being put to death.
These were violent men.
They preyed on the innocent.
They assaulted the defenseless.
They took from the rich… and the poor… and gave to themselves.
Some scholars believe they were part of a gang run by a violent man named Barabbas (he’d been scheduled to be executed that day). Of course we know the name Barabbas from the fact that Pontius Pilate attempted to save Jesus from execution by offering to free either He or Barabbas - fully believing that Barabbas’ reputation was so vile the crowds would definitely prefer to have Jesus released instead of him.
But the crowds preferred to see Jesus die.
And so, on Calvary that day Jesus shared His fate with two thieves who faced the penalty for their sins - death on a cross.
There were two thieves who died that day, but today I want to focus on the 2nd one. This 2nd thief was NOT the one most people think of when they picture this scene. Most people – when they hear about the “The Thief On The Cross” think of the thief to whom Jesus said “Today you’ll be with me in Paradise”. That thief made a choice to follow Jesus. He reached out Christ as he was dying and he received that promise.
But the 2nd thief didn’t get that promise, because unlike the first man, the 2nd thief choose … poorly. Our sermon series has been entitled “The Biggest Losers”, but this 2nd thief was perhaps the biggest loser of all time. He had the opportunity to speak to the King of the universe and ask for forgiveness
INSTEAD he curses Jesus. He insults Him.
SCENE: As the Jesus was led up the mountain to the place of his execution the thieves were dragging their crosses right along beside him.
• They saw the crowds that had gathered to watch Jesus die.
• They heard the women who gathered and wept for Him.
• As Jesus was placed on His cross they may have noted that he didn’t curse as they had.
They heard those who passed by hurling insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"