Summary: Matthew shows 2 thieves taunting Christ. Luke records 1 thief taunting and the 2nd thief repenting. Surveying the words of Christ on the cross and how they may have impacted the repentant thief.
Matt 27:35-44 (key = v. 44) Even the robbers [plural, both robbers] who were crucified with Him reviled Him …
I. QUESTION – RECONCILING THE TWO ACCOUNTS
B. At First, Both Mocked, Then Afterward One Repented
1. If this is the case, what changed the heart of the one thief?
a. “thieves” – not just simple shoplifters or pickpockets
b. brutal & violent in their thievery – story of Good Samaritan
c. their thievery financed their zeal against Roman occupation
d. Romans were quick to put them to death
e. when Pilate put Barabbas before crowd – thought crowd would side for Jesus against Barabbas
f. underestimated anti-Rome sentiment – they chose Barabbas
g. thieves on the cross, likely hardened thugs with Barabbas
2. What did the one thief experience or see or hear?
II. SEVEN “LAST WORDS” [PHRASES] OF JESUS FROM THE CROSS
A. Among The 7, We Can Rule Out 4 Of The Phrases That We’re “Non-Impact” Phrases That Were At Time or After Time Of Thief’s Repentance
1. Luke 23:43 "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
*** spoken at time (not prior to) repentance of thief
*** spoken at the 9th hour (12 noon) just before death
3. Jn 19:30 "It is finished" *** spoken just before his death
4. Luke 23:46 "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"
B. That Leaves Three (3) Phrases That Thief Heard Prior To His Repentance
III. THREE (3) IMPACT STATEMENTS OF JESUS
A. Luke 23:34 "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
1. At the cross – a mob mentality – easy for thief to get swept up into it
a. everyone hurling insults – priests soldiers, crowd
b. two thieves – joined in as well
2. Notice Jesus’ reaction – “Father, forgive them…”
a. forgive the soldiers, the priests, all who crucified, mocked
b. even forgive the two thieves
3. This is hugely counterintuitive – and the thief knew it
a. any normal person would react with anger – yet not Christ
b. at the height of suffering is height of divine love – forgiveness
4. The one thief heard this – caught his attention
B. John 19:28 "I thirst"
1. This = Jesus’ only human expression of His physical suffering.
a. soldier’s hygene sponge & sour wine – nasty!
b. miracle of cross = Jesus didn’t wipe everyone out – 10K angels
2. Other thief – “I thirst too” (not just physical thirst, but something more)
a. with the “father forgive them…” a thirst for forgiveness began
b. a thirst for innocence
3. I don’t think this was the first time this thief had met up with Jesus
a. up to a few weeks before, he had been roaming about free
b. practicing his diabolical business of highway robbery.
c. followed travelers – people with $$ - Passover pilgrims
d. led him to the synagogues, temple – heard Jesus
e. thief had seen the miracles wrought by Jesus and he heard those wonderful speeches made to the multitude
f. like many a sinner of that day, while his mind was convinced his heart was not moved.
4. Now on the cross – next to this very miracle worker & teacher
a. front row seat – 3 hours - to see how He is when he is suffering
b. Jesus not cursing, but forgiving – this guy’s the real deal
5. Christian – people are watching – to see if you’re the real deal
a. talk all you want, witness all you want
b. but it’s when you’re suffering, kicked down – that’s when your witness can be the most potent
c. it’s how you are in the worst of times that will move their hearts
d. don’t wait till “life is better” before you “witness” when you got the time, the money, the retirement
6. When Jesus said, “I thirst”
a. I can almost hear the thief whispering “I thirst too…”
b. I thirst for what you have Jesus – you’re different!
C. John 19:26-27 "Jesus said to his mother: "Woman, this is your son". Then he said to the disciple: "This is your mother."
1. Thief hears Jesus’ dying concern for his mother – she be taken care of
a. this guy still has family?
b. by time you get crucified, no family - they’ve all disowned you
2. Soldiers dying on faraway battlefield – often a cries out “mama”
a. a cry out to the womb of innocence – the womb of love
b. a cry out to a time when there was security, no pain