Summary: A sermon for Good Friday.
“The Third Thief”
At Pilate’s residence, the soldiers dressed Jesus in Royal clothes.
They draped a scarlet robe over Him and bludgeoned Him on the head with a stick.
They beat Jesus’ head with their fists, fracturing His nasal bones.
They took turns spitting on His bloodied and blindfolded face.
When the soldiers beat Him with a whip, blood ran down Jesus’ back like a waterfall.
They beat Him until His veins were laid bare and the very muscles and tendons and bowels of His body were open to exposure.
They marched Him through the streets and made Him climb the Via Dolorosa carrying a 150 pound beam on which His wrists would later be nailed.
As He walked He would fall, causing more injuries.
And when they stripped Him naked and nailed Him to the Cross; they took six-inch spikes and lacerated the nerves in His hands and feet.
Then they lifted Him up on that Cross, above the stinking garbage heap called Golgotha.
And as His body, already in shock, hung from the Cross, He struggled for air as He spoke by straightening His knees and raising Himself on His nailed feet.
We call this Good Friday.
And many have asked, with good reason, “What’s so good about it?”
The answer gives us a window into why the darkest day of Jesus’ story reveals the brightest day of history!!!
When Jesus was crucified, He wasn’t alone.
On either side of Him were two bandits who had been sentenced to death for their crimes.
Theologian Karl Barth said, “Three criminals were crucified that day: one good and two bad—one of whom became good.
One confessed His sins and became Jesus’ first follower in heaven: ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’”
You might even say that here was the first Christian community: three people, one good and two bad, one of whom became good.
Jesus was seen as one of those “bad people” by the establishment of His day.
And while Jesus’ gruesome sentence was being carried out, Pilate managed to write out the truth about Jesus on a notice written above Him which read, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Perhaps unknowingly, Pilate answered his own question to Jesus: “What is truth?,” when he wrote out what would later become Christianity’s first sermon and first creed!!!
And the sign declaring the truth about Jesus inflamed the crowds.
Christianity’s first sermon got harsh reviews.
The Jewish authorities complained about its message, chastising Pilate for writing it.
But Pilate’s retort was: “What I have written, I have written.”
Pilate was right, “Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.”
But the Romans were right too.
There were three criminals on Golgotha that day.
And in many ways, Jesus was as much a thief as those robbers on His right and left.
The first two thieves stole money and material things from people’s houses.
Jesus was a different kind of thief, and He pulled off and is still pulling off the greatest heist in history!!!