Summary: Deals with the 3 Crosses at Calavary: One man died IN sin, one man died TO sin and one died FOR sin.


There are many ways one might meet one’s demise. It might be an accident, it might be disease, it might be old age, or it might even be through intent, ours or someone else’s. Though there are many means by which one might experience death, there are only two possible conditions in which one might meet the hour of death. We see each of those two conditions in the text for today. But before we look at the text more closely, let me share the account of three young men. They had been given opportunity to do well. They came from a good home. They were loved by their parents. They were brothers, biologically, but two of the young men were of a different spirit. When they grew into their teens, they became involved in fights, parties, immorality and crime. The third, the elder brother, tried to urge them to do differently, but was met with scorn and ridicule. In a real sense, the elder brother, we’ll call him Bill, represents the attitude, activity and experience of the Lord Jesus Christ. He, too, came to offer us a different, better and Godly way of life. He, too, was met with scorn, rejection and ridicule. His plea fell on deaf ears. In time there was an attempted robbery and Bill’s brother, Ted, was shot and killed. He had not availed himself of Bill’s offer of help and died in his delinquency. A similar situation shows up in the text. There we see three men, three crosses and three deaths. In spite of all Jesus’ grace, intent, desire and ability to save we see one spurning Him unto death. Consider the first man.


A. The thief, though in a perilous position himself, joined the other mockers railing and abusing Jesus verbally. His heart was not softened by the certainty of his impending death. He died in sin.

B. Many maintain that same careless, stiff-necked attitude today.

1. They say, "Nobody tells me what to do! I make my own choices, call my own shots, determine my own direction!"

2. Their philosophy is, "If it feels good do it!"

3. Their god is their body, their money, their popularity, and their pleasure.

4. Their way of life is described by Paul in Ephesians 2:1-2 "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience."

5. Some think they are good enough in their own right and don’t need any help from Jesus. They trust their works, their sincerity or their religion.

C. To all who think and live that way, Jesus says,

1. John 8:24 "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins."

2. Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

D. It is appointed unto all once to die and then comes judgment. Hebrews 9:27. To die in sin is to face sure condemnation and eternal separation from God.

Bill’s brother Ted died in his criminal condition. Bill grieved over his slain brother. And his grief fueled the fire in his heart to still save the one remaining brother, Jimmy who was now in jail for his infractions. Bill visited Jimmy regularly and urged him all the more earnestly. Jimmy was released on bail. The death of his brother and the reality therapy of being jailed began to work on this boy’s mind and heart. The faithful persistence of his brother Bill etched itself into his thoughts. He resolved, with Bill’s help and guidance, to shape up his life. He would return to the church of his boyhood; he would reestablish ties with the family; he would sever relationships with his criminal cohorts, he would once again follow Christ. A similar change of heart is evident in the text. In this text we see 3 men, 3 crosses and 3 deaths. The first man died in sin; consider the second man.


A. Not long before this man, too, had hurled verbal venom at Jesus. But eternity dawned on him. Death’s cold hand touched him. Judgment came to mind. And he repented. He died to sin. Please note, however, that beyond that, beyond repentance, this man is not a model of Christian conversion. You cannot point to the thief on the cross as an argument for baptism not being necessary:

1. Christian baptism had not been commanded or practiced yet.

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