Summary: This sermon was preached at Easter and it looks at the fate of Jesus and the two men who were crucified with him.
Three Men Were On Their Way To Hell
Their mothers had told them time and time again, "Child if you don’t change, you’re heading for a world of trouble. There is no such thing as easy money." No doubt when the two guys got together they laughed and made fun of the narrow views of their parents. Why should they have to work an 8 to 5 when they could get money the old fashioned easy way. They simply beat up somebody and took it. They were too good to get caught.
One of the most painful experiences a loving parent endures is watching their children make mistake after mistake heading in the wrong direction. When your child is suspended from school it hurts. When your child is sent to the juvenile detention center, it hurts. When your child is sent off to prison it hurts. When your child’s marriage falls apart it hurts. When your child is hooked on drugs it hurts. The greatest risk of being a parent is the unknown pain a child will bring into your life.
But the flip side of it is that a child can bring a tremendous amount of joy and celebration as well. It feels good when a teacher tells you what a blessing it is to have your child in the classroom. It feels good when your child is making some good decisions for his or her life. It feels good when your child lands that first good full time job. It feels good to be able to go to sleep at night knowing that all is well with your child, whether they are 8, 38, 48, 58 or even 68 years old. Your child is always your child.
God knows what its like to be in a good relationship with His children and He knows what its like to have children who are wild and disobedient. As we look around us today, and we see a host of beautiful faces dressed in beautiful clothing, some of us are smart and honest enough to admit, we are not nearly as beautiful on the inside as we are on the outside. We are here at church, not because of our perfection or even our desire to be perfect. We are here at church because we recognize, we have failed God, we have failed each other, and we have even failed ourselves in the standards set before us.
Easter is not about the beauty and perfection of the saints, but rather about the love and the mercy of God. God tells us that every one of us has made the decision to reject His plan for our lives in order to do our own thing. Sometimes we know the right thing to do, but that often is not enough to make us do it. We like to think of doing our own thing as an expression of our freedom. True freedom is not doing whatever you want to do. True freedom is knowing how to make the most of the situation with the rules in place.
For instance, if you’re in one of those big airplanes, you are free to do all kinds of things as long as you follow the rules. Now you can say, this airplane is to confining, I want to be free. Let me go out and sit on the wing and express myself. Well you’re going to find out that when you open that door to get out to go on the wing, the air pressure will suck you out of the plane and grant you freedom to fly through the air until you hit the ground. There is a price to pay for the wrong kind of freedom.
There is a price to pay spiritually when we choose the wrong kind of freedom. People like to talk about how God loves everybody. That’s true, God does love everybody. You can be the politest, kind hearted, and most loving person known to anybody, and God loves you. You can be strung out on drugs and robbing people left and right to pay for your habit, and God loves you. You can be sitting on death row for committing some of the more horrendous crimes imaginable, and God loves you.
But the fact that God loves us not enough. The message of Easter can be summed up in about 4 verses. It is John 3:16-19 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.