Summary: If Jesus were to ask you, why are you following him, how would you respond. This message looks at the two thieves who were crucified with Christ, and what they wanted from him.
What Do You Want From Jesus?
Have you ever tried to use deception to get what you wanted. You told someone something good about themselves, because you had plans for later.
It could have been a statement, “Mommy I Love You, You’re the best Mom in the whole wide world.” It’s one thing to say it out of the blue. It’s another thing to say it the week before Christmas, or the day before your birthday. Has anyone complimented you and you asked, “Okay, what is it that you really want now?”
Have you ever had the experience of thinking somebody really cared about you, only to discover later, they had been using you all along? How did you feel when you discovered they had played you?
What if Jesus was to turn and look at you in the face and ask the question, “what do you want from me?” Some of us might say, absolutely nothing. I just want you to leave me alone so that I can live my life as I please. Some of us might say, I want a promise from you, that when I get in trouble, I can call on you to come and get me out.
Some of us might say, I want to know that if I follow you, everything in my life will work out according to my plan. Some of us might even say, I want salvation and eternal life. But, may I suggest that none of these responses are what Jesus hopes to hear from us.
I want us to look at two guys today who had very different reasons for wanting to follow Jesus. I want you to meet Sam and Ray. They are not given names in the bible, so I choose to call them Sam and Ray. Sam and Ray had both learned the stories from the Bible, but to them they were just stories. They were not really the word of God.
The whole idea of being nice and kind to everybody just wasn’t their cup of tea. These were tough rough guys that you didn’t want to get caught on the streets alone with.
They wanted to live and enjoy life. They didn’t mind taking the easy way out. They discovered it was a lot easier to steal from others, than to work hard and to save money for something you wanted. They didn’t care who they stole from, as long as what they got was worth stealing.
The Greek word for thieves lets us know they were not your usual burglars, these guys used violence to take what they wanted. They were armed robbers. They’d beat you nearly to death to take what they wanted.
They were so good at what they did, they were convinced, that they would never get caught. They may have killed people to keep from being identified. But one day, they stole from the wrong person, and as smart as they were, they couldn’t keep the truth from coming out. They were identified as the thieves, taken before a judge and found guilty. The judge wanted to send a strong message to other thieves , so he ordered that Ray and Sam be crucified.
Before a crucifixion a person would be beaten with a whip with several endings tied with bits of nails and pieces of bone, so that the person’s flesh would be ripped open in order to increase the pain. This was sometimes enough to kill the person. In Jesus’s case, Pilate was thinking if the Jewish leaders looked at Jesus after the beating, they would have pity on him and let him go. But he was surprised to hear them yelling for Jesus to be crucified.
After the beating, the criminal carried his own cross, or a part of it, in which case another person was compelled to share the burden The place of execution was outside the city arriving there, the condemned was stripped of his clothes, which became the property of the soldiers. Victims would either be nailed to the cross, or tied up to the cross. The limbs of the victim were generally three or four feet from the earth so the cross was not that high off the ground..
If the nailing was the most painful mode in the first instance, the other was more so in the end, for the sufferer was left to die of sheer exhaustion. Fracture of the legs was resorted to by the Jews to hasten death.
It just so happened on the same day that Sam and Ray were being crucified. Another guy had been led out to be crucified. But unlike them, this guy had read the same bible stories and always believed them. This guy had never stolen anything in his entire life. This guy had never done anything wrong since the moment he came out of his mother’s womb.