Summary: Making a decision on serving the Lord or Satan.
Where Will You Spend Eternity?
“And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
The crucifixion of Jesus is an emotionally charged scene. Leading up to this point we find that Jesus has been through a mock trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin. Jesus has appeared before the roman political leader Pontius Pilate, who could find no fault in Christ. Even Pilate’s wife has made an appearance begging for her husband to let Jesus free, telling him that he should have nothing to do with Jesus penalty. Pilate uses a wash basin to wash his hands of this whole mockery and disavows responsibility for Jesus’ death, but hands Him over to die. Jesus is lead through the streets of Jerusalem amid the jeers and chants of an ungodly people. After arriving at the Place of the Skull Jesus is placed upon and nailed to the cross, which is then lifted up with its divine/human cargo to placed in a hole that has been specially made for the cross. We learn from Scripture that Jesus was hung on the cross with two thieves, one on either side of Hum. One of them jeers with the crowd, while the other thinks about where he will spend eternity. Today are you jeering Jesus or are you thinking about where you will spend eternity?
In these scriptures we see a contrast between those that refuse to accept Christ and those that come to their senses and realize that there is only One who can help us in our darkest hour and provide us with an eternal life with the Father.
1. The unrepentant thief (v. 39)
a. He was unresponsive to Christ
i. Someone was remarked that sin is not what keeps us from God; it is really our inability to respond to the love that God offers.
b. He had hardened his heart out of habit
c. He refused to believe Jesus in spite of the signs
i. There was no repentance in his attitude
ii. There was no love in his attitude
iii. He refused to listen, even to the testimony of the other thief hanging with him
iv. There was no faith even when he heard Jesus tell the other thief that “today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
d. Because he did not believe in Jesus he gave up his guarantee of an eternal life with the Father.
i. Have you lost your responsiveness to the leading of Jesus today?
ii. Have you refused to see the signs of Jesus that are happening in your life?
iii. Have you refused to listen to the Word of God, instead going on your own belief and desires?
iv. Have you hardened your heart out of habit?
v. Where will you spend eternity?
2. The Repentant Thief (v. 42)
a. He recognized that he was a sinner (v. 41)
i. He was in the habit of sinning.
ii. He was separated from God.
iii. He was lost in the world.
b. He recognized his need to respond to Jesus
i. He recognized who it was hanging next to him on the cross.
1. He confessed his sin to Jesus even on the cross.
a. He is a prime example that salvation is not by our own works, but by belief and confession.
i. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:10
b. He is a prime example that salvation is by faith.
c. He accepted his opportunity to repent.
d. He received Christ’s guarantee of paradise.
3. Jesus the Savior
a. Willing to reach out even in His own agony so that none may be lost.
i. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4
b. Willing to love even in His agony.
i. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
ii. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” 1 John 4:11
c. Willing to save even in His agony.
i. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10