The Sixth Last Word From The Cross
The Sixth Last Word From The Cross:
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Read Luke 23:23-43
To set the background we have just read when Christ is convicted by the crowd and even though Pilate believes him to be innocent decides to please the crowd by having Christ crucified. We see Christ go to the cross and the focus for us tonight is the second saying of Christ from the cross in verse 43 of this passage. Someone please read to me.
What was happening when Christ spoke these words? He was hanging on the cross between two thieves.
What was the reason that Christ spoke these words? It was in response to the second criminal who expressed his faith in Christ before he died.
When we look at the two responses of the criminals on the cross what do we see?
Can we wait until just before we die to express a faith in Christ? The answer is “yes”. But this poses another question. When will you die?
As we said last week the one true certainty in our Earthly life is that one day we will leave this Earth. And in our verses today Christ gives us the answer to the question: Where will I go when I die?
The first words we see in this verse are “I tell you the truth”. This is a favourite saying of Jesus, “I tell you the truth” When Jesus uses these words they always hold a lot of weight.
Matthew 19:23 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.- Riches will not get you into the kingdom of Heaven
John 3:3 – In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Unless you are born again you cannot see the Kingdom of God
John 8:34 – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.- Sin captures us and makes us a slave to it so beware
We need to listen when these words are spoken – Christ is not only telling the thief something here but also us. Jesus truth is equal to a promise or a guarantee. If he uses these words it is a promise to us which is important for this verse.
What caused Jesus to speak these words of assurance to the thief? He was responding to the thief’s statements as he too hung on a cross to die.
When we take a look at what the thief said on the cross we can see the pattern for our salvation. And this is the second word from the cross that Christ gave us. Salvation
The thief recognises 4 things:
Verse 40 – Don’t you fear God? Since you are under the same sentence – Firstly he recognising God for who he is, a God to be feared not with a scary fear but with an awesome fear. A fear that says, God is the great, all powerful creator of the entire universe and worthy of our respect. Believers have no need to be afraid of God because we have His promise that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39) but for the unbeliever they are told to fear God as without belief in Christ there is no salvation form sin (Luke 12:5)
Verse 41 – We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. ” Next he recognises his own sinfulness – he recognises that he is worthy of punishment, that his deeds deserve punishment. And this is true of all of us if we are honest, we have all done things that God calls sin and therefore cannot enter into Heaven because God is a just God, He is the perfect judge. (2 Thess 1:6)
Verse 41 – But this man has done nothing wrong. He recognises that Christ is sinless, that without appealing to the only one who can stand before God as a sinless being he is without hope. This is the same for us; if we think that we can get into heaven by our good deeds we are mistaken. This man hung on a cross, guilty of all he was accused of doing. He had not before this trusted in Jesus, he had not before this gone to church, he had not before this been baptised. But at this moment in his life as death stares him in the face he recognises that Christ is the Son of God and believes that he is the only one that can save him.
Verse 42 – Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. – Then he recognises that Christ is the only way that he can ever see the kingdom of God. His simple plea to Christ is to remember Him, to have grace and mercy on him. (John 14:6)
And Christ responds with “I tell you the truth, today, you will be with me in Paradise”. I make you this promise.
The interesting thing is that Christ does not say “one day you will be with me in paradise, or “when I come back you will be with be in paradise” He says “today” I believe Christ is telling us here that the moment we leave this Earth we go straight into the presence of the Lord.
Then Christs promise is that we will be with Him? The Greek phrase here means “be with me side by side, together”
Christ’s response was one of love, he didn’t say to the thief that he deserved his lot because of his sin, he didn’t say oops too late for you, but instead he forgives him and promises him a place in his kingdom and he offers you the same thing today.
The heart of the thief had changed from a sinful man to one recognising the truth of Christ as his Lord and Saviour. The question I have for you tonight is “has this change occurred in your life.” “Have you gone from looking at Christ as a man who died on a cross to instead seeing Him as the Lord of your life?”
There is amazing hope from these verses; firstly it’s never too late to receive Christ. Secondly even the worst of sinners can be saved, salvation is simple repent and believe.
Christ has offered you a place in Paradise, the question is “Do you want it?” Or is his gift not enough for you?