Andy Hollifield 3-30-17
Luke 23:32, 39-43 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. (39) And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. (40) But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? (41) And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. (42) And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (43) And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
And we indeed justly. A bold, yet honest statement from a dying man. I could have waited a couple more weeks on this but I always like to write what God puts on my mind. I have thought about this all day on Wednesday. Which side are you on? I don’t reckon the bible says which side the repentant thief was hanging on so evidently it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that he was on the right side when he drew his last breath. He got his heart right while he was there on the cross. If you notice, he confessed him as Lord after confessing that he was there receiving the due reward of his deeds. He then asked Jesus to just remember him when he came to his kingdom. Repentance, confession, acceptance of him as Lord. Hasn’t changed any since Jesus died on the cross. I have heard people preach that water baptism is essential to salvation. The thief on the cross went to Jesus’s kingdom without it. His soul was saved there on the cross, not his flesh. Do you realize that this man was the last one to make it to paradise looking toward the sacrifice Jesus was making? Here is just a thought for you; the bible says that the soldiers broke the legs of the thieves and when they came to Jesus he was already dead so they didn’t break his legs. Did you catch that? He died only minutes before the thief died. That means that when Jesus arrived in the heart of the earth (paradise), that he had to wait for that thief to arrive before he could lead forth captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8).
Can you imagine that party in Paradise? Here Jesus walks in; the promised lamb, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace. Just exactly like Isaiah had said with his visage so marred, more than any other man (52:13). Here he was. As he stood there in his resurrection glory and I believe with the still obvious wounds he had suffered for mankind. Thousands of years of believers that had died anxiously awaiting his arrival. Adam, Abraham, David, Simeon, Anna, and as thou probably bow in adoration, in walks this stranger. Not beaten nearly as bad but still with the marks of crucifiction in his body. Just that fast and it was complete. At some point, Jesus led them forth still holding the keys of death and of hell in his hands. At some point he ascends to the Father and places the blood on the mercy seat between the horns of the altar and the long accumulating debt of mankind’s sin is now paid in full. We know that he had came forth after three days in the heart of the earth and many of the saints that had died were seen with him in resurrection glory. We also know that Mary had seen him in the garden and at that time he had not yet ascended and he told her not to touch him. But later when the disciples seen him, he had ascended because he then told them to touch him. We know all of that but let your mind wander to the other side. Can you imagine what must have went on for those three days and nights? Jesus preaching salvation to the saints of years gone by and right there maybe front and center is a thief. A repentant malefactor. Maybe he understood all that he had been taught in his life as he seen it unfold right in front of his eyes. Or maybe, he hadn’t never been taught. Maybe, what he was seeing was all that he knew. Maybe all he knew was that this man standing there preaching was the one he had watched die only moments before he did. Maybe he didn’t understand any of it but I can assure you that he was thankful. And now, now instead of being that outcast from society that no one wanted their kids around, he was being welcomed by everyone that saw him. Can you imagine that? What do you think was going through his mind? Maybe he was thinking how blessed he was to have been dying that day because had he not been, he would have never met Jesus.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the great gulf, the other thief awakes to a far different reality. Gone are his partner in crime and the heretic from the middle cross that kept claiming to be the Son Of God but wouldn’t save himself. And the screams and the pain. So deafening and the pain so intense, so, so, so painful! and the darkness. Is there not a light? And why is everybody… ouch, biting him and gnashing at him with thier teeth. Stop! He screams in agony, I haven’t done anything to you! But the abuse just goes on and on and he is doing it to, maybe out of pain and confusion and maybe self defense. And the smell, the rotting burning flesh and the worms eating him from the inside out! Maybe if he closes his eyes he can just die! Wait! He was on a cross and had been crucified! Could it be? Yes! He is already dead, and that man, that lunatic man that he railed on so bad in his anguish! Maybe he really was who he said he was! Maybe if he could just stop falling and find a light he could get his wits about him, and if everybody would please just for a minute quit biting him maybe he could figure it out! Maybe that man in the middle was right. Maybe he should have listened to his partner. Maybe he can call out now, but no one could hear him over the screams; those terrible blood curdling screams! Just get these worms off, and stop biting me! Somebody help and who is that laughing at me? This is not funny, and where is that man? Maybe I should have listened to what he was saying! Somebody make it stop, just make it all stop!
Two different views of eternity. One guilty thief forgiven and entered into the bosom of Abraham comforted and then into the joys of the Lord never to again know any pain or sadness with this new family he is with surrounded by such indescribable beauty! The other thief that could have been forgiven but now in his seperation from God forever, never can be. Destined to suffer eternal misery that only intensifies with each burning breath going into his lungs.
Isaiah 53:1 “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? (2) For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. (3) He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (4) Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (8) He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. (9) And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deciet found in his mouth. (10) Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (11) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his own soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
The preceding paragraph is the biblical account of the work of the man on the middle cross. With all of this in mind and the sacrifice that man made for you and your sins, I ask you again; which side are you on? Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!