I had started this series before I left for Russia with Jesus first last words “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” Jesus speaks first to his Father let’s see who he talks with next
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” 40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise
Many people were in Jerusalem as it was the Passover most Jews felt the desire to be in Jerusalem celebrating the Passover. Jesus had talked about entering the Kingdom of God with a rich young ruler earlier, what if that same man was there at the cross and heard this conversation Jesus had with this thief, this terrorist? Let me remind you of the conversation He had with this young man
Mark 10:17-23 “As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” 21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!”
What if he was there on this day what would his reaction be?
RICH YOUNG RULER Jamon
Can you imagine the frustration the rich young ruler might have been feeling had he heard those words…he had struggled trying to be the best doing the best trying to be good enough to gain entrance into the Kingdom of God and here is this thief who has wasted his life squandered it and he gets it at the last moments of his life.
Let’s look at this phrase Jesus used
43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise
Since the beginning of time God has desired to have men and women with Him always..when he created mankind he used to meet with them in the cool of the evening…you see God has always longed for relationship with us…
We have all been created to have relationship with Him and each other…and that means everyone, no matter how we may judge them it means everyone
The first words Jesus spoke from the cross were directed at the father and here we see the second words are not to the disciples but instead to a terrorist on the cross
You might be asking why do you call him terrorist? The word-translated thief means “an evil working person, a violent person, one working for destruction and evil”
What is the make-up of a terrorist? It is someone who murders innocent people who lives a life that is an uprising against a nation of different ideals and many today believe that by doing so they are on the fast tract to paradise
That pretty much describes the two guys on the cross next to Jesus
Jesus was having this discourse with the thief because he was right there.
Jesus was constantly showing us that His reach was meant to be greater than what we are normally comfortable with, the Samaritan woman, blind beggar, the prostitute and now a terrorist…Jesus came to reach the whole world and gave us the commandment to do the same…in this case in particular those who should have been closest to him for the most part were not near him
Jesus was humiliated, naked, tortured, and unrecognizable, Jesus was alone but he still had the heart for the world so even in this state, he talked with those closest to him, in proximity, the terrorist.
The night before, each of the disciples had said “we will stand by you,” we will not leave you” but that was in the quiet stillness of a comfortable place…
Some times we are great about professing Jesus in our church, around other Christians but what about in the world, our neighborhoods, our communities, our schools, our businesses,
Surrounding Jesus is this howling mob of Romans, scoffers, mockers no one left for Jesus even in his pain, ridicule and rejection wanted one more to make it to heaven
Remember this verse Matthew 18:20
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Church breaks out where two or more are gathered in Jesus name…church broke out that moment at the cross between Jesus and the terrorist…it can break out with anyone anywhere when you are being Jesus to the world
We all have sinned and fallen short of the Lord’s glory. Every one of us has blown it, it could have been us on the cross next to Jesus when Jesus said
43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me…
When Jesus said this he meant it for you and me as well. Here is what I mean
When we are in our bad way, when we are in our dark night, when we feel we are in immeasurable pain…we need to remember Jesus is with us…
When you are in pain and agony over a potential foreclosure…Jesus is with you
When you are in pain and agony over a relationship struggle…Jesus is with you
When you are in pain and agony because your kids are in their terrible twos and you are beyond what any human can handle…Jesus is with you!
When your teenager hit puberty their voice changes, their hormones kick into high gear they won’t talk to you but they want you to finance their life…Jesus is with you
Kids when your parent or parents hit a mid-life crisis and they leave you feeling abandoned and alone pursuing their own life and leaving you behind…Jesus is with you
Seniors when you are made to wonder do your kids or grandchildren even care…Jesus is with you
If Jesus could be there saying he would be with the terrorist how much more will he be willing to be with you?
You are never alone, when we repent of our sin when we feel His presence again…His arms are always opened wide to us…he never stops loving us even when we abandon Him.
God is always fighting for us to know he longs to be with us.
Think about it again if Jesus could speak to, forgive, and love on a Terrorist who had squandered and wasted his life but recognized at the very end that he was in need of a savior how much more will he be with you each step of your way…
Jesus loved both the rich young ruler and the terrorists hanging next to him. He loved them all equally
- Rich Young Ruler left because he felt justified in his good works and expected to be accepted because of all of them
- One thief rejected Jesus because he allowed his selfishness to overwhelm him
- The other thief accepted him because he knew he had no place to go and could sense in Jesus a purity and love even though he was so badly beaten that he was unrecognizable
The enemy is always looking for ways to bring division between us and the Lord…he will use whatever tools are at his disposal
You hear me quote these scriptures a lot
Long ago the Lord said,
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
“…I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We battle worry, fear, troubles at home, troubles at work, battles with the government, battles on facebook, concerns about our future, our finances, our jobs, our kids.
If in his pain, in his tortured and horrific condition he can say to one who just repented I am with you and you will be with me…how can we ever think the Lord would abandon us.
I know our own religious, or self serving attitudes can demand that we have to be good enough to earn God’s care, love and forgiveness but that would make you like the rich young ruler when Jesus loves you and all you have to do is forgive yourself, receive his grace and mercy and you have his heart and his presence.
Or maybe you are angry at what others get away with or you can justify your sin because of all the pain others have inflicted on you…Jesus went to the cross for everyone’s sin and forgiveness is available for everyone including you if you will but receive it.
Maybe today is the first time you heard about the genuine love of the Lord where he is with you always or maybe you’ve heard it one hundred times and today it just makes sense…I would invite you to come to the altar and invite the Lord to take over your life and show you the way to paradise….we are promised his kingdom here on earth and the one to come…here on earth it is living in the love joy, peace righteousness and all the things that really are him
There may be other ways you feel distant from the Lord, you don’t need to be, he is right here right now and will be with you always! It is not about feelings but instead about knowing