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Moments With The Master Series

Sermon #7

 

Luke 23:32-43

A THRILLING MOMENT

 

Intro: Currently, the hottest film in theaters is a movie called “The Passion Of The Christ, produced and directed by Mel Gibson. Some of you may have been to see this film. Others will not go to see it because you don’t go to the theater. I am not here to debate the issue of attending the movies this morning. I haven’t seen the film and I haven’t decided yet whether I will or not. Therefore, it would be wrong of me to speak either for or against it.

I bring it up this morning for this reason: those who have seen it tell us that it is the most graphic, and realistic depiction of the death of Jesus ever caught on film. They say the images are horrific and bloody. It is supposed to show all the pain that Jesus endured when He went to the cross to die for our sins. However, I am told that while the film deals with the pain Jesus endured before and during the crucifixion, it does not deal with the purpose of His death.

Friends, the death of Jesus on that cross was a painful event! I am sure it was more brutal and horrible than Mr. Gibson’s film could ever hope to capture. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus suffered greatly when He died, Isa. 52:14; Isa. 53:1-6. But, the Bible also makes it clear that the death of Jesus wasn’t about the pain! The death of Jesus at Calvary was for a purpose. Notice carefully what Isa. 53:1-6 says. It tells us in great detail that Jesus was to suffer, but it makes it plain over and over that it was all “for you! The cross was not about the pain, it was about the payment, John 10:15; Mark 10:45!

Even as Jesus hung on the cross that day, He gave us a living illustration of what His death was all about. For that day, in the midst of His Own pain and agony, He reached out in love and compassion to save a lost sinner. That, my friends, is the reason He was born, lived, died and rose again. He did it all so that lost sinners like us might have the opportunity to be saved by His grace. I want to look at this precious Moment With The Master for a little while today. I want to preach on A Thrilling Moment. This passage gives us three different viewpoints on the events that occurred there that day. Let’s take the time to examine each of them for a few minutes and we consider this thrilling moment.

 

 

I. v. 39 THIS MOMENT FROM A SINNER’S VIEWPOINT

A. It Was A Tragic Moment We are told that this man is a malefactor. This word means “evil doer. He is a criminal and he has been caught, convicted and condemned for his crime. This verse tells us that he was “hanged. After his trial, he would have been beaten and then taken outside the city to the place of execution to be nailed to the cross. He is in agony and he is dying! It was a tragic moment. What makes it more tragic is that man is about to die like he has lived: without God! He has lived a wicked life, but he is headed to a lost eternity!

 

(Note: Any life lived without God is a tragic life. But, the let that life end and to die without God is a tragedy beyond words! Nothing but hell awaits those who die without God, Psa. 9:17; 2 Thes. 1:8-9.)

 

B. It Was A Telling Moment We are told that even through his own pain, this dying man cried out in mockery of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “railed means to speak evil of, or to blaspheme. He even questions the identity of Jesus when he uses the word “if. He doesn’t believe the testimony of Jesus. He doesn’t believe the sign hanging over the head of Jesus that proclaims Him to be the King of the Jews. He is dying and in that moment of anger, pain and torment, he lashes out at the very One Who could have made a difference in his eternity. By his words and actions, this man tells us where is heart is. It is still lost and blinded in the darkness of sin.

 

(Note: This man is a perfect picture of many in our world today. There are many who would never mock the name of Jesus out loud. But, they do it every day by denying Him. They say they believe in God, but they are “practical atheists. They live as though God was dead. Of course, there are those who treat the name Jesus as a byword. They use His name as other men would use a curse word. He is ridiculed, hated, ignored and vilified. Those who deny Him with their lips and with their lives are telling us all we need to know about them. Their reaction to Jesus and His Gospel prove that they are lost in sin, Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:1.)

 

(Note: Friend, that dying thief may have just made you see yourself. You need to know that if you are lost, you do not have to stay that way. Jesus died to set you free! Listen on!)

II. v. 40-42 THIS MOMENT FROM A SEEKER’S VIEWPOINT

A. v. 40-41a It Was A Moment Of Repentance We do not know a lot about this man. We know that he was also a thief. He was a wrongdoer and had been condemned to die for his crimes. But, there is a marked difference between this man and the other thief. At first, they had both mocked Jesus, Mark 15:32. But now, this man has had a change of mind and he rebukes the other thief who is mocking Jesus. This man had seen or heard something that day that touched his heart and that was used by the Spirit of God to open his eyes to Who Jesus really was. What did he see that made the difference?

1. Maybe it was the way Jesus was silent as they nailed Him to the cross – Isa. 53:7.

2. Maybe it was the way Jesus responded to the mockery of His enemies – Luke 23:34.

3. Maybe it was the sign over the cross of Jesus that proclaimed His title – Luke 23:38.

4. It could have been any number of things that spoke to his heart. But, whatever it was told him that Jesus was no ordinary man! Whatever it was told this dying man that Jesus was his Messiah and that Jesus was his only hope!

As he hangs there in the presence of Jesus, this man confesses himself to be a sinner. He declares his own guilt for all to hear! He says, “I am the man! I am guilty and I deserve everything I and receiving and am about to receive. I can hear in his words the sorrow of a wasted life. I can hear the sorrow over wrong deeds, wasted opportunities and shattered dreams. I can hear a man who is sorry for what he has done and for what He has become. He is a repentant sinner!

 

(Note: By the way, one of the first steps in being saved is the step of repentance! Before you can be saved, you must first become lost. This involves the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction, John 16:7-11; John 6:44. When sin is revealed, acknowledged and confessed, then Jesus can extend forgiveness and redemption, 1 John 1:9.

There has always been a tendency for sinners to pass the blame. Adam and Eve tried that tactic, Gen. 3:11-13. Everyone wants to pass the buck. They want to blame their parents for their upbringing. They want to blame the hard knocks of life. They want to blame their rowdy friends, etc. But, until a person gets honest about his sin and repents before God, he can never receive the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ!)

 

(Note: By the way, sin is still sin! Man has tried to redefine sin, but God has never changed His mind about what it is and what it can and will do in the life of the sinner. People no longer commit adultery, they have affairs! People are not drunkards, they have a social disease. People no longer steal and cheat, now they commit embezzlement! People don’t commit fornication, they sleep together. People don’t commit sodomy, they are just gay. Hogwash! Sin is as vile and repugnant to God as it has always been!

Man says sin is an accident, God says it is an abomination.

Man says it is a blunder, God says it is blindness.

Man says it is a chance, God says it is a choice.

Man says it is a disease, God says it is a defect.

Man says it is an error, God says it is enmity.

Man says it is a fascination, God says it is a fatality.

Man says it is great, God says it is gross.

Man says it is happiness, God says it is hateful.

Man says it is innocent, God says it is indecency.

Man says it is justified, God says it brings judgment.

Man says it is keen, God says it kills.

Man says it is liberating, God says it is a liability.

Man says it is a mistake, God says it is murderous.

Man says it is naughty, God says it is nauseating.

Man says it is an opportunity, God says it is oppression.

Man says it is passion, God says it is a pity.

Man says it is quirk, God says it is a quagmire.

Man says it is reward, God says it is repulsive.

Man says it is sickness, God says it is a sin.

Man says it is a trifle, God says it is a tragedy.

Man says it is unavoidable, God says it ungodliness.

Man says it is a virtue, God says it is a violation.

Man says it is a weakness, God says it is wickedness.

Man says it is exciting, God says it is excess.

Man says it is yearning, God says it is yielding.

Man says it is zesty, God says it is a zero!

Friend, until we come to the place where we can see our sins as God sees them, we will never be saved! The first step is salvation is repentance!)

 

B. v. 41b-42a It Was A Moment Of Recognition This man sees himself as he is, but he also sees Jesus as He is! He recognizes the fact that Jesus is no ordinary man. He understands that Jesus has committed no sins and that He is Who He claims to be. (Ill. Perhaps Jesus was the talk in the prison the night before. Perhaps the prisoners talked about this man Who had healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the multitudes and claimed to be able to forgive sins. From some source, this man becomes aware that Jesus is Who he needs for his salvation.)

 

(Note: Friend, have you reached that place yet? Have you come to the place where you see Jesus as the only hope you have? This man knew he was going to die. No one on this earth could save him from that fate. However, he believed that Jesus could save him from a far worse fate. He believed Jesus could save him from and eternity in Hell. He was right and Jesus can do the same thing for you! But, you must come to the place where you see Him as the only hope you have. You have to come to the place where you are trusting Jesus, and Jesus alone to save your soul, John 14:6; Acts 4:12. It is not Jesus plus anything. It is just Jesus and Jesus alone!)

 

C. v. 42 It Was A Moment Of Reliance This man was able to look beyond the present. With eyes of faith he saw Jesus dying, resurrecting and reigning someday. With a tiny bit of faith in his heart, he cries out to the Lord and he is heard and received by the Lord Jesus Christ. He knew Jesus was Who Jesus had claimed to be. This poor, dying man, yielded all to the Son of God and embraced Jesus as his Savior!

 

(Note: Friend, have you ever come to that place in your life? Have you ever trusted Jesus Christ and Him alone as your personal Savior? Are you saved today? You may have done many good things for many people; you may be a good person; you may be a church member and a good moral individual; but have you ever come to the place where you saw yourself as a lost sinner and Jesus Christ as your only hope, Eph. 2:8-9; John 3:16? Have you ever called on His name by faith and trusted him to save you soul? If you haven’t, I would like to invite you to do just that today! Don’t wait another moment to come to Jesus!)

 

 

 

III. v. 43 THIS MOMENT FROM THE SAVIOR’S VIEWPOINT

A. It Was A Moment Of Opportunity As Jesus hung there in agony and shame, dying for the sins of humanity, He reached out in love and compassion to this poor, lost thief. Jesus saw this moment as the perfect opportunity to save a soul. Jesus saved this man just because he called on Him. He would have saved the other thief as well if he had but called out in faith, and He will save you if you will call on Him right now.

 

(Note: Do you believe God knows everything? Well, I want to tell you four things God does not know!

1. God does not know a sin that He does not hate!

2. God does not know a sinner that He does not love!

3. God does not know a better plan of salvation that faith in the finished work of Jesus at Calvary!

4. God does not know a better time for you to be saved than right now, 2 Cor. 6:2.)

 

B. It Was A Moment Of Optimism Jesus accepted the faith of that dying thief and told him that his faith had made all the difference. In fact, Jesus told this man that he did not have to wait for a future time to be with the Lord; he would be with the Lord that very day in paradise. The word “paradise comes from a Persian word which means a walled garden. To be invited into a king’s paradise was to be invited to join him in fellowship within his walled garden. Jesus tells this man that that very day; he would join Jesus in sweet fellowship in our Lord’s paradise! My friends, there is hope beyond the grave! The soul lives on in the presence of the Lord and enjoys sweet fellowship with Him in glory, 2 Cor. 5:8! What a hope and what a promise!

 

(Note: Friend, you may think you will go to the grave when you die, but in truth, your soul will live on forever in either heaven or hell, depending on what you did with Jesus. Because what you o wit Him will determine what He will do with you!)

 

C. It Was A Moment Of Omnipotence I think you would agree with me that the situation looked hopeless! Here were two dying men; one cries out to the other and receives the promise of salvation. Friend, even when things looked hopeless for Jesus, He was still just as much God as He had ever been! He had just as much power as He had ever possessed! He was just as able to save as always! When that poor, dying thief cried out in simple, childlike faith. Jesus responded by saving his soul! That is just what He did for me when I called on Him and that is just what He will do for you if you too will call on Jesus to be saved.

It doesn’t matter how far into sin you have traveled. It doesn’t matter what kind of wickedness you have gotten into. If you will come to Jesus and call on His name for forgiveness, He will receive you and He will save you, Rom. 10:13. He will not turn you away, John 6:37! What He did for that thief, what He did for me and what He has done for others, He will do for you if you will come to Him.

 

Conc: Three men died that day on a hill called Calvary. One man died in his sins, he went to Hell because He rejected Jesus Christ. One man died to sin. He turned to Jesus by faith and was saved. The third Man, Jesus, died for sin. He gave His life on that cross so that you might have your sins forgiven, miss Hell and go to Heaven. He died for your sins so that you would not have to die in your sins! Now today, if you have never been saved, here is your opportunity! If you will come to Jesus by faith, believing that He died for you and rose again, you can be saved. If you are already saved and have allowed the things of the world, or an old bitter spirit to come between you and the Lord Who loves you, you need to come and experience His forgiveness. If you are saved and are walking in close fellowship with Him, maybe you just want to come and thank Him for what He did for you! Is there a need? There is help and hope in the Lord Jesus. Come to Him by faith and you will find that He is all you need!

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