Lent mid-week 3
20 March 2019
A promising word – Luke 23:43, “Today you will be with me in paradise”
2nd Word - "The word of Promise"
“Today Shalt Thou Be with Me in Paradise”
Each of us is terminal. – Each of us here in this room shares two common realities - First, we're all sinners. Not a single person here can claim perfection. Every man, every woman, every boy and every girl - we're all sinners.
The second reality common to us all, is that death is a reality, for each must die. "The wages of sin is death," the Bible tells us. Each of us will face our end. When we close our eyes to death. Then we will meet our Maker.
Then what? We will address that issue tonight. The second word of Jesus from the cross is the word of Promise- "Today you will be with me in paradise!"
1. Notice first the penitent thief.
A. His rebuke of the other thief. And his request of Christ. Reveals a change in heart. First, he cursed the Savior. - He was exactly like the other thief. Cursing Jesus. Cursing the Romans. Cursing life. Then he comes to his senses. And he realizes this reality known to man. He is going to die. He will meet his Maker. Then what?
B. This thief. In calling out to Jesus. Recognizes his own guilt. He comes to the realization that he is a sinner. Like the wayward prodigal son. He comes to his senses. He realizes his own mortality. In calling out to Jesus. He realizes that his sins condemn him!
C. In calling upon Jesus. He expresses a cry of faith. “Lord, remember me!” He knows he is a sinner and he knows in death he will depart this world and meet him Maker. All he can request is that Jesus remember him. "Lord, remember me when you enter into Your kingdom!"
2. Notice Christ's reaction.
A. First, Jesus expressed help. He will remember this repentant thief - But the Savior's help is beyond the thief's request. Jesus offer is beyond our comprehension. Jesus’ offer is beyond what we could ever ask or think. He gives us not what we desire. He gives us what we really need.
B. Jesus' reaction reveals the nature of His work. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. He went to the bloody cross to offer us Himself as a sacrifice for sin. In Jesus Christ, all sin is forgiven - period! In speaking to this thief. Jesus shows him the reward of all who call upon the name of the Lord - they shall be saved!
C. Christ's reaction shows us the destiny of every believer. We shall be with Christ eternally! Mark the Savior's words. “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” Death defined by the Scriptures is the separation of the soul from the body. “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7 Death to the Christian is our entrance into glory.
3. Notice also a word of caution.
A. Many have used this verse from the Lord's Passion to excuse procrastination. “I have plenty of time,” they reason – “after all; the thief was given a final chance on his deathbed.” This is true, yet who among us can predict the timing their own demise? What about sudden death? We dare not use the Lord's compassion as an excuse to ignore His invitation. There might not be a next time this time.
B. Notice also both those two men come to their deathbeds. One repented - yet one did not repent. There can be for some a point of no return when they turn their back forever on the Lord. Today is the day of salvation. Now is the acceptable hour.
C. The third word of caution must remind us that while the Lord's grace is shown in Christ receiving this repentant thief - think how much was missed - consider the wasted opportunities - the misspent years that could not be reclaimed.
Every day is a gift. Every day is an opportunity to do good, to make a difference, to dream big and to act. In Jesus Christ, your destiny is secure. Jesus assures us with His word of promise– “Today you will be with me in paradise!” Make good use of the present as you anticipate eternity.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts "The Crucifixion" © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.