Main Passage: Luke 23: 32-43
The Three Crosses
32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called
And they divided His garments and cast lots. 35 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.”
36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.”
38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew:[i]
THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ,[j] save Yourself and us.”
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord,[k] remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in
Central Interest Topic: The attitudes on the three crosses
Thesis: What caused Jesus to give that one promise to the thief on the right?
Title: The Three Crosses
Key Phrase: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in
*Read Main Passage
Illustration: The cross does not just belong to the Christians as I thought before. Everyone has access to it, Muslim, Buddhist, Scientologist, New Age believers and to all of us this room. Why?
When I was in secondary school I have this fascination with crosses, because almost all my friends had them. They have on their necks, their wrists, their ankles, earlobes, they even had it on their bodies as tattoos! I actually have a friend who gotten a tattoo and he was so excited about it, and I asked him, where about you put it?
Here! [Pointing at the butt]
Hence I conclude with whatever I have seen
And whatever I have heard
From them about the cross they wear, that we of this generation have iconize it.
What do I mean?
I mean we have actually put unto ourselves a beautiful idea over the cross, or for the matter of fact, the meaning of the cross. I mean who wouldn’t when
We have made it “fashion”
We have made the cross a “fashion”
The cross hence no longer holds the real meaning of what it is, but holds the factor of
Madonna wears it, I want to wear it
Beckham has it, I want to have it
Jay Chou carries it, I’ll carry it as well.
Today is Easter Day, [Talk about the whole salvation theory]
On Easter, we not only commemorate the death of Jesus but we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus three days later which is supposedly to day
and it is an opportunity for me here to be real with you.
To tell you the truth
To tear this beautiful idea about the cross
To enable you to understand what the cross really represents
Because the fact is that the idea of the cross isn’t beautiful, it isn’t cool and it is definitely not nice.
The cross is one that is filled with pain, sadness
Filled with bitterness,
Filled with questions if you are NAILED on to it,
Why it must happen to me?
Introduction: If you have asked those questions sometime in your life before, then you have come to the right place. I plead and hope that you will just give me some time to explain and bring you to a place of truth about all this so that, all this make sense, this day make sense. It is Easter Day; I am not going to talk to you about Easter bunnies or lots of Chocolates. But I want to preach to you on the subject “the three crosses” and the three men on that crosses.
You see, as we have read the passage of the bible, we understand not one was crucified on the
We have always talked about that one cross, but little did we realize about the two persons beside Him.
I do know why they can’t execute Jesus alone but I know it isn’t because Jesus is insecure; He can’t die alone so they send some people to accompany Him. It isn’t by chance or man’s thinking, but by God’s divine destiny for these two persons to be here, to set us, position us, the people in this room, today
For the truth
For the right path in life
For the better
If it is man’s thinking then it is definitely one with deceit as it might just be a calculated effort by the Religious Rulers to make Jesus look really bad so they say
“Let’s crucify Him with some known criminals in the community, because you are known by the company you keep, so if we put thieves beside Him, one on the left and one on the right, then people would imagine
Surely He is guilty of something
Surely He is a criminal or some sort
Surely He is as condemned as the thieves beside Him
So the plan went on ahead. The stage is set. Right at the
As they were on the cross, they not only need to deal with the thick dust or even the heat of the day, no. They have to deal with the stares of the curious crowd that majority of them are the ones who wants them to be on the cross dying that surely slow death.
Still think that the cross is in fashion? Cool?
They all died.
They died in the exact same death
Through the same instrument and
The method of death
It is the crucifixion process for the hardest criminal
But they died entirely differently.
Different? Why Ian? Why different?
I am glad you asked. It is because as we look at the three crosses and the three men on the crosses at the
The cross on the left of Jesus is the cross of REBELLION
The cross on the right of Jesus is the cross of REPENTANCE
And the cross in the centre, where Jesus is, the cross of REDEMPTION
1st The Cross of Rebellion
Explantion: As I read the passage again and again, what this person said kept coming back to me.
“If You are the Christ,[j] save Yourself and us.”
He is challenging the Maker,
He is challenging the author of our lives,
The works of all miracles and that made me wonder what cause him to doubt, what cause him to be in such anger, what cause him to be in such rage to blurt out curses on the person I truly love, Jesus Christ? Then I began to pray and the Holy Spirit put me in the position of rebellion so that I could understand. And I pray the Holy Spirit to put you in place of this person so that you can understand as well.
As I and you put ourselves on the cross of rebellion, I asked these questions
What was my childhood like?
How did I end up here as a criminal?
Doing something worthy to be put to death
Was I as a child somewhat rejected?
Maybe I grew up in the poorest environment for a child and my parents don’t care the heck about me, they are drunk or something, pushed me out of the house and say to me, “If you want something to eat, go steal for a living.
Or maybe I was born in a place of great wealth but I just got around the wrong company in school, went the wrong way in life and something caused me and turned me into the life of crime.
Let’s come back to the word now. And we understand that it says here that he was a thief. He stole and it was so severe that they would want to put him to that painful death on the cross. On this day that he hangs on the cross, he has become crude, rough; he was such a habitual criminal, so bitter, so filled with hatred.
That even in such intense punishment being nailed to the cross, he has the impetus, the motivation to curse, throw vulgarities and speak hatred against the man in the centre.
Here today we sing about His blood, we give overflowing praises to Jesus, but here’s a man a few feet away from the one true “touchable” Jesus
Who hears Him pray
Who Hears the words that He utters from His blood clad lips
Who saw Mary the mother of Jesus, whom the Holy Spirit came upon and gave human life to a spiritual God! She is there at the foot of the cross. This man on the left is unmoved, blinded by anger and hatred.
Instead he smears and sneers.
Cursed everything that is reverend
Scorn everything that was sacred
The magnitude of what he did cannot be forgotten
He scorn and said, “If you are the son of God, if you are the Christ”
As you look at this man on the left at this instance, you’ll see
A bitter man
A man who is willing to die like he had live
A man who knows he is going to hell
A man who knew in a few moments time he’ll be in eternity but yet he chose with his last words to swear and curse the Son of God who came down to earth to bring us about the knowledge of everlasting life and a beautiful heaven…we ought to be there and we are on our way but this man, this man.
I want you to understand that this man is in the attitude of rebellion. He has the greatest chance he ever had in life beside Jesus, the 1 John says He who has Jesus has life, but in the last few moments of his life, something in him became
You see, all of us here come from
Different family situations,
Different educational background,
Different lives totally
But there are things in life that happen to us that will make us hardened, make us bitter!
What are they? They are injustices and things that happened to us that can cause us in life to pick up a cross.
No I am not talking about the fashion crosses that we put on our necks, our butt or our ears. It isn’t about fashion, it is about our lives.
I said it before that the cross is about pain and suffering. When we pick up this cross,
We are in tears
We are broken
We are hardened
We have picked up something we don’t understand
You don’t know why this had to happen to you
You don’t know why you had to end up like you have ended up.
This was the situation for this man on the left side, he is bitter because of the cross he had picked up in life. And that caused Him to curse in anger as he stared at the Son of God, even hearing and seeing Him did not move his heart. He picked up a cross that hardened his heart.
In this room today there people that have picked up crosses, I don’t know exactly what cross it is, perhaps for some it is
A father or mother that you have loved that passed away abruptly,
Or why I didn’t have good parents?
Why my daddy has to leave me?
Why didn’t I have a mom to bring me up, when my other friends have?
Perhaps the cross you bear is a one time sex experience that you wished it wouldn’t happen but it did somehow, out of curiosity and caused you to fear for the consequences,
Why didn’t I have a normal home?
Why has this happened to me?
[Skit – Why is it so hard?]
That boy will bear a cross. He didn’t ask for it but it happened. And that cross is common all around us and it’ll take seed in us,
Cloud our thinking
And there hatred grows, accusations flows, questions thrown and you will throw at the person in the centre just like this man on the left did. Bitter and hardened.
Why this happen to me?
Why when I look at other person’s life it so filled with happiness and flowers all, and mine, when I look at it, it reminds me of hell?
Why Jesus? Why God? Tell me? [Pause]
But I want to tell you today that you can’t allow the cross that you have picked up in life to make you feel bitter and unforgiving, filled with hate. If you do, it will destroy your soul, your life.
Illustration: There is this story about a farmer that lives on a farm that loves his chickens very much. But one day eagles came and took away all the chickens unmercifully. And the farmer was exasperated, soon as he looked at his empty and hopeless coop where the chickens use to play and talk to each other and him. He grew angry, grew bitter and all this anger birthed into a plan. He made fake chickens and put it in the pen. He waited, then as one of the eagles swooped down, he grabbed one of them. He grab it, turn upside down and stuff a dynamite up his *toot* set it on fire and let if fly, hoping to see it explode into a million pieces to appease his anger. Little did he know that the eagle flew into his house and blew it into smithereens!
Anger, bitterness and hatred will bring you nowhere but hurt to yourself.
I don’t know who has walked out of your life?
I don’t know what has happened to you?
I don’t know who died in your life that you wish he or she would be alive
I don’t know what kind of abuse you have experience in your life
I don’t know what kind of cross you are carrying
I don’t know why you need alcohol
I don’t know why you need drugs
Things that happen in life that makes you want to escape from reality!
But the Lord send me to tell you that if you have been experiencing darkness all your life by carrying that cross, He would be that light to guide you out.
He will be your peace
He will be your strength
So that the gates of hell will not prevail against you!
C’mon you believe in this give God a big clap right now.
Before I go on to the next “Representation” you must understand that all the crosses here are the same but the attitude is different, the motivation is different.
For the one on the left is rebellion and now on the right is repentance.
When there is a left there is a right
When there is darkness there is light
When there are problems there are solutions
When there is wrong there is right
2nd The Cross of Repentance
There is something about this man on this cross of repentance.
Yes he is thief
Yes he is paying for his crime
Yes he is on the same cross as the person on the left
But there is something about him that brought him into destiny with our Lord Jesus Christ.
You know the last words ever recorded that Jesus heard, were the words of this special thief. Something in him understood and made him realized that right beside him is a person that did no wrong and yet suffer the same cross, that man is the centre man, Jesus Christ.
By now you must understand that the person on the left and right cross is similar in some areas:
1) They are guilty for the same crime
2) They are suffering the same cross
3) They went through the same bitterness.
Here is a place
Here is a cross where everybody can say this is me,
I have pain
I have bitterness
Hence I have the right to be bitter
I have the right not to forgive
I have the right to be angry with God and everyone else
Here is also a person who went through the exact same thing, but instead he is now turning his rebellion spirit into a spirit of repentance.
When he do that, when this thief place himself in a position of understanding. He begin to see that YES he went through a bad season, but guess what? Jesus is the reason for all seasons good and bad. He got into a place that understands that in
God there is no mistakes
He is sovereign
And He can take what Satan meant to destroy me with, turn it around and bring him to place that can have him to go from strength to strength, to have that repentful heart so as to draw nearer to Christ.
We all need to get ourselves into that position, that place where we can make that decision, to understand because what is going to stop us are the
And sometimes it just feels that there is no way out. [Pause]
The latest news flash is that there is a way out and it is through a book called the bible that God wrote about Himself and about you. You see there is this story in the bible about a young person who was lost
The Parable of the Lost Son
11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.[b]'
22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
Perhaps that was just a storytelling, let’s put it visually and see it modernly in our times how this all works out.
[Skit – My Father]
You have understand that the two thieves went through the same thing
You have also seen the two skits where the young persons struggle with the crosses that they have in their lives.
For the thieves, it is the same crime, same cross, same bitterness.
But different respond,
Just like ah girl, she has the right to be angry, but she also went to a place of understanding where she saw her father always there for her. That’s the love of our God, that’s the kind of love from our heavenly father,
Always out stretching
There and then ah girl made a decision to have wrong turn to right
There and then the thief on the right made the decision to have bitterness turn to happiness
Perhaps today you have brought your bitterness and pain into this room. Thinking that after hearing all this, is it all that possible to have it better? Is it that possible?
Perhaps you are a back slided Christian who have gone cold to the misconceptions of Christianity and you want to come back
Perhaps you have been cheating all your life with lies and you come here wanting to be right with your life again
Perhaps you are like the thieves on the crosses, that can’t get rid of their habitual stealing. And you tried many times but you just do it not knowing why and you are sick and tired of it, there is a voice in you that says I want things to be right again, I want to come back.
Perhaps you have involved yourself in a sexual relationship that shouldn’t happen, but it did because the world and media says that is love. And now at the age of 15, 16 and 17 or even 18, you are facing the fear of being a father or a mother at that age.
Perhaps recently because of all the stress you have crumbled and decided to take the easy way out, hence you cheat in your examinations.
In a few moments time,
All this can be made right,
All this can be turned for the good at this altar
There might be tears, there might be anguish but God is here and if you make that same decision like that thief on the right, to exchange rebellion into repentance. Then you will begin to recognize that person on the cross, because the 3rd cross is the cross of redemption.
Recap 1st and 2nd cross
3rd The Cross of Redemption
The thief on the right came with a conviction that strikes his heart that brought about a repentful heart as he acknowledges that the person in the centre is not just one of flesh and blood, but He, He is Jesus Christ! And he opens his mouth to say to the Jesus,
“Lord,[k] remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
And this decision
This sentence made Jesus to stretch up in pain and lean over to the thief that said that and Jesus replied
“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in
He said that only to the thief on the right.
Not just about rebellion
Not just about repentance
But there is redemption
Please understand the cross can redeem you. The cross can take any cross you had to bear in life and if you would put it in His hands, he would actually turn the heartache,
The heart break,
The tragedy, He will turn it into your favor. He will turn it for your good. See the same cross that one was so angry about is seen in the here, is the same cross both of them according to the law were guilty for the exact same thing. But He uses his cross redemptively to draw near to Jesus.
Some of you are like that thief on the cross but just a few feet away from you, just inches away from you, is the one who can take everything in your life and make some sense out of it.
Some of you, in your heart shouts it is too late it is too late…
Let me tell you if you wait any longer then it is too late.
Somebody needs to call on His name and His life giving name is Jesus. I want to thank Him for that redemptive cross.
Where will you be without Him today?
Which side of the cross are you on?
Are you on the left side of the cross?
On the cross of rebellion?
Or are you on the right side of the cross?
The cross of repentance.
God brought you here today, hence it isn’t too late
[Roy Riggins, half time … there is still a second half]
Let’s do something different in making decisions, I don’t want classroom responses where you just lift your hand!
Let’s do it the youth way
Let’s do it with all the courage a young person can muster
Let’s be loud
If you are like that thief, you want wrong turn to right
You want a messed up life to be in order again
You want God to be your Father today because you seem to have no one
I want you to run down and make a commitment at the altar to Him today, as I count to three.