The second sermon in our series, “Seven Sayings from the Cross” comes from Luke 23:35-43. Everything Jesus did and said had a purpose. There were no wasted movements or waster breath with Him. Including the words, He spoke from the cross. While I don’t think they were intended to be wordy theological dialogues like the parables, they are indeed practical theology. The complexity and immensity of what Jesus accomplished on the cross are demonstrated in these statements in a way that every person can understand with ease.
35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This Is The King Of The Jews. 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.
First, we see this Scripture demonstrating the instant nature of salvation by the grace of God alone received by faith alone.
- In the very moment, “today,” we receive God’s gracious offer of salvation by faith we are brought into justification and adoption.
- Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”
- Romans 8:14-17, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
- Romans 10:9-13, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
- Notice, the only thing the penitent thief could do was confess his fallen nature and need of the Father’s grace. He could do not works, and we can do no works to gain or add to our salvation.
- Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
This Scripture also demonstrates the reality of heaven and hell.
- The cross stands as a dividing line between those who receive Christ by faith and those who reject (the two thieves being on each side of Christ).
- Lazuras and the rich man in Luke 16:9 show the clear teachings of Jesus’ teaching on our eternal destiny.
- While our culture talks about a lot of grey areas, Jesus did not. For example, look at Jesus’ “altar call” at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:13-29). There are two separate gates, two different paths, two different endings to find. You either bear good fruit or evil fruit. A person can either build on the teachings of Jesus (rock) or reject them (building on the sand). There are no grey areas in any of our responses to Christ. You are either with Him or against Him.
Lastly, this Scripture demonstrates the comfort knowing Jesus brings to us.
- Since salvation is made a reality at the moment we receive Him by faith, we can have confidence before God in the Judgement. We do not trust in ourselves but in Jesus’ glorious work on the cross and His Word to us. We find comfort in knowing Jesus, for at the end of our life we will be with our Lord in eternity.
- 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”