I Will Not Die Like This
-Recap Written By Damian Harrison
Scriptural References: Luke 23: 32; 36-43
Pastor Tony taught from the ever popular story about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. However, this week’s lesson focused not on Jesus Christ, but the two thieves who had also been sentenced to death that same day. In Luke 23:32-34, we learned that “Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. v33.) When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. v34.) Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”
The two men were, by modern terms, were a menace to society. The men were thieves and no one likes a thief; even a thief hates a thief. In reading this, we might even consider them evil and look no further into the text. In verse 39, it states, ”One of the criminals who hung there, hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” However, “the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? v41.) We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” The tactics of the two men could not have been more different. One was content with his behavior and was seemingly content with killing an innocent man. Yet, the second thief recognized the error of his ways in the moment. He even said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom (verse 42).
Not only did he recognize the error of his ways (that he actually needed rescuing), but he also recognized who Jesus was and confessed that his “partner-in-crime,” was really the Savior, His Savior and only hope. That is the only reason a man in his position could ask who appeared to be just another criminal, to save him.
Real change can only occur when you can clearly see yourself AND your savior.
He asked Jesus to remember Him! He refused to die as an unapologetic, unrepentant criminal. In verse 43, Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus, the only one who was falsely accused, who was sentenced to die with the guilty, didn’t fight it. He assumed the role of the guilty so that he could save the lost. We see that even in the final moments of crucifixion, He stopped dying long enough to save someone else. Look at the HEART of Christ! This lets us know that sometimes the persecution and misjudgments that may befall us, are not ultimately about us. God will use moments that seem to punish the just only so the unjust can have an encounter with grace, so that darkness can experience a glimpse of the light.
In this short but powerful message, we learned that while two thieves died that day; only one was redeemed. Like the 2nd thief, we must remember that while we can not always escape the penalty of our crime, we have all been extended the opportunity to die differently than how we have lived. We haven’t gone too far or done too much to be disqualified from the grace and mercy of God.
Neither thief had the opportunity to make reparation or apologize to those they had robbed. They weren’t given some more time to right their wrongs. They likely both died with people still despising and judging them according to what they had done. Reputations forever destroyed, and all hope seemingly lost, the 2nd thief demonstrates what it really means to be redeemed, even if you’re the only one who knows it.
This salvation story proves that a “death bed” repentance, [sincerely expressed] has just as much power as any other…that the redemptive work was His, not ours…that a lifetime of righteousness STILL can’t save and isn’t enough to release us from the grip of sin and death. Our freedom, our salvation can only be found in the Son and whom the Son sets free is truly free indeed. (John 8:36)