1. Hello, listening friends.
2. We are delighted that you have tuned in.
3. In the last broadcast, we began a series of messages on the words of Jesus from the cross,
4. and these are seven in number.
5. The first word was, “Father, forgive them...”
6. and, today, we’re going to look at the second word;
7. but I want to begin by telling you a story;
8. and it is a true story from history.
9. It’s a story about the Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.
10. One day, he was reviewing his troops,
11. and, suddenly, his horse bolted out of control.
12. The Emperor was in danger of being hurled to the ground,
13. so a young private leaped from the ranks and calmed the horse.
14. The Emperor said, “Thank you, Captain,” and he gave the private an immediate promotion.
15. Smiling broadly, the soldier asked Bonaparte, “What regiment, Sir?”
16. “Of my guards,” replied the Emperor, as he dashed down the lines.
17. Immediately assuming his new rank, the young soldier walked over to join the group of staff officers.
18. When one of the officers saw the newly promoted soldier, he became indignant.
19. He said, “What is this insolent fellow doing here with the officers?”
20. “I am Captain of the Guards,” the young man replied.
21. “You rascal! You’re just a private. What makes you think you’re a captain?” said the officer.
22. The young soldier pointed to the Emperor and confidently responded, “He said so...”
23. and the officer answered politely, “I apologize, Captain.
24. I was not aware of your promotion.”
25. That soldier did not feel like a captain, nor did he wear the insignia of a captain.
26. All he had was the word of the Emperor, but that was enough.
27. This is a similar feeling to those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ --
28. those of us who were sinners, but are now believers.
29. Our confidence does not come from anything we did,
30. or, because of our own righteousness,
31. or, because we feel we are better than other people.
32. The assurance of salvation stems from the simple fact that He said it.
33. Our Spiritual Emperor said it.
34. Our Lord—our Master—said it.
35. Our Commander-in-Chief said it;
36. and we see this very clearly in the second statement of Jesus that He made on the cross.
37. The first word from the cross was, “Father, forgive them...”
38. Jesus was using His divine power to intercede for the transgressors.
39. Today, we will see, Jesus is using His divine power to forgive sin and offer assurance of salvation.
40. The first word from the cross was a prayer from the Son to the Father.
41. Today’s prayer is a prayer from a sinner to Jesus.
42. In Luke 23:39 to 43;
43. let’s read it together.
44. This is the last conversation the Lord had with another before His death.
45. All four of the Gospels record that Jesus was crucified with two other men.
47. Some say that it was the Roman’s way of mocking the One who claimed to be King of the Jews,
48. as if to say, “Here is your court—two criminals crucified beside you...”
49. but the truth is that this happened to fulfill the prophecy.
50. Seven hundred years before Christ, Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 53,
51. “He will be numbered with the transgressors.”
52. This prophecy shows a kind of Gospel in miniature.
53. It shows that there are two ways in which men and women can react to Jesus,
54. and there are two ways in which Jesus reacts to humanity.
55. On either side of Christ’s cross, there was one who rejected and one who accepted.
56. There is no neutrality.
57. There is no third way.
58. There is no passivity.
59. Jesus said, “Those who are not with Me are against Me.”
60. First, there is the one who rejected Christ.
61. One of the criminals who hung there kept on blaspheming Him.
62. The criminal, who blasphemed Jesus, echoed the cry of the crowd.
63. “You are the Christ, aren’t You? Then, save Yourself and us.”
64. There is bitterness in this sentence that is too deep for words.
65. I think that the people who feel most bitter against God are the people who pray to God for selfish reasons;
66. and, when God doesn’t answer their prayers the way they want, they become angry with God;
67. but, then, there was another criminal.
68. According to the Bible, this criminal was equally zealous, equally accused and equally reviling of Jesus;
69. but something happened in the first hour on the cross that changed this criminal’s heart.
70. While the nails were splitting his hands,
71. this man heard something from Jesus that he had never heard before.
72. He heard Jesus to be saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
73. Perhaps, these words transformed a reviler into a repenter,
74. changed a doubter into a believer,
75. changed a skeptic into a follower,
76. and, finally, I think he was changed by the grace of God;
77. and this repentant criminal said a lot in four short sentences.
78. He acknowledged who Jesus was.
79. He repented and surrendered to Christ’s Lordship;
80. then, He made a request;
81. but he, also, rebuked his fellow criminal.
82. He said to him, “Do you not even fear God?
83. Man, you’re about to face God.
84. Are you going to end your life with blasphemy and bitterness toward God?”
85. These two were comrades.
86. They were fellow zealots and friends;
87. but, as the repentant one repents,
88. as one gives his life to Jesus Christ, he rebukes his friend.
89. My listening friend, let me tell you something of uttermost importance.
90. When you come to Jesus Christ,
91. it is inevitable and unavoidable that you cannot step around this one important thing.
92. There is a line that has been drawn between you and your former partners-in-sin.
93. The day has to come when you say, “Fellows, I don’t enjoy your jokes any more.
94. I don’t enjoy your blasphemy anymore;
95. but come with me to the Savior.
96. Just as He has forgiven me,
97. just as He has raised me up from sin and death,
98. just as He delivered me from Hell and damnation,
99. He can deliver you, too.”
100. This zealot—this criminal—was no theologian.
101. He prayed no long and profound prayers.
102. He did not try to find an excuse for his sin.
103. He merely said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.”
104. I want you to look at the element of faith in this man dying beside Jesus on the cross.
105. He offered no excuse or explanation.
106. He did not claim that he had extenuating circumstances.
107. He said, “Jesus, remember me.”
108. This criminal not only did not try to make excuses for himself,
109. but he told his comrade, “We are getting what we deserve...”
110. and that is why this sentence is the Gospel in a capsule.
111. This man not only acknowledged his sin,
112. but he, also, added a word of testimony about Jesus.
113. Talking about Jesus, he said, “This man has done nothing wrong.”
114. This is a great testimony.
115. This man has come a long way.
116. He came from reviling Jesus to testifying for Jesus, all in a short period of time.
117. That is the power of the Gospel.
118. The man does not ask to be saved from dying on the cross.
119. He only asks that Jesus remembers him later, when He comes into His Kingdom.
120. No doubt this dying criminal saw on the top of Jesus’ cross the words, “King of the Jews…”
121. and that was enough for him to believe that this was the Messiah-King;
122. so, in humility, he cried out, “Jesus, remember me...”
123. and, so, we see that there were two reactions to Jesus;
124. and they symbolize humanity’s two reactions.
125. Human beings either reject Him or accept Him.
126. This has been, and will always be, the case with Jesus until He comes back.
127. You either accept Him or reject Him. You cannot be neutral.
128. It is also important to see Jesus’ reaction to these men.
129. Jesus does not get too preoccupied with His own pain to assure a repentant sinner of forgiveness.
130. Thank God that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God --
131. the One who is the Maker of the universe,
132. the only One through whom men and women can find redemption and forgiveness --
133. thank God that He was not too preoccupied with His own pain to answer this man’s request.
134. My listening friends, please listen very carefully as we’re getting close to the end.
135. Don’t ever think that God is too preoccupied to care about you.
136. Jesus gave the repentant man far more than he asked for.
137. This man thought that salvation was far, far down the road—a long way away;
138. but Jesus said, “Today, you shall be with me in Paradise.”
139. The man didn’t ask to go to Paradise,
140. but Jesus gave it to him.
141. Imagine all that you and I long for --
142. peace, security, happiness, and pleasantness.
143. The Lord said, “Today, you’ll be with Me.”
144. My listening friend, today, I want to tell you that, no matter what sin you have committed,
145. no matter how guilty your conscience feels,
146. today, if you come to Christ, He will forgive you.
147. He will give you His peace.
148. He will assure you of your forgiveness and assure you of Heaven with Him.
149. Will you come to Him?
150. Will you repent of your sin and receive Him in your life?
151. It is our prayer that you would say “yes” to Jesus;
152. and, then, write and let us know.
153. Until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.