Luke 23:42 Lord, Remember Me 8/18/2019 ßà
#1, The King of the Jews on a Cross (Luke 23:38, Rom 2:26,28-29, John 1:13, 19:37, Zech 12:10)
#2. Lord, Remember Me (Luke 23:42, John 6:37,44)
#3. What Is Our Prayer? (Luke 23:42-43, John 6:37, 1Cor 1:9, Psalm 73:25, John 14:2-3)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Luke, Luke 23:32 (2X). We were actually making our way through the Gospel of Matthew, and today we would be in Matt 27:35-44. But in this section of the Lord’s suffering on the cross there are two events that are mentioned in Luke, but are not mentioned in the other three Gospels. And thus we want to investigate why God wrote this in the Bible. The first of these two events is the Lord’s pardon for those who crucified Him. The second of these two events is the plea for mercy of one of the two thieves on the cross, “Lord, Remember Me”. And therefore the title of the sermon today is, “Lord, Remember Me” (2X). Are these two events related to one another? Yes they are, for both of these events have to do with forgiveness of sins. The first concerns the forgiveness of sins of those who crucified Him, and the second concerns the forgiveness of the sins of the thief on the cross. We must be careful to understand that there is only one way forgiveness of sins can be accomplished, and there is only one goal that this forgiveness of sins will accomplish. We read in Luke
In Matt and in Mark we read that two thieves were crucified next to Jesus, and in Luke we read that they were two malefactors. What is a malefactor? A malefactor is an evildoer of the worst kind. In other words, these two were not petty thieves, but they were violent robbers; like in the Parable of the Good Samaritan where a traveler fell in the hands of thieves, or robbers, who wounded him and left him on the side of the road to die. That was an example of what these malefactors were. Then we read in verses 33 and 34, “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Who was the Lord Jesus forgiving? And how was this forgiveness accomplished? Did the Lord Jesus forgive the Roman soldiers this one sin of nailing Him to the cross? You see, our God is a righteous judge who does not forgive any sin unless it has been paid in full. And the only time that sins were forgiven was when the Lord Jesus suffered and died on the cross, which was on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33, at about 3 O’clock in the afternoon. There was no other time in the history of mankind when a righteous Man, who Himself was without sin, paid the full price for the sins of other men, and was not consumed in the process of doing so. This is the only way forgiveness was accomplished to the satisfaction of the righteousness of God. But would the Lord Jesus Christ forgive someone only one sin? Would Christ suffer the full payment, which is the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, for this one sin and then leave the man to bear all his other sins himself? That would most assuredly mean that this man would still go to Hell to pay for all his other sins. But this would imply that the Lord Jesus was unsuccessful in His efforts to atone for this man’s sin, for the man is still going to Hell. But that is impossible, for the Lord will never be frustrated in anything that He undertakes. And so you can easily see that the Lord Jesus never forgives only one sin. Either He will forgive all the sins of an individual, or He will forgive none of them. And so, is it possible that these four soldiers are going to be saved? Is it possible that the Lord Jesus is going to atone for all the sins of these four soldiers? That would be a possibility, but then we are speculating. Let us rather answer this question from another angle with the Scriptures in hand. We read in Luke 23:38,
#1, The King of the Jews on a Cross (Luke 23:38, Rom 2:26,28-29, John 1:13, 19:37, Zech 12:10)
Lu 23:38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Please put a sticker here in Luke 23 for future reference.)
What is the significance of this, that Jesus is “The King of the Jews”, and why was this so important that it was recorded in all four of the narrative Gospels? Please turn to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 2:26 (2X). First of all, we must remember that the Lord Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” It follows then very quickly that the Lord Jesus is not the King of the Jews in the OT sense of the word, for they were the ones who urged Pilate to crucify Him. He is also not the King of the Jews who would believe on Him in the millennium, for I have shown that this is an unbiblical idea. But He is the King of the Jews who did believe and were converted to Christianity, for the Lord Jesus is living in their soul, as He said He would. For example, the 3000 Jews who were added to the church on the first Pentecost were converted to believers in Jesus Christ. But the Bible says that there are also NT Jews who are not of the stock of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and who are also called Jews. We read in Rom 2:25,
Ro 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
In other words, The Jews who pride themselves with the fact that they are descendants of Jacob will be very disappointed when they read that their circumcision has been made uncircumcision, for the moment they come into the world they commit sins every hour of the day. Then we read in Rom 2:28-29,
Ro 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
And so, the honorable name “Jew”, which is derived from “Judah” and which means “Praise”, has been reserved for those who are Jews in the sight of God, and not those who are Jews in the sight of man. God stated this expressly in John 1:13 where He said, “Which were born, not of blood”, meaning “They were not born from above because of their bloodline.” Their physical descendancy from Jacob does not play a role in God’s choice to save. But all those whom God has saved have been circumcised in their heart, and in God’s terminology after the cross they are called “Jews”. We, who are saved, regardless of our descendancy, are the NT Jews in the sight of God. And this change in terminology is so important that God put this inscription on the cross in all four of the narrative Gospels. And so, when Christ died on the cross a new era is ushered in; a new era where not only the ceremonial law has been abolished; a new era where not only Satan has been cast out of heaven, but a new era where we must reinterpret the Bible in the terminology that God has set forward in the Scriptures. It is a new era where we find that the inscription on the cross points to a series of changes in God’s terminology, so that we must now reinterpret the OT in NT terminology. And the result is that we can see Christ on every page of the OT. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 19:37 (2X). The Lord Jesus had to pay the full price for all the sins of every subject that was going to be drawn into His kingdom. And so God shows us the King of the Jews on a cross. Then He died, and one soldier with a spear pierced His side. And God recorded this event in John 19:37 with a quotation from Zech 12:10, “They shall look on him whom they pierced.” Who pierced His side? One Roman soldier. But John 19:37 says “They shall look on him whom they pierced”, which means more than one person pierced His side. Could all the OT Jews who cried out “Crucify Him” be responsible for piercing His side? Not really, for this event of piercing His side was not part of the plans of the Scribes and Pharisees. Historically this was initiated by one Roman soldier. And when we turn to Zech 12:10, we find that this is a salvation verse. Briefly, God says in Zech 12:10, “And I will pour the spirit of grace and of supplications upon them and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” In other words, not the OT Jews, but the NT Jews have pierced My side. The Roman soldier was only a representative of all the NT Jews as defined by Rom 2:28-29. Likewise, when the Lord Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”, He asked the Father to forgive all the NT Jews for piercing His hands and His feet. The four soldiers were only the representatives of all the NT Jews as defined by Rom 2:28-29. Yes, WE are responsible for nailing Christ to the cross, and for piercing His side, for our sins were the only reason why Christ had to be crucified. This is a huge change of perspective, so great that God placed this inscription on the cross in all four of the narrative Gospels. And so, this is the meaning of the Lord’s pardon on all the elect who crucified Him. Let us now turn to the second of these events.
Please turn again to the Gospel of Luke, Luke 23:35 (2X). What was so “Good” about that Friday, April 3, in the year 33 AD that we call it “Good Friday”? This is an astounding event in the history of mankind. First of all, the audacity of the rulers of the Jews to kill a man who has shown them by His words and by His works that He was a man sent from God. And why did they do that? Out of envy! That is exactly right only out of envy! God says in the Gospel of Mark, Mark 15:10, “For Pilate knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” However, Pilate gave in to the screaming multitude. Pilate would do anything to keep his job. Pilate is not alone in that. Today many, many people will do anything to keep their job, anything. God is no longer in their mind. They will lie, they will cheat, they will commit adultery, and they will cause someone else to be fired, just so they will not lose their job. Just like 2000 years ago: The rulers of the Jews did not fear God. They feared that they would lose their job, and that is why they killed Jesus; and they killed Him in the most horrible way possible: By nailing Him to a Roman Cross. And when they had accomplished their goal they passed by and reviled Him, they mocked Him; they showed by their actions how much they hated Him. Almost everyone reviled the Lord Jesus on that day. Even the two criminals who were crucified with Him also reviled Him. We read in Mark 15:32, “And they that were crucified with him reviled him.” They were imitating the scoffers that were passing by. Luk 23:35-37
Initially both of the two thieves reviled Him, but a few hours later one of them repented. This is one of the pictures that God is painting throughout the Bible. I heard a preacher say one time that these two thieves represent all mankind. The repentant thief represents one part of mankind that becomes saved, and the other thief represents the rest of mankind that does not become saved. Is that really the picture God is painting here? Where does that preacher get that interpretation from? Certainly not from the Bible! What does the Bible say? First of all, if we need to find a spiritual interpretation for the number two, it is identified with the Church. There is no indication that these two thieves were ignorant Gentiles who drifted into Pilate’s territory. On the contrary, if they would have been from another region in the Roman Empire, Pilate would have sent them to the Governor of that region. He did that with Jesus, he sent Him to King Herod, so he would have done that also with other prisoners. Not only were these two thieves most likely Jews, but definitely these two thieves had come under the hearing of the Gospel. They have heard about Messiah, the Christ who was to come. Their speech indicates that. Moreover, when the Lord Jesus sent out His disciples two by two in Matt 10, He sent them out as representatives of the Church; He sent them out to represent Himself, and He gave them the authority also to back up that assignment by giving them the power to perform miracles. If you have a concordance, look up the number 2, and you will see that in many cases it clearly is pointing to the O.T. church or to the N.T. church. At about the third hour both thieves began to revile the Lord Jesus. But in the following three hours something takes place in the heart of one of those thieves that are nailed to the cross next to Jesus, and he begins to repent. Can you see, when the Lord Jesus is done speaking to this one thief, in verse 44, it was about the sixth hour. One of these thieves represents those in the church who truly become saved, whereas the other represents those who have been under the hearing of the Gospel, but never become saved. In fact, the conversion of this thief on the cross is only given in the Gospel of Luke. The question is: What has taken place, or better: What has come to pass in the heart of the repentant thief? Why did he have a change of heart? He too reviled Christ in the beginning, which is a picture of all of us starting out as enemies of God. We all started our life to live according to the course of this world, to live in the lusts of our flesh. We all were by nature the children of wrath, even as others who never become saved. And so, we would like to know:
Luk 23:39-441 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
When we read verse 39 we get a better idea of the meaning of “railing on Christ” or “reviling Christ”. The Greek word that is used here is actually “blaspheming”. The words this malefactor shouted to the Lord Jesus Christ were actually blaspheming God. It was as if the Devil indwelt this man as he was tempting Christ to come off the cross. But the other answering rebuked him. What came over this man? What did he see or hear? Why did he have a change of heart? He too reviled Christ in the beginning. Whatever this thief has heard in these three hours, can we conclude that he heard the Gospel while hanging on the cross? What did God the Holy Spirit make him hear during those three hours? He heard the rulers of his church scoffing at Jesus. His church was the O.T. congregation, which he forsook a long time ago because he recognized those Pharisees as "hypocrites". He heard the soldiers mocking Jesus. These were the Roman soldiers who nailed him to the cross, and who had no good words for him either. The Romans and the Pharisees were ganging up on Jesus. He heard the passers by reviling Jesus, and saying things such as "He saved others", and he heard them say that He might be the "Christ", the "Messiah". Was that true or false? He heard Jesus not reviling back to His scoffers, but instead Jesus said: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". What a gracious response from Jesus. He read the sheet of papyrus above Jesus head, which stated His crime. And what was His crime? THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. This man was not a criminal! Then he heard his fellow thief blaspheming Jesus. This fellow thief in the face of death was blaspheming God! What an audacity! Basically he learned everything he needed to know from the scoffers. And he could see and hear with his own ears that those scoffers were wrong! Dead wrong! Now he heard that his fellow thief was actually on the side of the Romans and on the side of the Pharisees, the hypocrites. Now he knew: That was the wrong side! All the evidence was leaning in the direction that this Jesus was no ordinary man. In fact, he heard them call Jesus "The Son of God". He himself had reviled Jesus in the beginning, but now he saw how wrong he was. Could it be that Jesus would forgive him those awful words he had said? He did not know. Jesus had not said anything for three hours. Then he looked at Jesus, and What did the repentant thief see? He saw what the prophet Isaiah described in Isa 52:14. He saw a naked man nailed on a Cross. He saw Him wearing a crown of thorns, pressed into His head. He saw Jesus bleeding from His back, from His hands, from His feet and from His head. What did the repentant thief see? It was a pitiful sight. This man who has been so gracious toward His tormentors, was hanging on a cross in agony and was dying. It was not a royal sight at all. Do you remember the words in Isa 52:14, "His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men". It means, "His face, or His appearance, was so injured more than that of any man". The Lord Jesus was brutally tortured. Nothing in the appearance of Jesus indicated that He was any King at all. Nothing at all! It would take a miracle to see in this situation that this was a Man going into His kingdom. But God performed that miracle in the heart of this thief on the cross. The other thief heard the same things, and he saw the same things, but he did not repent. Can you see that it takes a miracle from God to save someone! To save anyone! They both were on the brink of Hell. They were a few hours away from dying, and then the Judgment. God decided to save this one, and not the other one. How do we know that he was saved? Listen to him now:
#2. Lord, Remember Me (Luke 23:42, John 6:37,44)
Lu 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
First of all, he addressed Jesus as "Lord". Only God could have given him this wisdom. He realized his sins. He realized he had blasphemed God just a few hours ago. He realized that he had nothing to give. He was poor and naked and crucified and full of sin. He could not do anything to save himself. He was just hanging there; he was at the mercy of God. But perhaps, would there be any chance, a tiny little chance that Jesus would forgive him his sins? Could he plead with Jesus to forgive him? If he would have asked Jesus' disciples, they would have told him that Jesus would forgive any sinner that would plead for mercy. Any sinner? Yes any sinner! What is a sinner? The scribes and Pharisees, by their own admittance, were no sinners. They accused Jesus that he ate with publicans and sinners. But when Jesus was hanging on the cross, the scribes and Pharisees were the scoffers and they were giving an example that was followed by many in their own nation. They were not sinners! Likewise atheists are no sinners! If they would admit that they were sinners, they would immediately know they were in trouble with God and they would stop being atheists. Who is a sinner? Well, everyone who realizes that they have violated the Law of God and that their just penalty is to go to Hell forever. That is what God says in the Bible. Everyone who realizes that, and believes what God says in the Bible, knows that he is in trouble with God, and he will come to Christ pleading for mercy, just like the publican did in the parable of Luke 18, and just like the thief on the cross did in Luke 23. God says in the Bible that the Lord Jesus will not turn away any sinner who comes pleading for mercy. God says in John 6:37, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out". In other words, every sinner that comes to Jesus, He will in no wise cast out. But who is there who will come to Jesus at his own initiative? No one! NO NOT ONE! The only ones who will come are those whom the Father has given to Jesus. In fact, Jesus says: they shall come to Me. But no one else wants to come to Him on His terms. O yes, they want to come on their own terms. They want to come if it does not cost too much. They want to come if He is the god that they have in mind: one who leaves their self-respect intact. Everyone has their own preconceived notions of the god they want: he would be a god who will serve them. But they do not want a God who is Sovereign! The God of the Bible says in John 6:37, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me". That means that there is a certain number of individuals whom the Father has chosen, and whom the Father will give to Jesus. It is the Father who will draw them to Jesus unto conversion. In fact, a little further in the 6th Chapter of the Gospel according to John, the Lord Jesus says in John 6:44, "No man CAN come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him". This thief on the cross was one of those people whom the Father has given to Jesus and whom the Father was drawing to Jesus. Look how far the Father had to go to break this stubborn human being, until he finally surrendered: God had to strip him of everything he had, God had to strip him naked and nail him to a cross, God put him face to face with physical death, so that he began to think about the life hereafter, and now finally God completed the miracle of salvation in this man who had such a sordid life. Why did God wait that long before He converted him? It was for our benefit, so that we could have this perfect picture of what salvation is. Look at the change that came over him: First he was a reviler. Now he became a witness for Jesus. He rebuked his fellow thief, saying, "Dost not thou fear God seeing thou art in the same condemnation?" We are all going to die and stand before God as the Judge. 'And we indeed justly: for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss". This man Jesus has not done any sin! "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom". First he called Jesus "Lord". Then he acknowledged that Jesus is a King. And now he pleads: "Lord, remember me", in other words he is saying: "I am in deep trouble with God because of my sins, but You, Lord, are able to get me out of this trouble. Can You please forgive me for what I have done before, and remember me favorably when You have come into Your kingdom?" Nothing in my hands I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling. He received far more than he bargained for.
Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.
He asked for a future blessing, but Jesus gave him a promise: Today! He asked to be remembered. That's all he dared to ask. But Jesus said: You will be with Me! He asked for a humble place when Jesus has been crowned as King. But Jesus promised: Today you will be with Me in paradise, which means in heaven. How could Jesus make these far reaching promises? On the same day the body of this thief was taken from the cross and probably thrown in the garbage dump of the city of Jerusalem, which was the garbage dump in the valley of the sons of Hinnom. O, but Jesus already knew what was going to be written in 2Cor 5:8, To be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. But what did it cost Jesus to forgive this thief all his sins? Jesus had to become his Substitute. What does that mean? It means that the Father had imputed on the account of the Lord Jesus all the sins that the thief on the cross had ever committed, plus the sins that we have ever committed, and that all the elect of God have ever committed, all whom the Father has given to Jesus. Then God poured His wrath out on the Lord Jesus, because He stood guilty with our sins. What is the Wrath of God? It is the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. That is what the Lord Jesus Christ had to pay as our Substitute. And He paid the price in full. PAID IN FULL. FINISHED! This all came to pass on Friday April 3, in the year 33 AD. That is why that day is called "Good Friday". For the Lord Jesus it was a terrible day, because He had to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, but for us and for the thief on the cross it was a "Good Friday", because all our sins were paid in full. And after Christ has completed the atonement the Father imputed the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ on the soul of the thief on the cross, and on the soul of everyone else whom the Lord Jesus came to save. But let us be careful with our conclusions. Was the thief on the cross saved because he asked the Lord Jesus to remember him? Absolutely not! The reason he asked the Lord Jesus to remember him was because God the Holy Spirit had given him faith. One of the two thieves was saved and the other was not. One received faith and the other received it not. God indicated hereby that He saves whom He will. We cannot be "born from above" by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but only by the will of God (John 1:13). Perhaps we remember what God says in Eph 2:8,
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
And herein do we see the Lord Jesus as the Good Shepherd who came "to seek and to save that which was lost". He came to seek and to save His own sheep, of whom the thief on the cross was one. From the words that the Savior spoke, we conclude that He desired this thief to have fellowship with Him for all eternity. And this really means that the thief on the cross, together with all the saints, became a son of God, the Bride of Christ, and the possessor of the entire new creation, that God will usher the saints into after the judgment and removal of all the unrighteous into Hell. More than he bargained for.
And so, we have seen that God delights to be merciful to those who crucified His only begotten Son, and that God delights to be merciful to the one who prayed to be forgiven that he blasphemed His name.
#3. What Is Our Prayer? (Luke 23:42-43, John 6:37, 1Cor 1:9, Psalm 73:25, John 14:2-3)
Are we in a different condition than the thief on the cross? God says that we all were by nature under the wrath of God, even as others. Can we say that we have not robbed people? The statistics say that the damage by white collar crime in these United States is 100 times greater than the damage done by plainly stealing and by robberies. Think of the legalized mark ups done by many businesses where we worked. Can we say we have not blasphemed the Lord of glory? We have blasphemed Him many times by bearing the name of the Lord in vain. Can we say that we are not facing death any moment like the thief on the cross? No one of us is assured to live for another day. Only God knows when we will die.
And so, what really should be our prayer? “Lord, Remember Me.” When we realize that we do not deserve to go to heaven at all, when we realize that our future depends entirely on the mercy and grace of God, is it not appropriate to plead to Him for His mercy and grace? Is it not appropriate to ask Him for a little assurance that He will remember us? And if we truly seek Him with all our heart, He promised that He will not cast us out (John 6:37). Not because we are seeking Him, but because His Holy Spirit has given us faith. Then His answer to us will be the same as to the thief on the cross, “Thou shalt be with Me in paradise, for I desire to have fellowship with thee.” In fellowship we reach the climax of grace and the sum of all Christian privilege. Higher than fellowship with God we cannot go. We read in 1Cor 1:9,
1Co 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
I have often told you that we are saved to serve as His ambassadors, and this is true, but it is only part of the truth, and by no means the most wondrous and most blessed part of it. Ultimately we are saved for fellowship with God! God had many servants before Christ came to earth to suffer and die. All the angels are His servants. Christ came not primarily to round up more servants, but He came to gather those who should have fellowship with Himself. He came to save His Bride from falling into Hell. Now, should the Bride of Christ not have fellowship with her Bridegroom? Absolutely yes! That is why God has commanded us to pray to Him, and to read His Word to us. That which makes heaven so attractive to us is not that heaven is a place where there is no more suffering and sorrowing, or that heaven is a place where we will meet again our loved ones, or that heaven is a place of golden streets and pearly gates. NO! Heaven without Christ would not be heaven. The heart of the true believer longs for Christ, to be with Him. In Psalm 73, a Psalm of Asaph, we read these words. Psalm 73:25,
Ps 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
And the most amazing thing is that heaven will not be completely heaven to Christ, in the highest sense, until all His redeemed are gathered around Him. His heart longs for His saints. To come again and receive us unto Himself, that is the joyous expectation that is set before Him. Not until He sees of the travail of His soul will He be completely satisfied. Now we can better understand the words Jesus spoke to His disciples when He said in John 14:2-3
Joh 14:2-3 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
The Lord Jesus did not mean that there are 4 story mansions and 6 story mansions in heaven. The Jerusalem that is above is far greater than such imagined earthly dwellings. With our earthly minds we cannot understand the scope of heavenly dwellings. But what we can understand and what He did mean was this: "I go to prepare a place for you". Where did He go that same evening? He went to the Garden of Gethsemane. and from there He went to the cross. That is where He prepared a place for us, on the cross. There is where He made sure our salvation, and there is where He made sure that none of the reprobate could turn us back into the hands of Satan. Safe and secure we are in His hand, to be with Him forever. AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.