The Romans and Religious ask Jesus to “show me” and miss that he already has. The Rebellious ask Jesus to “Serve me” and miss that he already has. The Righteous ask Jesus to “Save me” and find that he welcomes them with open arms. This passage is the exclamation point to communicate that Jesus loves outsiders and you.
God Loves Outsiders
Our True Treasure
Why We're Reluctant to Rescue Outsiders
Warming Cold Hearts
Forgiven Much, Loves Much
Jesus Came to Bring the Outsiders In
Good morning. I'm Rob Barry. If we've never met before, we need to meet. You need to come down front afterward so we can meet because I'm kind of like my wife. I'm fired up about life. My wife and I have been married for 17 years this September. We got married the week of 9/11 which was crazy-town. Flights were canceled. Thank goodness we were too poor to actually afford a honeymoon. We were going to Tyler for a honeymoon. Nothing against Tyler…
Our first year of marriage was very different for my wife and me than I thought it was going to be. Maybe that has been your experience, too, in marriage. I was deeply committed to a principle. In fact, I was committed to what I thought was a biblical principle, and here's the principle: godly people wake up early in the morning and read their Bibles. Not bad. Right? That's pretty biblical. Right?
Here's the problem. I married a night owl. My wife went to bed every night with her light on. I want to be out at 9:00 every night if it was up to me. She'd read her Bible at night. She had a high value on absorbing God's Word before she went to sleep. Crazy! Right? I was so committed to this principle that I was…
My wife was the sugar mama at the time (a speech therapist), and I was going through seminary, and I was so committed to this principle that I wrote a paper in seminary essentially saying something to the effect of godly people must spend time with Jesus in the morning. I didn't tell my wife about that paper. All that to say, it was tough.
I remember thinking, "Okay, Leslie, you're free to read your Bible at night, but godly people read their Bibles in the morning, so do whatever you want to do." She finally was like, "Whatever. I love you. We'll try it out." I remember we lived in this horrible loft apartment. I'd get up whenever the alarm went off. I'd go downstairs, turn on the light, get my coffee on, and get my Bible on. My wife would get out bed, and she'd stay upstairs in the loft and pray. That's where she would start her day before she jumped into God's Word.
I did that three times. I would come back upstairs when I was done, and she was just out cold on the bed. I thought to myself, "What a pagan! Who does that?" If it wasn't bad enough, I got that paper back from that professor, and in all red on the front it said something to the effect of, "Rob, I strongly urge you to reconsider the premise of this paper." What he was saying was, "This isn't biblical."
When you get something like that and you're fully convinced you're right even if it's that crazy, you're like, "That guy doesn't know what he's talking about." I threw the paper. Well, my wife found the paper and has never felt more validated in the 17 years we've been married. She was like, "I told you!"
Here's the deal. The expectations I put on Leslie that were unbiblical robbed us of the fullness of that first year of marriage. God wanted something so much for us that I was just like, "I'm going to put you in this box," but you and I do that for all kinds of relationships. When we put expectations on a relationship that aren't biblical, we miss out on the fullness of those relationships.
Here's the deal. Our relationship with Jesus is no different. When we put expectations on Jesus that are not biblical, we are robbed of the fullness he wants us to enjoy with him. We're just robbed of it. This shows up in a couple of ways. Whenever we put a timeline on God like, "Why aren't these things happening the way I want them to happen on my timeline?" is when we are putting expectations on God, and we are being robbed of the fullness of that relationship.
Maybe there are people in your life (people at work or people in your Community Group) who you're like, "I would never hang out with those people unless I was forced to do it." Whenever we're putting expectations on God with the people he has around us or the timeline he has put in front of us, we just miss out on a full relationship God wants us to have with him.
This morning, we're going to be talking about a very simple subject that's really hard to apply. We're going to be talking this morning about a proper perspective of Jesus. We're going to look at three groups of people who all want something from Jesus. Every one of these groups wants something from Jesus.
If you have your Bible with you this morning, turn to Luke, chapter 23. We'll have it up here if you didn't bring your Bible. In Luke, chapter 23, we're going to be looking at the thieves on the cross paradigm where… This thing gets quoted all of the time. "What about the thief on the cross? What about this guy?"
Here's where we are on the timeline of Scripture. Jesus is ending his earthly ministry. He has had a trial and been wrongly convicted. He has been flogged, spit upon, beaten, had a crown of thorns put on his head. You name it. He is profusely losing blood. He is on his way, when we pick up here in Luke, chapter 23, to be crucified.
Here we're going to see the three groups of people. Two of those groups of people are going to have the wrong perspective of Jesus, and one of those groups of people is going to have the right perspective. This morning, we're going to see three things. We're going to see the Romans and the religious ask Jesus, "Show me." The second thing we're going to see is the rebellious ask Jesus, "Serve me." The last thing we're going to see is the righteous ask Jesus, "Save me."
If you have your Bible, we're going to pick up in verse 32 here. "Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull…" **That's a good place to get crucified."…there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'**
And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, 'He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!' The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, 'If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!' There was also an inscription over him, 'This is the King of the Jews.'"
1._ The religious asked Jesus, "Show me."_ If you don't know much about soldiers in Rome in that day, they're completely different kind of people. The soldiers, on one hand, believed Caesar was god along with all of the other gods they worshiped. They had to take orders from Caesar, and they did not have an extravagance of information about Jesus. They just didn't. They grew up around their Roman culture, their Romans gods, and they were in a place where they had to deal with this Messiah. They did not have an extravagance of information.
On the other side, when we see the word rulers in verse 35, think of that as the senate where you'd have Democrats and Republicans that could never get along. That's kind of what the religious rulers are of that day. It's the Sanhedrin. It consisted of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They didn't like each other. They read Scripture differently. They didn't get along.
Here's what's different with them versus the soldiers outside of the fact they're not soldiers. That is, they have an extravagant, overwhelming set of information around who Jesus is, who the Messiah should be, who the Christ should look like, and what this king should come in and do. They should be able to see Jesus and go, "That's the guy who the 39 books we have memorized are about. That's Jesus. That's the guy."
What you need to know about the soldiers or the religious senate, essentially, is it doesn't matter if you don't have a ton of information about Jesus or if you have an extravagance of information, you have to do something with the person of Jesus. Here's what they had. They did have the same thing.
From Luke, chapter 3, all the way on, the religious senate and the soldiers are around Jesus all of the time. They're hearing him make this crazy claim that he's God and that he has come to save the world and make provision for them. Now, the way he says it is a little weird. He was like, "I forgive you of your sins," and everybody around them was like, "Who can forgive sin but God alone?" That's the point!
All throughout the book of Luke, we see the soldiers and the senate. We see the religious and Rome have the same facts about Jesus, and you have to reconcile who this man is that is being crucified. They have the same request of Jesus. Look at verse 35. Here's what it said. "And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers [the religious] scoffed at him, saying, 'He saved others; let him save himself, if…" If. If. "…he is the Christ…"
Keep going. Verse 36: "The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, 'If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!'" You see what they're both saying. They're both making the same request of Jesus. "If you are who you say you are, prove it! Show me! Save yourself! Save yourself!"
If you've ever had the option to be in a Watermark staff meeting, that kind of statement comes up all of the time. Our staff of 20 gathers here every other Tuesday just to get on the same page and make sure we're connected with each other. Are we all connected with what's going on here? We pray for each other and pray for you guys. We do that here every other week.
On the off weeks, we drive down to the Dallas campus. Frisco drives in. Plano drives in. Fort Worth drives in. There are like 200 people in this staff meeting. This happens twice a month. Not just the meeting but what I'm actually about to tell you here. Somebody will be introducing themselves for maybe the first time. "Here's my two-minute story."
Or somebody will ask them a question and they'll say, "Back in high school, I used to sing," or "Back in college, I used to dance or be a cheerleader." Like Jayson Fisher, our own equipping coordinator, walked into this trap big time. He used to do front lines. He was like, "I used to be a professional jump roper." Here's the deal. The same thing happens every single time. One person out of 200 goes, "Prove it!" Then, it's like a mob mentality. Now, there are like 100 shouting, "Prove it!"
Within two minutes, the music is thumping, and that person is in the middle awkwardly dancing or awkwardly jumping rope, and it's over. Everybody is like, "What just happened there?" That happens twice a month in our staff meetings, and it's always fun, and it's always crazy, but it is very much a prove-it mentality. If you tell me you love Romeo and Juliet, like we saw our friend quote up here last week, prove it! Quote it. A prove-it mentality.
That's all fun and games, but here the soldiers and the senate are essentially saying, "Jesus, you have said this. If you are this, put your money where your mouth is and prove it! Show me, because you don't look like a king right now. You don't look like an anointed one right now. You don't look like one who God has favor on right now. You look bloody and beaten up, with nails driven through your body."
Here's the irony. Have you ever thought about the irony? When I read this, I'm like, "I know how the story ends," but even when I read it today, I'm like, "Get off of the cross and start zapping people!" That would be awesome, but it would not be awesome, because the irony of them saying, "Prove it," and "Save yourself…" If Jesus takes himself off of that cross, we have a problem. You and I have a problem. These criminals have a problem. The religious have a problem. These soldiers have a problem.
There is no salvation outside of a broken, crucified, dead, and resurrected Messiah. The irony is the very thing these guys are asking Jesus to do he loves them too much to do when he could do it all along. Everything they can perceive with their senses (the smell of Jesus' blood, the smell of the trash heap, the visualization of what they can see that Jesus is losing here, what they hear) tells them Jesus is not who he says he is and he's losing here, and that's just not what is going on there.
Have you ever asked Jesus to show you, to prove it? I remember when I was in my 20s. I spent half of my 20s working in a couple of coffee shops in Dallas as barista, store manager, all along that spectrum. If you've ever worked in the restaurant industry, you know things get really dirty, extremely dirty, and nothing more dirty than a drain. You know that if you clean out drains. If you have a wife who sheds hair and you have to clean out a drain in your shower, drains are nasty, but you have to be committed to clean them out or something bad is going to happen.
One of the things we had to do every single week was clean the drains. I love the smell of bleach. I'm like, "I'll do it." Here's what you need to know about coffee shop drains besides they're gross. They grow things in them, because you're heating milk up to 165 degrees, which is not normal, and when it's cooling off things grow. Three or four hours later, things grow, so when milk and acidic espresso is going down a drain, things grow.
When you would take off the drain cover, it was like barnacles on there. You would scrape and scrape and scrape and scrape and pull stuff out. I'll never forget this one time I was cleaning out a drain. We wanted to have a family. I had two degrees on my wall. I had a bachelor's and a master's degree. I just remember thinking, "What am I doing sitting here cleaning out a drain? What is going on here?"
Everything I could perceive did not make sense. "This is not the deal I struck with you. This is not why I got into this. That's not why I went to school." Nobody goes to school to sign up to scrub drains. Nobody. "Lord, I have a wife. We want to have a family. I'm sitting here scrubbing a drain. Lord, what are you doing? You have to show me why this makes sense. Lord, you have to prove why you're in this thing because there is no evidence around me that tells me I should be here scrubbing a drain. That's not the story I signed up for."
Have you ever done that? Have you ever done that with Jesus? Asked him to prove it? I know how this usually shows up in here. There are kind of two ways this might show up in your life. The first way it may show up… Maybe there are four or five of you in here who are just skeptics. You may have the tag atheist or agnostic that you like.
You may not like either one of those tags. You just might be someone in here who is never satisfied about the amount of evidence that can be put in front of you. There is never enough evidence to verify or validate Jesus is who he says he is or the burden of proof is on everyone else to put enough evidence in front of you. Maybe that's you where you're like, "Show me! Prove it!"
Maybe you are the person who just comes and is faithful here every single week, but when the chips are down and things aren't working out the way you thought they should work out, you're like, "God, you have to prove it here. You have to show me what's going on here." The reality is when we ask Jesus to prove it or to show us, we miss out on the fact that he already has.
He has already shown us. He has already proven it. He did it all through the Gospels, where he announced before the cross, "I'm headed to the cross. Nobody should be surprised I'm going to the cross. I've been telling you forever I'm going there." He has shown us when he kept himself on the cross. It doesn't take a lot of power for Jesus to get off of the cross. It doesn't take a ton of control to get off of the cross for Jesus. It takes a ton of power and a ton of self-control for Jesus to keep himself on the cross for you and me.
Paul writes in Ephesians and in Romans, "What does this mean today? The cross happened several years ago. What does this mean for the church today?" What it means for the church today is how God shows us he loves us is by going back to the cross. "…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." That's what Romans 5:8 says.
It goes on in Romans 8. "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" If you're here today and you're like, "God, show me and prove it," God just wants to take you back. "I already have, and I have some great in store for you." The religious asked Jesus, "Show me!"
2._ The rebellious asked Jesus, "Serve me!"_ Picking up here in verse 39, here's what it says. "One of the criminals who were hanged railed…" So we have scoffing, we have mocking, and we have railing. "…at him, saying, 'Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!'" This man wanted something from Jesus more than he wanted Jesus. When he says, "Save yourself," he's mocking just like the first group of people did, but he's adding something in there in, "Save me."
Here's what we know based on the second guy we're going to look at in just a minute. When he says, "Save me," this guy is not saying, "Jesus, you're my Savior," there. He's saying, "Give me relief from the cross. I don't like these consequences. The pain is too intense. Justice? Whatever." This is a guy who is trying to work the system and does not love justice but just wants relief. "These nails are painful. Get me down. Get me down!"
What stands out the most with this guy is he never identifies himself as a law-breaker. He just wants relief. Have you ever wanted something from Jesus more than you've wanted him, like this guy? I can give you an example in the last two weeks. I'm about to share with you maybe an illustration of the biggest first-world problem ever which starts with my family and I left Dallas for 12 days.
Let's start there with a first-world problem. Then, we drove to Wyoming (the South Gate in Moran) to the Grand Tetons. It was incredible. We were going to stay with some friends up there. It was the most majestic week we've had as a family. Right before we leave to go to Wyoming we find out some of our other friends at Watermark Plano are like, "We have friends who have a house or a cabin in southern Colorado. They would love for you guys to go stay with them."
We were going to finish the trip off by staying in Lubbock, which is where my wife's family is from. Nothing is first-world about Lubbock. That's not where you want to go for a hot vacation spot. If that offends you, come talk to me. I have a case I can plead about that. All of the cousins are there, and my kids want to be with the cousins.
Basically, Lubbock canceled on us and also the cabin in southern Colorado canceled because they had to evacuate the town because of the forest fires. We're like, "We have a whole week." It's like 115 in Dallas. I'm waking up there and it was like 50. Sorry. It was 115 there. Some friends have gotten us a car, so we don't have to worry about a car. Kyle Kaigler had already approved my vacation request. I'm not coming back to Dallas unless I have to. Here's where the first-world problem comes in.
When I found out all of that got canceled, I started texting my friends, like they may know somebody. I was like, "This is what happened. The cabin is canceled. Do you know anybody who would want to redirect their resources to the Barrys? If Vail is all you can give me, that's great. If Vail is booked, we'll take Telluride. We're not picky. Just…whatever." Nothing. I mean nothing.
A couple of days into asking friends, I was like, "I have to change my strategy. I'd better start praying about this." Let me tell you. This guy could not have prayed more biblically. I'm quoting Scripture back at God. Psalm 24: "Lord, you own it all (the earth and all who live in it)." First Chronicles 29:11 and 12: "Everything is yours! The heavens, the earth… Everything is yours! The cattle on a thousand hills are all yours. If you could just redirect some of that my way just west of Denver that would be great."
Our time ended in Wyoming. Our friends left. We got in our car. We left Moran driving south. It was like an eight- or nine-hour trip. Sometime after Moran passed, about an hour into the drive, I'm at 10 and 2, and it just hit me that I had turned Jesus into a genie, and I wanted something from Jesus more than I wanted him. It crushed my soul.
I just remember being at 10 and 2 thinking, "Lord, I repent. I'm sorry. The fact that I had been going to you fervently in prayer about this first-world problem and not because you chose to put air in my lungs right now… Something is messed up there. Lord, would you forgive me?" I didn't get what I wanted there, but I got what I needed. What I wanted was a place in Vail; what I needed was a reminder that God will not be turned into a genie. He's too awesome for that, and he loves you too much to let you think he is.
Maybe you haven't gone to God as a genie. Maybe you've done one of two things. Maybe you're someone who has made a deal with God. "Serve me. If you do this, I will do this." It could be as extreme as, "Lord, if you do this, I'll be faithful all of the days of my life." Just be faithful. "If you'll change this pressure point in my marriage, I'll do this. If my wife does this, I'll do this." No. Just be faithful.
Maybe you've cut a deal with the Lord. Maybe it had to do with your kids. "Lord, if you could just get my kid to pass this test…" That's usually what it looks like in my house. "We'll say thank you." Say, "Thank you," if he fails. Maybe you have cut a deal, or maybe you're like this criminal who just wants relief and you want to cut a deal with Jesus.
Paul talks about cutting a deal with Jesus in 2 Corinthians, chapter 7. Second Corinthians comes after 1 Corinthians where Paul is extremely direct calling them to repent of numerous things because there is no life if you're pursuing things other than where Jesus is, and he is very harsh with his words. He picks up in 2 Corinthians 7, with the second letter. He's like, "I'm sorry that was harsh and direct, but I wanted to produce godly sorrow in you and not worldly sorrow."
Here's the difference between those two. Here's what worldly sorrow looks like. It looks like the criminal here. "Just give me relief from my circumstances. I'm sorrowful." This could look like several things. Here's what we see all of the time. I'm going to use a guy here. This could translate for anybody.
It's a husband who has been a horrible husband. After 15 to 20 years, his wife is like, "Enough is enough! I'm out of here!" The guy is so concerned with his wife moving back in. "I'm lonely, and I miss her, and…" versus "Honey, the state of this marriage is where it is because I have not loved you and served you and I have sinned against you. The state of this marriage is my fault."
You'll never hear that out of somebody with worldly sorrow. You'll hear, "I just want relief. Just change the circumstances. Yeah, I know my sin got us here, but if you could just change things. I'm sorrowful things are the way they are." In Community Groups, when you have someone who is in a Community Group who has said they're fully devoted to Jesus and they're living a lifestyle that is marked by rebellion toward Jesus and unrepentant sin, the Scriptures are very clear.
We need to love them. There's a process set in place, but if they want to continue to live that way, we have to change our relationship with them, and we need to break fellowship with them because it's just unloving to let someone continue to live deluded. "You're in community and you're safe here, but you're living like crazy! You're going to die! I love you too much to let you think we're okay with you and you're okay with God."
Worldly sorrow shows up in that scenario where, "We have to change our relationship with you," and people are like, "Oh, no! Just let me keep hanging out here. Just love me. This is painful! It's not graceful to break relationships with somebody. It's not loving to do that!" It's consumed with the pain versus, "I have sinned and I need to repent because I want to follow Jesus." Worldly sorrow has to do with, "Relieve me from the circumstances and pain, and I hate the way things are right now."
Godly sorrow, on the other hand, has to do with just that. "I'm a law-breaker. Things are the way they are because I have messed things up, and it crushes me that I have offended God. Because I have offended God, there are all of these downline consequences, but at the end of the day I'm responsible here." That's what godly sorrow looks like.
Maybe that shows up for you. It may be like cutting a deal with the Lord where you've said, "Lord, serve me," or "Serve me and just get me off of the cross because I don't like the pain I'm in right now." One of those two things shows up a lot. Here's the deal. When we demand for Jesus to serve us, we miss out on the fact that he already has served us.
He took on our judgment because he was serving us. He reconciled because he was serving us. He took our sin on him to serve us. He gave us his righteousness. He imputed that to us to serve us. He put our interests before his own to serve us, and he does it today. He does it today. He intercedes on our behalf. He holds all things together. He gives us the model of how we're supposed to love each other in relationships. He serves us today. The religious ask that Jesus would show them, the rebellious ask that Jesus would serve them, and last but not least…
3._ The righteous ask Jesus, "Save me!"_ Look at verse 40 here. "But the other [criminal] rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.'"
Do you see where this guy starts? "I am a law-breaker. You are a law-breaker. We are getting what we deserve here. This man has done nothing wrong." Salvation always starts with raising your hand saying, "I am a law-breaker, and I deserve this." This criminal gets thrown into a lot of conversations. He's like a trump card. "What about the thief on the cross? What are you going to do with him and his life? He lived like a wretch his whole life. What are you going to do with him?"
I'll tell you what I'm going to do with him. This guy has the proper perspective of Jesus, and he has a proper perspective of himself. He has a faith that trusts in Jesus. We say all of the time because the Scripture says all of the time that you are saved by grace through faith and not…not…by works, but we are saved for good works. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
This criminal on the cross was saved so he could be Christ's ambassador. He was saved so he could be his minister of reconciliation. The same reason you and I have been saved. We're not saved by good works, but good works should come out of the faith we have. In this criminal we see it in spades.
You see what he did. The guy who has faith in Jesus is turning to the criminal on his right or left and rebuking him and reminding him of what is biblically true. "You're a law-breaker. This man has done nothing wrong. He's the Christ. He is who he says he is." This is a man whose faith is at work right now. Don't miss that!
It's crazy to look at what he says next. The criminal just looks at Jesus and says, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Think about how crazy that is! If you were that criminal looking at Jesus, he has a title over his head that says, "King of the Jews." The guy has three nails in his body. He is bleeding profusely. He is lacerated. He is dying of asphyxiation, because you have to push yourself up on the cross to breathe.
To look at Jesus in that state where everything looks like it's done… Jesus is losing, and to look at him and say, "…remember me when you come into your kingdom," that's absurd and it's biblical because nothing looked like that man was about to inherit a kingdom. It looked like he was about to die and be thrown to the dogs.
Here's what this criminal is saying. He's saying two things. "Jesus, you are who you say you are. I don't know how things are going to work out. Things don't look good right now, but things are going to work out. You are who you say you are, and I am betting the farm that if you would just remember me when you come into your kingdom… Whenever that is whenever you come into your kingdom, just remember me."
Here's the second thing he's saying. "Jesus, you are all that I have." He's not using his hands, because he is crucified, too. "You are all that I have, and I'm betting the farm that you are who you say you are. Remember me when you come into your kingdom." Maybe what's the craziest reply in all Scripture outside of, "But God," which Chuck mentioned earlier and quoted, is Jesus' response here.
Look how he responds. He's going to say three important things here. "…today you will be with me in paradise." Let me unpack that first thing (today). He says, "When you come into your kingdom…" Jesus is like, "No, no, no. There's no when I come into my kingdom. Today…today…something is going to change about your life."
Here's a biblical picture of an oversimplified picture of death because it makes sense of what that means today. Essentially, when we were created by God we were created with the material and immaterial, with a body and a soul, and those two things should have never been split apart. They were one until death entered the scene in Genesis, chapter 3.
Death enters the scene, and the punishment for sin is not only a broken relationship with the Lord but death. Two things that were together that should never be ripped apart were ripped apart, and when Adam and Eve died and everybody else, two things were split up. The body goes into the ground and becomes dust, and your soul, if you're a follower of Christ, goes to be with Jesus.
The ultimate hope for Christians is that one day not only with the cross but ultimately that salvation is going to climax when Jesus returns and pulls this dust of my body out of the grave, reunites it with my soul, and I'm going to have a resurrected, imperishable body just like Jesus that doesn't sin, doesn't crave sin, doesn't want to sin, and can walk through walls (however that all works). It's going to be an awesome thing, but we're not talking about that right now.
We're talking about death. When Jesus says, "Today…" what he's saying is, "Today, when you die on this cross and your body goes to the dogs, probably, your soul will be with me." Paul picks this up in 2 Corinthians 5 and Philippians, chapter 1. This is the chief of all sinners saying this, so another guy who could go, "I have a horrible résumé to bring before God," just like this criminal, and he says in 2 Corinthians 5, "We are of good courage. We would rather be away from the body and home with the Lord."
What he's saying is, "When death sets in and we're away from our bodies, we will be at home with the Lord." Philippians 1: "…I desire to depart[die]and be with Christ, which is better by far…" Jesus wants to remind this character, this criminal, this righteous, and he wants to remind you today that death is a horrible thing God will ultimately redeem, but something will happen in the blink of an eye when you die. You'll be with Christ if you know him.
The second thing he says is, "…today you will be with me in paradise." Do you see what Paul just said there? Not Jesus but Paul. "…and home with the Lord." He said, "…depart and be with Christ…" Here's the deal. Here's the message for us. If we have a view of the cross that doesn't ultimately end with Christ, you have an inadequate view of the cross.
If you have a view of Jesus taking your sins that doesn't ultimately end with Christ, you have an inadequate view of that. If you have a view of Jesus giving you all of his righteousness that doesn't end with Christ, you have an inadequate view about the imputation of Christ's righteousness. If you have a view of heaven that doesn't end with Christ and you're more fired up about whatever in heaven, you have an inadequate view of heaven.
That shows up every day. When we open up God's Word, if we are opening it up for information and not to be with Christ, we are reading that for the wrong reason. God has saved us to be with him, to reconcile us back to him, and the last thing he says is, "…in paradise." Here's what the Jewish listeners would have known at that time. When they heard the word paradise at the request of the kingdom, they would have gone instantly in their mind to the garden of Eden.
Guess what happened in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve walked with the Lord in perfect fellowship. Jesus is like, "This paradise isn't going to look like that because sin affected that one. Where you're going is a paradise where it's going to be just me and no sin. "…today you will be with me in paradise."
I don't know your story of when Jesus became real to you. I grew up in a church where I knew something about Jesus. I was faithful. I was there every single Sunday. I saw a cross every single Sunday, but it wasn't until I was 16 that I came to know Jesus. I didn't just come to know Jesus; I came face to face with the fact that I was a law-breaker, and law-breakers need Saviors.
When the God of the universe is holy and says things like, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect," you're like, "Who can do that?" You only have one option. You can't be good enough to get in a relationship with God. You need a Savior, and that's what happened when I was 16. The cross made sense. It was the first time I knew I needed Jesus and not something from him. He needed to be my Savior.
It would be years later until I realized… I kept asking Jesus, "Show me. Serve me. Show me. Prove it!" Here's how that showed up at the coffee shop I worked at when I was scrubbing that drain and it didn't make sense. I was saying, "God, prove it! Show me! Tell me what's going on." Here's what I didn't know until years later.
God was like, "Rob, you can't love people. You can't even love your own wife. You're arrogant. You're prideful. You're entitled. That degree means nothing in my economy. Neither does the second one. It means nothing to me. It's a piece of paper that's going to be in a trash heap someday."
Those barnacles on that drain were God's provision for me. That nasty drain was God showing me, proving to me, and serving me, because he can't use people like that. As Chuck said, he wants to use broken people. That was God's provision, to break me, but I couldn't see it at the time. Just like nobody could see it at the time that Jesus was going to do what he said he was going to do, Jesus did what he said he was going to do, and God was faithful with that drain in my life.
I don't know what that is for you, but here's what I know about this passage. I don't know what your drain is. This passage is the exclamation point in a sentence that just says, "Jesus loves you, and he loves outsiders." This passage is an exclamation point. If you feel like an outsider here, here's the simple call. Get to know Jesus. My friends and I will be down front after service. We'd love to help you take that next step with Jesus. If you're someone who is an insider, then what a great opportunity to know Jesus more!
If you're an outsider, here's what you need to know. The Father sent Jesus to show the world himself. He sent Jesus to serve the world. He sent Jesus to save you. If you're an insider, just as the Father sent Jesus, Jesus is sending you and me to show the world Jesus. He is sending us to serve others, and he's sending us to show people Jesus is the Savior of the world.
I don't know what you thought about when you listened to Chuck up here talk about how he had a relationship with a 15-year-old girl, but I bet it's similar to the way I felt when I started re:generation almost 10 years ago. It was called something different. It was called Celebrate Recovery then. I literally went because my wife was like, "You are messed up, and you need to go get well."
After you hear that enough, you're like, "Gosh! I need to get her off of my back. If something else comes out of this, great." I remember sitting in that re:generation circle for about the first eight to 12 weeks looking at crazy porn addicts, crazy alcoholics, crazy drug abusers, and crazy men who were lying to their wives.
I was normal. Crazy, crazy, crazy! I was just thinking, "They're crazy. There's nothing in them I identify with." Two things happened over the course of 52 weeks. One is the joy and the freedom of being able to look someone in their eye and say, "You have offended," and say, "I have sinned against you. Will you forgive me for that?" The freedom that comes with this is incredible.
The second thing I took away and maybe the only other thing I remember from that 52 weeks 10 years ago was I could look at every single person in that circle and say, "I'm nothing like you, and I'm everything like you. I have not binged on drugs the way you have, but the way you talk about craving, desiring, and wanting to fill something in your life with something other than Jesus… I'm just like you. I'm just like you. I'm just like you. I'm just like Chuck," and so are you.
On the cross Jesus showed us who he was. He served us. He saved us. The Romans and the religious asked Jesus, "Show me," and they missed he already has. The rebellious asked Jesus, "Serve me," and they missed the fact that he already has. The righteous asked Jesus, "Save me," and we find he welcomes all of us with open arms. This passage is the exclamation point that God loves you and loves outsiders. Let's pray.
Father, starting with me, would you help me believe this passage? Would you help us believe we need you more than anything we need from you? Would you help us repent if we've turned you into a genie? Father, would you help us view ourselves as an outsider? Father, would you help us to be able to put our fingers on our depravity where we can say, "We are law-breakers"?
Father, would you help our depravity to be real so our Savior is real and his offer is real? Father, would you help us in the same way you sent Jesus? Will you help us be faithful, your ambassadors, and your ministers of reconciliation? Will you help us say, "Thank you"? In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Have you ever felt like an outsider? Like everyone else around you knew someone else and you were all alone? Take heart, Christ came to earth for the outsiders!