Huge crowds followed Jesus – there were healings, dead being raised, people set free. Jesus made remarkable claims about himself – saying he was the only way of life. The religious leaders began to hate him for it, because in their eyes it was blasphemy. They looked for any excuse to start a rebellion against him.
Jesus was crucified and died to bring salvation for all the nations – this was God’s plan of rescuing and saving the human race.
Luke 23:32-43 records the account of Jesus on the cross with the 2 thieves on either side of him – we can gain a lot from examining this.
1. The easiest mistake we can make
- Like the first thieve and the crowds, we can have Jesus right next to us and totally miss him – who he really is and what he came to do.
- The Jews thought God would/could never die in weakness but would come in power and overtake the Roman government. They thought no good could come of Jesus’ death.
- Sometimes we come to Jesus because of an urgent/immediate “need” – career, relationships, money, health – like he’s a genie in a bottle. It only leads to emptiness if he gives us what we want, because we find we’re still not satisfied. We need to come as sinners, not sufferers.
- We miss the fact that Jesus came to give himself to us, not to fix our life how we think it should be fixed. We need Jesus at the centre – he is what will fulfil us.
2. The hardest admission
- We have to admit we are sinners – we come to God as a sinner, not a sufferer. This is the hardest admission to make because it means we have to let go of our pride and be vulnerable.
- The second thief was mocking Jesus with the rest – and then dramatically became Jesus’ advocate.
- The tipping point comes when we are under pressure.
- When we become vulnerable and open ourselves to the gospel of grace, we receive the real thing.
- It’s not about attaining moral standards – this just leads to pride or despair/anxiety, treating God as if he owes you for how “good” you are.
3. The greatest gift
- Jesus wants to forgive us immediately if we will turn to him – see how quickly he did for the second thief. Jesus is so fast to respond to our admission.
- The second thief gets it, then the Roman centurion does.
- Jesus paid the greatest price to give us this – it was his choice.
- He takes our imperfection – our guilt and shame – and we get his perfection in exchange!
- When you’re convinced you’re loved, you will live a completely different life! You’re the spiritual equivalent of a billionaire; why would you care about losing a £10 note? You’re loved and accepted by the only one who matters – why care about those few people who reject you or don’t like you?
- We don’t need to fear death – Jesus has made the way of eternal life. Because he resurrected, we know we will also because we belong to him!