Testimony of the Death of Christ (Luke 23:44-49)

      Pastor John Newton truly believed what he wrote in 1779, “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind but now I see.” Shortly before his death in 1807, Newton told a visiting friend, “My memory is nearly gone but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.” There are many things that we will forget in our lifetime, but we must never forget those twin truths that we are great sinners and Christ is a great Savior. John Newton wanted the world to always remember his testimony so he wrote this to be inscribed on his tombstone,

Once an Infidel and Libertine, A Servant of Slaves in Africa,Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST, Preserved, restored and pardoned, And appointed to preach the faith, He had long laboured to destroy.

Due to the rich mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, John Newton was transformed from an infidel, slave trader to a preacher of the gospel of grace.  How we understand the death of Jesus Christ will have a dramatic impact on our lives. Tonight, let us look at four testimonies about the Death of Jesus Christ so that we may never forget of our great sin and our great Savior.

The Creation Testifies to the Death of Christ

      As Jesus hung on the cross, creation testified to his death by bringing darkness upon the land. Luke 23:44-45a, “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed.” The sixth hour to the ninth hour would have been 12 pm to 3 pm. This would be a very unlikely time for darkness to cover the earth. This darkness was not coincidence, but rather a divine act of God confirming his judgment against sin. Amos 8:9, “‘And on that day,’ declares the Lord God, ‘I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every heard; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.’” Creation testifies to the judgment that fell upon the Son of God in his death. 

      Jesus was experiencing the judgment that we rightly deserved. He was being judged in our place bearing the wrath of God against the sinful rebellion of his people. This was not a natural solar eclipse, but a supernatural act where creation is testifying to the displeasure of God in the crucifixion of the only Son and God’s hatred of sin. We have all experienced physical effects caused by emotional issues. Whether it is anxiety or guilt, the physical effects are a sign that something is wrong. The darkness that fell upon the land was a physical effect as a sign that something was wrong. That darkness should always be a reminder to us of God’s hatred towards sin, but also a reminder that the night comes before the morning as the refrain from Genesis 1, “there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”  The darkness comes so we can appreciate the light. 

The Creator Testifies to the Death of Christ

      After the whole land went dark and God judged Jesus for sin, Luke announces one of the greatest sentences in history, “And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” This may not seem like an earth shattering statement, but it is beautiful.  God’s presence always dwelt in the temple.  The temple was built as a sanctuary for the Lord. Specifically, God’s presence was manifested in the Holy of Holies. No one was able to enter the Holy of Holies except for the chief priest and he was only able to enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. There was a separation of God from the people. In Exodus, God said to Moses, “‘But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.’”(Exodus 33:20) The curtain of the temple represented how God was inaccessible to the people.

      As Jesus took God’s wrath on the cross, the curtain was torn in two. God is testifying to the world that through the death of his Son the world now has access to Him. Jesus Christ has reconciled the world to God by making peace through the blood of the cross. Man no longer needs to go to the temple to worship, but now God is looking for worshipers in spirit and in truth. The tearing of the curtain ended the worship in the temple because Jesus Christ had fulfilled the law by being obedient unto death. Beloved, we now have access through Jesus Christ. The torn curtain was God’s declaration that we can come to Him through Christ.

       I have always viewed the curtain being torn from man’s perspective. I will never forget first hearing of the torn temple curtain sitting in Anne Horsfall’s living room while my friend and mentor, Coach Pic, told us that we could have access to God through Jesus Christ. It was Easter weekend and it was one of the very first times I felt the Holy Spirit descend upon a room.  There was a weightiness of God’s glory in that room. I have always thought of this from my perspective, “I now can have access to God,” but only this past week have I viewed it from God’s perspective. God no longer is bound to the temple, but he has torn to the curtain so that He could have access to all people. God is pictured as coming out of his temple to reach out to all people.[1] God did not just open the door so I could come in, but He opened the door and then came to get me to bring me to Him. It is far more than just opening the door.  Jesus death represents the ultimate opening up of the way to God as he came to seek and save that which was lost.  God testified that through death of Christ, we have access to Him and He has access to us.

      Jesus remains in control to the very end. Jesus said in John 10:18, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down on my own accord.”  We see that true here as Jesus gave up his spirit. Luke 46, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this breathed his last.” The last words upon our Lord’s lips were a direct quote from Psalm 31. Psalm 31 was written for God to deliver the righteous sufferer. Jesus is testifying to his righteous perfection and his faith in God to deliver him from death. Psalm 31:5, “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” Jesus placed his spirit into the faithful hands of God and in three days God would redeem Him from death.

      In death, Jesus placed his faith in the coming resurrection.  Beloved, this must be where we place our faith in death. Jesus entrusted his soul to God so you must entrust your soul to God.

The Centurion Testifies to the Death of Christ

            The Roman Centurion, who witnessed how Jesus was valiant and faithful unto to death, praised God and confessed his innocence. Luke 23:47, “Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” Luke has been highlighting Christ’s innocence over the last several chapters. Luke wanted Jesus’ righteousness and moral perfection to be clear to the reader. By the time Luke had been written there had been many stories going around about Jesus. There were people who testified, like the Pharisees did, that he was a rebel and stirred people up to violence.  Luke wanted his audience, the most excellent Theophilus, to see that nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus Christ was the Righteous One who suffered in the place of the unrighteous as 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” This centurion saw the trust and hope that Jesus had in God and testified to the truth that Jesus was the innocent, Righteous One. Mark records him as saying, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.” This Roman soldier praised God and testified to the truth as he watched how Jesus died.

In 320 AD, another Roman soldier was impacted as he watched disciples of Christ entrust themselves to God in death. Emperor Licinius sent out an edict that all soldiers had to send out all of the soldiers had to make sacrifices to pagan God. The Roman 12th legion of Imperial Army had a choice, they could either bow to the edict of man or entrust their souls to Jesus.  These 40 soldiers replied, “You can have our armor and even our bodies, but our hearts' allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ.”

The General and the Emperor made repeated pleas with the men to renounce Christ. They first tried prison, but the men were staunch their trust in Jesus.  Finally, the Captain decided they had enough time and their defiance of the emperor had to be punished in death. It was the middle of winter and the men were marched to a nearby frozen lake outside Sebaste. The Captain stripped these 40 men of their clothes giving them the choice to freeze to death or renounce Christ. Every man disrobed exposing their bodies to the frigid temperatures. They held onto to one another singing their victory song they had wrote during their imprisonment, "Forty martyrs for Christ."

          These men believed that it was important for all 40 men to remain faithful as forty was a number of testing, Israel was tested for 40 years in the wilderness and Jesus was test for 40 days in the desert. They knew they this was their time of testing and wanted to be proven faithful. This prayer was heard by the Roman guard as these men stood together on the frozen lake, “Lord, we are forty who are engaged in this combat; grant that we may be forty crowned, and that not one be wanting to this sacred number.”

      Men slowly started to succumb to the elements. In the middle of the night, one of the 40, fell to his flesh, losing courage stumbled to the shore and renounced Christ. The Lord heard their prayer and answered their plea for one of the Roman soldiers who watched these men die with such courage and faith. He heard their prayer. He heard them joyfully sing. Their faith caused him to repent and to give his life to Christ. This new Christian disrobed and walked onto the frozen lake. It has been recorded that as he ran out to the lake, he shouted, “There are still 40!! There are still 40!! He died with his brothers ensuring that not one would be wanting from the sacred number.

      Beloved, Jesus Christ died so others may live. We are called to die so that others may live. Jesus was innocent and suffered unjustly, but continued to put his faith in God. We are called to follow his example. We are called to live righteous lives and may be called to suffer unjustly. Saints throughout history have suffered unjustly at the hands of the world. Eleven of the twelve apostles were killed for their faith in Jesus. Paul was beheaded for his faith. Early church father Tertullian wrote, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. We cannot avoid persecution, but we can hold fast to Christ.

      We live to carry the testimony of Jesus death with us every day so that others would experience his life. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12,

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Jesus’ death was not only our atoning sacrifice, but also our example to follow. We live with hope in the midst of suffering so that others will have life. Is that you? Do you rejoice in your sufferings so others can see Christ? Beloved, it is a privilege to believe in Christ and a privilege to suffer for him. If we are poured out for the sacrifice and service of others, we should be glad and rejoice. Jesus’ suffering was not in vain, but it leads us to eternal hope and reconciled us to God. Our suffering is not in vain for it leads others to the eternal hope in Christ and reconciliation with God. Carry the testimony of Jesus death with you every day so others may see Christ in you.

The Crowd Testifies to the Death of Christ

      It became evident not only to the soldier that Jesus was the Righteous One, but to the crowd as well. Luke continues,

And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. (Luke 23:48-49)

We do not know the exact thoughts of the crowd, but we can see that they realized that Jesus death was different.

The crowd probably were second guessing their pleas to have Jesus crucified. Luke says the crowd returned home, “beating their breasts.” This is a sign of mourning. Luke uses the same language in the parable Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the tax collector’s plea for mercy.  Luke 18:13, “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” The death of Jesus affected the crowd. They were mourning his death showing that they did not believe that he deserved to die with the two men that hung to his right and left.

The crowd had changed their tune. They witnessed the death of Christ and were deeply affected by it. The death of Christ demands a response. Peter stood up at the day of Pentecost and testified to this death,

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:36-38)

We are to know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ. We like the crowd who witnessed his death and the crowd who heard of his death, should be cut to the heart knowing that Jesus died for us. It was our sin that nailed him to the cross. It was our transgression that had to be punished.

 Does the death of Christ still affect you? We must pray that we never get over the death of Christ. We must pray that we will be like John Newton that at the end of our lives, if we can remember nothing else, we will remember that we are great sinners and Christ is a great Savior. Our sin led Christ to the cross, but His love for us kept him on the cross.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Our shame, not in part, but the whole is nailed to the cross. Our guilt, not in part, but the whole is nailed to the cross. Our condemnation, not in part, but the whole is nailed to the cross. Our evil, not in part, but the whole is nailed to the cross.

When Satan tempts me to despair, And tells me of the guilt within, Upward I look and see Him there, Who made an end of all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free. For God the just is satisfied, To look on Him and pardon me.

Do not despair, Christ died for the ungodly.

      Creation testified to the death of Christ. The centurion testified to the death of Christ. The crowd testified to the death of Christ. How will you testify to the death of Christ? What will his death mean for you? Will his death mean your salvation or your condemnation? Beloved, we are great sinners, and we need a great Savior!! Let your life testify to death of Christ. Let us always carry in our bodies the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in us. Let His death be at work in us so that life may be at work in others.

[1] Bock, D.L. (1996) Luke 9:51-Luke24:53 (Vol 2). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 

Desires in Death (Luke 23:26-43)

Crucifixion was an awful death. It was reserved for those who committed treason against the King. Jesus was tied to a post and was beaten and scourged with a leather whip that was interwoven with pieces of bone and metal designed to tear the flesh as it was pulled away from the skin. The beating was often so severe that many did not survive it. Jesus was scourged with the whip to ensure his death would be final on the cross. The reason crucifixion was so brutal was so that it would publicly shame the convicted criminal and serve as a warning to anyone who thought to defy Caesar. Jesus’ death was meant to be a public demonstration of Rome’s power, but it will show the power of his love for his Father and for those the Father had given him.

     Although Jesus is being led as a martyr, he acts as the Divine Judge who has the power to dispense mercy even as he experiences a death without mercy. We are going to look at the desires of Jesus throughout his crucifixion by examining his words during his last moments prior to his death. We will focus on three desires of Jesus as he approaches his death.

Jesus Desires Weeping for the Coming Destruction

After being beaten, the Roman soldiers lead Jesus up to the place called the Skull, or Golgotha, Latin for Calvary, forcing a man in the crowd to carry the cross. Luke 23:26-31,

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:26-31)

A crowd of women were following Jesus and weeping over him as he headed for the cross, but Jesus turns to them and tells them to weep for themselves. The women are representing the Nation of Israel. Jesus speaks to them with tenderness as he addresses them, “Daughters of Jerusalem.” The Nation has rejected Jesus as Messiah and therefore destruction is coming to befall them.  He warns them of the coming days that will be so bad they think it would be better off to be dead than to experience that degree of suffering. This destruction was realized in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 which is described in the writings of Josephus as horrific.

      Jesus is heading towards the cross, but is still concerned with the souls of others. Jesus quotes Hosea 10:8 which speaks of Israel being judged for their idolatry. Idolatry is worshipping something or someone other than God. Tim Keller has said, “Idolatry is not just a failure to obey God, it is a setting of the whole heart on something besides God[1].” Jesus is saying that the Nation of Israel has set their heart on something other than God and the Messiah. Hosea 10:8, “The high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. Thorn and thistle shall grow up on their altars, and they shall say to the mountains, “Cover us,” and to the hills, “Fall on us.” Jesus is tenderly caring for the Nation by encouraging them to weep over their sin and turn to God in repentance. Blessed are those who mourn over their sin, for they will be comforted.

Jesus knows the cross will be brutal, but he also knows of the joy that lies after the cross. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus knew that glory awaited him at the other side of the cross so he was able to turn to these women and say, “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” Jesus desires his people to weep over their idolatry, their false hopes, and their sin.

Are there sins or idols in your life that God is asking you to weep over this morning? Have you taken good things like money, career, or family and made them ultimate things which have a greater influence on you than God? How do you know if you have an idol problem? First, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if you have idols. Second, ask yourself what you think about in you silence. Archbishop William Temple once said, “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” He means our “functional Savior” is revealed what we think about in silence. Tim Keller, again, is helpful here:

The true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention. What do you enjoy day-dreaming about? What is it that occupies your mind when you have nothing else to think about? Do you develop potential scenarios about career advancement? Or material goods such as a dream home? Or a relationship with a particular person? One or two day dreams do not indicate idolatry. Ask rather, what do you habitually think about to get joy and comfort in the privacy of your heart?[2]

Jesus was walking to the cross and he tenderly told his people to weep over their idols. Beloved, I pray that you will weep over your idols and place your heart fully on the hope of Jesus Christ.

    Jesus ends his words to these women by giving them a parable saying, “For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” As NT Scholar Darrell Bock comments, “If the Jews treat Jesus this way for coming to deliver them, how will they be treated for destroying him?[3] It is much easier to burn dry wood than lush, wet, green wood. Jesus desires his people to weep, for destruction is coming. It will come to you like a thief in the night unless you repent of your idols and place your faith in Christ.

Jesus Desires Forgiveness for the Current Destroyers

Jesus continues to be led to the place of the Skull. It was called a Skull because the hill protruded into the sky like a skull. Luke shows how Jesus is being led their along with other criminals to receive the same fate as the guilty. Luke 23:32-38,

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, 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.”

I want to focus on two things: how Jesus was treated and how Jesus treated others.

     First, let us examine how Jesus was treated.  It said that they cast lots to divide his garments. This could have been the outer garments that were given to him by Herod when they mocked his kingship or it could have been all his clothes. It was tradition that right before the crucified died, the soldiers would strip them so that they would be exposed and naked, publicly shaming them one last time. Jesus was watched by the people and scoffed at by the rulers. He was mocked in his true identity as Messiah and the Chosen One. His charge hung above his head, “This is the King of the Jews.” In the eyes of the crowd his death was a sign of his inability to save, but we know his death was the sign that He alone is able to save. Jesus was treated awfully and did not deserve any of this treatment. 

No one has ever experienced the level of injustice that Jesus faced that day as he hung on the cross. His hands nailed to the cross, straining to pull his weight up so that he could take a breath before his body weight fell again suffocating his lungs. He hung as a cursed man for the sake of cursed men. He was in agony. No one has ever experienced that level of injustice and hatred. And in the midst of this cruelty, how does Jesus treat others?  He prays, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus is more concerned with the souls of others than his mistreatment.

Jesus provides a tremendous example for us as we face those “destroyers” in our lives. We will face people who desire to destroy fellowship with us through slander, gossip, lying, stealing, malice, etc. If we live long enough, we are going to be mistreated. Whether it is by a close friend or a foe, Jesus shows what our desires should be in our mistreatment. We should desire their forgiveness. When was the last time you were mistreated? How did you respond? Did you desire their forgiveness or their pain? Did you want them to experience God’s grace or God’s wrath? The natural response is to demand retribution for injustice, but Jesus desires for his people to have a “supernatural” response. Jesus lives out his words from the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6,

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. …. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-33; 35-36)

Beloved, are you treating people as their sins deserve or are you treating them in view of the mercy you have received?

We were the ungrateful and the evil that to whom God showed kindness. We were the mockers and the scoffers. We were the criminals who were guilty of treason against our God and King. And yet, God did not treat us as our sins deserved, but showed us mercy. He desired our forgiveness; he did not save himself so that he could save us from our sins.  Jesus chose the cross so others may live. And now, Jesus is calling us to choose cross as well so others may live.

Beloved, this is how we are to treat others. We are not called to avenge ourselves in the face of injustice, but to desire forgiveness. When we do not treat others with mercy and forgiveness, we forget how God has treated us with mercy and forgiveness. Jesus said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15) If you are unwilling to forgive others than why should you expect God to forgive you?

Whose forgiveness is God calling you to pray for? Who is God calling you to forgive? Remember, forgiveness is conditional. When Jesus prays to the Father to forgive them, he is praying for their repentance. God is always ready to forgive, but people must repent and believe. Not everyone will be forgiven, but only those who put their faith in Christ, which is clearly seen in these two criminals who were hanging on his right and left.

Jesus Desires Paradise for the Confession of Death

Luke returns to the two criminals that are hanging cursed alongside Jesus. In Matthew and Mark’s account of the crucifixion, it says that both criminals reviled Jesus. Luke does not provide this detail, but we can assume that while the thief hung on the cross, he finally saw who Jesus truly was, and repented and believed. Luke 23:39-43,

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other 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.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Two criminals died next to Jesus that day, but only one was forgiven. One thief was forgiven because his eyes were opened and he recognized his sin before God and Jesus as his Savior and only hope in death.

In four short verses we see someone move from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of the Beloved Son in whom there is redemption, the forgiveness of sins. First, he feared God, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?” He realized that his time was coming and he was going to have to answer for his sin. Second, he acknowledged his sin, “And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds.” Third he knew that Jesus was innocent, “but this man has done nothing wrong.” Fourth, he confesses Jesus as Christ the King, “And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Fifth, he receives the promise of eternal life and to be with Jesus, “And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Friends, we all only have two choices. We confess Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as our only hope before God, or we choose to face God alone, receiving the due reward for our deeds. The choice is yours: which shall you choose?

When I was 20 years old this story of the thief helped me choose to follow Jesus. I was living in ways that did not honor God. I was burdened by my sin and guilt, but this man’s simple faith changed my life. After hearing a talk on this thief, they played a song by Third Day called, “Thief,” that tells the story of this man. Listen to the words and the think about the choice that is before us today,

I am a thief, I am a murderer
Walking up this lonely hill
What have I done? I don't remember
No one knows just how I feel
and I know that my time is coming soon.
It's been so long. Oh, such a long time
Since I've lived with peace and rest
Now I am here, my destination
guess things work for the best
and I know that my time is coming soon
Who is this man? This man beside me
They call the King of the Jews
They don't believe that He's the Messiah
But, somehow I know it's true.
And they laugh at Him in mockery,
and beat Him till he bleeds
They nail Him to the rugged cross,
and raise Him, they raise Him up next to me
My time has come, I'm slowly fading
I deserve what I receive
Jesus when You are in Your kingdom
Could You please remember me
and He looks at me still holding on
the tears fall from His eyes
He says I tell the truth
Today, you will live with Me in paradise
and I know that my time is coming soon
and I know paradise is coming soon.

This man’s story is a sweet reminder that God delights to save sinners.  It was a sweet reminder that God delighted to save a sinner like me. I chose to follow Christ and I have never regretted it.

This morning we have the opportunity as a church family to confess our faith again through taking communion together. Jesus established the Lord’s Supper the day before his death so that we could remind our weak hearts that God delights to save sinners. We have the great privilege to publicly proclaim our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by physically taking the bread and the cup. The bread is a reminder that Jesus’ body was broken for us. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” The cup is a reminder that Jesus has purchased and established for us the new covenant in his blood.

      The Lord’s Supper is not only a reminder for us, but it is also a declaration. We are coming together declaring and confessing our belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” As the thief said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” we also proclaim in taking the bread and the cup for Jesus to remember us when he comes and establishes his kingdom. Taking the Lord’s Supper is an act of faith. It is a sign that you trust in Christ and desire to live in righteousness. As we prepare the Table, I would ask you to prepare your own heart, for “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” Beloved, remember it is a great privilege to take communion, but also a great responsibility.  As we remember our sins, let us also remember that through faith in the death of Jesus Christ, God will remember our sins no more.

[3] Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51–24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1847). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
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