The Intercession of Christ

Why Christ HAD To Stay On The Cross

Luke 23:39-43

I.      Introduction -


A.    Isa 53:4,5,12

B.    Luke 5:27-32

C.    Jesus Christ did not come to this earth to just live a good life and be our example, but rather to be our sufficient substitute on the cross (John 3:16-18). His death on the cross was the work of intercession for sinners to enable them to be forgiven.

D.    Intercession” is the work of Jesus Christ on behalf of another person - to save their soul from hell. Here, in the Scripture, the “other” person is not a good man, not a righteous man, nor a worthy man, he is not even an important man - he is a convicted criminal - a sinner about to die! The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Rom 6:23). It is this man that Christ intercedes for, and I want us to learn WHY!


II.    Background (Luke 23:13-38)


A.    You should well know The Innocence of Jesus (23:13-17)

B.    You should remember The Insurrection of the Crowd (23:18-23)

C.    You should realize The Injustice of His Crucifixion (23:24-25,33-38)


But have you ever noticed The Intercession of Christ in it all (23:39-43)?


There are three “convicted criminals” on their crosses talking. Who are these men hanging 13 feet in the air? What is that middle man doing there between two thieves? One turns out to be a Railer, another a Receiver, and the “middle man” turns out to be my Redeemer!!!


III.   Message - The Intercession of Christ (Luke 23:39-43)


A.    The Ridiculer and His Rebellion (23:39) - Sinful Railer


1.     This man on the first cross was:


a.     He was a lawbreaker. A thief. Not just a petty-theft offender. Evidently, a repeat offender to warrant death. Condemned to die this cruel death on a cross!

b.     He was rebellious against the judgment of his crimes. He is angry. Angry that he got caught. Thinks not that bad. Definitely not sorry for his crimes.

c.     Rested in the conclusions of everyone else - He is in agreement with the crowd

d.     Rejected Christ as the Son of God, and the Lamb of God

e.     Required miracles and outward showings to make him believe that Jesus was more than a man! Everybody is a skeptic today

f.      Resisted the free gift being presented for his sins right before his eyes and made it into something to laugh at and scorn! Only interested in physical deliverance, not in spiritual things

g.     This man decides to bare his punishment - alone and forever!


2.     Turns out this is the condition of every person on this planet!


a.     A lawbreaker of God’s Laws! A sinner (Rom 3:10,23). Under condemnation of God (John 3:18) to die a cruel eternal death!

b.     Rebellious against God’s judgment of sin. Think they are not that bad! Self-righteous!

c.     Rely upon the majority view instead of what God said

d.     People look for miracles and “proof” before they believe! Would rather believe in visions, Fatima, Lourdes, and moving statues rather than the eternal words of God Himself!

e.     By nature reject Jesus Christ as their only sin payment, and rather live their lives thinking that they can pay off their sins themselves - which they can never do! Questions, If thou be...

f.      They resist the free gift, and turn it into something to laugh at and scorn - Bible Christianity is always laughed at! Only interested in physical deliverance, no in spiritual things!


B.    The Sinner and His Conversion (23:40-42) -Sinful Receiver/Believer


1.     He is much like the first criminal. Also a lawbreaker. Also a repeat offender. Also under condemnation and judgment for his sins against humanity. But there is a vast difference!

2.     But, he was able to stop and think clearly in the midst of all that was going on around him - the pain, the crowds, the thirst. He overlooked his own self for a moment:


a.     He realized an innocent man was dying right next to him

b.     He rebuked the other criminal


1) He Feared the God they were about to meet!

2) He had the Feeling of justice - they got what they deserved. Accepted his condition as what they deserved!


This is called repentance, as opposed to rebellion!


c.     He recognized some things:


1) That this Man was not angry, nor crying out for deliverance - He was yielded to what was going on!

2) That He was not coming down off the cross - determined to stay on

3) That He really was who He claimed to be (see 23:35)!


d.     Then, finally, he requested mercy


1) Convinced that Jesus was Christ, the Messiah, the LORD! And that He had the authority to do something about his eternity! No one else could!

2) Convinced that Jesus was his only hope - not religion, government’s welfare programmes, nor his own goodness, rather that Jesus was the only One worth putting his complete faith in!

3) Convinced only Jesus’ word settled the whole matter!


Now, there was One other Person there - one other part to this picture


C.    The Redeemer and His Obligation (23:43) - Sinless Redeemer


A.    He was NOT a criminal, nor sinner, but the Lamb of God!

B.    He HAD to stay on the cross. If He is to save others, Himself He cannot save! He had to be their substitute to pay for their sins in God’s court!

C.    He HAD to love both criminals, the crowd (23:34) as well as the whole world! Overlooked His own sacrifice for you and me!

D.    He HAD to deal with sinners individually - not a blanket salvation, but one where every sinner would come straight to Him, and find mercy and salvation!


1.     Today” - Immediate salvation! Not someday, not hopefully, not gradually, but TODAY! Jesus gave that dying thief FULL ASSURANCE!!!

2.     Thou shalt be with me” - To be where Christ is, is salvation. No purgatory, no limbo, no fear of the unknown! Paul says, To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!”

3.     In paradise” - Nothing like life on this earth. No more pain, sorrow, death or curse! Only heaven! That’s not the word of a man! You have Jesus’ word on it! That’s why I trusted Him!


D.        That very moment, that thief passed from death unto life (1 John 3:14), and no longer was under condemnation, but FREE and FORGIVEN!


IV.   Conclusion - Why did Jesus HAVE to stay on that Cross? To Intercede for the sinner!


A.    Luke 5:32 says that Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He came to intercede for sinners! And that required Him to go to the cross, and die such a death, for YOU! Don’t buy into the lie that you are not a bad person.


1.        Recognize that you are a sinner and that like that second thief, your only hope is in fully trusting the Christ who died willingly in your place - the One who would not come down! Or you bare your own punishment alone and forever!

2.        Repent of your sin - turn from its authority over your life

3.        Request mercy and complete salvation from Christ by simple faith, and as was shown here - it comes freely and immediately!

4.        Don’t follow the example of The Ridiculer and His Rebellion

5.        Examine The Sinner and His Conversion

6.        Fully trust The Redeemer to save your soul NOW!


B.    Are you saved? If you are, How are you living your new life Christ gave you?


1.     In His word daily?

2.        Determined to keep Jesus Christ FIRST? He is worthy!

3.        Committed to serving Christ fully? God is sick of half-hearted Christians!!!


Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church Blarney

29 Westcourt Heights

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland