Today, Shalt Thou Be With Me In Paradise

One Man’s Faith

Luke 23:42-43

I.         Introduction


A.      The Cross was a culmination of a tortuous day, that had begun sometime after midnight, and was to last until 5pm, on Wednesday evening.

B.       During those many long hours, a lot of things happened.

C.       But the greatest thing that happened next to Christ’s cry of It Is Finished, was when a sinner, hanging on a cross next to Jesus, against the pressures of the whole world, decided to go ahead and trust Jesus to be HIS Saviour and be born again!

D.      That one man’s faith is incredible when you take a good long look at the events of the crucifixion. When everybody had abandoned Jesus, one man decided to go ahead and believe in Him – believe that even though He was nailed to a cross, he was King, and would reign in His coming kingdom!

E.       How did a sinner figure that out, when everybody else missed it? Even Peter?

F.       That is the purpose of our study this morning, as we approach the Resurrection.

A.      Journey with me today through the last day of the life of Christ. Our journey will take us to a place far away called Calvary.

B.       Calvary, known in the Hebrew as Golgotha, was the place of the skull – the place of death. Walk with me up that path today as we see the Son of God hanging on an old rugged cross.

C.       Watch with me, as the innocent-One dies there for you and I. The “Just for the unjust.” The pure for the defiled. The sinless for the sinner. The Creator for His creation.

D.      Watch as He who knew no sin will become sin for you and me.

E.       May we listen in as God in the flesh speaks His dying words to all mankind.

F.       Let’s briefly list the seven final times Jesus spoke!


1.        Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

2.        John 19:26,27, “Woman, behold thy son! Behold thy mother!”

3.        Luke 23:43, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

4.        Matthew 27:46, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

5.        John 19:28, “I Thirst”

6.        Luke 23:46, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

7.        John 19:30, “It is finished”


G.       We learned last week that His first utterance was a prayer. And what a powerful prayer it was!


1.        It was because of this one prayer that anybody can be born again, forgiven adopted into the family of God, made completely new again!

2.        And it is because of this one prayer, that backslidden Christians can know they are secure in Christ, no matter how low they go in this life!


H.      Then last Sunday evening, we learned about how Jesus divorced Himself from the relationship He had with His mother – she was John’s mother now!

I.         Let’s take a good look at what brought about Jesus making such a powerful promise to such a sinner as the man hanging next to Him that day!


II.       Message


A.      Christ’s Place – Always Among Sinners (Lk 23:32,33)


1.        Emmanuel – God with us! But that means, that God was going to REALLY be with us SINNERS!

2.        Sinners were the people who were most at home with Jesus (Lk 5:30-32; 15:1)

3.        Jesus was most comfortable with sinners


a.       Never fled from people of low repute

b.       Never looked down at someone struggling in sin

c.       Always went TO the sinner – like a doctor does to a patient


4.        Jesus never minded being associated with sinners

5.        Even if it meant being crucified right along side some whoppers!

6.        Christ’s place was among sinners – malefactors – thieves

7.        Be very careful not to think of yourself as not being a sinner (1Tim 1:15)


B.       Christ’s Pardon – when He should be calling for justice, and exoneration


1.        Right after being whipped, beaten, crowned with thorns, and then crucified, Jesus prays a small prayer


a.       NOT for justice

b.       NOT for deliverance

c.       NOT for help of any kind

d.       Only for forgiveness, for any and all around Him that day


2.        It is the person WRONGED who can grant forgiveness

3.        These people were slowly, tortuously murdering an innocent Man

4.        We all have wronged our Lord

5.        Instead of destroying this world, He chose to offer forgiveness – pardon

6.        The complete removal of any record against them – by order of God


C.       Christ’s Public Disgrace – an innocent man being treated so


1.        Jesus had been secretly tried in several mock courts through the night

2.        He then was dragged from Pilate to Herod and back to Pilate – each time being beaten and spit upon and one time a chunk of His beard being ripped off His face – always with His hands tied

3.        Twice Pilate presented Jesus before a violent crowd, each time publicly humiliating Him


a.       With a royal robe and crown of thorns

b.       Then along side the most vile wicked man in the prison – Barabbas

c.       Only to be ignored by the people as they chose Barabbas to go free


4.        After being humiliated on “stage” He then is forced to endure more public beatings, but this time with two soldiers, each having a “cat-of-nine-tails”

5.        After forty lashes across Christ’s bare body, Jesus is given a long pole to carry through the streets, along with the other two malefactors

6.        Each step Christ took, He took through a large jeering crowd, all the way outside of the city gates of Jerusalem, up a small hill

7.        There, they nailed Him to the cross-beam and raised Him high up, only to be jolted with incredible force as the long pole fell into place in the hole that it was to set in.

8.        And there, publicly, shamefully, He hung

9.        A Public Disgrace

10.     But that was not bad enough


D.      Christ’s Rejection.


1.        There is nothing more painful than being rejected


a.       People can endure great physical pains

b.       But we were not made to endure emotional pains of rejection


2.        Jesus was Despised AND Rejected


a.       By His Disciples


1)       Wouldn’t identify themselves with Jesus

2)       Wouldn’t stand near to Him – besides John

3)       Wouldn’t understand Him – they had been “turned-off” by His surrender to the mob back in the Garden


b.       By the People He had so helped


1)       Think of the thousands He had touched and healed in 3 ˝ years

2)       Think of all their families and how their homes were restored

3)       Think of lepers coming home miraculously

4)       Think of Lazarus sitting once again at the dinner table as Martha busily fixed a big dinner for him

5)       Think of all the people that had been ministered to

6)       And then realize how they ALL “stood afar off” – they would not intervene

7)       How painful all that was upon our Lord!


c.       By the Religious crowd who should have known better


1)       Here were the religious men who had the Scriptures

2)       They KNEW Isaiah 53

3)       They KNEW Psalm 22

4)       They KNEW Micah 5:2

5)       They KNEW the whole programme

6)       Yet when they met Jesus, and saw what HE meant to THEIR livelihood, they rejected Him!


d.       Even by one of the men on a cross next to Christ (Lk 23:39)


1)       This was the worst!

2)       Here was a man in the same boat so to speak as Jesus, hating Him, blaming Him, spitting upon Him!

3)       This man on the first cross:


a)       He is a lawbreaker. A thief. Not just a petty theft offender. Evidently, a repeat offender to warrant death. Condemned to die this cruel death!

b)       Rebellious against the judgment of his crimes. He is angry. Angry that he got caught. Thinks he is 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)       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

f)        This man decides to carry his punishment himself - alone and forever!

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


4)       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!

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

d)       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...

e)       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!

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


E.       A Paradox - One Man’s Faith (Lk 23:40-42).


1.        Jesus was surrounded by only hatred, confusion, and seeming defeat

2.        All around Him everybody had given up on who he was, and what he was trying to do

3.        That is, except for One Man!

4.        Remember, there are three crosses on that hill of Calvary


a.       In the centre was The Cross of Redemption, where Jesus died for all mankind.

b.       At one side of the Saviour was The Cross of Rejection where a thief died in his own sins rejecting the love of God.

c.       On the other side was The Cross of Reception, where a second thief cried out for mercy and God in the flesh, forgave his sins, saved his soul and promised to take him with Him to Paradise that very day.


5.        This one, single, solitary man went against all odds, and placed his entire faith in a dying Man on a cross next to him – what a step!


a.       He first accepted his punishment – amazing attitude - repentance

b.       Feared God more than he feared death – now THAT’S a great truth

c.       Knew the life of Jesus was only good – anybody can figure that out

d.       Called this dying Man, “LORD” (Rom 10:9,10)


1)       The value of that title - Not just the name Jesus, but LORD

2)       Jesus was Lord at his birth

3)       Jesus was Lord of the Sabbath

4)       Jesus was Lord of the Centurion with a sick servant

5)       Jesus IS Lord, and one day even the devil will acknowledge it


e.       Believed Jesus would conquer death, and still reign as King “thy kingdom”

f.        Simply asked to be able to get into that kingdom – wondered if Jesus could get him in there


1)       No one else could

2)       Certainly this man couldn’t earn access

3)       No way to be baptized, attend catechism, etc.


F.       Christ’s Promise (23:43) – You can’t get any better than this!


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! To be absent from the body is to be present WITH THE LORD!

3.        In paradise – Paradise was going to be NOTHING like life on this earth. No more pain, sorrow, death or the curse! Only heaven! That’s not the word of a man! You have Jesus’ word on it!

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


G.       Christ’s Peace.


1.        Even though Jesus had 3 more hours of agony to endure, that thief was at peace in his soul

2.        Jesus was dying for HIS sins, and would take them all away!

3.        From that moment on, that sinner was safe:


a.       Fully trusting in the words of His Saviour – not of some priest, or some church, or some politician

b.       Knew he still would die, but that death was no longer to be feared

c.       Here was a man going to be with Jesus, in a place that cannot be described as anything less than “PARADISE”

d.       Who wouldn’t be at peace with such assurance?!


III.     Conclusion


A.      Salvation is the work of God not the reward of human effort. This thief never joined a church, never was baptized, never took of the Lord’s Supper, never gave a penny in the offering plate, never went to a Catechism or conformation class, never stepped one time into a confession booth, never read the Book of Mormon or writings of Ellen G. White, never even had a chance to fall asleep while Bro. Ledbetter is preaching, never had a chance to love his neighbour or to keep the Golden Rule, nor did he have opportunity to repay his victims. He simply cried out for mercy, and God in His wonderful Grace, saved him instantly.

B.       Salvation can come to any one.  (Paul was a murderer before he was saved, Peter was a cursing fisherman, the woman at well was a fallen woman, Matthew worked as an official extortioner for the Revenue Service, Luke was a physician, James and John had such tempers they were known as the Sons of Thunder, Onesimus was a run away slave. But the Bible says, (Romans 10:13) "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

C.       Salvation is a personal choice.  God will force no one to be saved, nor can any one else make the choice for you. YOU have to call on Him!

D.      Salvation is an instant one time relationship - not a process. You are either saved or you are not. You have trusted Christ’s death as all sufficient to pay off your past, present and future sins, or you are still in need of salvation.

E.       Has there been a time or event in your life that you can look back on and say at that time, in that place I trusted Christ and He saved me?


Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church Blarney

29 Westcourt Heights

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland