Our text is Luke 23:32-43. Jesus crucified between two thieves.

Why was it ordained that Jesus should die between 2 criminals?

As Jesus hung between the 2 thieves, these 2 men revealed the only 2 possible responses to Christ: Belief or unbelief, acceptance or rejection, repentance or bitterness.

An important lesson we learn from these two men.
They were crucified together, both knew that death was coming. Sooner or later death is coming. And both were in the presence of Jesus.
Jesus was equally near to both of them, yet while one died in his sins, the other called out for mercy.

One believed in who Jesus was and went to Paradise.
This dying man is proof that you can call on the mercy of Jesus from wherever you are.
He couldn't clean himself up. He couldn't get his life straightened out.
He couldn't reach some standard of morality.
He had nothing to bring. He had only to depend on the unmerited, unearned mercy of God.
Notice, if you will, he believed on Jesus at a time when, to the carnal eye, it seemed that Jesus had lost all power to save even himself or others.
He believed when the shouting, dancing and miracles had stopped; at a time when the enemies of Christ were sure they had won, at a time when most of Jesus friends and followers had forsaken him, at a time when public opinion was against him, yet the thief confessed a faith in who Jesus was.

It is easy to believe when the miracles are falling.

Earlier the Scripture tells us that both of these men heaped insults on him, but now one realizes
who Jesus is.

We do not begin to understand the depth of the Lord's mercy.
We see that he acknowledges his sin. He says to the other thief, "We are guilty, we deserve to die, but this man (Jesus) has done no wrong." He asks the other man, "Do you not fear God?"

Friend, you will never cry out to Jesus until you realize you are a sinner and that you are dying.
The day you were born you began a journey to the grave, and none of us know how long that
journey is.

The man on the right cried out to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." This man realized that this world held no hope for him. All the treasure of this world is fleeting.
The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:19, If in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable.

3 crosses: One of rebellion, one of repentance, one of redemption.

It is important for you to know that if you have not, through repentance, come to redemption, then you are numbered with Barabbas; numbered with those who rebel against the Gospel of Christ.

You know we have a tendency to look at the 2 thieves and think good thief and bad thief, but that is not so. They were both guilty. The only difference is one asked for mercy.
One believed in who Jesus was.

The man on the right began his day with nothing to look forward to but pain, agony, and death, but he ended his day in Paradise with Jesus.
How deep this man's agony must have been and how short his time. How hard it must have been to fix his thoughts.

A death bed scene is never the fittest place for thoughts and for prayer, and his is no ordinary death bed. Yet all the pain and demand of a suffering body could not hinder the cry of his soul.

Another lesson is that we cannot blame our circumstance for the neglect of our salvation.
We rejoice for the thief that was saved, but remember there were 2. While one received redemption, the other died so very close to the Savior and yet died in his sin.

3 crosses: 1. One of rebellion
                2. One of repentance
                3. One of redemption

As we gather today to celebrate the Risen Savior and to give praise to Jesus for bearing that cross of redemption, let me ask you a very important question. What side of the cross are you on?
Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? Have you received the atonement of His blood, or are you like the Roman soldiers gambling at the foot of His cross?

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day
And there may I though vile as he wash all my sins away

Won't you ask for forgiveness today and make Jesus your Lord?