Date: April, 2011
Searching the Scriptures
“Search the Scriptures…they are they which testify of Me. “John 5:39”
Author: Bob Moses
The Seven Utterances of Jesus from the Cross
Second: The Word of Salvation. “And he (the thief on the cross) said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23: 42, 43).
Before we go into any depth upon this second utterance of Our Lord, let us first consider some of the circumstances surrounding it. First, let us ponder the second part of Isaiah 53: 12, “And He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” This prophesy was made over seven hundred years before His birth and found fulfillment on Golgotha’s Hill. To once again borrow from Mr. Pink: “It was no accident that the Lord of Glory was crucified between two thieves. There are no accidents in a world that is governed by God. Much less could there have been any accident on that Day of all days, or in connection with that Event of all events—a Day and an Event which lie at the very centre of the world’s history. No; God was presiding over that scene. From all eternity He had decreed when and where and how and with whom His Son should die. Nothing was left to chance or the caprice of man. All that God had decreed came to pass exactly as He had ordained, and nothing happened save as He had eternally purposed. Whatsoever man did was simply that which God’s hand and counsel “determined to be done”.
When Pilate gave orders that the Lord Jesus should be crucified between the two malefactors, all unknown to himself, he was but putting into execution the eternal decree of God and fulfilling His prophetic word. How unlikely that the Holy One of God should be numbered with the unholy; that the very one whose finger had inscribed on the tables of stone the Sinaitic Law should be assigned a place with the lawless; that the Son of God should be executed with criminals—this seemed utterly inconceivable. Yet it actually came to pass. Just as God had ordained, and just as He had announced, so it came to pass.” To coin the phrase; “So let it be written, so let it be done”!
Another thought comes to mind. Why would God have it that His beloved Son should be crucified between two malefactors? The answer is not hard to find, as God never acts arbitrarily, because all His works are manifested through infinite wisdom. Remember Christ was born in a stable. Surrounded by animals of Old Testament Sacrifice; cows and bullocks, sheep, and whoever knows what else. These of course, all pointed to His Sacrificial death. So at His birth, He was encompassed by the beast of the field, testifying to His humility; and here at death, He is numbered among the transgressors, once again, reflecting the shame and encumbrance upon His Disgrace. Taking upon Himself the position of our Substitute
We must also consider in this scene and ask the question yet again why was Christ crucified between two criminals? The number two, as we have revealed in previous articles represents a state of either unity or division. In this case it becomes obvious that we have a division of two men. One rejects Christ, the other accepts Him as Saviour. Both were upon a cross such as Jesus, both heard and saw all that took place and witnessed what had transpired during those sorrowful hours. Both were suffering the same as Jesus, alas both were dying, and each needed forgiveness. Yet one died in his sins, while the other repented and called upon Christ to “remember him”. How solemn is this! While Jesus was unable to forgive the sins of the repentant thief, Himself, while He hung upon the Cross, He was secure in the knowledge, that God the Father, would fulfill His pardon of this thief. How do we know this? “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise”. Once again fulfilling the Scriptures!
Keep in mind that this thief had also mocked Jesus at the onset of our Lord’s execution. Yet at the last, he recognized the Christ hanging upon the cross next to him. “And he said unto Jesus. “Lord” remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom”. This was salvation by “Sovereign Grace”, pure and simple. Had this man worked his way to heaven? Most certainly not. Even more importantly, what “good works” did he perform after his conversion? He died before he could possibly do anything. What does this tell us? Simply, as stated earlier, we are not in control, nor can we lose the salvation of our Lord for sins past, present, or future. We are to “witness” and tell others what good things God has done for us. Did this repentant thief follow that command? Yes, indeed he spoke with a loud voice, “Lord remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom”.
Next notice, that the thief’s repentance was accompanied with his Faith. “Lord remember me, when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom”. You will recall that over the top of the cross of Jesus, Pilate had placed the sign: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews”, The thief had observed this sign and his faith grasped the Kingship of Christ, hence his mention of “when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.” Faith always rest upon the Written Word of God.
One last thought on this subject of repentance and faith, as mentioned above, this was a humbled faith by this thief. He prayed with modesty. It was not “Lord, honor me.” Or “Lord exalt me.” But rather Lord, if Thou wilt but think of me! If Thou will only look upon me: “Lord, remember me”. This word “remember” was most wonderfully full and appropriate. He might have said. Pardon me, Save me, Bless me: but “Remember me” included them all. This was perfectly suited to his condition, who would remember him? He was an outcast from society, his family and friends would be glad to be rid of him, he was an abasement and embarrassment to them. But his petition was to the One who would indeed “remember” him. This Man, the personified Saviour of sinners; who would look lovingly upon him, the Lord Jesus Himself, would indeed “remember” him. And He promised him from upon the Cross. “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”