Originally scheduled for January 23
are to have the proper attitude towards communion, at some point we
must contemplate the death of Christ. We have an interesting
testimony concerning that death from one of the robbers who were
crucified with him. We can learn a lot from the reaction of this
man, and pick up some worthwhile tips on what to do during and after
communion. First, the Scripture.
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him,
saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" But the
other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God,
since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? "And we
indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve
for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he was
saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" And He
said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in
(Luke 23:39-43 NASB)
The man has a gift for the blindingly obvious.
He’s being executed for his crimes, and admits that he is guilty.
All too often our acknowledgment of our sins is rather perfunctory.
Yes, I’m a sinner but nothing really specific. This man acknowledges
that he did it. Everyone else around knows it, but he owns up to it.
He presents no excuse, not just the admission that he did it.
More than that, he acknowledges that he
deserves the punishment he’s being given. He is the pained recipient
of justice. It’s not just who did it, it’s that God is just in
punishing it. Our sinfulness combined with the justice of God
reveals the fact that we deserve what we get. We often think we
deserve heaven; we don’t. Christians don’t line up to get what they
deserve, they get in the line marked “Mercy.” There is no mercy if
there is no justice. To say that God is just and merciful is not a
So what about us? Are we willing to confess our
sins, acknowledge the justice of God and that we deserve his
punishment — but get his mercy?
Please note that the robber is not being
entirely selfish. He exhibits a lively concern for his fellow
robber. The thought process is relatively simple: time is short.
Fellow, you’re dying on a cross and it’s not going to take forever.
Once you’re dead it’s too late to do anything about it. You’re about
to meet your maker and received divine, eternal justice. Don’t you
think that you should do something about it while you have the
That’s why the Scripture teaches us that we
should ask the Lord to number of our days. You’re not guaranteed
tomorrow, nor is your neighbor. So I ask you: is there someone in
your neighborhood who needs to consider the time is short, eternity
is long, hell is hot — but Jesus saves.
This is not really much to do with apologetics;
it’s much more about attitude. The other robber’s attitude is that
it’s all about one person — me. The concern is for that attitude
because it misses the point. Facts are easy to deal with and
attitudes are hard. Sometimes you have to do with an attitude that
says “I’m just not listening.” It’s not easy; just necessary. Should
someone go to hell because you wouldn’t try to talk to them?
Look to Jesus for Hope
Finally, it does no good to acknowledge the
problem if there is no solution. Fortunately, Jesus is the solution.
Our robber appeals to Jesus in hope — Jesus provides hope lavishly.
Forgiveness is a part of this process but it’s unmentioned, as if it
were too obvious to talk about.
And what a hope it is! Jesus doesn’t promise
him that he’ll be okay; he doesn’t tell him that he’ll be in a good
spot. He tells him that he will be in paradise. I’m not sure what
that means, but it’s got to be good when Jesus promises it. More
than that, he promises the robber that he will be “with Him.” The
closer you are to Jesus, the more joy arises in your heart.
So, as you partake of communion this morning,
do so in memory of Christ’s death. Contemplate Him hanging on the
cross and listen to the man next to him. Confess and acknowledge the
justice of God. Examine your life and see if there is someone who
needs you to speak. And most of all, look to Jesus for Hope.