“Jesus and the man on the cross” Luke 23:32-43

We finish our study of how Jesus ministered to people with a look at Jesus on His worst day.

How do we act on our worst day? When it’s all gone wrong. The cars broken down, the Dr. has bad news, the nursing home calls, someone says something hurtful about our age, body shape or color. People mock your faith and trust in God. Where is God on your worst days?

I had a day like that yesterday. I found it hard to breathe, I was tired and exhausted, and every time I tried to pick up something I would drop it or nock three other thing off the shelf. I would say my ability to deal with people was impaired. Best thing to do is hide and wait for tomorrow to come.

I would say that on Good Friday we are seeing Jesus at His lowest point. He has been betrayed, abandoned, beaten, ridiculed, falsely accused, and spit on. He has listened to the crowd cry out for Barabbas to be released and He to be crucified. Finally, He is nailed to a cross, lifted up for all to see in the company of two criminals. Even one of them mocks Him.  Jesus can’t hide and wait for tomorrow. So how does Jesus act?

Two statements from the cross tell us so much about Jesus.

The first is found in Luke 23:34 “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” As Jesus looks down from the cross and sees the people who crucified Him, people mocking Him, those who deserted Him, people who rejected Him and called for His death, you might expect some curse to be laid out on them, but Jesus forgives them. No matter how difficult we have made things for God, how disobedient we have been, no matter how much we have hurt God by our actions, Jesus looks down from the cross and says, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”

The second statement from the cross is “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” This is Jesus’ response to one of the two criminals who ask for help. With all Jesus has been through and going through this fellow has the nerve to ask for a favor. Excuse me Jesus, I know your feeling down, tired, betrayed and busy dying and all but could you just help me out here?

You might expect a “to late pal” or “really? Now? Really?”, “you had your chance.” But Jesus comes back with this amazing statement, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

So, what does this tells us, how can we use or apply what we see here?

First, is that, no matter what we have done, how disobedient we have been, no matter how big the mistake, Jesus is ready to forgive us. The only limit to Jesus’ ability and willingness to forgive is our ability to ask. You may think you have things in your life that have made acceptance and forgiveness impossible. But this is not true. Ask for forgiveness, believe in your heart and Jesus will forgive you.

Second, is that it is never to late for you to call out to Jesus for forgiveness. This criminal uses the last of His breaths to ask Jesus for forgiveness and receives it. You are never to old, to far gone, or to lost for Jesus. Jesus specializes in desperate situations.  So, whatever your situation is today, Jesus desires to pour out His grace upon you.

It may be that you have pushed Jesus way, put Him off, for 80 years or more. It may be that you have just gone through the motions going to church for 50 or 70 years. Or it may be that you’re just getting started in life. No matter the time or circumstances, Jesus is ready to forgive, pour out His grace on you.

The Bible says “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old life has passed away, behold, a new life has come.”

I started by saying that Good Friday was Jesus’ worst and lowest day. How could a day get any more difficult for Jesus? But there is a day that bring Jesus even more sorrow and pain than He experienced that day. By far the most difficult thing for Jesus, the most painful time for Him, is the day you reject the love He offers you.

If you rejected Him a thousand times, He is still holding out His love to you. If you have played religious, churchy game and never really sought Jesus’ forgiveness, you still can today. It is not to late and you not strayed too far.

It is as simple as a prayer. And if you would accept Jesus forgiveness today, I ask that you repeat this prayer today as I lead us in it.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for the many things I have done wrong, for the times I have hurt you, or turned you away. I accept your forgiveness today, I ask you for a new life, starting right now. Show me how to live and help me to do what you desire, each and every day. Thank you for saving me today and always, amen.