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How do you react when people mock what you believe and make fun of you? Listen to this lesson to hear how Christ handled the ones who mocked, reviled, and taunted Him at His Crucifixion. Find out that there are seven different mocking events, both on the way to the cross and when Jesus was hanging on it. See that He did not answer them back when they ridiculed Him and spit on Him and hit Him. Learn that mocking someone means you feel disdain for that person and when you’re mocking the Creator of the universe you become a fool. See that the way Jesus handled His treatment led to others believing on Him as the Messiah. Only when your soul has been strengthened daily by learning the Word of God can you have joy, stability, and contentment when suffering.
The Jesus' Hours on the Cross chart Dr. Dean referred to during this class is available for download from Rose Publishing.
Mocking, Reviling, and Blaspheming Jesus
Matthew 27:41–44 Mark 15:29–32; Luke 23:35–43
Matthew Lesson #186
February 4, 2018
“Father, we’re grateful we can come together today to be washed by the water of Your Word to understand what has been revealed to us, what has been preserved for us.
“To understand about what transpired that day on Golgotha when the greatest battle was ever fought and won, when our strategic victory was won by the Lord Jesus Christ as He died in our place on the Cross, as He paid the penalty for our sins, that we might come to understand so many more of the facets and the applications that go beyond simple redemption.
“Father, we pray that we might be able to focus and concentrate this morning as we study in Your Word, and that God the Holy Spirit would open the eyes of our soul that we might understand that which is been revealed.
“We pray this in Christ name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Matthew 27. We’re continuing our look at the stages in the crucifixion. Today the focal point is going to be on the mocking, the reviling, the blasphemy that occurred on the Cross during those first three hours when our Lord Jesus Christ is experiencing the wrath of man.
I’m giving you a handout by Rose Publishing. It’s available to people to download and to print limited copies per person, but you can’t e-mail it out. I’m not going to put it up on the screen; we’re not going to violate their copyright laws.
If you’re interested—those of you who are live streaming or listening to the recordings—afterward you can go to their website: https://www.hendricksonrose.com/ and pick up this e-chart. [It’s called Jesus’ Hours on the Cross, and is included in the Palm Sunday to Easter pamphlet.] It’s a good summary of what I have spent the last several weeks teaching and will continue to teach.
If you divide the page into quarters, then look in the upper left-hand corner. Starting with just after 10 AM where the soldiers divide up His clothes, then the next thing that they talk about is the mocking, the sneering, the insults that are hurled at our Lord.
If you go to just before the last thing mentioned in that period from 9 AM to 12 noon, that’s the period that we are talking about. It’s a good quick little summary of the things that have taken place on the Cross.
We started off looking at Stages 1 through 5, the procession to Golgotha as our Lord was carrying the patibulum to the site of His execution, then Simon of Cyrene carried it most of the way. What we learned there is even in the midst of that, our Lord is demonstrating grace and compassion, especially to the daughters of Jerusalem as they are mourning Him. He warns them of what will come and to mourn instead for themselves and their children in light of the judgment that ends in AD 70.
2. The First Three Hours: The Wrath of Men
We learn here the anger, the wrath, the hostility, the bitterness, the vindictiveness, the invective that comes from those who are walking by. This is just a manifestation of the hostility of fallen man to God as he expresses his full hatred and anger for the Creator of the universe.
As our Lord is mocked, as He is made fun of, as He is ridiculed and reviled, first of all, He doesn’t open His mouth, He doesn’t retaliate, He doesn’t say anything, but towards the end of this time period, we see another marvelous example of His grace and His forgiveness and the application of the gospel.
Just to review quickly what we have looked at since He arrived at the site of the crucifixion:
Stage 6: we looked at the crucifixion itself, talked about the kind of cross, we’ve talked about what was involved in crucifixion.
Stage 7: we are reminded, because this comes into play at the end of this morning’s session, that He was crucified between two thieves. Those thieves weren’t actually just robbers; they were involved in the insurrection against Rome.
They were probably associates or subordinates to Barabbas, so there’s more to this than just simple thievery. They had committed a capital crime against Rome, and thievery is not a capital crime.
This has the idea that they were insurrectionists more than just the idea of being simple bandits.
Stage 8: the first saying from the Cross that again emphasizes God’s grace, Luke 23:34a, as Jesus prays, “… ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ ”
This is a marvelous example to us that no matter how much we may be ridiculed or reviled, no matter how much somebody may offend us—and whether it is an actual offense on a high order, or whether it is simply something that we want to take offense over—we’re reminded of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, that we are to turn the other cheek.
I want to remind you of what I taught, that “turning the other cheek” was a metaphor. It wasn’t that there was a problem in Israel of people going around slapping people on the cheek.
“Turning the other cheek”—if someone slaps you on the cheek—was a metaphor for if somebody insults you, if somebody offends you, somebody does something that you could take offense over.
What Jesus says is that we are to turn the other cheek. In other words, don’t be hypersensitive or even sensitive, and use situations where somebody has done something to offend us to justify retaliation or getting back at them or something other than being an example of kindness and graciousness.
We live in a world today when a lot of the younger generation, and older generation as well, have taken hypersensitivity and taking offense to levels probably never experienced before in human history. Everybody seems to get offended at something, but nobody, as far as I’m concerned, is really concerned about the fact that someone who believes what I believe is offended.
It is political correctness which is insanity run amok. But Jesus teaches us the way we are to handle any sort of ridicule, any sort of insults, any sort of assaults on our character, justified or not, that we are not to retaliate, that we are to turn the other cheek.
This is an example that He gives on the Cross: He does not revile in return. He demonstrates grace, He asks for forgiveness. And He announces that this rebel, this insurrectionist, this criminal worthy of death by crucifixion, because he recognizes who Jesus is and believes it, that he will be with the Lord in Paradise that day.
What a tremendous example of God’s grace!
Stage 9: Matthew 27:37, a sign is put over Jesus’ head that was written by Pilate that states His indictment, that He is “… Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The religious leaders want him to change that, but Pilate won’t do it.
That tells all these passersby that are coming along what the crime is: that He claimed to be the Son of God, He claimed to be the King of the Jews. They’re going to ridiculed Him for that.
The Roman soldiers divided His garments, they cast lots for His robe.
Stage 11: the fourth mockery. There were three mockeries prior to the Cross; there are four mockeries on the Cross, for a total of seven. This fourth mockery is revealed in Mark 15:29–30,
“And those who passed by …”—remember, the cross is by the road that is coming from the West, entering in on the west side of Jerusalem—“… those who passed by blasphemed Him …” We will look at these words.
There is a matrix of synonyms: blasphemy, reviling, rebuking, all of these different words that are used mocking Him. These words are closely connected, and there are about five different words used by the writers of Scripture, which together cover all of the bases for the oral slander, ridicule, assaults on the Creator God of the universe.
“Those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads …”—that’s just an idiom for mocking somebody, that’s what that means—“… and saying …”
One of the things I want to point out is this Hebrew idiom. For example, go back to Genesis 1:26–27. We read the statement, “God blessed them and said …” You read that as if He did two things, but what this means in Hebrew is “God blesses, and this is what the blessing said.”
We had the same kind of thing here. They blasphemed Him, and this is how they blasphemed Him. This is what they said in their blasphemy. So, it’s not two things, blasphemy and then saying something, the statement of what is said is the content of the blasphemy.
“Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days …” That’s a reference to the first Passover; Jesus was in Jerusalem. It’s described in John 2:19, when He made the statement that “… if you destroy this temple, I will rebuild it in three days …”
John tells us He was talking about the temple of His body, not the Herodian-rebuilt temple that was before them. So, they’re saying, “You claim to be able to rebuild the temple in three days; save Yourself and come down from the cross!”
Anybody noticed the irony here? In three days He’s going to come out of the grave. He is not to take Himself down from the cross, but He is going to have victory over death in three days.
This is the fourth mockery, so I want to remind you of the previous mockeries that have occurred.
The Seven Mockings of Jesus
Mark 9:12 gives us a prediction of this. Jesus says, “And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?”
The Greek word here is EXOUDENEO, and it means to treat with contempt, to scorn, to despise, to mock, to sneer. There’s a translation in Luke, which is a different verb that is used for “sneering”—making fun of, turning up the nose, or curling one’s lip. Those are the synonyms listed in the Collins Thesaurus for what it means to scorn and to mock.
This gives us the idea of what is happening: the disdain that these people feel for Jesus, the anger, the hatred. They have rejected Him, and they are just yelling and screaming everything they can at Him to express their bile towards Him.
This expresses their anger and their resentment. This is the human heart in its fallen state: corrupt, deceitful, and wicked above all things, expressing its rejection of God and His grace. He is treated with contempt.
Another word that is used by Jesus in Matthew 20:18–19, whereas right before He enters Jerusalem, He predicts what will take place,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes …”—remember, the scribes were mostly Pharisees; the chief priests were Sadducees, so He’s including both Sadducees and Pharisees in this statement—“… betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”
This is a different Greek word; EMPAIZO means to mock, which means: to deride, insult, laugh at, to make a monkey out of someone, taunt them, tease them, ridicule them. You get a good idea of the sense of these words.
Luke 18:32, “For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.”
This is the Greek word HUBRIZO. We get our English word “hubris” from this, which relates to arrogance and pride. It means to act arrogantly, to arrogantly mistreat someone or to arrogantly insult someone. By using these synonyms we get a full picture of the hate that is spewed forth toward our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross.
It’s happened three times before.
It happened at the second trial. That was the trial before Caiaphas. Remember, the first trial He went before Annas, former high priest, the Father-in-law of Caiaphas. Second trial is much more involved; He goes to Caiaphas.
At the end of that, He is accused of blasphemy. Luke 22:63–64,
“Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him …” They played a game with Him, Blind Man’s Bluff; except they’re hitting Him. “… saying ‘Prophesy! Who’s the one who struck You?’ ”
You think You’re God, You think You know everything. Well, tell who is striking You.
Luke says, “And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.”
This word “blasphemy,” BLASPHEMEO is the verb, means to verbally abuse someone, to revile them to defame them. But the word focuses on doing these things towards God, to taking God lightly, to abusing God. They are blaspheming Him with these various statements.
Mocking 2 of 7:
This is a trial that occurs fifth, this is a trial before Herod Antipas, and it ends with the second mocking.
He had gone to Pilate, Pilate found out He was a Galilean, so he sent them over to Herod Antipas, who is the King of Galilee, so that he could pass the buck and let Herod take care of it. Herod is going to send Him back to Pilate.
But in the meantime, after they have received the accusations from the chief priests, Sadducees, scribes, and Pharisees, then Herod with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him. They arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back Pilate. This is the second of the seven mockings.
Mocking 3 of 7
The second trial by Pilate. First the trial by Pilate, then the trial by Herod Antipas, and then at the end Matthew 27:27–29, “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him, and they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then they twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ ”
They are mocking and ridiculing Him for having made this claim that He was the King of the Jews. In this third mockery, they have completely rejected any of these claims of Jesus to Who He is, and they are now just making fun at Him before they send Him to be crucified.
This is paralleled in Matthew 27:30–31, as well as in Mark 15:16–19; they describe the same event. An event that, according to John, follows the release of Barabbas and is just prior to His being sent to the cross. In all three of those events, a crown of thorns is placed on His head and the robe is placed on Him.
What we’re focusing on today is: The Four Mockings of Jesus on the Cross
Stage 11: Mocking 4 of 7
He is mocked by the passersby; Mark 27:39–40,
“And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself!—reference again to John 2:19—… if You are the Son of God.’ ”
The “if” here is a first-class condition. They don’t believe it. First class can mean “if and it’s true,” but it also is used in debates for the sense of “if and we can assume it’s true for the sake of argument.” Or, “if and we can assume it’s true because that’s what you’ve claimed to be true.”
That’s what the idea here: “if You are Who You claim to be, and assuming it’s true, then You ought to be able to do this. You’d be omnipotent; You should be able to come down from the cross. So, come down from the cross.”
This is their blasphemy is because they are treating His deity lightly and irreverently. If You claim to be this Messiah, come on down from the cross.
Mark 15:29–30, “And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads …”—that tells us something about what they we’re doing when they blasphemed Him, a sign of their arrogance and disdain—“… and saying, ‘Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself and come down from the cross’!”
I want you to notice as we go through these four that there is a theme. Each of these groups is basically saying the same thing. “If You are Who You say You are, save Yourself; give us a sign.”
Remember what Paul will say later on in the Gospels, the Jews seek a sign. Well, they had the sign and that was the sign of Jonah, but they will reject that, and that is when He is resurrected, raised from the dead.
Stage 12: The fifth Mockery; Matthew 27:41-42,
“Likewise …”—means “in the same manner,” so that the passersby are saying the same thing and the chief priests and scribes and elders pick up the same comments—“… He saved others, Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel …”—once again a first class condition. If on the assumption of His claim—“If He is the King of Israel let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.”
They are expressing their scorn for Jesus. This involves the chief priests who are Sadducees and the scribes and the elders who were Pharisees, so they continue to taunt Jesus.
Matthew 27:43 they go on to say, “He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him …”—You know He’s made such a big deal about trusting God, why doesn’t He call upon God to rescue Him—“…for He said, ‘I am the son of God.’ ”
Then there’s a quote from the Old Testament that Matthew includes; “He trusted in God …”—this is what they are saying—“… He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him, for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”
This is an application or fulfillment of Psalm 22:8, “He trusted in the Lord; let Him rescue Him, let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
In Matthew 27:43 we see again another fulfillment of prophecy, that He would be ridiculed, He would be blasphemed, and they would make these claims about Him.
In Luke 23:35 Luke doesn’t break down the groups of the rulers. He just says, “even the rulers with them sneered.”
This is again another word describing this kind of blasphemy and reproach. It’s the word EKMUKTERIZO, which means to deride, to ridicule, to sneer, to show contempt.
The NET Bible—which I don’t recommend because it has a lot of flaws, but in some things it does point out some good things—says that it is the extension of the idiom “to turn one’s nose up at someone.” So, they are superior, they’re arrogant; they put themselves above God.
Stage 13: Mocking 6 of 7; Luke 22:36-37
“The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering sour wine.”
This sour wine was given as a way of slaking the thirst. It was very bitter, and it would just dull that desire for thirst. That way they could continue the torture, so they mock Him by offering Him sour wine. He is thirsty, they’re giving Him this wine just to increase the difficulty.
What we see as we summarize all of these different mockings, that they are at the root rejecting God; they are rejecting God’s grace. We see here that human viewpoint completely rejects truth. It sees it as something that is insane. It sees it as something that is completely apart from their concept of a reality that is based on truth suppression.
If we look at the world around us, we can see this in just about every realm of life. We can see it in the arts, we can see it in business, we can see it in our political leaders left and right, we can see it in corporate America—that there is this continued and increasing attempt to redefine reality on their own terms.
That’s Romans 1:18–20, the suppression of truth in unrighteousness. What happens when you become a truth suppressor is that you necessarily become a liar, a deceiver, and you can’t even tell the truth anymore.
This is why it’s becoming so difficult in America and in Western European culture to be able to do business, because business is grounded upon honesty and truth. And when you have a culture that is based on truth suppression, it destroys all manner of integrity, while people are screaming that they have integrity.
How does Paul end that discussion in Romans 1:18–20? He says, “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” We might paraphrase that “Professing to have integrity, they became deceivers.” We see that over and over again, and the only thing that can give us insight is the truth of God’s Word.
As you take in the Word of God, as you study it, as you meditate on it: this is what Proverbs is all about. The writer of Proverbs is talking about building wisdom and understanding, discernment; and that only comes from the Word of God.
Only when you have a soul that is strengthened by truth more and more, day by day, then God is building a grid in your soul, so that you can spot fraud, so that you can avoid deception. But if you’re not spending that time in the Word, then that won’t happen.
I’m not just talking about listening to somebody on the radio, or on the Internet, or listening to me teach the Word. That’s important but letting the Word itself just be in your head, reading it, memorizing it, and reflecting upon it. You get enough corrected translation, and most English translations are pretty decent, that you can do pretty well just by reading the Word to get the basics out of it.
But it’s the Word of God that David says that he “hid in his heart that he might not sin against Thee.” Heart there refers to his mind: he hides it in his mind by reading it, learning it, memorizing it, reflecting upon it.
Just the opposite is what we see in the world, and the world is demonstrated here by these four groups. Just the everyday citizen who has no interest whatsoever in spiritual things comes by mocking, the religious leaders are mocking, the representatives of the Roman government are mocking and ridiculing Him.
Stage 14: Mocking 7 of 7; Matthew 27:44
The last one is the criminals that Jesus is being crucified in the midst of:
“Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.”
This is a different word for reviling. The word ONEIDIZO means to reproach, to revile; same patterns that we’ve seen before, to make fun of, to ridicule, to deride.
Initially, according to one of the other Gospel writers, both of them are doing this. But it’s like with Simon of Cyrene, we speculate a little bit there, because it seems like one of his sons later is part of the church in Rome.
But he observed our Lord’s response to all this ridicule and everything that, unlike other crucified victims, He’s not screaming out. He is not asserting His innocence; He’s not calling for people to put Him out of His misery—all the different things that were typical of a crucifixion—are not typical of Jesus.
This one criminal is watching, and he sees something different. He sees that this man is truly innocent. It’s not just that He’s not guilty; He is truly innocent in a legal sense: He is righteous. So, he is going to stop with his ridicule and change.
This word, ONEIDIZO, is picked up later by Peter. Peter, as those of you who’ve been following the Thursday night Bible class know, is dealing with a demographic of Jewish background believers in north central Turkey who are being rejected, reviled, persecuted in different ways by those in the Gentile community and those in the Jewish community.
The pattern that Peter gives them constantly throughout 1 Peter is to look at Jesus. He is unjustly reviled, He is unjustly crucified; He suffers on our behalf. That is the pattern for us—that whenever you think somebody has made a false accusation of you, somebody has said something bad about you, gossip, slander, whatever it is—then we’re to turn the other cheek.
This is exactly what Peter says in 1 Peter 4:14, “if you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you …”—if you do what is right and suffer for it, it brings glory to God is what He says in other places.
“If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part …”—that is those who revile you, those who reproached you, those who ridicule you or make fun of you because you’re one of those “born-agains”. “They’re one of those Christians. They’re really the problem in this country. We need to get rid of them!”
“On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.”
Jesus Christ was reproached in ways we can never imagine.
Matthew 5:11–12, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.”
What are you to do? Get back at them? Cut them off? Don’t ever talk to them again? Is that what it says? No! It says rejoice. In other words, be happy, have joy, stability, contentment in your soul. The more they ridicule and revile you, the more content and relaxed and joyful you should be.
“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Back to 1 Peter 2:23, “Who …”—referring to Jesus when He was reviled—“… did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
No retaliation whatsoever. That’s not to characterize the believer.
1 Peter 3:16, “having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers …”—when they bring up false charges against you and claim all sorts of things that are not true—“… those who revile your good conduct …” This is following from 1 Peter 3:15, which says to give an answer for the hope that is in you that—“… those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
Again and again, Christ is our example. We are to be Christlike. As a result of this ridicule from the two criminals, we see grace. That’s the seventh of the mockeries.
Stage 15: The Conversion of One of the Malefactors; Luke 23:39–40
Jesus demonstrates grace once again under the most extreme of human circumstances.
In His humanity He is suffering: physically, mentally, emotionally, all of that pressure is brought to bear. Yet He has a completely relaxed mental attitude, and He responds to His tormentors, and even to this criminal who’s just been reviling Him, with grace.
Luke 23:39, “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ ”
Luke 23:40, “But the other, answering, rebuked Him …”—that is the first malefactor—“… saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?’ ”
We see there that he recognizes that Jesus is God, and that he should fear God because they’re under the same condemnation that Jesus, the Son of God, is under.
Luke 23:41, “And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds …”—we should be on this cross being crucified—“… but this Man has done nothing wrong.”
Another assertion of innocence, that He has done nothing. Not that, “Well, He did a few bad things, but He didn’t do anything deserving crucifixion.” He says, “He has done nothing wrong.”
Then He turns to Jesus and says, Luke 23:42 “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
He doesn’t say, “Lord, I believe You’re dying for my sins right now.” But see what the Scripture says is that we are to believe Jesus died for our sins right now. At that point Jesus died, He paid the penalty. Because he’s believed this, he can say this because what this statement reflects is He recognizes that there is a kingdom, a literal historical yet future kingdom that Jesus is going to establish.
He says it’s “Your kingdom,” which means he recognizes that Jesus is exactly what that sign claims that He is: He is the King of the Jews. He can’t make that statement unless He has done what Matthew has reiterated again and again, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He has responded positively to the gospel of the kingdom, as it’s put in Matthew 24.
The gospel of the kingdom isn’t simply believing that Jesus will pay the penalty for my sins or that the promised Messiah will pay the penalty for my sins, but it adds a different element because in that period of time, the message to the Jews wasn’t simply believe on the Messiah, but to believe and accept the King and the kingdom, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
It’s more than just salvation; it had to do with fulfilling God’s promises and prophecies related to all the covenants in the Old Testament. That which would save a Jew at that time was still the same as what would save a Jew or Gentile today: that is believing the Messiah would pay the penalty for sins.
But there was something else being offered, something that was separate from, but offered with the gospel for salvation. That was the gospel of the kingdom, and he has obviously understood that.
The other thing we need to observe here is that there are those who advocate a position called Lordship salvation, who say that the person who has truly believed—and they always put some sort of adverb in front of believe, which the Bible doesn’t do—says those who truly believe will have works in keeping with their faith.
This guy had no time for nothing. He believed Jesus was the King who would bring in the kingdom, and then he died. He didn’t have time to do good deeds because that’s not part of the gospel. That may or may not result from your spiritual growth.
He says, “ ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ ” Luke 23:43, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’ ”
Paradise was where Old Testament saints went after they died. They didn’t go to Heaven because Jesus had not yet paid the penalty on the Cross. They would go to Paradise, and we’re told that after the death of Christ that He would go to make victorious proclamation to the angels who were in Sheol.
At this time Paradise was part of Sheol, the place where the dead went. After making victorious proclamation to the fallen angels that were incarcerated there, He would then transfer Paradise to Heaven. In 2 Corinthians 12, when Paul goes to Paradise, it is in Heaven at that time, and that’s where Paradise is today.
Jesus affirms that this criminal who’s guilty of some of the most vile sins we could imagine has received forgiveness for his sins because he recognized who Jesus was: the Son of God. And he believed in His name, which is what John 3:18 says,
“He who believes on Him is not condemned: but he who believes not is condemned already, because ...”—what’s the condition?—“… because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” He’s condemned for not believing.
This thief on the cross believed. That’s grace. Not something we do. It’s trusting in Jesus alone for our salvation.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study, to continue to study, to reflect upon what was going on, on the Cross—of our Lord’s suffering, His undeserved, unmerited suffering: the ridicule, the blasphemy, all of the mockery, the disdain, the hate.
“The anger of man that is poured out upon Him on the Cross was nothing compared to what He would experience in the second three hours on the Cross.
“Father, but we see His grace in action, His love for the lost, His love for those who are going through, and going to go through, judgment and His grace to this thief.
“If anyone is listening this morning, we pray that they would come to understand the gospel, that it is simple. It is the good news, the great news, that we can rejoice over that Jesus died for our sins, that all we need to do is believe on Him, to have faith in Him. When we trust in Him and Him alone, we will have eternal life.
“He has paid the penalty for us. He has borne in His own body on the tree our sin, our judgment, our punishment, so that the decree against us has been eradicated and our sins forgiven. We pray that we would accept that by faith alone, trusting in Him.
“For any who are listening, that they would take this opportunity to make sure they have trusted in Christ. God the Father knows the instant you hear it and believe it, you don’t have to pray a prayer, you don’t have to say something, walk an aisle, raise your hand, anything else.
“If you believe as this thief did, then at that instant, you’re regenerated, justified, and you have eternal life. And for that we rejoice.
“Father, we pray that we will take these things, hide them in our heart and meditate on them, and we pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”