And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If you be Christ, save yourself and us.…
I. Let us consider WHEREIN THESE TWO MALEFACTORS WERE ALIKE.
1. They were alike in respect to depravity of heart.
2. They were alike in respect to their knowledge of Christ.
3. They were alike in practice — both malefactors.
4. They were alike in condemnation.
II. WHEN THEY BEGAN TO DIFFER. Apparently it was when the darkness began. And we can easily believe that such an unexpected and solemn miracle, on such an awful occasion, did make a deep impression upon the minds of all the spectators of the crucifixion of the Lord of glory, and more upon some than others.
III. WHEREIN THEY EVENTUALLY AND FINALLY DIFFERED. Here it may be observed —
1. That one realized the wrath of God abiding upon him, whilst the other did not. This poor, perishing criminal was thoroughly awakened from his long and habitual stupidity, and clearly saw his dangerous condition; which is usually the first step to conversion. He might, however, have seen and felt such danger, and with his eyes open gone to destruction. But —
2. His awakening was followed with conviction. He not only realized that he was exposed to everlasting misery, but was convinced, in his conscience, that he deserved it.
3. He renounced his enmity to God, and became cordially reconciled to His vindictive justice.
4. Having exercised true love, repentance, and submission towards God, he exercised a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the two malefactors began to differ while hanging on the cross; and they continue to differ as long as they lived, and will continue to differ as long as they exist.What has been said in this discourse may serve to throw light upon some important subjects which have been supposed to be dark and difficult to understand.
1. It appears from the conduct of the penitent malefactor, that the doctrine of unconditional submission is founded in fact. He really felt and expressed a cordial and unreserved submission to God, when he expected in a few moments to sink down into the pit of endless destruction.
2. It appears from the views and exercises of the penitent malefactor, that the doctrine of repentance before faith is founded in fact.
3. It appears from the views and feelings of the penitent malefactor, that the doctrine of instantaneous regeneration is founded in fact.
4. It appears from the conduct of God towards the two malefactors, that He acts as a Sovereign in renewing the hearts of men.
5. The conduct of the impenitent malefactor shows that no external means or motives are sufficient to awaken, convince, or convert any stupid sinner.
6. It appears from the fate of the impenitent malefactor, that impenitent sinners have no ground to rely upon the mere mercy of Christ in a dying hour. It is, therefore, presumption in any sinners to live in the hope of a death-bed repentances.
7. It appears from the conduct and the condition of the penitent malefactor, that sinners may be saved at the eleventh or last hour of life, if they really repent and believe in Christ.
(N. Emmons, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.