And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If you be Christ, save yourself and us.…
I. THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH.
1. Death to the sinner — the death of the body, and afterwards the death of the soul in hell.
2. Death to the Saviour, who knew no sin, but bears our iniquities on the cross.
3. Death to the saint; for though on him the second and more awful death, the death of the soul, hath no power, yet he cannot escape the death of the body; for all saints since Abel have had to pass through the river Jordan, save two, Enoch and Elijah. God must be just; and nothing short of death is sin's just recompense. Oh that you would turn to Him whose "gift is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
II. Another lesson we learn from this solemn scene is, that THE UNCONVERTED GROW WORSE AND WORSE. Perhaps the lost thief was brought up by pious parents; most likely he was taught to kneel before God by his mother, and was led up to the temple, and heard the sweet music echo among its marble arches, when the worshippers sang God's praises. Often had he wondered, and perhaps wept, when hearing the history of Joseph, and Samuel, and Daniel. But, alas! he was led away by little and little, adding sin to sin, until sinning became a habit, and habit became confirmed and strengthened, till he walked openly with the ungodly, stood in the way of sinners, and at last sat down in the seat of the scorner; and though rebuked, remained hardened, and went down a doomed man to hell. You cannot indulge one sin without opening the door for others. The man who begins by walking in the downhill path of sin, goes on to running, until he falls headlong into hell.
III. THERE ARE NONE TOO BAD TO BE FORGIVEN. Art thou a thief? As the thief on the cross was saved, so mayest thou; take heart, and cry to Jesus. Art thou a blasphemer? The blasphemer, Bunyan, was saved, and so mayest thou; take heart, and cry to Jesus. Art thou a harlot? The harlot, Mary, was saved, and so mayest thou; take heart, and cry to Jesus. Art thou a murderer? There may be some such here; for God knows there are not only murders that never saw the light, but "he that hateth his brother is a murderer." But oh! the murderer David was saved, and so mayest thou; take heart, and cry to Jesus. Saul of Tarsus, whose hands were dyed with the blood of Stephen, was washed with the blood of Jesus. I saw, not long since, lying on the bed of sickness and death, a poor outcast woman, whose spirit has since departed. She spoke to this effect to a dear friend of mine: — "I have been, not five, not ten, not fifteen, but twenty years living in open and loathsome sin; but I have found that Christ will cast out none — no, not the most hell-deserving sinner who cries to Him. And now I am dying; but I am happy, for 'the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth me from all sin.' And when I am gone, let these words be written on my tombstone — 'So foolish was I, and ignorant, I was as a beast before Thee. Nevertheless I am continually with Thee: Thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory.'" Oh, whoever you are, Christ can save you!
IV. Learn, too, from Calvary. that WHEN A SINNER IS SAVED, IT IS BY FAITH IN JESUS. How can I prove to you the faith of the penitent thief? By his wonderful prayer.
(H. G. Guinness, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.