Cross Examination

Bible Book: Luke  23 : 32-43
Subject: Cross of Christ; Resurrection; Easter

Long ago and far away history’s “Kodak moment” took place on a cross at the crest of a hill. Luke 23 gives a snap-shot of the day that moved heaven and earth.

The cross of Jesus Christ was the intersection where God’s grace collided with man’s sin and sinfulness. Caught in the middle of what was and what could be were two thieves. The long arm of the law had caught them and judged them.

Seven hundred years before the cross of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah told us how the Messiah would die. Isaiah 53:12 says, “Because he poured out his life unto death …. And was numbered with the transgressors.”

The cross is the symbol of our faith! Isn’t it strange that a tool of torture would become the Christian symbol?

* Islam has a crescent moon.

* Buddhism has a lotus blossom

* Jews have the six-pointed Star of David.

Yet, we have an ancient instrument of execution. Why? God chose to put our sin on his Son and punish it there on a cross. God put on Him the wrong we deserved.

This morning we need to do some cross-examination. I’m no F. Lee Bailey, no Johnnie Cochran, no Perry Mason, but in cross-examination of the four gospels I believe we see these two men shared several things in common.

I. Partners in Crime

Luke’s gospel uses language in the Greek language pointing out they were hardened criminals or outlaws. They were rebels, radicals, and revolutionaries! They were criminals in the eyes of man and in the eyes of God.

They remind us of Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death”

Friends, sin has no minimum wage – you will get the maximum payment: death (eternal death) Before a Holy God, sin must be dealt with in one of three ways:

A. Punishment
B. Pardon
C. Perfection

The good news of Easter is the fact that … as the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus bore or punishment and offers us a full and complete pardon!

II. They were Partners in Cruelty

Matthew 27:44 says, “In the same way the robbers who were crucified with Him – also heaped insults on Him.”

At first, it was two against one. Both thieves cursed and mocked our Lord.

These men teach us something about the potential of human cruelty. Even while dying in their shame and nakedness, they still wanted to beat someone else down. They still wanted to beat-up on someone. We see something of the dark-side of our human nature in these two men. They still wanted to belittle, lash-out, and bully. They treated Jesus like dirt because both felt dirty inside. Their words were a window to their souls.

Our Lord listened in love because Jesus was always working on somebody! He knew that hurting people -- hurt people.

III. They were Partners in Pain

For hours and several days a man could hang on a cross before dying. It was like facing death by a “thousand cuts.”

John 19:31-33 tells us how death finally came to these criminals. Because of a special Sabbath, the Jewish leaders did not want their bodies left on crosses. They asked Pilate to have their legs broken and their bodies taken down so the sight of crosses would not spoil their Sabbath celebration.

So their last mental image was that of a Roman solider with a baseball-like club swinging with bone-breaking force, while hearing the “explosive snap” of their femoral bones as their weight shifts and their entire body sages downward in pain-overload. At this point, death is a welcomed friend.

As the soldiers come to Jesus – He was already dead.

Was He not tough enough? Was He a weakling?

Too begin with; most men did not survive the “lashing” that Jesus received before being nailed to the Cross. But that’s not why!

Scripture says that … Jesus said, “It is finished.” The Bible says that Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus wasn’t murdered or put-to-death by any government. Jesus chose to die! He chose the very second of his death! He willingly and sacrificially laid down his life.

The cross is what God did to win your heart! God’s Son became our substitute. The Bible says …”God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19)

At some point, these two criminals started parting company. The Holy Spirit was causing one of these men to undergo some serious cross-examination. (v41) “But this man has done nothing wrong.”

He was coming to a moment of truth and trust. God’s Spirit was tendering his heart. Why? Because Jesus was always working on somebody.


In Closing, this repentant thief realized two things.

Time to Get Real

Time to get real (Real with himself and God). He realized he was a sinner. He understood what he had sown he was now reaping. He realized he was lost and desperately needed a Savior.

Time to Get Right

Time to get right (v.42) “Then he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He called on the name of Jesus according to Romans 10:13

Jesus gave the repentant thief three things:

i. A Prophesy

“Today you will be with me in paradise”

ii. A Promise

“You will be with me”

iii. A Provision

“In Paradise”

Jesus was always working on somebody and 2,000 years later … He is working on You!