The Three Crosses


T. DeWitt Talmage preached a sermon on Lk 23:33 entitled The Three Crosses.  From his sermon came the idea for this message.

Had you been among the spectators the day Jesus was crucified, you would have seen three crosses: two thieves on either side and Jesus in the middle. Look more closely at the cross on the right [Jesus’ left].  This is:

The Cross of the Reviler – the thief on this cross was full of scorn and hatred for the Lord – he, like the crowd below, despised Jesus and reviled him – he questioned why Jesus should concern himself with his sin and he hated him for pointing it out – he didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah or the Son of God – he taunted him with “if” thou be the Son of God – if the thief weren’t sure he should have asked the blind who could now see, the lepers who were now cleansed, the dead who were now alive, the sea that had calmed or even the devils who believed – he rejected the Savior – the stings and physical pain of this sinner’s death pale in comparison to the eternal suffering he is enduring today – he had other ways of dealing with his sins but no solution for his eternity.

Look more closely at the cross on the left [Jesus’ right].  This is:

The Cross of the Repentant – the thief on this cross may have begun to revile Jesus like the rest of the mob but soon he changed his attitude – he began to worship and admire Jesus – there was no scorn or hatred in him for the Savior – he had time to review his life as it passed suddenly before him and to evaluate his condition and his doom – he realized, “I am guilty; this man is innocent and holy – I die justly; he is dying voluntarily for me” – he believed that Jesus was the Son of God, he believed the inscription above his head, he believed that Jesus could have mercy on him – and so he repented – not only had this thief robbed men, he had robbed God – he took everything God gave him and used it to serve himself – he knew that his heart was deceitful above all things and desperately wicked – he could see the avalanche of sin above his head ready to crash down upon him forever and he knew he needed to be rescued – and so he cried, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” – and he did – “the dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.”

Look now at the cross in the middle.  This is:

The Cross of the Redeemer – on this cross the Son of God suffered not only the beating, the mocking, the piercing, and the whipping but also the spears on all of man’s sins thrust into his heart, the antagonizing of the devil making one last attempt to thwart his purpose, the screams and reproach of the crowd, and the abandonment of his friends – he came to satisfy the demands of his just and holy Father – that’s what he came to do – he is our only hope of redemption – years ago, the Swiss fought an enemy that was shielded in an impenetrable phalanx – Arnold von Winkelried rushed to the front of the defense and cried, “Make way for liberty” – when the soldiers broke ranks to kill him, they made a brief opening in their phalanx through which the Swiss soldiers ran, thereby defeating their foes – in the same manner Christ made a way for our redemption through the impenetrable barrier of sin – he was victorious – he carried his cross, he suffered hell, he endured the shame and he won the crown.

Conclusion: If you reject the Savior, yours is the cross of the reviler – if you will repent and turn to Christ, yours is the cross of the repentant – for only Christ could bear the cross of the redeemer – and his death is all for naught if you say, “No” to him!