Home » Sermons » Red Letter Day » Paradise

Auto Generated Transcript

Luke chapter 23 is where we’re going to be in this series. On the red letter days we’re studying leading up into Easter. The particular events surrounding Christ’s death, and the reason we’re calling it red letters is we’re focusing specifically on the statements of Jesus as it relates to the cross. By the way, 1011 year olds, you guys are dismissed for your class in the days ahead. So so you’re aware as a church family, we’re going to spend this week and next week focusing on on the specifics of what Jesus stated on the cross. And then the month of April, we’re going to be doing a family series together. What makes today so important for us as a church family is that today is Palm Sunday. This was the the time in history in which Jesus rode on the back of a donkey into Jerusalem and the crowd shouted, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna! Save now, save now! And so they were praising God’s name. The word Hosanna literally means salvation now. And so they have these these palm branches. They’re laying it before Jesus, declaring him king, wanting them to to save them. And and within just a few days, they’ll be turning their backs on Christ and rejecting him. But I think one of the beautiful pictures about Palm Sunday is in revelation. When you read a similar story again in chapter seven and verse nine, it has the same scenario before the people of God standing before Jesus, praising his name and bringing palm branches of praise before him.

But leading up to to this event and beyond that, to the the cross of Christ is where we focus specifically today. And I’m going to in particular center upon in Luke chapter 23, verses 33 to 43, as Jesus goes to the cross, it gives this backdrop story, and it tells the story as it relates to Jesus’s cross through the events of two individuals crucified to the right and left of Jesus. And this event for believers, for the world is literally the darkest day in history. But it’s also culminated with the greatest day of victory and what Christ accomplished for us. Jesus’s life was about his death and the fulfillment of his life, down to the very events of his death and resurrection, were prophetically demonstrated for us. The the precision of prophecy related to Jesus’s death is profound, especially when you consider that prophecies about Jesus’s death came hundreds of years, if not thousands of years before. Before Jesus himself was crucified, hundreds of years before the crucifix was, even before it was ever invented. Isaiah 53 gives us very specific details related to that event. Isaiah 53 and verse three. Prophetically it says this. He was despised and rejected of man, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering, like one from whom men hide their faces. He was despised, and we esteemed him not.

In Psalm 41 verse nine, even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted his heel against me, talking about Judas, Zechariah 11 and verse 12, I told them, if you think it best, give me my pay. But if not, keep it so that they paid me 30 pieces of silver, which is the amount of money that was used to betray Jesus paid to Judas, and Isaiah 53 and verse seven, he was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, as a sheep before his shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Psalm 22 is loaded with prophetic statements about Jesus. We saw this quote from last week in Psalm 22 and verse one Jesus said this My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? In Psalm 22 and verse 7 to 8, all who see me mock me. They hurl insults, shaking their heads. He trusts in the Lord. Let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him. In Psalm 22 and verse 15, my strength is dried up like a Potsherd my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You lay me in the dust of death. In verse 18 of the same psalm I count all my bones. People stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. Jesus’s death fulfilled prophetically as he hangs upon the cross in the death of Christ.

The Bible records for us in the Gospels seven statements that Jesus declares, all of which I say are profoundly important, and all of which are intentional in the statements in which he shares. And this is the reason, I would say every statement Jesus gives is intentional on the cross is because last week. And if you’re familiar with the cross, when you study what Jesus endured as he went to the cross before he even was raised up on the cross, it was a beating that left him unrecognizable. Flesh ripped from his body’s organs and bones would have been exposed. And the whipping in which he received. Blood shed everywhere. Jesus carried a cross. As he hung upon the cross, he can’t help but think he is barely clinging to life. As anyone would hang on the cross. Death often came to the individual. From asphyxiation. It would be nailed to this beam, both their arms and their feet. And their lungs would literally cave within them to where they could not breathe. And for Jesus to make any statement on the cross at all. It’s profound. And yet somehow he finds the strength to hoist himself up on the nails that are through his feet, to stand and make declaration to us as people. These words are intentional. And they’re highly significant. Jesus isn’t just exhausting energy just to say words, because he’s a part of this social media in which he feels he needs to express himself so the world can understand.

His words had particular meaning for us. Very specific in what he desires to accomplish. And as Jesus is crucified. He tells us within in the book of Luke in chapter 23, that he is crucified between two thieves. Another act divinely appointed, I would say by God that was no accident. It was intentional. Isaiah 53 and verse 12 tells us, and he was numbered with the transgressors, saying, Jesus was there with criminals, crucified with them, as if he were a criminal himself. To thank as Jesus came into this world. He is. He was birthed around the the trough of animals. And as Jesus died, he’s dying on the cross among men who had lived their lives like animals. And some translations translate the individuals to Jesus as right and left simply as thieves. But can I tell you, for the clarity of our sake within our mind, these guys are guilty of more than just stealing something from grandma. A field during this time. It goes much deeper than someone who just happens to steal something from the marketplace. A thief is a generic term in which they use for criminals. And these people could have robbed, but they could have robbed someone’s life. And just taking something wouldn’t warrant a crucifixion. These individuals, whatever it is that they have done, has caused them to receive such a sentence, of which they now find themselves nailed to a cross next to Jesus.

These. These aren’t some just ordinary criminals. These, these. Are despised individuals according to society’s standard. Rejected. And crucified. It’s on the backdrop of that understanding that Luke chapter 23 shares the story it says. And when they came to the place called the skull. There they crucified him in the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. If you skip forward into verse 30 or 39, the story goes on. One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at him, saying. Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us. But the other answered and rebuked them, saying, do you not even fear God, since you were under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds. But this man has done nothing wrong. The criminal says, Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom. And as this criminal remarks to Christ, his his present situation being deserving, and the other this present situation being deserving, he then acknowledges his need before a just God. He he recognizes he’s about to meet his maker. And now he looks to Christ. And says, could you just remember me? As you’re in your kingdom. And Jesus then gives this statement that makes this story so shocking for for all people, especially in this moment you consider around this cross are the individuals who desired for Jesus to be crucified, right? I mean, just hours before hurling insults at him, spitting up on him, calling him names, the the religious leaders of the time are around this cross, and according to their religious system, these individuals around Jesus, they’re despised.

They’re rejected. They find no place. They find no home. They could never be worthy enough to be accepted in the religion in which they embrace. And now it says this in verse 43. Truly I say to you, Jesus says to the criminal. Today. You shall be with me in Paradise. What does the statement mean? I’ll find for centuries, religious individuals have come to this text trying to define what the statement means. This this phrase today you will be with me in Paradise is is rich in theology. And I want you to know this morning we’re going to approach this theologically. We’re going to define exactly what Jesus is saying here. And then we’re going to make some application in our lives on what Christ is declaring for us. And this is important to us. This is important to the religious world, because if what God is saying here in this statement to this thief is that this thief is about to be welcomed into the kingdom of God in the heaven and the presence of the Lord for all of eternity. This changes the paradigm of all religion throughout this world. Because when you think what this thief had to offer to this king.

It was nothing. His life was debauchery. And even at the point that he expressed his faith in Jesus, he can’t even lift a hand to conduct any good work towards Christ. He can’t even be baptized. Which is why religiously, throughout centuries, people have looked at this text. And tried to define it in such a way as if to undermine what Jesus is saying within the sentence, as if it couldn’t be as simple as what Jesus is promising. This thief is eternity in him. What does this text mean? You will be with me in Paradise. Now there’s three important questions I want to just ask as we as we think through this for just a moment. And these these three important questions I think are foundational for us to to answer the question of what Jesus is talking about here. One is this where did Jesus go when he died? Right? I mean, what is this Paradise? Where where did Jesus, where did Jesus go when he died? Did he? Did he go straight to the celestial kingdom? Where where was Christ? It might give us an indication of where this thief may end up. What? What does it mean when he says the word today? I mean, it’s it’s just kind of like this general idea that, you know, maybe maybe it would be like sometime soon or something. Or. Or what? What exactly is this word? Paradise? I mean, is Jesus declaring in his presence forever? Or is there some other place? When you consider the questions to this answer, it helps outlay for us what this text is saying.

Because I’m going to tell you in a religious mindset, the tendency is when you come to a text like this, when you define words like Paradise and today it is, it is to not take it in the sense in which Jesus desired for us to understand it. There’s got to be some trick here. The grace of God is not extended in this way. Where is the loophole that says, well, maybe Jesus was nice to this guy and he’s not going to get everything, but but he was he will just get, you know, a little parting gift. And so when you approach this text with that preconceived idea, with this religious way of thinking, it has the tendency to explain this text away in a position that is contrary to Scripture. So let’s define it right. First, let me just ask this question because this will help set the backdrop. Where did Jesus go when he died? You know, the Bible tells us Jesus was crucified. He was laid in the tomb for three days, which really technically, if we’re dating it by a watch, is about 48 hours. And he went into into the tomb right before the sun went down. And according to Jewish customs, that would be counted as a day.

And then he spent the next day, and then he was resurrected the following morning. And so in there, according to their their way of looking at things at last, at about three days, which is really about a 48 hour period. But Jesus was crucified. And during that time in which he was crucified, where where did Jesus go? The Jesus go to hell. And that he spend three days in hell. And some people will look at a text and support the idea that Jesus spent three days in hell. Matthew chapter 12 and verse 40 says this Jesus gave the promise that just like Jonah was three days in the belly of a whale, that he would spend three days in the belly of the earth. But I don’t believe that tax is saying to us that Jesus spent three days in hell. What I think that text is saying to us is just like Jonah was encapsulated within the whale. Jesus’s body would be encapsulated within a tomb for three days. And so I think the similarity is drawn there physically as it relates to Jesus, but not spiritually as it relates to Jesus. But when Jesus is hanging on the cross, he says some pretty profound statements that give some indication to us of where Christ was planning on going from the cross. And this is what he says in in Luke chapter 23 and verse 46, Jesus said, father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

In addition to that, when Jesus was hanging on the cross in John 19 and verse 30, it says this. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he says, it is finished. And he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. And when you talk about the crucifixion of Jesus, whether or not he needed to go to hell, when you think about that, the the idea is this that there was some further payment Jesus needed to give. But when you look in John 19, verse 30, when Jesus talks about the culmination of the payment for mankind for our sins. He says on the cross as he gives up his life. That payment has been made in full. I think the answer to that question then necessitates for us that in order to make payment for sin, no, Jesus had no need to spend time in hell. But the Bible tells us this that when when Jesus was crucified in Luke chapter 16, there is the story of what’s called Abraham’s bosom. It’s commonly referred to as as Haiti or the place for the dead. And so it’s described in the Bible when, when people would perish there, their souls or when people would die, their souls would go into this holding ground for the dead, what’s referred to as Abraham’s bosom. Those that put their faith in the future of a messiah would be held in this good side of Hades, waiting for. Jesus to come and make payment for sin.

That’s why the Bible calls Jesus the first fruits. We needed the sacrifice to be made for the forgiveness of sins, that that we could be clothed in that sacrifice to enter into the presence of God. Luke 16 describes that. Jesus, having now been sacrificed, becomes the first fruits of the resurrection. And so the Bible gives these indications that when Jesus was crucified, he he led captives free. It says in Ephesians chapter four and verse eight that my belief is that he went to Abraham’s bosom, and those waiting in the holding ground. Jesus took the captives with him into eternity. And first Peter chapter three and verse 18, it says this having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made proclamation to the spirits, now in prison. I think Jesus gave his declaration of victory over sin, Satan, and death when he was crucified, having paid the payment and reconciled us to God. And so when he asked the question, where did Jesus go when he died? My answer would be this he made the payment in full for our sins upon the cross when he said, it is finished. Paid in full. Gives up his spirit. Commits his spirit to the father, goes into Abraham’s bosom, sets captives free as the first fruits, and declares for them their freedom that they may experience all of eternity in the presence of God.

I think it would be the only appropriate time to say, Did Jesus. Go to hell. I would say in the physical sense. No. But Jesus on the cross we saw last week shared this painful reminder to us, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? He experienced the suffering of what sin was and in that sense experienced hell in of itself. So then we look at the question, knowing that Jesus, then his his presence and his spirit, he commends to the father. We ask the question, what is the word today mean? And you look at this and you say to yourself, you know, it’s not too hard to understand within this text what today means, but let me let me just throw out this thought before I, before you just come to this drastic conclusion of what today means. There was no punctuation in the Greek text, meaning there was no comma. Right? And so where you put this comma. Makes this text read in a particular way. Let me give you an example. Jesus could be saying, truly I say to you today, comma, you will be with me in Paradise. So Jesus is sort of making the statement today that at some point you will be with me in Paradise. Or the text could read like this where they have the comma. Truly I say to you. And then comma. And then it puts the emphasis on the word today.

Today you will be with me in Paradise. Now I want you to know that is a pretty important comma, is it not? Okay. Jesus, when I die, where am I going? Am I going to some sort of purgatory? Do I need to prove my worth? Do I need to demonstrate to you? Do I elevate myself within some sort of eternal kingdom that I am unaware about, to then show you how worthy I am? And then? And then at that point, I get to be in whatever this Paradise is. I mean, where should this comma be? Well, let me give you an idea. When it comes to Scripture, Jesus commonly said this within the Bible. Truly I say to you, if you read sort of a more archaic tradition in Scripture of English like the King James, it’ll say this verily, verily, I say unto you, right? Never did Jesus say, verily, verily, I say unto you today. I mean, that’s kind of redundant, right? If you’re saying it, you’re obviously saying it today. Verily, verily, I say unto you, truly I say unto you. And so, based on everything that Jesus has said within Scripture, it makes sense. And following all the things that he said to put the comma after that statement, because the emphasis of what Jesus is saying in this passage is found on this word today. Verily, verily, I say unto you, truly I say unto you, today you will be with me in Paradise.

The Bible gives us a couple of phrases that reiterates the idea of where someone goes in the moment that they leave this world, having trusted in Christ. And second Corinthians five verse eight, it says this for us we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. So Paul’s statement is this once a believer leaves this world. The present with God. In fact, first Corinthians 15 describes heaven that way. There’s this terrestrial life that we lead here in this physical world, and then there’s this celestial life. There are these two places in which you, your spirit was, were designed to to dwell upon or to dwell in. And so Paul reiterates that in second Corinthians five and verse eight, God created you for relationship in him. God’s desire is for you to be united in him. God’s longing in eternity is you connected to him. And so Scripture shares with us that idea that that to leave this physical body in which God has placed me in spiritually is to be in his presence for which he has created me for. In Philippians chapter one and verse 23. This is what Paul said. I’m hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ. Paul in this passage is wrestling with staying on earth and being in the presence of God. And he’s saying it’s one of two options for us as as believers.

And so this idea of today carries with it this immediate presence of God. And so the important question then becomes, where then is Paradise? It’s in some song, right? Where is Paradise? Can I tell you the. Best way to describe it. Is the way the Persians would have described it. This word for Paradise is actually a Persian word. So here you go. I don’t know what you think about with Paradise, but I might. I might be creating that idea in my mind. Yes, I will go there. Yes, yes, if that is heaven. Give me a coconut with a straw, please. And I will swing all day. Right. This word for Paradise is a is a Persian word, and and the Persians would actually use this word to describe a garden. And the wealthy, especially in this area, would would create gardens on top of their homes or menageries out in fields. If you’ve ever seen Aladdin after Jasmine rides on her beautiful magic carpet ride, then something happens and she runs out into the menagerie, you know? And then Aladdin is chasing her out there. That. That’s a Persian Paradise. And so when they began to borrow this word from Persian culture, they they used it to describe this idea of heaven. Its place of pleasure and relaxation. No more worry. No more stress. You know what it was like. You can reflect with pictures like this when you think about Paradise.

I mean, you know, if you grew up in the 80s at all, you know, your friend would go on vacation and then as soon as they get there in this beautiful place, they would send some picture of which never happened for them on this, on this vacation. But it was wish you were here and you get it. You’d be like, yeah, you, you better wish I was there right now. Guys. I would just be, you know. No, I better not say that. But but but Paradise. It’s this, it’s this this. It’s this postcard picture of what your vacation should be, but never is. Because the kids are throwing up on themselves and constantly fighting. But it’s this idea within your mind of where your soul just wants to go to relax and just enjoy life around you. And so when Jesus is using this word Paradise, he’s borrowing it from Persian culture to create within our minds this place of relaxation. And can I tell you, if you’re being crucified on a cross, I mean, the thought of that, that’s not bad, right? End of your life. You’re being insulted and shamed. Your life is being taken away. And you know it’s about to end. And you’re just looking for hope. And then Jesus gives this beautiful idea of put your eyes on this relaxation ahead of you. To take solace in me. Be in my presence as your king. And we define this word Paradise.

Here’s the advantage that we get. The Bible defines it for us. The tendency is in religious systems is to undermine this word for what Paradise means. Well, this guy got in, but he got in on the skin by the skin of his teeth. And just hindsight for all of us. That’s how we’re all getting there. There’s nothing that you’re going to do to prove your worthiness to God. So we can look at this thief and say, you know what? He was unworthy. And so he just he just barely got into some lower level somewhere. But the reality is before a holy God. None of us deserve his presence at all. And so in a religious system, the idea here is to undermine this word for Paradise and to create some sort of secondary third, fourth place to where this this thief goes in this lower position and he’s got to kind of acclimate or prove himself and his worthiness and, and his new home of Paradise. But here’s what the Bible says. And this is what’s important in the end, just do what the Bible says, okay? And second Corinthians chapter 12 Paul talks about coming before the presence of God. The Celestial kingdom. And when he describes this, he uses the word for third heaven and Paradise interchangeably. It’s like in verse two he gives this statement of where he sees himself before the Lord, and then he gives this qualifying statement, and then he goes back to that statement again.

Look at look at how he says it here. I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago, whether in body I do not know or out of the body I do not know. God knows such a man was caught up to the third heaven. Let’s insert a thought here. I know how such a man, or I know how such a man, whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know. God knows. And so Paul is saying, okay, I was caught up, but I’m not sure if it was in body or out of body. And so he says this in verse four, I was caught up into Paradise. And her inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. And so, Paul, in the context of, of, of this word Paradise really defines for us what it is. It’s, it’s this third heaven, the presence of God, his celestial kingdom, which, by the way, just for clarification sake, I’m just going to explain what third heaven means. The Jews had a system within their idea of thinking, especially around the time of the Apostle Paul, to refer to the heavens. And when they talked about the third heaven, that was always the spiritual world. That’s where God dwells in the third heaven. When they talked about the heavens, there could be three layers to the way they would refer to the heavens, the place where the birds fly around.

That’s heaven one the place where your stars dwell. That’s heaven. Two the spiritual place where God is. That’s the celestial heaven that the Bible talks about. That’s the promise to believers. That’s where God desires for us to be in his presence. I’m not flying with any birds and I’m not hanging on any stars. God’s called us to be in his presence. And his celestial kingdom. Which is why in first Corinthians 15, when Paul talks about us, he talks about us physically as terrestrial beings. Created or recreated and tended to be recreated in God for Celestial Kingdom. Where his Paradise. It’s in the presence of God. Well. So then how profound does this statement become? And the idea of religious thinking. This is completely contrary. Because in the system of religion, of works and earning your way into eternity, it has become an impossibility for this thief. This criminal. Can’t lift a finger for God, can’t be baptized, can’t do any good work. And yet here he is, hanging on a cross. And the last pitch desperation at the end of his life, acknowledges he’s going to meet his creator and he needs someone to save him. You see the the first thief mocking Jesus. You call yourself Savior. Save yourself and us if you’re a Savior. And the second thief then turns to him and says, he doesn’t deserve this, we deserve this. We’re about to meet our maker, Jesus, who does say, if you could do me a favor when you’re in your kingdom, could you please just remember me and Jesus in this profound statement back on his cross, says, today you will be with me in Paradise.

My thought is this. These two thieves. On either side of Jesus. It was no accident. It was a divine appointment. And represented between the two individuals crucified on Jesus’s right and left. It’s the gamut of humanity. It’s as if to say, in this symbolic way, at the crucifixion of Jesus, that Jesus is declaring, guys, there, there are two roads in this world. There is the one of arrogance and rejection of the King who gave his life to die for you. And there was the one who recognizes that he could never hope to be good enough before his God. But thank God, Jesus is. Jesus. And his death. We find life. And in these moments, the grace of God. According to this phrase in which Jesus shares should captivate us and just the extent of his love that’s being expressed for humanity that he has created to know and enjoy him for all of eternity. For the unsaved world. And this is important. Believers. Can I tell you one of the most powerful stories you can ever share? What’s the story of the thief on the cross? One of the beautiful pictures that Jesus has given to us in his death. Was just how gracious he is to us to offer life.

That even while the rest of the world looks at you as underneath of them, unworthy to live. God still sees the beauty of who you are to offer you life. In addition to that. And consider the symbolism for the life of the believer every day. And when we think about the cross, we often just think about one cross. And it’s the most important cross to think about. So consider it. But don’t neglect. What happened on the right and on the left. There was a man by the name of Bernard. I can’t make this up, Bernard Cokendolpher. One of those that just rolls off the tongue. Everybody wants that last name. Coffin dapper. And he grew up. The reason I know this guy is he grew up in West Virginia. I never met him in my life, but he just. He just West Virginia legend there. And so. So Bernard Coffin Daffer was born in the 1930, and by the age of ten, he became an orphan. His father and mother died. I think his mother died of cancer and his father died when he was ten years old. And and he managed as an orphan. He went on he went to college. He got a business degree. He he opened up some of his own businesses and became a multi millionaire in his 40s. He became a believer and he ended up having a couple of heart bypasses in his 40s.

And in 1984, after his his last heart bypass, he decides that he’s just going to do his best to leave this mark on the world for Christ. And so he liquidates his entire business and he goes on this mission. He travels in the United States and throughout the world, really goes to Zambia and the Philippines and and throughout most of the eastern half of the United States, but some into the West. And he plants over 2000 crosses throughout the world. But he doesn’t just put up one. He puts up three. In fact, if you’ve done any traveling along the east, you’ve probably seen these. And the scenery makes it golden. And the sides there, they’re both blue and they dot landscapes throughout North America. They’re still standing today. In 1984, he started this. Within ten years, he he ended up passing away. He spent millions of dollars to do this. Not just one cross. Three. Why three crosses? I think for us as believers. It’s a symbol, one to reflect upon the grace of God that saves you apart from anything that you’ve done. But to for us every day, it represents a decision. Because as much as you place your faith in Jesus for salvation, the Bible calls you to live your life as if he is Lord every day. And in any moment within my life. I represent one of two thieves. I either act in unbelief. I trust in the grace of God that saved me every day of my life.

There is. Three crosses aren’t just for the unbelieving world. There for everyone. To look at this picture and reflect on what it means and all that we are trusting in, in a King who has given us life in him. These three crosses for us, though, only have meaning as we allow it to have meaning within our hearts as we consider what it what it means to to come to Jesus. And you know the interesting thing about being crucified on Jesus’s right or left? I mean, how much closer could one of these thieves get, but yet be so far away of understanding the beauty of what Christ has done in their lives? Close to the cross. But so far away from Christ. When you think about the cross. I think the story is to not forget. About the two beside of Jesus Thatrillionepresent. You. There was a story about a man named William Wilberforce. William Wilberforce was in British Parliament in the 1700s. He he became a part of Parliament. I think it was 1784. And he actually became a Christian one year later in Parliament in 1785. And by 1787, God had grabbed his heart so hard within within the place that he had put him in the political platform that William Wilberforce started to fight with in Parliament in Great Britain to abolish slavery. And for ten years. In the first beginning of his ministry, he he fought very, very adamantly, very tenaciously trying to see slavery outlawed.

And he kept meeting rejection after rejection. And this guy was a godly individual. In fact, he he lived so close to Parliament that he would walk to work. And on his way, walking to work, he would quote Psalm 119 in its entirety from beginning to end on his journey to to Parliament as he would begin his day. And if you’ve ever looked at Psalm 119, I would just encourage you. If you’ve not ever looked at it, I’d encourage you to take a look at that. All right. Challenge yourself just to remember to memorize just 25% of that Psalm, I dare you. But William William Wilberforce, he walked to Parliament every day, fought hard for the abolition of slavery. And in ten years into this battle, he just he felt like giving up. And then it says, as he was rifling through his Bible one day out fell from those pages a letter written to him by John Wesley, and it said this. And lest the divine power has raised you up, I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise and opposing that abominable practice of slavery, which is the scandal of England and of human nature. You will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you, or all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing go on in the name of God, and in the power of his might.

Here’s what I think the cross represents to us. As you consider this moment. When you think about being a believer next to Jesus as he’s being crucified and you ask yourself, how does the forecast look? The days. Look, look. Finished. I see no hope on the horizon. We’re staring the lion in the teeth and he’s about to go after her head. But in the darkness of that moment. Jesus comes through with hope. And in just a few days, his resurrection is about to declare throughout the world. So much so, it transforms the Roman Empire. And this morning. You worship that same God? Not by your strength. But by the same grace that was given to the thief on the cross. And then the darkness of that moment. It gave hope. And for you as a church. Staring darkness in the mouth. Looking at the gates of hell. Jesus gave this promise. He will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. This cross is not for your glory. What it is. And in his glory as it’s about to shine through. In just a few days, you now get the promise of resting in his strength. Not tomorrow. Today. Because he has overcome.