Jesus, Remember Me
Full Service Video
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,1 saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
We have a tendency to make memorials for two reasons. One because someone did something we think is really great. So we have mount Rushmore, in commutation of our four greatest presidents. Two because someone else does something really bad to us. So we have Gettysburg and Perl Harbor, memorials to a tragic event, and yes as a reminder of those who died there.
But what about when we have done something really bad? The Japanese have a memorial to Hiroshima and we have a memorial to Pearl Harbor, but shouldn’t it be the other way around. Even if the bombs were necessary, even if they were justified, nevertheless it was something terrible. But even still shouldn’t we be the ones to erect a monument as a reminder of what we did, a testimony to our sin and a covenant to future generations, “never again.”
Good Friday is both. We call it Good Friday and we sing praises to Jesus because He died for our sins and through His victory we are set free and are forgiven. But the color of the day is black and the worship is often silent and solemn as a reminder of our sins, that we were the one who nailed Jesus to the tree.
But perhaps you noticed that the theme in your bulletin is neither of these. It does not direct us towards remembering our sin, nor remembering Jesus victory. In fact it doesn’t direct us to remember anything.
All through Lent we have been discussing what things are important for us to remember. But far more important than what we remember is that Jesus remembers us. That is our theme this Friday. Not that we remember anything, but that Jesus would remember us.
Our sinful nature always wants to outdo one another. If our brother catches a 15 inch fish we want to catch an 18 inch fish. I remember in India a friend of mine came to me one day, and had a list of what he wanted in a computer. He wanted me to buy the parts and build it for him. So I was looking over the specs and here he had written down that he wanted an i7 intel processor.
“Why do you want the i7,” I said, “It is going to cost you $250 dollars more than the i5 and you won’t really ever use the extra power.”
“Well,” he said,” My brother has the i5 and I want my computer to be better than my brothers.”
Like we talked about on Sunday we always want to prove we are better. Well there is one contest that is very easy to win.
1 Timothy 1:15 NKJ This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
Paul claimed that he was the best at sinning. Do you think you could prove you are better at sinning than him? I know that I could. Without even breaking a sweat I could prove that my sins are worst.
Ok so I can beat Paul, what about the criminals on the cross? Am I worst sinner than them?
Sometimes we refer to them as the thieves on the cross. But the word that is translated “criminal” or “thief” actually indicates something far worse than a thief. These were violent hardened criminals. Indeed the fact that they were hanging on a cross indicates that they were the worst of criminals, violent men who undoubtedly had lead insurrections, or premeditated murder. The cross was a punishment reserved only for the worst of the worst, men like Jeffery Dahmer, or Ted Bundy.
It is very likely that both thieves were serial killers on the same order as these men. Are my sins greater than theirs? It doesn’t matter, am I worse, the same, slightly better? It doesn’t matter, I am a sinner like them. But Christ came to save sinners like them and me. And so I am saved and one of the thieves is saved, not because he remembered his sins, or because He remembered Christ’s love but because Christ remembered him.
As the one thief hung there on that cross he saw firsthand what it meant for Christ to “remember.”
He saw a Christ who remembered His disciples and acted to strengthen them.
He saw a Christ who remembered Hi s mother and acted to provide for her.
He saw a Christ who remembered even the soldiers who nailed Him to the tree and prayed for them. Perhaps it was this that changed his heart. Seeing that Christ remembered and forgave even the soldiers that nailed him to the tree. Perhaps that was the moment when the Word of God worked on His heart to make him realize. If this man will remember and forgive even these roman soldiers, perhaps he will remember and save me.
Whatever moment it was, there is no doubt that His heart was changed. His heart was changed from one that sought to make a name for himself through mighty deeds, to one that confessed his sins and desired only one thing, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
This then is our plea also, and our goal for this day. Not to make sure we do a good job remembering our sins or remembering what Christ did for us. But that Jesus would remember us.
And most assuredly He does. He remembered this murder. He remembered the chief of sinners Paul. Whether our sins are greater or worse, nevertheless He has and will remember us, and because of that remembering we will be with Him in paradise.