Here we are at the final installment of Pastor Jim Cymbala’s message titled "A Full Portrait of Christ." What a beautiful snapshot to consider today…
Here is one last snapshot of Jesus: He’s the merciful Savior to anyone and everyone who will admit that they are not living right; and that they want to turn from their sin and believe in him. You definitely have to have this picture in your album. Otherwise, you’re going to have a wrong view of the Lord.
Let us fast-forward to when Jesus is on the cross. "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the
truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’" (Luke 23:39-43) Just think for a moment: How did the second criminal know that Jesus was innocent and that he would "come into [a] kingdom”? He was just a thief on a cross! It must have been revealed to him by God as he watched Jesus.
Now when this thief asked the Lord to remember him, Jesus didn’t say, "All right. But, first, you’ve got to get baptized, undergo six weeks of discipleship training, and join the church. Then, you’ve got to change the way you’re living. Actually, it’s too late, because you’re about to die. I’m sorry, but there’s no hope for you!" No, instead Jesus said, "Today you will be with in paradise."
Do you know that when you get to heaven, you’re going to meet that thief on the cross? He won’t be able to tell you what church he went to because he never went to a church. He never got baptized, but what he did do was to call out to Jesus and say, "Have mercy on me!" And the love of God did not turn him away!
So, do you have all of these pictures? You need to, because they apply to all of us. I don’t care where you might be in life. One of these pictures applies to Jesus’ dealings with you today: Jesus receiving your worship and praise, weeping over you as you go down a road that will end up causing your destruction, angry because of his zeal for the house of the Lord, discerning as he sees through those who are living a double life, loving and patient with those who are weak. And, lastly, if you’ve never served Jesus Christ, but you feel your need of him and you know that you’re not ready to meet your Maker, Jesus is just waiting for you to say, "Remember me, oh Lord, when you come into your kingdom!" He will never turn you away!
To obtain an audio tape of the full message that is excerpted in this issue or to get an archival listing of Pastor Cymbala’s sermon tapes, please call The Brooklyn Tabernacle at 718-290-2238. (This is not an advertisement.)