What Can Happen When a Man Finally Gets It
The Big Idea: Am I where I’m supposed to be? Am I doing what needs to be done? Is this where I can do the most good?
What did a lifelong criminal dying on a cross next to Jesus see that was so powerful he felt compelled to plead, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” Join us as we seek to locate the significance of the crucifixion. Is it found in its brutality, its murderous purpose, or in the physical death of Jesus? The answers may surprise you. We’ll look at what can happen when a man finally gets it, and what it means for us today.
Hanging Out with Jesus
Stories about Jesus from the Gospels
What Can Happen When a Man Finally Gets It
John 19:18-27, Matthew 27:35-44, Mark 15:24-32, Luke 23:33-43
Good morning, men! If you would, open your Bibles to Luke 23:33, as we begin this morning by doing a little overview of nomanleftbehind.org. This is a new website that you can use in your churches to help your churches more effectively disciple men. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it, but it’s brand new. Kudos to Brian Russell who’s up here helping me this morning. Go ahead and go to the top there, Brian. When you open it up it looks like this. Create a thriving ministry to men, No Man Left Behind training has helped thousands of leaders in churches just like yours. Don’t click on it. There’s a learn more button there that you can click on. Scroll down, though, and let’s show them the graphic.
This graphic is why we are doing this project of appointing a field representative so that every church in America can have a man in the field to help them more effectively disciple men. We figure it’s going to take … Our goal is 35,000 churches to help 10 million new men become disciples. In order to do that, we’re going to look for 800 FTEs, full-time equivalents. We’re at 98 men right now, so we’re off to a very good start. We feel like this will accelerate. Here’s the driver and the reason why we’re doing this. We did some research in 2010 on this model that we had developed, No Man Left Behind. We found that, this has been independently verified, that churches that use the model experience a 48% increase in the number of men attending their church on average, in 2-1/2 years. That can’t be true! That’s ridiculous! That can’t be true! Not only that, we found that in those same churches, they had 84% more men involved in discipleship in the same time period! That can’t be true either! This is ridiculous!
When we realized what we had, 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Now to whomever has been given a trust, they must prove faithful,” we began asking the question, okay, what does faithful look like? We realized God had given us a trust to steward, so we decided that we would try to proliferate these No Man Left Behind ideas to as many churches as might be interested. We’re thinking maybe that’s 10% of the churches, 10% market share, if you will. It’s 35,000 churches. Then based on actual results, it would take each of those churches about 2 years to develop 30 new disciples each, so that’s 10 million men. That’s what’s driving this. There’s a video there that you can click on that’s about 3 minutes and watch. I think David Delk narrates, but it’s got some pretty pictures.
Scroll down, if you would, Brian. Then the model helps churches create an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit can inspire men into life-on-life discipleship. You can develop a customized plan for the church. There’s leadership development. There’s a sustainable model over the long haul. Then go and ahead scroll down more and then click on the learn more button. That will take you to a page where you can see the model itself. You can download a chapter of the book No Man Left Behind. You can learn how you can get live training. You can get online video training, on and on and on. The point is, it’s there and a little overview of the model that Brett Clemmer does. There is the model itself, so if you’re interested in how you can get involved, either helping just disciple a few guys in a group, disciple the men in your church, or even help multiple churches in the community, you’re part of the community as a field rep, then I encourage you to go to nomanleftbehind.org, especially those of you who are online. We’re saturating here a little bit in Orlando, but we have a lot of other territory to get to. I said I would do that in 60 to 90 seconds. It took me about 5 minutes. Apologize for that. I got a little carried away.
All right. Our series is Hanging Out With Jesus. The text today is Luke 23:33. What can happen when a man finally gets it. I received an email from a man this week who, 20 years ago, he, himself, read The Man in the Mirror and God used it to help him transition from being a cultural Christian to a biblical Christian. In the meantime, his 19-year-old son had walked away from God. That was 25 years ago that that happened. He sent an email this week that his son now, at the age of 44, has come back to his faith and self-describes himself as a practicing believer. We want to talk about this morning what actually can happen when a man finally gets it, like this man, who’s 44 and now has turned his life around, God has turned his life around, and transformed his life. How does that happen?
First, the shout-out to the men’s Bible study at the Open Door Church in Clearwater, Florida, 12 men, they’re meeting for a year so far on Tuesdays at 7:00 at Scott Berman’s house. Jack Griffith is your field rep in that area, if you haven’t connected yet, so I wonder if you would join me in giving a rousing welcome to the men’s Bible study over in Clearwater? 1, 2, 3, hoorah! Welcome, guys. We are very glad that you’re here!
What is the significance of the Crucifixion?
Again, the title of the message, What Can Happen When a Man Finally Gets It. First of all, let’s look at and answer to the question, what is the significance of the Crucifixion? That’s where we are in the series, Hanging Out With Jesus. We’re going to look at the first few hours of the Crucifixion today. We’ll look at the final part of the Crucifixion next week. At Luke 23:33, it says, “When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him.” We know from Mark chapter 15 that it was about the third hour. That means the third hour of daylight. “Along with the criminals, there were 2 other men, both criminals, who had been led out to be executed also, one on His right and the other on His left.” It’s interesting. You actually learn a lot of information from specific texts about the details of things, so when you see a depiction of Jesus with a criminal on the left and the right, that’s because it actually says that in the Bible. If you didn’t have that information, just think of how cloudy your imagination would be about what this scene actually looked like, so it’s really quite interesting.
Jesus then said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Amazing. Jesus speaks 7 times during the Crucifixion. Three of those times are in these hours that we’re looking at. “Then they divided up His clothes by casting lots.” We know from John that this was in fulfillment of the Scriptures that they cast lots for His robe, His seamless robe. “The people stood watching and the rulers even sneered at Him and they said, ‘He saved others. Let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ Then the soldiers came and mocked Him and offered Him wine vinegar. They said, ‘If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.’ There was a written notice above Him. Pilate put it there,” it says over in John 19, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.” In each of the 4 Gospels, it’s a little different, but if you synthesize it all together, what the inscription actually said would’ve been, “This is Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.” “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults and said, ‘Aren’t You the Christ? Save Yourself and us.'”
The story goes on. We’ll look at more of it. One thing that’s so interesting to me is something that we do not see in this text or in any of the Gospels. We do not see some kind of gruesome, detailed depiction of what it means to be crucified. In all 4 Gospels, it simply says, “And they crucified Him. And He was crucified. And they crucified Him.” That’s all it says. I looked it up, I Googled it, and you can, too, later, but the message that is being communicated is that it’s not the gruesome, grisly details of the Crucifixion that makes the Crucifixion significant. Now we learn a lot of things in here, but the thing that is obvious, when you read the text, and those of you who have been in any or some of the previous messages on this, what’s obvious here is that Jesus has said that He could call on His Father who would send angels and fight for Him. What’s obvious here is that Jesus let this happen. Jesus let these people kill Him. It’s like a strong man like Samson, who voluntarily chose to allow himself to be mistreated like this.
I read this text and I say oh, okay, so what is the big deal about this? Everyone dies, lots of men are tortured, many people have died deaths far worse than this kind of a death. It was actually over in a few hours. There’s some people trapped in mines for weeks and weeks and weeks and die of starvation, of dehydrate, so what is the big deal? Yeah, sure, it’s tragic and it’s gruesome, but so what, but so what? Here’s the big deal. It’s who He was and what this event represented. You can keep your finger there if you want and turn with me to 1 John 4:9, which reads, “This is how God showed His love among us, by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. This is love. Not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” Watch this. Watch this. This is it. “And sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” “And sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
You could then turn, if you wanted to, to 2 Corinthians 5:21, which says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus was sent by God as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and it is through Him becoming sin. In other words, He actually takes on the sins of the whole world. By the way, that’s the people who do repent and the people who never repent. He’s died for everybody’s sins. He is the atoning sacrifice for every sin that has ever been committed, ever will be committed, the ones that you are trying to figure out what do I do even today with this sin that’s eating me alive? He has already died for that sin.
Romans 5, if you want to turn there, verse 6. It says, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a good man, though for a good man, someone may possibly there die. But God showed His great love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ died for you, Lucas. Christ died for you, Jeff, Dave. Jesus let it happen because this was part of the plan. Ephesians 1:11, “God is working out everything in conformity with a purpose of His will.” We see all of these people doing wrong things and so forth on a human level, but if you go up a couple of levels into the eternal realms, God is sovereignly orchestrating all of these human events, so what we see here is a cosmic reboot taking place. The Old Covenant, which required repetitive sacrifices of animals to cover over sins, the Old Covenant gives way to the New Covenant of the perfect sacrifice of the unblemished lamb. Hebrews 9:11, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Now we have a once and for all atoning sacrifice for our sins.
This is what’s going on here. There’s this crazy reboot, this intergalactic, interplanetary, cosmic, eternal reboot that’s taking place through what appears to be a gruesome, tragic event. It is, but it is a stunning act of love, obedience, and personal sacrifice on the part of both God the Father sacrificing His Son and Jesus the Son, who is voluntarily letting this happen. He’s letting this happen. What an amazing event. Now why did Jesus die? Did Jesus die because He was the Christ or because He claimed to be the Christ? How many say that Jesus died because He was the Christ? How many say He died because He claimed to be the Christ? Trick question. It’s both. It’s both. He was crucified by these wicked, evil human people because He claimed to be the Christ. Make no mistake about this. Today, there is confusion about who Christ claimed to be, but back then, there was no confusion.
Now in the early days of His ministry, there was confusion. In Matthew 16, in the Caesarea Philippi confession by Peter, Jesus says, “‘Who do people say is the Son of Man?’ The disciples said, ‘Well, some say Elijah. Some say John the Baptist. Some say somebody else or one of the other prophets.’ He says, ‘But who do you say I am,’ and Peter says, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'” Then Jesus says, “Don’t tell anybody.” This is called the messianic secret. It’s a mystery, but in the early years of Jesus’ ministry, He kept saying to His disciples, “Don’t tell anybody who I am.” By the time we get now to the end of His ministry and we are here in this … What kind of a trial do they call it when it’s not a real trial? Kangaroo court trial or whatever it is, we get to this trial. There is absolutely no confusion because Jesus has been charged with claiming to be the Son of God. When he was before Caiaphas, “I adjure You by the living God that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said, “You have said it yourself.”
Then later, in the third phase of the Jewish trial, before the Sanhedrin, and they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” He said to them, “Yes, I am.” Then Pilate said, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He said, “If my Kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting.” He affirmed that He was the Son of God, so Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God. He was also crucified because He was the Messiah, the Son of God because in Matthew, don’t turn there, just let me read this to you. In Matthew 16, after Peter confesses that He is the Christ and then Jesus warns the disciples not to tell anybody, in verse 21, it says this, “From that time on, Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day, raised to life.” Jesus let it happen because it had to happen. This was God’s plan. This was God’s plan so that you and I could have life, eternal life. Jesus wasn’t crucified because they did not understand who He claimed to be. Jesus was crucified because they understood exactly who it was that He claimed to be.
All right. That’s the Bible lesson, the Bible part of the lesson, so what conclusions can we draw from this? First conclusion is that Jesus was exactly where He was supposed to be. Second conclusion, Jesus was exactly where He needed to be. Number 3, Jesus was found at the place, the single place, where He could do the most good for the most number of people. Since this is an application-oriented Bible study, so what? What does that mean to us? What does that mean to you? There is a man on the left and there is a man on the right, crucified side by side with Jesus. Each of us, and every person you meet today, based on who Jesus is, gets to make a choice. Do they do what the man on the left did or do they do what the man on the right did? We’ll look at that in just a moment, but what is the one idea that if you fully understood it and truly believed it could change everything for you today, whether it’s for your own life or your witness because Philippians 2:5 says, “Let that mind be in you. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ.” We’re to be examples and so forth like Christ.
Here’s the big idea for the day. Three questions. This is an idea that has the potential to change your life. Am I where I’m supposed to be? Am I doing what needs to be done? Is this where I can do the most good at any given moment? That might mean sitting down with a 12-year-old child and letting the child cry its eyes out and offer a hug and words of compassion and support and encouragement. Or it might be leading a Bible study or it might be sharing your … It doesn’t make any difference. If it’s something that God has called you to do, led you by the Holy Spirit to do, no matter how menial it is, but in the case that we’re talking about this morning, it’s this high moment that Jesus was in where He was exactly where He was supposed to be, doing what He needed to do, in a way to bring about the most possible good.
What can happen when a man finally gets it?
All right. What can happen when a man finally gets it right? In Luke 23, we’re going to, in a moment, read the balance of the verses, but before we do that, keep your finger there and turn back to Matthew 27:44. This is the account, the same account given in Matthew 27:44. He’s being mocked and then in verse 44 mocked by the leaders, in verse 44, “In the same way the robbers, the one on the left and the one on the right who were crucified with Him, also heaped insults on Him.” Now if you look at the account in Luke 23, starting at verse 39, an apparently contradictory account. “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him, ‘Are 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.'”
How do we reconcile both men are hurling insults in one account and then in the other account, one repents? It’s quite simple to explain that. They were both hurling insults and when the things that we’ve talked about that when one of the men realized that oh, my gosh, when he understood this singular, stunning act of love and sacrifice and obedience, and that this man was atoning for his sins, one of the men changed his mind. Both were hurling insults, but then, later, one of the men changed his mind.
I was hiking a short part of the Appalachian Trail last week at Carvers Gap. At Carvers Gap, which is 5512 feet starting point, so it’s not down in the valley or anything, you climb up and over 3 little mountains. The first one is called Round Bald, the second is called Mary Bald, and the third is called Grassy Ridge Bald. The reason they call them balds is because they’re covered with grass, no trees. You can see for miles and miles and miles and this beautiful, green grass growing. When the rhododendrons are in season, the mountains light up like fire in the sky. The blue of the sky is so incredibly crisp and the air and everything about it is just so majestic. You can’t help but worship our God and the majesty of His creation and the glory of His creation. You can see Boone, you can see here, you can see there, you can see … It’s just the most, it just wells up within you this sense of worship. Problem was, I was there when the mountain was covered in fog, so my visibility was limited to less than 100 feet. I could barely see one of the hikers on the Appalachian Trail until he was about 25 feet away from me.
Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. You have men all around you today who are living in a fog. They’re living in the clouds. If they could see what you see, if they could know what you know, many of those men, even today, are ready to embrace this atoning sacrifice of Jesus. You and I really should be asking these questions of ourselves in the same way that Jesus didn’t ask these questions. He just did it. He was where He’s supposed, doing what needed to be done, creating the greatest good. He’s left an example for us. Am I where I’m supposed to be? Am I doing what needs to be done? Is this where I can do the most good?
So what? Now What?
The so what and the now what we’ve already covered, but what I would like to go to Philippians 2 with you, verse 5, Philippians 2:5. While you’re turning to Philippians 2:5, Paul said, “For I resolve to know nothing among you except Christ and Him,” what? “Crucified.” The Crucifixion is so central to the Christian message. Paul went on to say, 2 verses later, after that, he said, “For I did not come to you with wise and persuasive speech, but I came to you with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith may not rest on men’s wisdom, but on the power of God.”
That’s what this is all about this morning. At verse 5, Paul writes, “Your attitude,” or your mindset, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.” The attitude of a disciple is that I am going to be found where I’m supposed to be. I’m going to be found doing what needs to be done. I’m going to be making sure that I am where I can do the most good at any particular moment. I’m going to be not like the disciple crucified on the left, who kept hurling his insults. I’m going to be like the disciple, or the man, the criminal, I’m going to be like the criminal on the right, who repented of his sin, deathbed conversion. He didn’t do anything. He didn’t do any good deeds, but I’m sure that today, he said, “Well, you know, I was where I was supposed to be that day.”
Let us be found where we’re supposed to be and let’s help all of those other criminals out there. Let’s help all of those other criminals out there to see what we have seen, even if they’re covered up in a fog. Let us describe to them what we have seen on a different day. Then if there’s anybody here who for any reason has been engaged in Christianity for some other reason than the reason that Jesus Christ died for your sins, then I’d like to close with a general prayer, but also a prayer for you to either put your faith in Jesus and Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins, to be the atoning sacrifice for your sins. Jesus, in this global, cosmic reboot, it is changed from performance to grace. You don’t have to do anything to be good enough, to make yourself good enough for God to love you. He loves you because He made you and because Jesus Christ died for your sins on this Crucifixion. Let’s pray!
First, in general, our Dearest Father, we come and we humble ourselves. Lord, we don’t seek wise and persuasive speech to believe these things, but we seek the power of Your Holy Spirit to imbue us with a deep sense of gratitude for what we have seen. Lord, all of us have days when we feel like we’re walking in the fog, but let us live in remembrance of those days when we have seen clearly. Then Lord, help us to be where we’re supposed to be, doing what needs to be done for the greatest good to the greatest number by helping others to see or understand what we have seen. Help us to each take a few other people under our wings and show them the ropes. Then specifically, Lord, for anybody here or online who has been trusting in their own righteousness instead of becoming the righteousness of God through the death of Jesus for our sins, as an atoning sacrifice, let me encourage you to pray this simple prayer.
Lord Jesus, I need You. I thank You that You died on the cross for my sins and it is Your righteousness by which I am saved, not my righteousness by which I am saved. I am a sinner. I need a Savior and I embrace You by faith as my Savior and thank You for dying on the cross and thank You for forgiving my sins. I now ask You to give me this life. Give me this life not only for myself, but for others, as well. Help me to put my light in a place where it will shine. Help me to be salt in the earth. Help me to do what I need to do to be where I’m supposed to be for the greatest good. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.