|PS1RF||X||m||(Albert, age unknown, minister) unspecified|
 Its a, during the course of the time of the crucifixion, Jesus is on the cross and its says there, there were two others also who were criminals, were being lead away to be put to death with Jesus and they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified him and the criminals one on the right and the other on the left, but Jesus was saying father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing, and they cast locks divided up his garments among themselves and the people stood by and looking on and even the rulers was sneering at him ... excuse me, and even the rulers were sneering at him saying he saved others, let him save himself if this is the Christ of god, his chosen one, and the soldiers also mocked him, coming up to him offering sour wine and saying if your the king of the Jews save yourself ... now there was also an inscription above him, this is the kind of the Jews, and one of the criminals who was hanged there was hurling abut at him and saying you are not the Christ, save yourself and us, but the other answered and rebuking him said do you not even fear god, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation and we indeed justly for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong ... and he was say , and he was saying Jesus remember me when you come in your kingdom, Jesus said to him truly I say to you today you shall be with me in paradise ... I wonder if you've ever been in that awful position of facing of what you thought was certain death ... perhaps you were seriously ill and er, there seemed little hope of your recovery, perhaps you were facing some danger, some, some risk and it seemed almost certain that short of a miracle you were gonna die, I wonder what sort of thoughts would have been going through your mind, maybe w , may well be that you were with other people, I wonder what sort of things if you were in a condition of speaking, what sort of things you would of been saying to them.
 Now I suppose for most of us because of the very fact were here this morning they have been few and far between such experiences, perhaps what is more common is that we may have spent time with someone who was dying, their last few hours, their last few minutes, and if they were not unconscious I wonder what sort of conversation would be going on between us and them, what sort of things would we, would we of been saying, what would we be asking us, well in this passage that we have been reading we have just such a conversation, two men who are on the verge of death, death can only be hours away for both of them, and here they have this conversation, it was in that sense it was one of the strangest interviews any body ever had with Jesus ... not only is the, the account here of er a death bed conversion, but the one who is saving is also in the process of dying.
 Jesus had had many interviews with people, we've looked at some of them over these past few weeks, the time when he met with Nicademus, the religious leader, the time he went out of his way to meet with a woman of Semaria in her dyer need, the other occasion that we looked at er a week or so back when he called Anzakias from that tree of which he was hiding, last week his judge, pilot, but of all those interviews and as many others that we haven't looked at this surely must be one of the strangest as Jesus himself is in the process of dying and as he is dying he is confronted with another person who has a need, but Jesus your need is as greatest as any body elses, your pain, your suffering, your physical suffering was every bit of great as those around you, why be bothered with others ... isn't that so often our story, when we are in need we can forget all about other people, it doesn't matter there need, its poor me, what about me, what about my need, what about my requirements, what about my suffering, but we see here how Jesus apart from any thing else deals with his own suffering, he deals with it by ministering to the needs of other people, and this surely then must be one of the most strange and one of the most interviews that our lord ever had when he was here on earth, with this dying thief, but he was more than a thief he was a er, he was a re a rebel, he was a terrorist ... or a freedom fighter depending on which way you wanted to look at it and he was dying for his crimes ... and he wasn't alone because there there was this man we've been talking about, there was Jesus and there was another one, another criminal on the other side and we find that this is all in keeping with what god had promised, all there in, in line with his prophecy way back in Iziah chapter fifty three, it tells us that he was numbered with the transgressors, that he died with sinful men with, with law breakers and here it is its happening right in front of the, the very eyes of the Jewish leaders and the jewish authorities ... our lords intention in coming into the world was to save men and women, to seek out and to save sinners, remember thirty odd years previous to this event the word had come, for Mary his mother, to Joseph, we will call his name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins ... and later on writing to Timothy the apostle Paul in the first chapter of the first book in verse fifteen he says it is a trust worthy statement deserving full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, this was his purpose, this was his reason for coming into the world, not to be a good man, not to be a, a great leader, not to give us some model that we can, you know, that we can plan our life out and try and live up to his standards, he says I've come to give my life as a ransom, I have come to save and to seek that which was lost ... and here in this incident as he himself is dying and is in physical pain and torment he is carrying out this very work, of seeking out and saving of those who will turn to him, those who will put their trust in him, he is saving the lost, and we see in a wonderful how great the compassion of Jesus was and is, in reaching out and rescuing those who are lost, here we see our lord suffering the most terrible agony and yet in the midst of his own sorrow and pain and, and torment he thinks of this dying thief and extends his grace and mercy to him.
 ... Perhaps the book of lamentation is not the book you normally turn to, to find words of encouragement, but there are tremendous encouragements to be found in it, listen what the profits says there, in the third chapter, he says this I recall to my mind, and he's talking about the time of his own affliction, the time when he is going through it, the time when nobody loves him, the time when everybody's against him, when he's suffering and he's in pain the time when life is full of bitterness for him, he says this I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope, the lords loving kindness indeed never ceases for his compassion's never fail ... and here Jesus is demonstrating that, he's compassion's never fail, he's loving kindnesses they never cease, here in his dying hour Jesus is showing that in reaching out to this man ... but as we said the other week the, the deepest, the most important significance of what Jesus did then, of what Jesus said then, its not just of the historical account, but that he is able and willing to say and to do exactly the same today in your experience and in mine, what he did for that man on the cross he's ready and willing to do for every one of us ... the incident may of happened nineteen hundred years ago, but there's the old hymn, the verse reminds us, picks out that very story and it says the dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day and there may I, though via us he wash all my sins away, and that verse from William Cowper's hymn, it takes up that great historical event, that tremendous happening in that man's life and he links it with a present and it applies it to you and to me and says this can be our experience as well.
 So lets just as we hurry along this morning notice several things about this interview that this man had with Jesus.
 I'm never quite sure really to be honest whether these individuals had an interview with Jesus or Jesus had an interview with them, because whether they thought that Jesus or whether they thought they were doing the, the probing and the questioning really it was Jesus who was in charge of the interview, you may of watched er certain chat shows on the, on the television or heard them on the radio and er depending who the person being interviewed is, very often it actually changes, and its the interviewer who really is being put through it, its the, its the person who's being interviewed is in charge of the situation and that was the case here Jesus.
 ... But lets just notice two or three things in this particular interview, the first thing that we see and its so obvious is that the way of salvation is so wondrously simple, it couldn't be easier, you know there are so many people who think it is hard to get saved, who think it is hard to come to Christ and to become a Christian, well the problem is you see the devil has blinded their eyes, they've blinded the eyes of men and women, so that they think that they can't do this, but what is actually happened, Paul tells us in, in, in Carinthians in the first er, in to Carinthians in chapter four and verse four, he says the god of this world has blinded the eyes of the unbelieving that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of god, and there is this shroud, this covering, but the thing is god takes that away so that we can see and so its not difficult to become a Christian, it is not hard to get saved, sometimes as Christians we are guilty of making it difficult for people to become Christians, we put all sorts of rules in, we, we make them undergo various periods of er, of probation before we wer we've were, were willing to call them Christians, remember the Philippine jailer he cried out there to the apostle Paul who was er in jail there with Silus the, the be , the tremendous earthquake and they were released all their vetoers was, were broken and the prisoners were all, could of escaped and the ja , the Philippine jailer he cries out a question that I'm sure he doesn't even know what he means when he calls it out, he's not thinking of heaven, he's not thinking of the future life, he's not thinking of having his sins dealt with but he just cries out what must I do to be saved ... and the apostle Paul and he gets, opens the scrolls and he starts in genesis and he explains the plan of salvation and he tells him what he's got to do and he explains all the requirements and then about three or four hours later the mans mind is completely blurred he doesn't understand a word of it, its gone way beyond him