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Famous Last Words: Today You Will Be With Me in Paradise

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The story of the thief on the cross has always intrigued me. I doubt I’m the only one. I’ve had more than one conversation about salvation with someone and been asked, “What about the thief on the cross?”

Why don’t we take the attention off the thief and put it where it belongs–on Jesus? It’s only when we focus on Christ that we can see ourselves in this story.

I was really surprised at the reaction I got to this sermon–it was all positive. Honestly, I felt like my delivery stuttered and floundered in several spots, but I’ve had a lot of great feedback on this one.

The truth is, this is one of my oldest sermons. It was originally my senior sermon way back when I was in college in 1989. It’s the sermon I preached when I tried out for my first full-time church and it’s one I’ve gone back to over and over again. The last time I delivered it was in 2009.

My re-writes have mostly been illustrative. I changed the intro this time to draw attention to the idea of being saved “by the skin of your teeth.” The audience was really with me on that part. I think they could feel the train barreling down at me.

About 15 years ago I added the Spurgeon story. I really enjoy that part.

The “What Does it Mean to be Crucified?” is actually much older. I picked that up from an old issue of Leadership Journal somewhere around 1986. I used it in an even earlier sermon I preached during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college.

One of these days I intend to write an article on how to “re-tread” a sermon. Until then I’ll remember the words of my Greek professor, Dr. Marion Henderson, “If it’s not worth preaching twice it probably wasn’t worth preaching once.”

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