Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The following story is based on Today’s Gospel from Luke 23. This is the story of a thief named Titus. Titus had lived a bad, bad life. Titus had spent the majority of his life living in the desert. Titus would seek to rob or murder anyone that would dare cross his path. Titus was even guilty people said of killing his own brother. Titus wasn’t particularly close to anyone. He did have an occasional partner in crime named Dimachus. Titus and Dimachus one day finally went too far with their actions. They encountered a few Roman soldiers on the Road to Jerusalem. Titus and Dimachus were initially excited since they knew Roman soldiers to be wealthy. Titus and Dimachus attacked these soldiers from behind, and then beat them death so that word of their crime never got out. Jerusalem in recent years though had been having plenty of people with Political Zealots, Religious Zealots, and even terrorists like Barabbas. When the Roman authorities heard the tale of these two thieves, Titus and Dimachus quickly jumped to the top of the most wanted list. Titus and Dimachus were soon captured. They were sentenced to death by the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. The sentence was bad, a sentence of crucifixion. Crucifixion was considered to be the most shameful and disgraceful way a person could die. Titus and Dimachus had embarrassed the Romans so they were going to be punished for it. Crucifixion was such an awful way to die that the Romans would not allow its own citizens to die such a death. Crucifixion was a special sentence, a sentence of death reserved purely for enemies of the Government. As soon as Titus and Dimachus were sentenced they were forced to carry their own wooden cross beams nearly a mile outside the city, climbing nearly the whole way to the Jerusalem’s highest point atop the hills of Moriah. Yet in the midst of their walk away from Jerusalem, they saw a man behind them sentenced to crucifixion by death just like them only this man was not only surrounded by soldiers but also a large crowd. This man had been whipped so bad that he could barely walk. Roman soldiers had forced another man to carry his cross for them.
When Titus, and Dimachus arrived at Golgotha, otherwise known as the Place of the Skull. They were not alone. Joining them was a man they were calling “Jesus”. Jesus was called the “King of the Jews”. Titus was hung to Jesus’ right. Where as Dimachus was hanging to Jesus’ left. Titus at first couldn’t understand why Jesus would be called the “King of the Jews”. His body was a bloody and battered mess. Titus at first though that this Jesus was a crazy person, that’s why the fellow soldiers and on-lookers were mocking him. Titus then felt the need to join in with their insults. Titus actually heard this King of the Jews say as the Roman soldiers hung up upon the cross “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
This so-called King had been rendered so powerless that the Roman soldiers as a way of mocking his pending death began to divide up his clothes by casting lots. There was a loud crowd of people watching this King of the Jews be put to death to their delight. They mocked him further by saying “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, the chosen one”. The soldiers then approached his stretched out body, then gave him an offer of sour wine as a way to make fun of his thirst. The soldiers then further mocked him by saying “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself”. The soldiers then hung a sign above this man’s head to explain the reason for this death “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS”.
Dimachus kept up with his mockery of the so-called king as he cried out “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us! Dimachus knew he was about to die. Dimachus was never going to give up his toughness. Even while being executed by merciless Roman soldiers. Dimachus had convinced himself that he was going to die with his pride intact unlike this foolish King of the Jews. Dimachus wished for his last breathes on earth to be spent cursing out this make-believe king. Dimachus had gone to the Cross defiant. Dimachus was going to stay himself right up until the bitter end. The more Dimachus hurt on the inside, the more he delighted in mocking Jesus.
Something came over Titus though as he heard his friend join in with the crowd, join in with the Soldiers, and laughing at this King of the Jews. Titus had been around plenty of thieves and scoundrels in his life yet this man seemed different for reasons he couldn’t place at this given moment. The Thief even in this King’s great suffering saw something unexplainable compared to how the world normally works. Titus noticed that even in the midst of all this torture and mockery that the King didn’t retaliate or fight back. Yet he didn’t just back down or cower in these last moments either. The King had no interest in trading fire for fire. He had merely mouthed the words “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”. Something about this whole incident struck Titus as awkward from what he had previously thought (before he had encountered this so-called king). This man was able to love in the sense of hatred; this man was willing to extend grace in the presence of injustice. This man was extending forgiveness to the very men that crucified him.
Titus saw a sense of power. Titus saw a sense of love. Titus saw a sense of mercy. Titus saw a sense of grace. Titus’ saw all this as this King’s body laid battered right along besides his, a King who even though seemed nothing, but weak and broken in that very moment. Titus came to believe that one day that this King’s power would be revealed for the entire world to see.
Titus eventually snapped at Dimachus saying “Do you not fear, God, since are you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due rewards of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong”. Titus then proceeded to speak the words of a broken man with no one else in the world to turn saying “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”
Jesus the King of the Jews then looked upon Titus, hearing his confession. Upon hearing his humility, years of wrong, self-loathing, and guilt had led of all of Titus’ life to this very moment. The King turned his head towards his right with some of the last ounces of strength in his body. The last image that people have of this king’s death was his head hanging in Titus’ direction. The king then mouthed out these words “As Today I say you will be with me in Paradise”.
These words that in that very moment indicated that no one can ever be too far gone, to be beyond the reach of Christ.
Darkness would soon cover the whole land. As the King cried out “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”. As the king breathed his last breath, Titus would breathe his last breath not long afterwards.
Roman soldiers then walked up to Titus after his death and broke his legs to prove he was really dead. There was not a sign of life in Titus’ body. Titus’ mother looked on at this whole spectacle bawling her eyes out at her son’s life could have gone so wrong to end up like this, only to be consoled by the Mother of the King named Mary who assured her that everything would soon be alright.
Charles Spurgeon describes this story best when he says “What makes this story memorable is that it occurred when Our Lord was at his very lowest, yet the Thief was able to see him as a king anyway.”
This story is memorable because we would think like Titus’ came to think. We would see the King’s agony as evidence of his defeat. Yet Titus went to death truly believing that the one who hung alongside him was going to bring us into his Kingdom.
Titus was the King’s last companion on Earth. This King was not an ordinary King to die with a criminal such as Titus. Yet this wasn’t any different for this King. This was the King’s whole life. This King didn’t associate with the rich or powerful like the Pharisees or the Sadducees. This King didn’t sit around with the other religious big wigs of the day. This king associated with Tax Collectors and Sinners, and was left to die with a thief.
The fact that Titus was the last person the king associated with, the last person our lord made a promise to. This story says something to you and me. It says that the Lord shall choose us; the Lord shall remember us as he enters into his Kingdom. This king is different. This King didn’t seek to only enhance his power. This King didn’t seek to smite all his enemies. This King last companion on earth was nothing more than an ordinary sinner. A sinner that had been mocking him moments earlier, yet still promised to bring him into his paradise.
This King was certainty different then other kings. This King was more than just an ordinary ruler. This King had gone to his death with a purpose, a purpose of ushering in a new heaven, and a new earth. A Kingdom not governed by fear or power, but rather a Kingdom governed by mercy and grace. A Kingdom that Titus the thief would soon experience. Amen
 Luke 23:33
 Luke 23:34
 Luke 23:34
 Luke 23:35
 Luke 23:36
 Luke 23:37
 Luke 23:38
 Luke 23:39
 Luke 23:34
 Luke 23:40-41
 Luke 23:42
 Luke 23:43
 Spurgeon, Charles. “The Believing Thief”. Metropolitian Tabernacle of Newington. 7 April 1889. Web. Spurgeon.Org. November 18, 2013
Pastor Stew Carlson
These are all Sunday sermon's written by Pastor Stew.