32 Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. 33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. 35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” 40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
It is here in Luke that we discover a truth so powerful that if we get it, it will radically and completely change our lives forever. If we believe this truth and embrace it so tightly that it becomes the foundation and the fabric of our lives then we will experience greater joy, a calming contentment and confidence, and more purpose and peace than we could of ever imagine. But first I want to start with a question, have you ever wondered about or doubted your worth? Max Lucado tells the story about a prank that occurred years ago: A couple of guys broke into a department store in a large city. They successfully entered the store, stayed long enough to do what they came to do, and then escaped unnoticed. Now what is unusual about the story is what these guys did. They took nothing, absolutely nothing, no merchandise was stolen, no items removed. But what they did do was crazy. Instead of stealing anything, they changed the cost of everything. Price tags were swapped. Values were exchanged. These guys took the tag off a $395 camera and stuck it on a $5 book of stationary. They took the $5.95 sticker off a paperback book and stuck it on an outboard motor. They went around and repriced just about everything in the store. The next day the store opened as usual, the employees showed up for work and the customers began to shop. For 4 hours no one working at the store noticed that anything was wrong, that the values had been swapped. During those four hours that store lost a lot because the value of things and what they were worth got really messed up. Now if this messed up value system was limited simply to the stores it would not be so bad. But the reality is someone snuck into more than just a store, Satan snuck into the world switching the price tags on our worth and value so that our definition of worth is all messed up. Our enemy has successfully created a value system that causes most people to look in the mirror and see trash instead of treasure. If we are not careful the same thing that happened in that store can happen to us. Life can slip by and before we know it we can find ourselves exchanging things that are important and worthwhile for those that, in comparison, are unimportant. Our world system honors success and hard work, so we devote ourselves to jobs we can’t wait to retire from, while we ignoring marriages that we entered into for a lifetime. We chase after riches at the expense of relationship. We work hard to have clean, healthy homes, yet we let them become dumping grounds for the pollution contained in many television programs, movies and popular music. We say that we want our children to have strong character traits like honesty and integrity, yet we spend far more time taking them to athletic events and other activities than tending to their spiritual and moral needs. In our quest to seek happiness and acceptance, we willingly buy into the world’s values and do what is popular. But if the world’s values can produce true happiness then why is there a constant effort to create and promote new forms of amusement and entertainment? As Erwin Lutzer, the former senior pastor of the Moody Church once said “If you are not nourished by the Bread from heaven, you will stuff yourself with crumbs from the world. How glorious it has been to learn that Jesus is the bread of my life.” (John 6:35) The truth is everyone wants to be significant; we want who we are and what we do to count. We all want our lives to matter and make a difference, think about the dreams you had when you were little. Think back on the things you fantasized about and who or what you pretended to be. Some of you dreamed about being a hero, of hitting the winning homerun, or scoring the winning touchdown, or winning that gold medal. The truth is no one desires to be insignificant; no one sets out with the goal of feeling like their life doesn’t count. But if we insist on using the world’s standards of success, most of us will never measure up, and the few who do either won’t measure up for long or will waste their lives continuously working to try and maintain it. Trying to be significant in our society is like climbing a greased pole. If by some miracle you do happen to make it to the top you won’t stay up there for long. Because before long you will start to slip and before you know it you will slide back down into the valley of obscurity. According to the new pricing system created by our enemy, the evil one, you are significant in this society if you have a lot of money, a huge house, if you are physically attractive, or are able to do what society deems as important. Things like hit a baseball, throw a touchdown pass, or slam dunking a basketball. Or if you star on the big screen, or perform before 1,000’s at a concert. So often we base our self-worth on what the world views as valuable. Our bank accounts become the barometer of value, or our physic and physical beauty, and if we don’t measure up to the worlds standard then we feel bad about who we are. Sadly physical beauty has become a multi-million dollar religion that creates value based on the cover of the book instead of the content. In this age of technology, IQ has become the barometer to determine who is blessed and who is to be shown the basement. For many it is difficult to measure up, and the more we focus on the world’s standards and values, the more negative we feel about ourselves. When we follow the worlds messed up value system of worth we end up living a lie. We end up pretending and pursuing the molehills instead of the mountains, ultimately it causes us to miss or forget what really gives us value. The truth is that it’s not, what we do, how much we have, how well we perform or even how good we look that determines our worth, or our value. This criminals encounter with Jesus at the cross 2,000 years ago reveals the source of our true value and lasting worth. As 1 Peter 1:18-21 says: “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, he was sent to the earth for all to see. And he did this for you. Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And because God raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory, your faith and hope can be placed confidently in God.” What about you are you trying to find your worth in your work or His? Are you trying to find your worth in what the world says or in His Word?