Monday, April 25, 2022

The Week That Changed The World 4: Sunday Afternoon On The Emmaus Road - Luke 24:13-36

The Week That Changed The World 4:
Sunday Afternoon On The Emmaus Road - Luke 24:13-36

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The preacher went visiting one of his church members to try and get him more involved at church.  The man met the preacher and they set down on the porch. The pastor then tried to get the man, who was the laziest member of the church, to get more involved with church, to come more regularly, and every service. Maybe use some of his skills to help with some of the church yard work or maintenance.

The man kept telling the pastor how tired he was on the weekends and just couldn’t do much at all. “Brother,” the pastor said, “One day you’re going to die and we’re going to bury and then you’ll get all the rest you need!” 

“I doubt that, preacher” said the man, “With my luck the day I die, will be day the Lord comes back, and the first thing I’m going to hear is Gabriel blowing that blasted trumpet and telling me to get up and get going!”

Now that man, was just lazy and we do have plenty of lazy Christians, sometimes I’m one myself. But I’m not dealing with physically laziness this morning. I want us to consider, our motivation in our serving the Lord. What does it take for us to get up and get going when it comes to our Christian life?  If you think that a preacher getting up in the pulpit and doing a spiritual pep rally will do it well you’re going to be disappointed. First because I always hated pep rallies and second because emotion only get you so far before they evaporate. We need something more lasting, more substantial, more powerful and I believe the thing that will motivate us, and keep us faithful in our service to the Lord is what we’ve been dedicating the last few week to, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is real, and we are really His disciples, then we will really serve Him. We will do anything, everything and stop at nothing to serve our risen Savior.

We see an example of such motivation and service in in Luke 24:13-36, we call them the Emmaus Road disciples.

The two travelers on the road to Emmaus are basically unknown to us until this event recorded in Luke.  We only know the name of one Cleopos the other still remains a mystery, some have speculated that it may have been Luke himself though this seems wildly, unlikely.  Cleopas might have been the husband of one of the Marys according to John 19:25. He may have been the father of the other apostle James who was not the brother of John, Luke 24:10. What does seem likely is that he was the one who related the details of this story to Luke, when he wrote his gospel account. Emmaus the village no longer exists and as of yet no trace of it has been found, but during Jesus time it was a small mountain village about 7 or 8 miles from Jerusalem. On the afternoon of the Resurrection, there would have been many people traveling the road back to their hometowns now that the Passover was over.

We pick up the story with Luke’s two transition words, in 24v12, “and behold” something out of the ordinary is about to happen.

Lacking the Reality  - Luke 24:13-24

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

Dazed and Confused Then

The two disciples are walking and as they walk they are they “talked” of all these things, the things that had happened that day. The word talked is used here and in vs 15 the same word is translated “communed.” In Greek this is the word, ὁμιλεω [homileō], where we get out English word homiletics. It means to be in company with,  and while in that company to converse, to have a deep and long conversation with a companion. (interesting idea on what a the homiletics of a sermon may have originally meant.)

They are walking and deeply engrossed in their conversation about what had happened that Sunday and with the events of the previous week, the week that we now know changed the world. As they walk, Jesus just walks right up to them but they do not recognize Him. This by the purpose of God, the Bible says their eyes were holden.

Jesus asks them, Luke 24:17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?”

So Cleopas, the only named disciple here, says, Luke 24:18-19 Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, (have you been living in isolation while you were in Jerusalem) and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? (It would be like us meeting one of our neighbors after a tornado went through our town and they walked up to us and said, “What are you talking about?) (Then notice what has to be some humor on the part of Jesus,) And he said unto them, What things? (You can’t tell me Jesus wasn’t smiling at least on the inside when He said that. He was the center of all those things and now he’s seeking information from these two who were only on the furthest extremities of the events of that day. It’s like saying what tornado? when you were the tornado! And it’s a little bit funny.)

They then fill in Jesus about the events of the week and especially of that day, Luke 24:19-24 And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

They speak of Jesus as a great prophet, a miracle worker, empowered by God, but they didn’t fully know Him. They knew he was crucified; they knew of the promise that He would rise again the third day but they don’t really believe it in spite of the fact that, they had heard of the women who had been to the tomb and spoke with the angels and they even knew that Peter and John had seen the empty tomb.

No wonder Jesus said, Luke 24:25-26 “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” This word fool, is ἀνόητος anoētos; in Greek and it means unintelligent and sensual, not using your spirit or brain but instead only depending on your physical senses.
These were two disciples who were dazee and confused by the events that had happened, they were hurting, hopeless and helpless. And isn’t that always the perfect time for Jesus to show up?  They don’t know what to believe.  They don’t even realize that Jesus is walking right there with them. All of this confusion is because they lack the reality of a resurrected Lord.

Right now in their lives Jesus is not real to them.

Dazed and Confused Now    

And before we upbraid and criticized the Emmaus road disciples we need to consider disciples at 1125 E. Corsicana. (That’s the address of the church in case I’m being to subtle)

We are often dazed and confused in our own daily walk for the same reasons. Instead of realzing that we walk daily with our resurrection Savior, we are going along, talking about Christ talking about church, talking about the happenings and events in and around our life.  We are often hurting, hopeless and helpless, just as they were.  And just like them we need to realize that Jesus is right there with us. Waiting to talk with us and open our eyes to the reality of who He is.
Jesus promised he would be with us at all times. He promised to calms our fears and dispel our hopelessness.

In Hebrews 13:5  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Isaiah 41:10  Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Wow, what a promise!)

Just like these disciple Jesus is with us. He is always there, yet our eyes also are holden.  We don’t see Him and because we don’t see Him we walk dazed and confused through life.

Unlike these disciple whose eyes were holden by Jesus, so that he might use them to teach us, our eyes are holden by other things. Things like disbelief, worldliness, unfaithfulness,  ignorance, and yes lets throw it in there laziness, you can call it apathy if you need a fancy word.

Like these disciples, we think we know Him but in reality we just know about Him. We may be saved, we may believe in the resurrection but we don’t believe that Jesus is walking with us every day.

Illustration: In The Garden
1) I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.

2) He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing;
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

That’s the reality of the risen Lord that we need in our life everyday to lift us out of the dazed and confused condition this world wants to keep us in.

Now after hearing the disciples give their sermon of sorrow, Jesus is going to really deliver the homiletically perfect sermon of the century. Go to vs 25.

Learning The Reality - Luke 24:25-31

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

Directed and Concentrated Then

Jesus directs them to scripture Luke 24:27 “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures” and he concentrates them on Himself, Luke 24:27 “he expounded unto them the things concerning himself.” Wouldn’t you have loved to hear that sermon, delivered in Jesus’ person to person, heart to heart style of preaching and teaching?

A sermon like that, looking at all the Old Testament scriptures about the Messiah, would take hours, there are over 360 such prophecies and promises. I imagine he would have focused on those scriptures that dealt with his suffering, death and resurrection.

Scriptures like, Genesis 3:14-15 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Or Psalms 22:Vs. 1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
vs. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,  He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
vs. 13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws;
and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
vs 16-18 they pierced my hands and my feet.  I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

And surely the Lord quoted, Isaiah 53:3-6 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Vs. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death;
Jesus teaches and the disciples listen and then they come to the home of one of the disciples and Jesus acts as if He would keep going, just walking away down the road away from them, but no, that disciple constrains him, implores him to come in and eat with them. To abide with them.

And it was at that meal, when Jesus breaks the bread and offers the blessing for it, that their eyes were opened. Jesus breaking bread and offering the blessing.

Probably he offered the traditional Hebrew prayer for bread the Hamotzi, “Blessed art Thou, LORD our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”  This blessing He probably prayed at the feeding of the 5000, and the feeding of the 7000. It was probably said by Jesus before His disciples at every sabbath meal and at every Passover. And when they heard it now, the disciples’ eyes are opened and they saw the risen King of the Universe sitting down and sharing a meal with them.

Directed and Concentrated Now

How can our eyes be opened to the reality of Jesus with us? Wouldn’t it be accomplished in the same way? Aren’t we also disciples walking life’s road with out uncertainties need to see Christ with us? Of course we are and we will see Jesus the same way they saw him…

First, we must see Jesus in scripture.
Not just that but I must realize and know that the Jesus, himself is speaking to me through this sacred book.  His teaching of the Emmaus road disciples is the same teaching of his Corsicana road disciples. What he said to them, he is saying to us.

Secondly, you must have fellowship with the Lord.  As these two walked and talked with Jesus, we also must walk and talk with Him. As these two invited Jesus into their home, we must invite Him into ours. As Jesus blessed their meal, we must seek His blessing for ours.

Finally, If your eyes would be be fully opened and see Christ, then you must not only invited him to visit but invite him in to "abide” with you.    

In John 14-17 we find the last lesson Jesus taught His apostles before his arrest. There are several vital themes, the Holy Spirit, answered prayer and loving one another. But central in all these is what Jesus says in John 15:4-8 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

We must abide in Him, that is the reality, the fellowship, the walking, the talking with Jesus that will motivate us to truly serve our more powerful than death, greater than the grave, coming again, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 Resurrection Songs

You know how I don’t believe you should sing Christmas Carols outside of the Christmas season? That is a hard and fast rule as far as I’m concerned, you just don’t do it. But that rule doesn’t apply to Resurrection songs. We should sing them all the time. Sing “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. Allelu Allelujah.” And the reason is what we are talking bout today, the birth of Christ is important because it brought Jesus into this world once upon a Christmas day, but the resurrection of Christ is vital because it brings Jesus into our life every day. Sing it, celebrate it but most importantly believe it and fellowship daily with our risen Savior.

Now one final thing, notice the change in the disciples after their eyes are opened and they see Jesus.

Launching By the Reality -  Luke 32-36

And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

Driven and Committed Then

Wow, look at how these disciples are changed by the reality of the resurrection. They have already walked 7 or 8 miles that day but they jump up and not being afraid of the night or darkness they seem to fly back to Jerusalem with an irresistible need to tell the others, “We’ve seen Jesus!” It had to be the single most important even of their lives.  
Now they are not dazed and confused, they are driven and committed. They are no longer hurting, hopeless and or helpless but happy, hopefully and ready to help others.

After bursting into the room where the disciples are staying, they begin to compare notes, to examine the evidence and determine the truth. During this time the Lord and also appeared to  Simon Peter, and they all now conclude, “The Lord is risen indeed.” The Emmaus road disciples add their story and say when he broke the bread, we knew him.
Then the Bible says, at that moment, while they were speaking, Jesus just appears in the room, he had vanished from the room in Emmaus, he had appeared to Peter and now he just materializes into this room, with all of them standing around deciding that yes, I’m pretty sure, we can safely conclude Jesus is risen. And then boom, bang, pow, zowie, (what word would fit this miracle?) He just appears there right in their middle of the room, the middle of their discussion, the middle of their storied and the middle of their hopes and fears. Jesus shows up in midst of them.
They still are having difficulties with all these. You and I would too. So, in order to convince them He’s not a spirit, but flesh and blood, He shows them his hands and feet where he bears the wounds of their remission. He then ask them for food and them give him some grilled fish and some honey in the comb. Once again their Lord is sharing a meal with those he loved and there is no denying Jesus is alive.

Driven and Committed Now

Isn’t that what we need, to be recharged by the reality of the resurrection, the presence of the Prince of Peace, the abiding with us of the Almighty Savior?

It is the reality, the realness, of Christ’s resurrection that will determines the reality of my service to Christ. If I could just hold on to the truth of Jesus in me the hope of Glory, every single day.

What a change it would make. I would be anticipating joy not apathetically wasting time.  I would be energized and excited to tell others, I’ve seen Jesus! You can see him too. Look here in the scripture and hear the savior. Come to church and learn of my Christ!  Listen to His teaching, experience his love, look at the hands and feet that were pierced for you.

If the resurrection were as real to me as it was to them, then all my money would be not be enough to give so that others could come and meet him. All my time would not be enough to serve him and be with him. All my life would not be long enough to love him and for him to love me.

And this is our reality, unless our eyes are blinded by this world, then Jesus is with us.  What these physical eyes may not be able to see, our heart, our soul, our spirit should see fully and with no blurry edges to our vision. If we could just know that Jesus is with us everyday, in every way and everywhere.

One of the earliest songs I remember singing as a child was a song that speaks of knowing and walking with Jesus and how that personal knowledge makes all the difference.

Illustration: Song “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”
1 I don't know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may turn to gray.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said,
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Refrain: Many things about tomorrow,
I don't seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.

3 I don't know about tomorrow,
It may bring me poverty;
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.
And the path that be my portion,
May be through the flame or flood,
But His presence goes before me,
And I'm covered with His blood. [Refrain]

Conclusion:  What if Jesus had kept going?

Remember in the story as the disciples came to the place where they would stay and Jesus acted as if He would keep going.  Do you wonder about that? Here is Jesus the Lord of Creation, the conqueror of sin, death and the grave and yet he waits for an invitation to enter another man’s home. The wonder of God’s love and justice is that waits. It waits for us to open the door and let Jesus come in or to shut it in His face and he walks away. Its true for salvation, you can shut the door or open the door to grace and forgiveness. Its also true after salvation, I can open the door to the risen Lord of Life and invite Him to bless my home, family and life or I can shut the door and think, “I’ll let Jesus walk on by and catch up with him later.”

Remember what John recorded in Revelation of Jesus. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
This is the reality of the resurrected Christ. He is even now waiting to enter our lives, our families, our church. And just like the disciples on the Emmaus Road, our eyes won’t be fully opened, to see the reality of our risen Lord, until we invite Him in, and He takes His rightful place. Until He takes the place of honor in our hearts, our homes and our church; we will not understand the blessing that only Jesus can give.  Don’t let Jesus walk away, open the door and invite your Savior in.

Monday, April 18, 2022

The Week That Changed The World #3: Sunday At The Tomb Luke 24:1-12

The Week That Changed The World #3: Sunday At The Tomb
Luke 24:1-12

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Why do we celebrate the Resurrection 2000 years after it happened? We don’t celebrate last years Super Bowl or last years World Series. We hardly celebrate our nations important events and we are just over 200 years old. Why do we still celebrate and believe in the resurrection?

Today even in churches who claim to be following Jesus Christ, there are many who don’t believe in a literal resurrection. Don’t believe He is alive. Here is a letter written to a local advice column along with the response:

Dear Eutychus: Our preacher said, on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered

Dear Bewildered: Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear through his heart; embalm him; put him in an airless tomb for 3 days and see what happens. Sincerely, Eutychus

Many others come to church on Easter Sunday expecting to hear the same old message about a 2000-year-old myth. Now, they don’t call it a myth but to them it actually is because the resurrection of Christ doesn’t make any more difference in their lives today than the story of Zeus throwing lightning bolts or Apollo riding a chariot across the sky that is the sun. They even may say they believe in Jesus but it is a belief without any passion, without any commitment, without any effect in their own lives. In a way the angel in our key verse, Luke 24:5 could have been talking to them. The angels asked the women that morning, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?"

That’s what many are doing when it comes to the resurrection. "Looking for the living among the dead." It’s no wonder Christianity doesn’t work for them they are looking for a dead leader, instead of a living Savior, a wise teacher, instead of the One who created the universe, they want a manageable myth, instead of the Man death could not hold. But my Jesus, the real Jesus, was  the virgin born child of Mary, He lived without sin, He was crucified for sin, died and was buried in the tomb and 3 day later arose defeating sin. He is alive today and that reality is that only reality that can and will change people’s lives.

I want to look at the resurrection of Christ this morning, first as a historical truth, secondly as a present power in our lives daily and finally as the foundation of a future hope as sure for us as was Jesus’ own that first Resurrection Sunday.

The Historical Resurrection - Luke 24:1-12


Luke 24:1-12 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. -- It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

The Difference That Makes All The Difference.

Do you know what is the biggest difference between all other religions and Christianity? Christianity is the only one that claims their founder is still alive and running the operation.
Abraham is considered the founder of the Jewish faith and you can visit his tomb in Israel. Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, didn't even believe in resurrection. He said about death that it is "with that utter passing away in which nothing remains." (Yeah, give me some of that.) Mohammed, founded Islam as a way of defeating his neighboring tribes. And he is in a tomb in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Million go on pilgrimage every year to visit, their dead leaders resting place.

None foretold his own death and His own resurrection, 3 days later. Those leaders could not have done such a thing because they unlike Jesus were only men, but Jesus was the Son of Man and the Son of God. He Is Alive

Facts Of the Historical Resurrection of Jesus.

It occurred in a definite time and place. There are ten accounts of Jesus being seen after the resurrection, not counting John’s book of Revelation.

It was witnessed by men and women followers I Corinthians15:3-8.

The Jewish leaders could not refute the witnesses. All they had to do was produce the body but they could not. Matthew 28:11-15

The Jews in the Temple grounds on the Day of Pentecost could have denied the assertions of Peter about the resurrection, but they dared not. Acts 2:22-24

The Apostles and other witnesses of Jesus being alive after His death, were willing to die and did die for that testimony of Christ. You have to ask yourself, would they die for what they knew was an outright lie?

"Yet even the most skeptical Biblical scholars concede that something extraordinary happened in Jerusalem after good Friday to account for the radical change in the behavior of the disciples, who at Jesus' arrest had fled to their own homes in fear. Could Jesus' resurrection account for the fact that within a few weeks they were boldly preaching their message to the very people who had sought to crush them?" U.S. News and World Report Apr.16, 1990 pg.53.
In addition to the Bible accounts there are over 20 ancient historical accounts, written by some of the greatest historians of antiquity that mention Jesus, not as a myth but as a man who lived, and died in Israel. 

Josephus' who account was a history of the Jews, written for his employer. It is one of the most detailed, written at end of 1st century.

"Now there was about this time Jesus a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for He was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him many Jews and also many Greeks. This man was the Christ. And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross, upon his impeachment by the principal men among us. Those who loved Him from the first did not forsake him, for he Appeared to them alive on the third day, the Divine prophets having spoken these and thousands Of wonderful things about him. And even now the race of Christians so named from him, has not died out."

Historian Cornelius Tacitus (116 AD). Tacitus is a significant Roman historian of whom scholars have learnt much from, we also find that he refers to Jesus in his writing.

Tacitus writes about Pilate (the prefect that judged Jesus). However, particularly significant for our cause is that Jesus is mentioned by a hostile and independent source within 100 years of his existence (roughly 80 to 85 years). “Christus, the founder of the [Christian] name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, by through the city of Rome also.”

The Jewish Talmud (400 – 700 AD) The Talmud is an ancient record of Jewish history, laws, and rabbinic teachings compiled throughout the centuries, and makes several references to Jesus. As a rather hostile anti-Christian source it is no surprise that the Talmud rejects the divinity of Jesus, and rather attempts to attack his character and yet it clearly states He lived and died.

These are the facts, not the myths of Jesus life, death and resurrection. We need to face them and not only those facts but we also need to face our own facts in light of the reality of Jesus.

Facing Our Own Facts.

Historically speaking the existence, life, death and resurrection of Jesus is one of the best documented life of ancient times. The facts of Jesus life are really not in question but what we should question is the reason for His life, death and resurrection. Jesus of Nazereth, truly lived, died and rose again, but why?

First Jesus came to this world and died in order to be our substitute for Sin. He took our place took on God’s wrath and paid the penalty for our sin. Jesus death was a vicarious death, meaning he did not die for His sins but for the sin of others.

“The sufferings of Christ were not just the sympathetic sufferings of a friend, but the substitutionary sufferings of the Lamb of God for the sin of the world.  - Henry Clarence Thiessen and Vernon D. Doerksen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 235.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

This is a double imputation. Jesus' righteousness is imputed to us and our sin is imputed on Christ. He was not a sinner, nor was He guilty and that innocence, that guiltlessness, that sinlessness meant God could allow Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, to be our sacrifice for sin.

Secondly, Jesus’ suffering and death was a propitiation, an atonement and a ransom. Jesus death proved that God would judge sin but it also showed God’s love and mercy for the sinner. Romans 5:8  But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Finally, His resurrection was proof that His promises here true and His power greater than death and the grave. 2nd Corinthians 15: 53-57 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is the fact you must face, Do you share in the power of His resurrection? Have you accepted Jesus death as your sacrifice for sin? Have you ever repented of your sin and put your faith in the only one who in his own power rose from the dead? Is it a fact that you are trusting in Jesus this morning?

There have been many who tried to prove a myth, but wound up believing the reality.

J. Warner Wallace, was an atheist, homicide detective. He was so well known at solving decades-old murders, he ended up as the foremost expert on national TV true crime shows. He decided to turn his detective skills to disproving the Resurrection. Instead after examining the facts he became a believer and an advocate for Christ.

As a young atheist in college, Josh McDowell set off to write Evidence That Demands a Verdict to show the evidence about Christ, including His Resurrection, was so weak, the verdict would be “Not True.” But you probably know what happened, He wound up writing one of the most extensive books and made a career out of proven the truth of Jesus and His resurrection.

Many years ago, a lawyer by the name of Frank Morison wrote a book with the title Who Moved The Stone? He set out with the purpose of disproving the resurrection, of proving that Christ did not really rise from the grave. But the book turned out to be entirely different. It is a searching study of the scriptural story of Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection. He makes the unquestionable point that the resurrection is a historical fact. Lawyer-like, he disposes, one after another, of the dozens of theories invented to account for the removal of the body from the tomb.

A famous civil war General Lew Wallace was also an atheist and tried to prove the myth of Jesus resurrection but again instead of proving it he wound up writing the book “Ben Hur: a story of the Christ” and it became the best selling book of the 19th century and they are still making movies about it.

Quote: Victor Hugo’s, the famous French author, said this just before his death, "When I go to the grave I can say, as others have said, "My day's work is done." But I cannot say, "My life is done." My work will recommence the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes upon the twilight but opens upon the dawn." -Victor Hugo


D.L. Moody when still a young man, was called upon suddenly to preach a funeral sermon. He hunted all throughout the four Gospels trying to find one of Christ's funeral sermons, but searched in vain. You know what he found? He found that Christ broke up every funeral he ever attended. Death could not exist where he was. When the dead heard the voice of Jesus they sprang to life. He said, "I am the resurrection, and the life."

To Jesus, Jairus daughter was not dead she was only asleep, and it took no more than His gentle touch and words to bring her back from the clutches of death.

Jesus walked up to a funeral procession coming from the city of Nain. He saw the tears of a widowed mother who had lost her only son. Jesus broke up the funeral as if he just bringing her lost little boy back home.

Mary and Martha watched their brother Lazarus slowly slip from sickness to death and then to the grave. They buried him and for four days he lay in a tomb, four days for his body to decay, four days his flesh to rotted. But Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life" and he told them to roll away the stone. Then He called out, "Lazarus, Come forth" and a decaying body wrapped in grave clothes was remade new and sprang back from eternity at the sound of His voice.

Is the resurrection real to you today? The resurrection will not be real if Jesus is not real to you. Is He your personal Saviour; is he your lord? Do you believe in the power of his death over sin on your behalf

It's time to believe in the one who defeated sin, death and the grave. It’s time to let Jesus prove the power of the resurrection is not a myth, but the most powerful reality you can every experience.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Restorers, Repairers and Rebuilders: Lesson 5 Rebuilding God’s People

 The rebuilding of the walls was finished on the 25th day of 6th month. Nehemiah 6:15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.

Now begins the rebuilding of the people and their relationship to God. Ezra returned to Jerusalem to help Nehemiah in the dedication of the walls and the sanctifying of the people in their now rebuilt city. Ezra, a priest, scribe and scholar, assumed the job of rebuilding the people through the Word of God.

Rebuilding God’s People: By God’s Word

Nehemiah 8:1-8 The Word of God, Read, Interpreted and Applied. Nehemiah 8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly (clearly and probably translated)

and gave the sense (they interpreted what the passage meant)

and caused them to understand the reading (they applied the passage to the people of Nehemiah’s day.)

This is the classic definition of expository preaching. Read it clearly, interpret it correctly and apply it to the lives of the listeners.

Rebuilding By Joy :Nehemiah 8:9-12

The people wept, probably because they were convicted of their national and personal sins. But Ezra, Nehemiah and the Levites told the people not to weep.

What were some reasons that weeping would not be appropriate at this time?

The dedication of the wall was a time to rejoice, not weep.

It was a time to look forward in joy no backward in sorrow.

It was the Holy Day of the feast of Trumpets, a feast day for rejoicing in and thanking God for His blessings.

The Power of Joy In Serving God

I need to utilize the power of joy in God's service. Quit waiting for joy to happen and instead believe in the power of joy that is already yours. Joy is both the power to serve and a reward for serving God.

Acts of Joy

Acts 5:40-42: Joy in Acts of the Apostles: Peter and the Apostles were arrested, imprisoned, warned not to preach and then beaten. What was their reaction to this abuse and threat?

They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Acts 16:22-25 – Joy in Jail

Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, jailed, and put in stocks. What did they then do?

They sang joyously through the night.

And what was the result of this joy empowered service?

There was an earthquake, the jail doors were opened and the stock unlocked, the Gospel was preached, the jailer  and his household repented, believed and were saved and baptized. From this start a great work began in Philippi.

Joy Our Power To Serve

Joy is a means of empowering God’s servants. Jesus taught the disciple the lesson of Joy in the Upper Room Discourse.

Joy In Jesus: John 15:10-14 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

How do we find and hold to joy?

By knowing Him, by keeping His commandments and hearing His word.

Joy Our Reward In Service

Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

What made the difference in the two servants who were successful and the one which was not?  What was the motivation of each?

Two servants heard, "Enter into the joy of thy Lord."  One was cast out. Two understood why they were serving, to experience the joy of the Lord but the failed servant was motivated by fear instead of joy and live. He failed and was cast out of his place of service.

Why Am I Serving?

I must ask myself, Why and How am I serving God? Am I serving Him out of fear and legalistic duty, like the unprofitable servant?  If that is my motivation, then I will fail. Fear and guilt cannot sustain a lifetime of service.

Instead, I must serve Him in the power of, and for the reward of joy. It must not be the fear of condemnation that drives me, but the anticipation of the joy that draws me. Then it will be that one day, I may hear, “Well done though good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Rebuilding By Remembrance

Nehemiah 8:13-16 Ezra and the Levites led the people in rebuilding the Holy Days of God, beginning with the Fall Festivals.

The first day of the seventh month marked the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hoshanah) ; the tenth day would be the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and the fifteenth to twenty-second days, the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).

These Holy Feast Days built up the history and heritage of God’s people through the memorials of the past and helped to rebuild their relationship with Him.

The Feast / Holy Days of God

The Power of Memorials

Today, we the New Testament people of God, celebrate every Sunday and two other memorials, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. All of these remind us of who God is in relationship to us.

God’s Old Testament People celebrated the Sabbath days and seven feast or Holy Days. All were meant to be a memorial of their relationship as a nation and a people to their God.

It is vital to our relationship with God that we honor these memorials. He has given them to us for a purpose, and if forget the memorials, then we will also forget God who gave them.


Monday, April 11, 2022

The Week That Changed the World #2: Thursday At The Cross of Calvary - Matthew 27, Mark 14 John 19, Luke, Isaiah, Romans

The Week That Changed the World #2:
Thursday At The Cross of Calvary

Text: Matthew 27, Mark 14 John 19, Luke, Isaiah, Romans



Today, we are continuing our sermon series for the Passion Week, entitled “The Week that Changed the World.” This message is on the crucifixion and I have to tell you that I do not like preaching about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The day Jesus was nailed to that wooden cross and died is the darkest day in all of time. And even knowing that three days later at the resurrection is the brightest day in all of time, doesn’t make it easy for me to deal with the suffering and death of the Savior.

I love to preach about Jesus loving us, that His death paid for our sin and that by believing in Him and repenting of our sin, we can be saved. I love preaching about the Christian life that follows salvation or about being a true follower, a disciple of Jesus. I find every question I have answered in God’s Word, creation explained and eternity revealed. Those things I can’t wait to get into the pulpit and share, but the crucifixion is hard for me. Even the word is ugly, almost painful to speak or hear… crucifixion.

I don’t feel adequate for the task of preaching about the crucifixion, it is too emotionally, too theologically important, too painful to fully consider what happened that day. Most of all, I think the reason I don’t like to preach on the day Jesus died, is because of my involvement with His suffering and death. Jesus being nailed to that cross happened almost 2000 years ago now, but I am directly connected to his death even today. And so are you. We may not have been there, but the reason He was crucified has everything to do with every person ever born on this earth.

So, though I would rather preach about the church, the family or next week’s Resurrection message. We need this morning, to talk about the death of Jesus, a death that truly did change the world and even eternity itself.

Go with me now to the last night of Jesus life on earth. I want us to be witnesses of that terrible event and in placing yourself there, to consider how you would have acted, what you might have done or said. What role of those involved with the most important event of history, would you have played?  

Let's look at three sets of people whose lives were forever changed by the decisions they made, the roles they played and the words they spoke the day Jesus died. And in doing so we must see the direct application, the direct link to our own lives today in the shadow of the cross 2000 years later.

First let’s look at the disciples as they have followed Jesus from the upper room where they had the Passover and shared in the Lord’s supper. Jesus teaches them and then goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray to His father. The disciples fall asleep as Jesus prays so fervently that the Bible says it was as though he sweat great drops of blood. Three times He asks them to watch and pray but each time He returns to them, they are asleep.

I.  Two Disciples - Mark 14:42-46  John 18:10-11

Mark 14:41-46 And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.

And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely. And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him. And they laid their hands on him, and took him.

John 18:10-13 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.

Go with me to a garden it is nighttime and very late.  As we enter the garden, we pass by several men huddled together in the night air fast asleep.  A little further up the path we see three other men also asleep and then there in the distant darkness, we see a single the lone figure of Jesus.  We can't quite hear all that He says, but we can see that he is fervently praying, a prayer pours out from His very soul, like drops of blood.

As Jesus finishes the prayer, he  walks back to the group of men sleeping.  He wakes them up them with a question.  "Could you not tarry one hour in prayer?"  They shamefully arise and join the other group of disciples farther back and they all walk back towards the entrance of the Garden.  Jesus senses others coming toward them in the darkness. Just as they approach the brook which marks the edge of Gethsemane, a crowd of soldiers and guards from the temple appear.  In their hands are  spears, swords and clubs. They are ready for violence. A man is in front of the crowd, trying to act as if he is not leading them.  Judas rushes to Jesus and kisses him in greeting.  Jesus looks at his disciple and  says, "Judas, betrayest the son of man with a kiss?"  Judas knows he has not fooled the Lord.  Not now with 30 pieces of silver in his money bag for betraying his Lord nor all the other times he had stolen from the bag instead of giving to the poor.  One of the servants of the high priest steps forward  to take Jesus away.  Suddenly from the shadows behind Jesus a man leaps forward with a short sword and strikes at one of the other men in the group, the man who is reaching out to arrest his Lord. The blow was aimed for the man's head, but Peter is only a fisherman not a soldier and the blow is a glancing one that takes off the man's ear.  Jesus steps between Peter and the wounded man before the crowd of soldiers can respond.  "Put up thy sword, the cup which my Father had given me, shall I not drink it?  This is their hour, and the power of darkness."  Jesus reaches to the wounded man's head and with a touch heals him, as He had healed so many others before.

Now as you stand there with me in that Biblical scene, let me ask you a question.  If you were there at that moment, which disciple would you be?

Would you be Judas, who betrays him with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver?  Or Peter who leaps from the darkness in an mistaken attempt to defend his Lord?  Of course, you and I would say, I wouldn’t be Judas! I would not sell out the Lord, I would not betray the one who has led me and taught me and whose power I have seen almost daily for over 3 years.  I would not betray Jesus!

Yet today as you sit in the real world and not the world of your imagination and you have never fully given yourself to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, aren’t like Judas, the betrayer of the Lord.

Like Judas you cannot committ of your life and heart to Jesus. Like Judas the things of this world have your devotion and loyalty instead of Him.  Your 30 pieces of silver may not be the kind you can carry in a bag, they may be anything that you treasure enough to refuse the love of Jesus. It may be your pride, your career, your family or your friends.  Whatever it maybe you have given yourself to it and betray Jesus who longs to make you his own.  

You say, "No, I would be like Peter."  Perhaps, but only if you could also be like Peter when he stood on a mountainside with Jesus and when asked, "Who do you say that I am?"  Peter confessed, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."  You cannot be like Peter unless you also at some time and place in your life fall at the feet of Jesus and cried out “Luke 5:8 Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Peter knew what it was to see himself in relationship to the Lord. He knew he was not worthy to even be in His presence, and yet Jesus lifted Him up and said, Fear not, henceforth thou shalt catch men.”

Unless you and I can make those same confessions and understand what Peter understood and believed about Jesus Christ, then we cannot be like Peter but instead you and I and all others take our place with Judas.  We stand with him, in the garden betraying Jesus and later hanging from a tree. We need to realize that if we reject Jesus, it is also a type of suicide, a suicide of your soul.  

Let us move on several hours later into the night of the arrest. Jesus has been illegally arrested, tried and convicted by an illegally assembled Sanhedrin. He is beaten by their hands, ridiculed by their words and spat upon by their mouths. So violent is their anger they even tear out His beard with their hands. From here He is taken to Pilate the Roman governor, that the sentence of death might be carried out. The undeserved sentence is passed and Jesus is led through the streets of Jerusalem with a wooden cross on his back, until he comes to a hill just outside of town.

II. Two Thieves - Mark 15:22, Luke 23:39-43

Mark 15:15-26. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,  And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received [it] not. And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. 25  And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Luke 23:39-43  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Here we are walking with Jesus who is carrying His cross on the road to His death. He is beaten, blooded and bruised. He is weary, without sleep, food or water for almost 12 hours. Perhaps because He is moving too slow, the soldiers take the cross beam from Jesus shoulders and they force a man from the street, Simon of  Cyrene, to carry the cross instead of Jesus.

Finally, they arrive at the mount called Golgotha, which means the place of the skull in Hebrew, in Greek it is called Calvary.  Here the cross is laid upon the ground and Jesus, weary and worn is thrown prostrate upon it.  His arms and legs are stretched out and large crude, cruel spikes are driven into his hands and into his feet. Now the cross is lifted, just as Jesus had once told Nicodemus, lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness for all to behold. The cross is harshly dropped into the hole which will hold it in place, jarring and tearing the nail pierced hands and feet.  Jesus is offered myrrh mixed with gall, this is a pain killer but he does not accept. He will not allow anything to deaden the pain and punishment of paying for our sins.  That terrible price must be paid in full.    

On either side of the cross of Jesus are thieves who have also been condemned to die by crucifixion.  One thief sees the great teacher hung on a cross just like himself and he joins in with the soldiers and the crowd hoping perhaps to be allowed to die a little faster.  The other thief looks at Jesus and sees not a man fallen from greatness, but a righteous man condemned but innocent. He sees the Messiah of Israel. He sees the Savior of the world.  He rebukes the other thief and then turning to Jesus he calls out for mercy and forgiveness, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  And Jesus in all His pain, sorrow and weariness, says to this worthless criminal, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  In the midst of his suffering, in the midst of dying, Jesus was still the loving shepherd seeking the lost sheep.

This morning, which of these two unworthy sinners speaks for me? And if you should think it is not right to compare ourselves to criminals worthy of death, remember what Paul writes in the book of Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Or in Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death.

The question is not if I am a sinner worthy of death for we all are sinners worthy of death. Instead, the question I must ask in light of that sin is, what will I do with Jesus? Will I revile him, curse him, mock Him as one thief did?  Or will I see Him as Savior dying in my place and paying the price of redemption, the atonement, with His own shed blood?

Which thief will you and I be today, the one who believed in the sinless man, dying without cause and then calling out in my guilt for mercy and forgiveness? Calling out for Jesus to just remember me. Or am I the one which scorned Him, laughed at him and died with the name of God’s only son, a curse on my lips?

Will I accept Jesus, the lamb of God taking my place? Do I let the blood of Jesus wash away my sin or do I scorn the greatest sacrifice of love ever given and instead trample it under my feet. Paul said this in, Hebrews 10:29 and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? Could that be me? Could that be you? Counting the blood as an unholy thing and scorning the Spirit of Grace.

That is what the thief that day did, so close to the saving blood of Jesus, yet he scorned it. And that is what anyone who hears the Gospel today and ignores it, is doing. So close to the savior and yet walking away, scorning the one who died for them, paying the price they could never pay.      

Finally, there are two last players in this terrible day I want us to consider.

III.  Two Soldiers - Mark 15:33-41

Mark 15:33-41 and when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. and some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, behold, he calleth Elias. and one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.  And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. and the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.  and when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

Look finally at the soldiers there around the cross.  There stands the brute who took such pleasure in beating Jesus with the “scourge” The whip that struck the Lord thirty-nine times, one short of the blow they believed would kill a man. He takes pride in tool of the trade, a whip with nine leather straps tied to the handle. These strands of leather are usually tightly braided with bits of lead, bone or stones attached to the strands. With each lash of the scourge, the flesh of the back and sides is torn and lacerated, flaying the skin and exposing and then shredding the muscle underneath.  

Near that soldier stands another who with great mirth, plaited together thorns into a crown and then thrust it down upon the head of Jesus to mock and torture him. Not small rose bush thorns but desert thorns with two-inch shafts and barbs sharp as needles. He then took that cruel crown and forced it onto the head and brow of Jesus.  Those huge thorns piercing and tearing to the bone, ripping His scalp and embedding themselves in his head.    

At the very foot of the cross, right under His pierced feet and in view of His mother and some of the closest disciples, a group of soldiers are gambling for His cloak and his robe.  One takes his shoes, another his robe and the winner of the gambling game His outer cloak.  

At the sixth hour, the world turns black. This is not an eclipse but God the Father turning his back on His own Son as the sin of the world is placed on His shoulders.  Jesus cries out, "My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?"  And for the first time in all of eternity He is separated from the Father. He then calls out with a loud voice, and gives up his life.  The earth shakes in agony as its Creator dies and for three hours the heavens and the earth are covered in blackness as they mourn.

The centurion, in charge of all the soldiers at the crucifixion, hears the cry of death from Jesus’ lips, He feels the earth move under his feet, and sees the blackness all around him. He puts in words what his heart realizes, "Truly, this was the son of God."  

One last time, consider, which of those soldiers would you have been that day? Would you have scourged the man, Jesus, who had never sinned, but whose only crime was to defy the Sanhedrin and love the people no one else loved?  Would you be like the soldier who thrust the crown of thorns down onto his head, laughing as the blood runs from his wounded brow?  Would you be gamble for His clothes, while He hangs on a cross in agony, dying?

Our modern minds cannot conceive the thought that we would drive nails into His hands and feet. That we could be so cruel to someone filled with so much love. Surely, we are not like those who crucified the Son of God or mocked the Prince of Peace.  Yet, in truth I am just as responsible as they were. It was my sin that drove Him to Calvary as much as any soldier’s whip.  It was my sin that slammed in the nails just as much as it was the hammer of that Roman soldier.

The great prophet Isaiah, writing 750 years before the crucifixion saw this terrible day and he recorded it in chapter 53:4-6 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
All of us are as guilty as any of these soldiers, but again it is not the question of our guilt, It is the question of Jesus. How many of us will find ourselves at the foot of the cross like the centurion? And there in the darkness of our own sin, hearing the voice of Jesus calling out, “Father, forgive them? How many of us like that centurion will give our own testimony, “Truly, this is the Son of God."

Which one of these people at Calvary are you like this morning? Which soldier, which thief, which disciple? They all made choices about who Jesus is and what His crucifixion means. So must each of us. We must choose to betray him or defend him. To mock him or call out to him in faith and repentance. To ignore His death upon that cross for me or to confess Him as the Son of God and my Savior?