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?

No comments:

Post a Comment