2000 years ago, the greatest crime on earth was committed — the cold-blooded murder of Jesus Christ. For the first and only time in history, an innocent man died. This was no ordinary death, and when I say that I’m not just talking about the barbaric nature of the crucifixion.
In fact, in this city right now as we speak are pastors and priests on their pulpits with slideshows showing the whip that was used and what doctors have to say about the toll that crucifixion takes on the body. And all that is important.
This is not a sermon attacking the priests and pastors – Oh but I’d be a fool if that’s what I try to do today. The reason I bring it up is because that’s one part of the crucifixion. Crucifixion as a method of execution was not unique to the death of Jesus. Peter was crucified and so were several Christians who came after. In fact, there were two thieves on either side of Christ – each on a cross. I say all this to bring to your attention that there’s more to Christ’s crucifixion than meets the eye.
Everything that happened there was ethereal, majestic, colossal….
A frail man was hung on a tree. Naked, beaten and bruised. How can this be God!? One might ask. Oh, the weakness of flesh! So weak……
Brothers and sisters, let’s look at the saviour together.
What we trying to do is expound the words of our Saviour.
“And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.” – 2 Samuel 6:6-7
- Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Please show yourself to us. Please. Drill through the rocks that cover our hearts. Remove scales from our eyes. We have only read about the big experiences of great men and women in books. So stuck in our comforts and worldly possessions. Jesus, please come. Please come.
The Seven Sayings of Jesus on the Cross
- The Roman soldiers had no clue what they were doing.
- The vilest crime on earth was being committed.
- The soldiers who should have been keepers of the law committed the worst possible act in history.
- What would it be like to look at God? What would be the trauma that’s induced?
- Men throughout the scripture felt undone and fractured after meeting with God
- Have you ever stood next to a railway track and then a train passes but you? The power of the train is vastly more than you that you feel it in the air after it leaves. No sane man in the world thinks that with self-belief he can stand in those tracks and stop it with his bare hands. The train would tear you into shreds.
- When this purity comes closer to you, we contrast with God like darkness and light. All your theories of “self-love”, “I’m trying my best”, and “everybody is imperfect. But I’m good at heart” undergo spontaneous combustion. You are exposed like a dark lump of coal that you are. You are darkness and everything vile. Not a millisecond in your life have you kept the first commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and soul and strength.
- His purity or his holiness catches you like an outlaw under searchlights. He’s so Other that it is destructive to you. It would leave you damaged beyond repair.
- Let me ask you this, have you ever been bitter with anyone in your life? Have you felt legit anger towards someone?
- If someone was to take away your son or daughter, or your wife or husband, or your father or mother. The person closest to you is taken away from you. What do you feel?
- Your love is weak and fluctuating. Your affections dwindling. You grow to love someone more or someone less. It’s finite. And yet if someone who matters to you is taken away, it leaves you damaged and wanting to avenge.
- Then there is Christ. From before the beginning of history, the Son and Father lived in perfect love and union. White hot holiness. For once the pure holiness of God we would come radiating infinite power and glory destroying everything that stands in its way. Everything impure melts and is obliterated. Everything in His way is crushed. God marches forward shaking the heaven and the earth. Till he meets Christ. When God looks at this Christ, this infinite glory radiates back to the Father with such force and majesty. The father looks at the son and their love is infinitely glorious. Pure, not a drop of impurity shred of impurity or dross.
“Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.”
On the night of the crucifixion, God looked at his Son. He looked at his beloved Son. He looked at the only one who can reflect the perfect glory of God back at him. And he saw an outlaw. All your impurity and evil on him. The father saw our despicable estate in his Son.
You and I and the Roman guards brought a chasm between the father and the son. The Father was taken away from the Son and the Son from the Father.
- Remember the trauma of meeting holiness, the Son went through it.
- And what did the Son do? Did he avenge us? No – he prayed “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”.
- Church Father Tertullian (c. 160– 25) once said, when people realize the true character of the one they hate in ignorance, they ‘cease to hate as soon as they cease to be ignorant’.
- This is what happens to us, God saves us by removing that ignorance.
- His vengeance towards us is unleashed on his son.
- And he forgave many of us and his forgiveness is open to all.
“Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, “I am the Son of God.”’ And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.”
38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
- There was a thief in Israel. He stole things for a living. Destroyed the happiness of people on a very regular basis. Stole their precious items and refused to work for a living.
- So hard was his heart that he along with another such thief – even at the point of death – thought it would be a good use of time to mock and revile Jesus.
- He had no clue who this man was, on the middle cross.
- “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.'” – Luke 23:39-43
- We don’t know when, but the thief realizes this is Christ and asks him to remember him when he reaches there.
- This man was reviling Christ till a while ago.
- He didn’t attend church, didn’t get baptised, didn’t take church membership, didn’t preach the gospel, didn’t partake in the Lord’s supper and yet Jesus said “today you will be with me in paradise”.
- Do you know what happened? Father answered the first saying/ prayer.
- Mark Jones in Knowing Christ says “answered that prayer by turning a once-reviling criminal into a Christ-glorifying saint.”
- Mark Jones in Knowing Christ also points out “Jesus was at his lowest when this criminal asked to be remembered in his kingdom.”
26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
- A W Pink notes “She it was who first planted kisses on that brow now crowned with thorns. She was who guided those hands and feet in their first infantile movements. No mother ever suffered as she did. His disciples may desert him, his friends may forsake him, and his nation may despise him, but his mother stands there at the foot of his cross. Oh, who can fathom or analyse the Mother-heart.”
- Mark Jones says “Imagine the love between righteous Mary and the pioneer of righteousness”.
- “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12
- “And he [Jesus] said to them [the Pharisees], ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.'” – Mark 7:9-13
- Seemingly pious – using spirituality to not take care of parents.
- Christ was about to go home, to his beloved father. He’s bleeding for his sheep. There’s a lot going on.
- How different he’s from the whitewashed tombs is made visible here.
- The Pharisees were whitewashed tombs, beautiful outside and dead inside.
- And Jesus in bruised flesh was the opposite.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
- Mark Jones, Knowing Christ “Only one person has understood these words uttered by Christ on the cross: ‘“ Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”’ (Matt. 27: 46). That person was Christ himself. The rest of us are left to try our best to comprehend this heaven-rending, heart-melting cry.”
- Mark Jones, Knowing Christ “These are the words of someone who has experienced divine desertion. This type of abandonment includes the withdrawal of the feeling or presence of God’s favour, grace, and love. The removal of these things is the removal of God. Yet although God withdrew his favour from his Son, Christ remained obedient. God was never more happy with his Son than when he was most angry with him.”
- It is worth noting that we as Christians chose not to go into the process of God, in our sin and evil.
- We don’t pray, we don’t meditate on the Word.
- And all this is proof of a lack of love for God.
- We can sometimes love him so little that we can be callous to the absence of communion with him.
- You know how we are very prayerful during a season and we can’t do anything without prayer or reading the bible.
- When we set alarms and reminders to pray when we have to wake up in the middle of the night to pray.
- I want to spend so much time with him – as much as I can.
- And then there are seasons of backsliding – but God is always there waiting for us.
- But Jesus was never callous. He loved him more than anyone ever could.
- He loved him infinitely.
- Every time Christ said “Father”, he had instant communion with him.
- He was always drawing from the fountain of God’s perfections.
- On that fateful day, Christ said “Father” and he was met with silence.
- Christ was cursed on the Cross.
- Christ had never done anything wrong, here the perfect Son went to meet his loving father and he wasn’t there.
- Adam after his sin hides from God and God comes asking for him.
- Jesus after absorbing the sin cries out to his God and God turns away from him.
- Today when you cry out, God is there for you! Because when he cried out, God was not there for him.
- John Flavel “Christ experienced both physical pain and the spiritual loss of his Father’s face. If ever Christ needed comfort from his Father, it was when his Father withdrew all comfort from him. Thus all Christ had to support him was his faith during these hours of darkness. ‘He had nothing else now but his Father’s covenant and promise to hang upon.”
- Don’t you see brothers, When Christ’s body was hung up on three nails, His faith hanged upon the Father’s covenant and Promise.
- Mark Jones “We must consider that the one speaking these words was the one who made all springs of water, all rivers, all streams, all clouds, and all oceans. He is the one who said: ‘I thirst’ (John 19: 28). Yes, he is the very one who said to the woman at the well: ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water’ (John 4: 10)”
- He leads me by still waters.
- ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame’ – Luke 16: 24
- All these have a Physical and a Spiritual meaning – He was physically thirsty so was he spiritually.
- The fountain of living water was denied a drink of the father’s fountain.
- He was given a cup of wrath instead.
- Brother’s we completely lacking and unprepared for all the tasks we have been called to do.
- We need to drink from the fountain of living water because we need a continuous source of virtue from him
- But he was never lacking in anything.
- He walked headfirst into his thirst.
- Let me read you a poem I wrote, called Unprepared.
My resolve feels faded,
Weak and defeated
In a position that I feared
I’m caught unprepared
Master has asked me
To proclaim his glory
In my weakness and sin
I feel unprepared
The hour has come
Yet I feel numb
My heart is found wandering
I know I’m unprepared
Searching for an exit
With an excuse that’s best fit
I find there’s no way out
What do I do unprepared?
In an uncharted land
Am I asked to stand
I walked in, unprepared
As the storm raged
Much stronger than I’d gauged
I sank to my knees praying
Lord, I’m unprepared
Buried in my guilt and shame
In front of his throne I came
Father, while weeping I said
Help, I’m unprepared
Waiting for my defeat
With weary tired feet
When will I crumble and fall
Mourning, I’m unprepared
The wind had passed
but I surpassed
For the father sent the Helper
Why? Wasn’t I unprepared ?
The Helper did remind
My depraved mind
I was bought for a price
The Son was offered a chalice
Brimming with wages of my malice
To the last drop he drank
My Prince, he was prepared
Charles Spurgeon “‘Our Lord, however, endured thirst to an extreme degree, for it was the thirst of death which was upon him, and more, it was the thirst of one whose death was not a common one, for “he tasted death for every man”.’
- This is why it is a Good Friday and not a Sad Friday.
- Oh no! Sinners! Rejoice.
- When he said, “It is finished – It began”.
- On the Cross, Jesus presented the biggest display of faith!
- “I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” – Genesis 3:15
- A bruised, beaten and naked Jesus accomplished what no one could.
- He defeated death, with death.
- “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” – Hugh Latimer
- Tertullian “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church”
- It is finished, the anguish and pain and separation from God.
- “When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” – John 18:6
- Christ is in control at his arrest.
- Christ is in control at his death.
- Oh, the complete control of Christ.
- Oh, it so magnifies his sacrifice.
- There has never been a more Armoatic sacrifice unto the Lord.
- There has been no incense that has pleased Yahweh more.
Mark Jones “Who can thus sleep when he pleases, as Jesus died when he pleased? Who is there that thus puts off his garment when he pleases, as he put off his flesh at his pleasure? Who is there that thus departs when he pleases as he departed this life at his pleasure? How great the power, to be hoped for or dreaded, that must be his as judge, if such was the power he exhibited as a dying man!”