Tag: Good Friday

Society or Christ?

Matthew 27:27-44

We think of Roman government during time of Caesars as being high-handed, repressive, harsh toward those who challenged its authority. Yet in many ways, it was a product of Roman society and culture just as our government is product of our society. In this portion of Matthew’s Gospel, see several facets of Roman society portrayed. They each have their counterparts in our own day and society.

Society has always had a voice, at times more muted than others. Society has used its voice to express opinions / beliefs about all parts of life including spiritual things. In our day, these voices are loud and insistent and often not right… just like 2000 years ago. With God’s help and by his grace we can stay focused on God’s truth. At same time we can be voices that counter Satan’s lies that would draw people away from Christ.

A. Government  v.32-38

Pilate amazed at Jesus’ composure yet…

had probably encountered accused who “pled the fifth” – could probably tell from Jesus’ demeanor he really was innocent of the charges

even after private discussion (John 19:33ff) more firmly convinced charges were unfounded but… had more on his mind than fate of single Jew

Pilate knew there was a plot

understood motivation of those who sought Jesus’ death – charges not based on any real injustice, trying to eliminate one who threatened their political / religious agenda

that alone should have made all evidence brought against Jesus suspect – couple with his wife’s nightmares… yet he acted imprudently

preferred injustice to a riot

Jewish leaders had much influence, how big a riot they could have started will never be known – Pilate already had experience with bad response to bad action that touched on Jewish religion, didn’t want a repeat performance

according to the numbers, and looking at it from Rome’s perspective… Pilate did what he thought was necessary to retain position and authority

knowingly involved others in miscarriage of justice

gave in to public opinion as expressed by relatively small but loud group – tried to pass the buck entirely to others, yet made soldiers / executioners his official agents of injustice

whatever soldiers might have thought, were bound to obey orders – nearly all mocked and ridiculed Jesus, at least one thought otherwise

B. John Q. Public  v.39-40

listened to spin doctors

scores of Jews had welcomed him on Sunday as their king and deliverer – by end of the week, religious enemies recast the story

listened to what powerful people said about Jesus, listened to what people said about what powerful people said, iow, the rumor mill

placed greater value on rumors than personal experience

many knew from what they had seen that Jesus had gone about doing real good – some had probably experienced it personally

had opportunity to see/hear Jesus challenge scribes and Pharisees, call down curses on them for hypocrisy and mistreatment of average people

discounted possibility this was their Messiah

even after what they had seen… which convinced John the Baptist, still could not stay loyal to idea that Jesus really was their deliverer

so they took page from all the other mockers, questioning his identity, not asking themselves what Jesus had done to make him worthy of this kind of death

C. Religious leaders  v.41-43

had an agenda (v.1)

plot didn’t begin Friday morning, just changed in intensity – wasn’t even a very well-kept secret… Judas and Pilate both knew some about it

didn’t really matter the specifics of what he had done, were so personally threatened and stirred up by Satan were willing to do whatever was necessary to eliminate Jesus

incited the people to be complicit (v.20)

scribes, Pharisees, members of Sanhedrin and Sadducees, possibly Zealots as well (friends of Barabbas) working the crowd

probably used position and “power of the church” to coerce reluctant ones in the crowd to go along, gaining accomplices to sin

planted mouthpieces in the crowd (v.40)

listen to what they were saying: arguments that were used to persuade the Sanhedrin… and how did the public know that except from insiders

Judas may very well not have been the only one “working” for religious leaders – others may just not have been getting paid for their effort

added their voices

ones recognized as priests, scribes, elders present there with rest of the crowd putting in their bit – from little distance could not tell by voices who was who

intention was that every voice that could be heard would say the same thing – destroy him, he deserves to die, drown out any dissenters

D. Inmate #1234  v.44

ridiculed Jesus’ faith

like the rest, “you trusted God, how’s your faith working for you now” – when our faith is being tested to breaking point often when it looks most useless, worthless

took common mindset of one being justly punished for crime – only good kind of faith the one that gets you out of the hard situation

dismissed his power

taunted with his identity: Son of God could get down from there… you can’t, obviously… so that must mean you are powerless to change your circumstances

claimed he was no different

iow, no different from two of us – no claims we could make now would change anything – since you’re still here, must be a criminal, too

The single individual who took public stand on Jesus’ behalf before his death: a fellow “criminal”, next to him, eventually… and who would ever believe him? We have hard time trusting those who claim a “jailhouse conversion”… uh-huh, did that to earn privileges, early release time, etc. Do not readily take word of convict seriously. Yet one of them had rebuked the other real criminal (Luke 23:39-43), made point that Jesus’ treatment was completely unjust. By that he rebuked crowd and priests and soldiers alike… and rightly so.

So do we take society’s word for things? especially what relates to basic beliefs? They claimed Jesus’ defeat, he said otherwise. As life was ending, Jesus declared “It is finished”, not “I am finished”. Jesus completed his work in face of all attempts to derail it. God by his mighty power took all the evil Satan and the world intended toward Jesus and used it for amazing good… our eternal salvation. Once in a while, world gets something right. It’s ok, you can believe it… so long as it agrees with what Jesus tells us.

Society promises many things, mostly ones it can’t deliver. Jesus has proven himself faithful… in life… in death… in glory.


O pening to a Relationship

Mark 15:37-38 

 Evidence all around, people from all walks of life / economic station / educational background struggle to make and maintain healthy relationships. Whether domestic violence at home, bullying at school, uncivil discourse in media and politics, that is even opportunity for term “hate speech” to come into use all tell us people not doing relationships well.

Recent estimates suggest that anywhere from 22% to 75% of American adults are persistently lonely. Caccioppo

Large numbers of people have few if any significant meaningful relationships with other people in their daily lives. And all this in world where “social media” is driving force, shaping how people interact, influencing business marketing models, even changing landscape of how many do church.

2016 stats – facebook: 1.5 billion daily active visitors; 166 – average # of friends; 28% – considered to be close friends; 40 minutes average use per day

Did you notice the disconnect? 3 out of 4 people in US use facebook daily, have an average of 40 close friends on facebook, yet as many as 3 out of 4 American adults are persistently lonely. As pervasive and invasive as social media has become, is not making people feel less lonely. Simply cannot be a problem that develops once people have to start adulting:

parents with children under 18, average time daily (2017, US BLS) — reading to and with: 3 minutes; activities related to education: 7 minutes; playing, not sports: 20 minutes; physical care: 30 minutes

Yet it makes no sense – know from experience “is not good for man to be alone”. Is not an accident we are like that, not result of natural selection / evolutionary processes. We are that way by design.

For creatures who were made in God’s image to be relational, what’s the story? We know answer, also know solution. Text helps to broaden perspective on that solution, encourages us to make sure we are part of solution and not part of the problem.

A. banished – Genesis 3:21-24 

relationships perfect… in the beginning

with one another, with surroundings/environment – was all good, no conflict, no barriers to access or communication

most important relationship of all… with God… all good – perfect fellowship, God would come and go as he pleased, unhindered communication in both directions

freedom was accompanied by desire – God desired to be with Adam and Eve, they wanted to be with God… welcomed him when he appeared

sin fractured all of them

Adam and Eve’s first action after sin was to put up barriers – made clothes, served as wall between them… no longer free access to one another

their desire for God’s presence changed to fear and shame – had barrier of clothes, added barrier of bushes and then blame when God showed up

never again during their lifetime would they enjoy same intimate fellowship with one another and with God as at the beginning

driven out of Eden

meant more than just plowing new piece of ground – included that for sure, garden outside never as easy to till, production never again up to previous performance

relationship between God and man redefined – this far more significant than new physical location, involved new terms / conditions

God’s immediate presence now forbidden, guarded by angel w/flaming sword – fellowship never again the same, neither would worship be as close and intimate, instead distant with God at least partly hidden

B. veiled – Leviticus 16:1-10 

God’s presence off-limits to all but high priest

clear instruction given to Moses defining space where God’s glory would appear, included massive tapestry that completely blocked view of innermost sanctuary… Holy of Holies

everyone with only one exception forbidden entrance on pain of death – sinful man carelessly going into God’s presence not to be allowed

even then only once a year

on one day only, Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, high priest could go behind the veil and approach the mercy seat… throne of God

strict conditions of “access”

permission granted and safety assured if and only if high priest followed all the rules – both preparing self… and bringing blood of sacrifice with him for himself and people he represented

…in both directions

not only that all but high priest forbidden access to God’s presence, God so restrained himself that he remained veiled, hidden from view

only on rare occasion would God’s glory break out, astonishing and overwhelming all present – dedication of tabernacle, Temple, transfiguration

rest of the time, people of God could only see dim presentation of God’s glory, speak at a distance through intermediary – Moses granted special privileges no one else enjoyed

C. opened – Mark 15:37-38 

at darkest moment, light streamed forth

at moment Lord Jesus died that Temple veil torn in two – light of God and his truth no longer fettered, burst forth to eventually fill world with glory of Gospel

“the God Who had been a mystery became a Revelation, shining out upon all human history; and it meant also that excluded men were admitted. What happened when the veil was rent? All the world was brought inside; and all souls were made priests” G Campbell Morgan

as said last night, this not something deserved… by sinful man – access to God’s presence natural privilege Son of God has, we can share in that access because of Jesus’ merit

rules completely changed once again

and so new ones for us: no longer a veil between us and God, no longer earthly mediator / intermediary translating between

Heb 9:23-26 “Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another; He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

D. restored – read John 14:18-23 


we are not abandoned, homeless, without family or friend – Lord Jesus promised would not leave followers orphans to make own way

through what Jesus accomplished by his suffering and death, that relationship between man and God first broken in Garden being restored


God intends his people to have real fellowship with him – Heb 10:19-22 “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”


have a home waiting for us that Jesus is preparing and have something precious even now: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (14:23)

Was Lord Jesus who opened up that barrier between us and God, making intimate relationship possible. Right relationship with God leads to other things too – restored relationships with others, ability to make new relationships and maintain them. An area of huge need in our world, our community. Addressing it starts with having Jesus as our Friend.

I Am the Truth of God

John 14:6

In just a few hours from when Jesus spoke these words to disciples, would be engaged in dialog with someone from significantly different worldview. We know him as Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of province of Judea. In fascinating dialog between Pilate and Jesus,

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38)

Gospel writer does not indicate Pilate’s facial expression, tone of voice – was he sarcastic… or seeking? Pilate by no means first to ask question. One that has been debated for centuries, number of different answers given. Defies logic but many today don’t seem to care whether question has answer, even less what answer might signify.

Subject of “what is truth” puts us into realm of philosophy. Before your eyes glaze over, keep listening… won’t be that complicated! Greek philosopher Aristotle, lived between Malachi and Matthew, gave an answer… later called “correspondence theory of truth”. Here’s what he said: “to say that that which is is and that which is not is not, is true”. In other words, “truth agrees with reality”. As you might expect, not everyone agrees with Aristotle. As time passes, fewer and fewer agree that Aristotle was right.

Some make truth in any form relative – “that may be true for you but it isn’t true for me”. Your truth and my truth can both be valid even if they contradict one another. Some make it pragmatic – “if that’s what works for you, great; it doesn’t work for me”. The convinced skeptic refuses to accept that truth can even be known since no one has fully accurate and unbiased knowledge of reality. Vast majority of world citizens vigorously deny that any worldview has corner on truth, possesses absolute truth – truth that is always true in all places, times, circumstances and applies to all people.

Before we even get to definition of truth, try to figure out which might be right, need to know if truth even exists. If it does exist, can we discover it and know it? If we can know it, what good is it… what will truth do for us? And how do we go about finding it?

Does God have anything to say about truth, if so, what?

A. truth exists (John 1:14; 17:17b)

do not need NT in order to know this: God himself abounds in truth` Ex. 34:6; repeated Ps. 86:15

He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. …And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth

not simply that God is truthful, recognizes and appreciates the truth – is abundantly filled with truth – permeates who he is, what he does and says

God’s word, like his character, is truth in its entirety Ps 119.160

“The entirety of your word is truth” – no part of God’s word lacking in truth, no part of his word communicates untruth… means truth and not-truth can be distinguished

also in keeping with his character, God’s truth is always true, universally – not every true statement is universally true, time/date e.g. not true at given moment in all the world

not only an idea or principle, has substance: Ps. 91:4

His truth shall be your shield and buckler” – has power to be our protection, our defense against all that would cause harm

shop saying – “mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it don’t matter”; God’s truth not simply state of mind – are statements, concepts, propositions that correspond to reality from God’s point of view and have ability to do something

Jesus embodied truth and reiterated that God’s word is truth and has ability to make one holy

final prayer before arrest that Father would make his people holy, make them pure by his truth… found in God’s word

if you have been follower of Jesus any time at all, know the reality of that prayer – was hearing God’s truth warned of sinfulness, brought message of hope, informs what displeases God, strengthens to resist sin

B. truth is essential (John 4:23-24)

for Lord to be near, must call on him in truth Ps. 145:18

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.” – cannot call on him any way we please, expect God to answer

” the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” Heb 11:6 must be confident of certain truth to receive response

to please God, must walk in truth… his truth Ps. 86:11

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth;” – don’t get to make up own truth about God, what is acceptable

God’s truth applied to thoughts, words, actions vitally necessary for us to live acceptably before God, to be able to depend on him as our help and guide

to worship God, must do so in spirit and truth

has never been acceptable to worship true God according to own invention – made obvious by Adam & Eve’s oldest son

Jesus made sure we know rules haven’t changed: God seeking true worshipers who will worship Father in spirit and truth – with a true understanding of Jesus as our access to the Father, the fulfillment of OT shadows

C. truth is knowable (John 8:32a)

God desires us to possess truth – Ps. 51:6

You desire truth in the inward parts”: not just know it, recognize it, even appreciate it – but… possess it… in our inward parts – iow, saturated to the core w/truth

for God to desire that we possess truth that way, we must be able to know it and work to absorb it and retain it

God expects parents to communicate his truth to children – Isa. 38:19

The father shall make known Your truth to the children.” – carries on theme from Deut. 6:6-9 “these words [God’s truth] which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…”

God’s truth not hidden, no secret decoder ring necessary to read and comprehend his truth from his word – Holy Spirit’s ministry sufficient to lead us into truth

Jesus said we can know the truth

“you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – truth as embodied in Christ and declared in Gospel sets free from bondage to sin and Satan

God’s truth can only do that if it is knowable and absolute – applicable to all people in all places at all times

God our Savior desires all men to know the truth – 1 Tim. 2:3-4

“God our Savior …desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” – and God gets his way… never frustrated in his desires

D. truth sets people free (John 8:32b)

sin enslaves through deception

sin promises what it cannot deliver, promises to bring pleasure / satisfaction… when comes up empty, says try again… harder, it’ll work for sure this time

cannot know every form of deception well enough to recognize

Satan a master of cloaking his agenda and sin in different ways to keep sinner guessing and permanently trapped in sin

many deceptions are close enough to truth that must have knowledge of truth coupled with Holy Spirit’s help to discern

can know truth, recognize what is not-truth

it is truth that unmasks deception, shows sin for what it is; we can know truth, God expects us to use knowledge of truth to discern not-truth

truth leads to true solution for our need

Satan tries to convince we have no need or we only need what he promises – leads in opposite direction away from truth

God’s truth not only exposes our true need of Savior, same truth leads to true solution for our need… Lord Jesus

E. truth makes people holy (John 17:17a)

to see things as they are makes people holy

far more than just negative – yes, need to know our sinful condition; also need to know reality about God

truth enables us to see God as “infinitely lovely and pure; his commands to be reasonable and just;

equips us to believe heaven to be holy and desirable; Christ’s service to be easy, and religion pleasant, and sin odious

enables to see that life is short, death is near; pride, pomp, pleasures, wealth, and honors of this world are of little value

and that it is of infinite importance to be prepared to enter on the eternal state of being.” Barnes

is God’s truth that convinces us of importance of our immortal soul – need to make sure is in good health according to God’s standard… and keep it that way

that kind of truth can be found in fullness in God’s word the Bible

Bible is only source of truth that is fully reliable in its entirety; are other helpful assistants – teachers of past and present

God’s word is fully sufficient as it is reliable – don’t need to go looking for God’s truth elsewhere to know what to believe and how to behave pleasing to God

F. we have a guide into the truth (John 16:13)

not expected to stumble around in dark

Holy Spirit, poured out in abundance on first Pentecost after Ascension is absolutely reliable guide to God’s truth and word

significant ongoing work of Holy Spirit – illuminating God’s truth, our areas of need

has brilliant and focused beam he turns on particular places in God’s word, leading us from truth to truth, helping us grow

turns that same beam on places in our lives that need to be changed by God’s word, God’s truth – guides both understanding and application of truth

Truth is this: Eph. 2:1-4, 11-12 and it required this: Eph. 2:13-19

He Was Buried

1 Corinthians 15:4a

Psalm 22:1-24; Isaiah 53:10-12; Matthew 27:57-66

Commonly think of what occurred nearly 2000 years ago in this way: Jesus came to live exemplary life, bear punishment for sin, conquer death, return to heaven and wait until time to come get us out of here. All that certainly true, but is not all that is true. Some key points that lack emphasis in that sort of minimalistic summary of Jesus’ last Passover week. As surrounding culture continues downward slide, those key points are ones becoming increasingly distasteful.

People have always been allergic to personal responsibility. Started with Adam and Eve: the womanyou gave me…; the serpent tricked me. Put another way – it’s not my fault but someone else’s. And if it’s not my fault, it’s not my responsibility. Let’s go one more step: if it’s not my responsibility, I shouldn’t have to endure consequences for poor choices or wrong actions. Now, in current culture, even that has been turned on its head. Mindset of many has become: I should be able to do what I want, have what I want, because I deserve it.

Sin is only something vague that old people used to talk about. Even if real, definitely not a big deal. Certainly not something beyond my ability to deal with. And that only if I can’t avoid consequences. If in this life death is ultimate consequence, let’s change that. Can do some genetic tinkering, some stem cells here or there, find equivalent of “fountain of youth” and beat death. Meanwhile, for those unfortunates caught in cross-fire, let’s make it more palatable, less real and final. We can call it a “Celebration of Life”. Let’s bring truckloads of stuff, make it look like loved one just out for a break. I know, can get funeral director to put body in favorite pose so they can party on. Growing fascination with zombies. For some, cremation rather than burial of a body – dear Aunt Agony really hasn’t left us, she is right over there in the urn, or here in crystal on my necklace.

See what has happened – have so minimized sin and its consequences the cross is emptied of all significance. When we do that, Cross becomes the story of unfortunate victim of a political plot gone wrong or small-minded religious zealots. If the Cross is stripped of its meaning, how much significance can there possibly be in v.4 of our text?

Is only when we understand the hideousness of sin as an offense against a holy God that we grasp significance of the Cross. Is only when we understand how loving God sent his well-beloved Son into sin-cursed world, ordained he would be crucified by sinful men, then poured out his just wrath against sin of the people he loved, that we begin to grasp awfulness of sin. We need both: what Bible teaches about God and sin, what it communicates about the Cross. Sin is so terrible that the God who is love punished the Son of his love in the place of the people he loves that they might experience his love and be granted life.

Now, what was extent of that punishment? The flogging? Crown of thorns? Carrying his cross? Nails in hands and feet? Injustice and ridicule? Awful as all that was, did not contribute to payment for sin. Listen again to Isaiah text:

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

Was all that Jesus experienced, not at hands of men but at the hand of God that paid the ransom for our souls. Read last night from Isaiah chapter 52: he was so disfigured he no longer looked like a man”… by punishment for our sin. Punishment did not end with his cry “It is finished” – still one more requirement: “wages of sin is death”. Not “near death experience”, not momentary death, but real verifiable death beyond ability of mere man to overcome. Burial is essential element in our full redemption – both for its symbolic value (die to sin, rise to new life) and practical use (grave for Christian need not be feared or avoided).

A. to show reality of his death

declared dead by attending soldiers (John 19:33)

started with the others, broke legs to hasten death; believed Jesus to be already dead, did not break his legs… pierced his side instead, ensuring truly was dead not just fainted

centurion summoned to convince Pilate that Jesus was really dead and body could be safely released to Joseph

treated as dead by Joseph of Arimathea (Matt. 27:59-60) and Nicodemus (John 19:39)

to ask for body when Jesus not truly dead would put Joseph at risk of obstructing justice; was convinced enough Joseph still took risk of guilt by association

Joseph bought linen cloth to wrap the body, Nicodemus brought 75 pounds or more of myrrh and aloes – best they could do given time of day… approaching Sabbath

followers convinced enough to bring more spices (Luke 24:1ff)

ladies, after sunset on Saturday purchased more spices; at daybreak, made their way to garden tomb intending to take time and care to prepare body for long-term burial

soldiers sealed occupied tomb (Matt. 27:65-66)

religious leaders convinced dead body in tomb, wanted to make sure it stayed that way – persuaded Pilate to let them seal it – unlikely that they sealed an already empty tomb

could been, even likely that was late in evening on Friday (Jewish day starts 6pm) they got seal on tomb, guard outside

soldiers convinced enough Jesus was really there they were willing to lie about circumstances, risking life and professional career

Matt. 28:13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’

B. to confirm veracity of his claims (would he decay?)

remember Lazarus: “he stinketh”, dead four days, didn’t even want to open up his tomb – if same of Jesus, only a man; if not, something else must be true – see Acts 13:35

“Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’

knew couldn’t apply to David, must be someone else… the Messiah; if Jesus truly was Messiah, this must apply to him

claimed to be one with Father

understood by his contemporaries as claim to be God (they tried to stone him) – somehow this one we know as Jesus, if his claims were true, had to be more than just a man

if Jesus the God-Man, could not experience death the same as ordinary man – God is eternal, unchangeable, must have some kind of effect on that body in the tomb

claimed he would raise it up – John 2:19

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” – have John’s commentary “He was speaking of the temple of His body.”

his temple would be destroyed, he would lay down his life… die, and on third day something would happen – custom and good sense meant he could not stay on the cross all that time if truly dead… must be buried

claimed full authority over his own life – John 10:18

“No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”

to demonstrate that authority, must be some intervening period between “laying it down” and “taking it again” so observers can be reasonably convinced not some kind of magic trick

C. to emphasize helplessness of man

no man could endure penalty for sin and survive

weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth barely begins to describe its horror – lake of fire not overkill, is perfect justice for sin

how do we know no one can endure and survive? if possible, could go through that then die and escape hell although not gaining heaven – no such third option given in Bible

no man can experience real death and have ability to survive

if death is separation of soul and body, no human can hold soul in one hand, body in the other, then put back together

only Author of life himself has ability, say nothing of authority, to perform such a feat – true regardless of NDE’s and OOBE’s

no man on his own could escape the tomb

would require superhuman strength to move rock from inside; then it was “sealed” somehow to prevent opening, with Roman guard stationed

all of that is necessary to procure eternal life, none of it achievable by one who is only human

for our redemption to be complete, full penalty for sin must be paid – sin must be conquered so it no longer has mastery over us

for redeemed sinner to have hope, power of death must be overcome – the grave on both Friday and Sunday is essential

D. how is this good news?

three texts are significant

Gen. 2:17“of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Rom. 5:12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned;”

Rom. 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

burial = finality = we don’t like it, don’t consider burial good news; desperately want to get to what comes next

try to get through the death and burial part, focusing on where dearly departed is now, where we will be someday

less than full satisfaction less than good news – 1 John 4:9 death confirmed by burial necessary for our life

since “God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” – possible only because full satisfaction made

if anything were lacking in what Jesus accomplished by suffering and death, we must make it up = still hopelessly lost

also sends powerful message to present culture: the Gospel is not a message of instant gratification

want whatever problem we have fixed now, don’t want to wait; not how God works in lives of his people

just like Jesus followers had to experience sorrow, loss, discouragement… until third day, we must experience challenges of this life up to and perhaps including physical death

even grave itself has been sanctified by presence of Christ – need not fear dying, death, or beyond: the Forerunner has already been there, done that, will walk with us through it

at no point will true child of God ever have opportunity to cry out as Jesus did: “​My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

because Lord Jesus was forsaken in our place, we will never even in darkest moments be forsaken by God

Good news is that because Jesus died and was buried, is nothing left for us to add to work of our salvation. Through faith in his finished work, we can have hope of eternal life.

Be At Peace with One Another

Mark 9:42-50

Psalm 34:11-22; Isaiah 32:14-18; Acts 10:34-43; Mark 9:42-50

Why this on Good Friday, talking about peace? Reflecting on that Friday nearly 2000 years ago, was not a peaceful day. Harsh treatment (and unjust) of Lord Jesus by Temple guards and Sanhedrin. Next best thing to a riot when Pilate resisted religious leaders’ evil designs on Jesus’ life. The violence of public executions accompanied by taunts of by-standers. Even the earth itself rebelled against the unthinkable – that the God-Man could die!

Matt. 27:50-54And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

The bigger conflict hidden from view – spiritual conflict Jesus waged on our behalf and won, victory over sin and Satan and eventually death. Is hard to see in a whole lot of life how any victory has been won. Seems to be one conflict after another, at every level of society. And, sad to say, even the church is not immune.

Would anyone deny the need for peace? How about the promise of peace (Luke)? Did the proclamation of the angel host mean anything? And how does peace fit into the “one another” paradigm? Sure, Jesus commanded it, but seriously? Is it possible? Many profess a desire for peace, some even write songs about it…

“I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony… “I’d like to see the world for once, / All standing hand in hand / And hear them echo through the hills / For peace through out the land.”

The need for peace is obvious; the obstacle to peace is also clear from God’s word, so is the solution. And the answer to our need was given on Good Friday.

A. the need

blame game: figure it started between Adam and Eve Gen. 3:12; really came before that, “has God indeed said…?”

seeds of conflict, planted and watered by sinful action, immediately bore fruit – no longer at peace

–within themselves: “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked”

–with one another: “they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings”

–with God: “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God”

continued on through OT: Psa 34:14, Psa 133:1(so much for evolution!)

exhorted to seek peace and pursue it; “how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!”

first family ravaged by brother murdering brother, thousands of years later brothers still didn’t / don’t live at peace

picked up by Jesus…in our text – addressing disciples’ arguing over who would be first in the kingdom (Mark 9:34)

wasn’t like disciples didn’t know their arguing was wrong – if was so right, why didn’t they answer Jesus’ question?!

knew it was wrong, were ashamed because they got caught, not ashamed enough to give up on the idea

also “high priestly prayer” – John 17:11, 21-23

“Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

“that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

two different groups of people targeted in Jesus’ prayer: his disciples (11), “those who will believe in Me through their word” (20)

Jesus knew wasn’t only 1st generation who would struggle, succeeding generations in the church would experience conflict and division, lack of unity with one another

Jesus also identified serious fallout because of that: would contribute to further unbelief on part of the world

wonder why more people aren’t coming to faith in Christ? why the church is small and weak?

That the world, so full of animosities and fightings, may see the power of Christian principle in overcoming the sources of contention and producing love, and may thus see that a religion that could produce this must be from heaven.” Barnes

then carried on by Paul: Rom. 12:18; 2 Cor. 13:11

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” “be of one mind, live in peace” – 25 years later still an issue

B. the obstacle

hindrances to peace are not:

weapons of any kind of destruction – nuclear warheads, unregulated firearms, abortionist’s instruments

unjust distribution of resources – answer to ISIS not more jobs, poverty not cause of inner-city violence

religious ideologies – 11-13th century Crusades, 17th century 30-Years War, 1948 Arab-Israeli War, 20th century Cold War

use or misuse of all those things not the problem…are symptoms of the real issue – “heart of the problem is it is a problem of the heart” Krabbendam

slavery to sin, self, Satan

prophet Isaiah: thorns & briers, forsaken palaces, deserted cities “untilthe Spirit is poured upon us from high”

something else had to come first: the heart problem needed fixing –

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel a nd the house of Judah,not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34)

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezek. 36:25-27)

Jesus told his disciples, recorded in 3 of 4 Gospels: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

problem is…never get to part of taking up our cross and following; on our own, just can’t bring self to give up self

hardest thing Jesus told us to do: we love our self, like our sin, listen to Satan’s lies and guess what happens to peace

let’s be careful, not give Satan more credit than he deserves!! Remember why humanity is “fallen” – true, Eve listened to serpent, but what did she really do? put self before God and her husband, did what was right in her own opinion

C. the solution

already considered some of world’s solutions – remove hindrances to peace; can add meditation, big government, church committed to social justice and overcoming poverty

as you might expect, none of that is effective; read the history books – there has been an illusion of peace at times

but only temporary, and only on certain level – nation may not be at war but what about co-workers, neighbors, family members

God’s solution: remove the source of hostility, refocus attention of his people

source of mankind’s hostility, lack of peace with one another – not environmental (prisons would be safe); not economic (rich would get along); not political (Congress would actually work)

doesn’t mean we ignore any of these issues – should make sure laws are just, tyrants are held accountable; vote and work and be a good neighbor, encourage others to do the same; but….don’t count on those means to fix the problem; they will help keep symptoms in check

at it’s deepest point, conflict with others is outward evidence of conflict with God; so long as we are enemies of God, will be enemies of one another

only one means to that end – the cross: we talk about the cross, nothing sacred about some ancient lumber and hardware; were many of them lining the roads around Jerusalem and other major cities in Roman Empire, estimate thousands of people executed that way

not even anything magical about the symbol in itself, whether worn or made by gesture or on display

significance of the cross is wrapped up totally and completely in the one person who by dying in that way changed the world

see Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:17-20; Eph. 2:14-18; Col 1:19-23

“while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (10)

“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (19)

“that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, ​and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross” (15-16)

“reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (20)

reconciled man to God; made Jew and Gentile one, new – Christian; Jesus the common denominator, reconciling all things

reconciling required removing the source of hostility: sin, and with it, the penalty for sin; the “cross of Christ” then has supreme significance: listen to what apostle Paul declared –

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Col. 2:13-14)

is your faith, your confidence of your acceptance before God in Christ alone? not works, not church membership, not what Jesus did plus something else, but in Christ only? if so, then…

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1)

if we are at peace with God, we must live at peace with God’s people – one another, fellow Christians, brothers and sisters

something will help us do that: staying near the cross of Christ – reminds us of who we are, who we belong to, who is not only Savior but Lord as well

we don’t remember Jesus on the cross, he finished all his work there; we remember what sent him there (our sin), what he accomplished there (our redemption)

if Jesus loved us enough to take our punishment for us on the cross, can’t we love him enough to do as he said?

love one another, live at peace with one another, show the world by our relationships with one another what it means to follow Christ, then trust him for themselves


Son of God, Sacrificial Lamb

Matthew 27:39-54

Five-year-old Mary was obliged to undergo an operation, and lost so much blood that it was necessary to resort to blood transfusion. The blood of thirteen-year-old brother Jimmy was found by test to match exactly the little patient’s. “Will you give your sister some of your blood, Jim?” asked the doctor. Jimmy set his teeth. “Yes, sir, if she needs it.” He was prepared for the transfusion. In the midst of the drawing of the blood, the doctor observed Jimmy growing paler and paler. “Are you ill, Jim?” he asked. “No, sir, but I’m wondering just when I’ll die.” “Die?” gasped the doctor. “Do you think people give their lives when they give a little blood?” “Yes, sir,” replied Jimmy. “And you are giving your life for Mary’s?” “Yes, sir,” replied Jimmy. A touching story of self-sacrifice.

There’s a more far-reaching story, a true story, of self-sacrifice than Jimmy’s. by giving his blood, Jimmy at most would procure life for one other person, his sister Mary. Greatest act of self-sacrifice occurred nearly 2000 years ago at “a place called Golgotha”. Unlike Jimmy, Jesus did give all his blood, Jesus did die, giving his life to save the lives of a countless multitude “from every tribe, language, people, and nation.”

But in order to accomplish that, this sacrifice must be at the same time perfect man and powerful God – the one who would stand between sinful men, women, boys, girls and a holy God with hand on each. At the same time able to “lay down his life for his friends” and take it up again when his purpose had been accomplished. What mattered most at Calvary was not what chief priests and scribes and elders orchestrated, not what Roman soldiers did, not what physical suffering achieved. What mattered most was what could not be seen – what God did, when “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21

Who was it there on that middle cross? Not everyone had same opinion at the time, still true today. 3x in our text title “Son of God” is used – by the general rabble passing by on the road, by church leaders and criminals being executed beside Jesus, by the Roman centurion and soldiers with him.

A. “If you are the Son of God, come down” v.40

certain expectations of what he could do if… if he truly were the Son of God

demonstrate his power over the natural order – if you really can rebuild the temple in 3 days, ought to be able (have the power) to pull the nails and climb down from the cross

demonstrate his authority over earthly government – if you really are King of Israel like placard at top of cross said, defy Roman guards / Pilate’s decree and climb down, put the centurion in his place

show his true colors – if miracles performed delivering many from sickness and disease and infirmity and death were for real, should be able to deliver yourself

certain presuppositions of what he needed to do

needed to do all this in the way his mockers believed best – anything less would simply confirm suspicions Jesus was a fraud

think of profound darkness for three hours – btw, not a solar eclipse; impossible for that to occur at time of full moon

far more profound darkness at work in minds of those who mocked – surrounded by more than enough evidence, had seen Jesus @ work – healing blind and lame, raising the dead, demonstrating power and authority over natural world, spiritual forces of evil

one more sign and we’ll believe – v.42 “If he comes down now from the cross, we will believe in him!”

condemned Jesus for not saving himself – didn’t see they belonged in that very boat: condemned and unable to save themselves

truth is, the power they wanted Jesus to demonstrate is what they most needed to cut through darkness of their sin and rebellion

once again evidence of Satan, master deceiver at work; two-fold goal here, plan A and B

had tried to tempt Jesus to sin at beginning of his ministry: Matt. 4:3“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

failed in that attempt, trying once again; if Jesus can be tempted into coming down from cross, Satan wins the big battle

if Jesus remains on the cross, Satan has won different battle – for minds and hearts of Jesus’ mockers at least for a time

Jesus really was Son of God, King of Israel, healer and deliverer; those who mocked fulfilling prophecy made to Isaiah: “hearing they did not hear, seeing they did not see”

Jesus’ mission – to draw people into a saving relationship with him; what was required? he said himself:

John 12:32“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

B. he said “I am the Son of God” v.43

certain expectations of what God would do if…Jesus’ claims were true

he claims a particular relationship with God, does God agree? if so, God should show it this way

similar line of thinking as Job’s friends – these circumstances are impossible for someone who is true friend of God, truly righteous, genuinely trusting in God

religous types, perhaps purposefully, like Satan did in the Garden, subtly altering God’s word

quoted from Psalm 22:8“He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

but made last statement conditional – if he wants to; easy to imagine Satan’s hiss once again

Matt. 4:6 “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,'”

perhaps the Father has disowned the Son, will refuse to answer when Son cries out to him

Isa. 53:4esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted” – in truth Jesus was just that

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, / See him dying on the tree! / ‘Tis the Christ by man rejected; / Yes, my soul, ’tis he, ’tis he.

‘Tis the long-expected Prophet, / David’s Son, yet David’s Lord; / By his Son God now has spoken: / ‘Tis the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear him groaning, / Was there ever grief like his? / Friends through fear his cause disowning, / Foes insulting his distress;

Many hands were raised to wound him, / None would interpose to save; / But the deepest stroke that pierced him / Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly / Nor suppose the evil great / Here may view its nature rightly, / Here its guilt may estimate.

Mark the Sacrifice appointed, / See who bears the awful load; / ‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed, / Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation, / Here the refuge of the lost; / Christ’s the Rock of our salvation, / His the name of which we boast.

Lamb of God, for sinners wounded, / Sacrifice to cancel guilt! / None shall ever be confounded / Who on him their hope have built.

C. “Truly this was the Son of God” v.54

pagan Gentiles had better vision – feared the God they did not know; Jews had no fear of God they did know

had probably numerous opportunities to guard condemned criminals while they died of crucifixion

enough different about this one to get their attention – what Jesus said, what he didn’t say; bottom line: they took Jesus’ word over his accusers

Roman soldiers may not have fully grasped what they were saying, but said the right thing

The King, the Son of God shows his power and authority most when he conquers his fiercest enemies. Was only by staying there on the cross, the sacrificial lamb, that he could begin his victory march – defeating sin, Satan, and death. Even the mocking Jews knew lamb had to stick around for sacrifice to be satisfactory. Had the Lamb run away we would all be in our sins still, hopeless and without a future.

Instead God’s eternal plan had our future in view

Eph. 1:4-8 For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love. He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will – to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. NET

Sure, Heb. 12:2 tells us Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before him”, but what fueled that joy? Love for helpless sinners and being the means of their redemption. Yes, we see the awfulness of sin, the incredible penalty Justice requires, played out in living color on the Cross. Caiaphas was right when he said:

John 11:49-50 “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.”

In the death of that one man, the Son of God, the sacrificial lamb, the love of God is displayed at its brightest and most glorious. God loved sinners so much he gave himself as their sacrifice, their substitute. The Gospel is first and foremost about what God has done for sinners

“God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.”

Do you understand what that means? Have you experienced the love and grace of God in the Gospel?

“Mount Sinai, as awesome as it was, is but a dim shadow of a later mountain where God’s glory would be revealed—Mount Calvary. More than 1,400 years after God appeared on Mount Sinai, Jesus would climb up another mountain to put God’s glory on display. Just like Sinai, Calvary was covered by a thick cloud of darkness as God turned His face away. On the cross Jesus would endure the thunder of God’s judgment and absorb the lightning of His wrath. …The burning mountain of Exodus 19 was a picture of Mount Calvary, where Jesus gave us the clearest and most complete picture of the glory of God. In the cross we see the magnanimity of God’s grace. God did more than carry us on eagles’ wings from danger; He rescued us out of the jaws of death by substituting Himself in our place.” J D Greear

Comprehending God’s grace and love and lavish generosity to us in the Gospel changes us; the power of the Gospel is transforming, producing in us Christ-like grace and love and generosity toward others. May this not be just another Good Friday, not just another Easter. By God’s grace and in his strength may we be transformed people, living in a way that shows the Gospel has changed us.

Killed and Raised

Matthew 16:21-27

Certainly not new in history of world, but seems that particular ideas about death and dying getting more airtime in this century than before. Death preferable to life under certain conditions. Planned or orchestrated death (assisted suicide, euthanasia) viewed as better choice than death from prolonged illness. Death thought of mostly in terms of an end, end of life; reflected in euphemism for suicide – took his own life, ended his own life.

Bible doesn’t speak in those terms. Bible describes human beings according to view called dualism: “constituted of two irreducible elements (as matter and spirit)”. Material and immaterial, physical and spiritual, body and soul. At death, soul is separated from body; body ceases to function, begins to decay in earnest, eventually returns to dust. Not so the soul; continues to live (only God has power to take life from the soul, Matt. 10:28), but less than ultimate existence.

Both Peter (2 Peter 1:13-14) and Paul (2 Cor. 5:1-4) speak of body as a “tent”, a temporary house as residence for our soul in this life. And Paul makes it clear the ideal is not to be free of the tent, but to have a better one:

For in this [tent] we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven”

Makes perfect sense that Jesus would teach disciples, prepare them for future in way that reflected that view of human life. Knew death of his body would only be temporary, did not keep that fact secret from his followers. Temporary as in “of short duration”; on third day, would be raised. Doesn’t mean they fully understood what he was saying; did have his repeated teaching to reflect back on after his resurrection and ascension.

Our text describes Jesus’ shift from public focus in ministry to targeted teaching, preparing disciples – “from that time”, during last 6 months before crucifixion. As if he said, ok, you got the first principle down – Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Here’s the second principle: the Messiah must suffer and die. Oh yes, and be raised. Followers may not even have heard / registered part about rising again “the third day”. Like Martha, would have believed in resurrection, but at some time in distant future, “on the last day” (John 11:24) when everyone would experience resurrection.

Now, Jesus moved from veiled references about his impending death (Matt. 12:40, Jonah) to explicit teaching here, again, repeatedly (Mark 8, 9, 10). Fits perfectly with Matthew’s general perspective: “that it might be fulfilled”. Jesus knew prophecies, which ones spoke particularly of him and his suffering; knew that if God is truly God, all of them must be fulfilled. Saw clearly the road ahead of him: no speculation, only certainty, was committed to traveling it and teaching his followers along the way.

A. he must go

no external force, no fatalistic absence of alternatives, no martyr’s death for Lord Jesus

no one coerced or forced Jesus to begin, then follow through on the journey he knew would end in death

die was cast, path was determined before creation; journey began more than 30 yrs. before, at incarnation – one that would reach its ultimate depth at a hill called Calvary, then a donated grave

Jesus did have options

temptation in wilderness was real, no illusion; agony in Garden was real; but every alternative would have involved disobedience to Father’s will, choice Jesus refused to make

Jesus wasn’t confused about the time or place

didn’t simply get caught up in a political scheme gone wrong, an unfortunate martyr for unpopular cause

was the exact right time: “Father, the hour has come” (John 17:1); the exact right place: “it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33); the exact right reason: he “died for us, that …we should live together with him” (1 Thess. 5:10)

requirement of obedience and love

obedience to God’s “definite plan” – Acts 2:23-24 – Peter, freshly empowered by Holy Spirit, declared Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” – not any wiggle room, room for error there

love for God’s people – 1 John 4:10 – sent by the Father to demonstrate his love; Jesus showed not only love for Father, also love for his people

reward for doing his Father’s will (Heb. 12:2, Psa. 40:8)

“for the joy set before him, endured the cross” – joy of obedience, inheritance – doing what pleased his Father, being firstborn among many brothers and sisters, full house in heaven

B. he must suffer many things

road to glory passes through suffering – Luke 24:26

agony of soul and body – concentrated in but not limited to “Good Friday”

physical/spiritual/emotional suffering at his temptation; attacks on personal character; challenges to his authority; sympathetic suffering for his people – needy sheep; agony of anticipation in the Garden; the mistreatment endured at the hands of men after his betrayal; just punishment for sin endured at hands of his Father

true from the beginning: Gen. 3:16-20

suffering an intentional part of the curse for the sinner

no sense of sin being offense to God apart from suffering; yes, objective truth of it conveyed by his Word. But,… suffering of either sinner or sacrifice that makes it real

suffering and oughtness go together: understanding life as we know it isn’t the way it ought to be

not purely self-centered; people of all kinds suffer when loved one suffers, have sense of helplessness – recognize it should be different but powerless to change it

necessary consequence of the curse for the sin-bearer

sacrifice is messy; no neat, comfortable way to pay penalty for sin, to satisfy righteous wrath of holy God

important side note: not just suffering for sake of suffering, suffering for sake of enduring; rather, suffering with purpose

Jesus suffered that he might: be a sympathetic high priest (Heb. 4:14); learn obedience (Heb. 5:8); be our substitute (2 Cor. 5:21), suffering in our place that we might be free

we suffer that we might grow in: obedience – “whom the Lord loves he chastens” (Heb. 12:6); dependence – “my grace is sufficient” (2 Cor. 12:9); Christ-likeness – “Christ suffered,…leaving us an example” (1 Pet. 2:21); discomfort – “desire to depart and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23)

C. he must be killed

death also an integral part

no room here for swoon theory to explain away resurrection; no provision for someone to take Jesus’ place so he could escape death

not stating a fact but a necessity

not simply “he would be killed”, but “he must be killed”

a necessary part of God’s perfect plan – remember Peter’s declaration on Pentecost: “delivered according to God’s plan…you have crucified and put to death”

a necessary part of God’s redemptive plan – “wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) but… “he himself likewise partook of [flesh and blood], that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Heb. 2:14-15)

should be viewed in positive light

not possible result of failed mission but certain result of accomplished work

humanly speaking, death brings end to work, to accomplishment; even refer to achievements as their “life work”; for mere humans, an ok way to view it

Jesus’ death a component part of his work; would demonstrate that death could have no power over him

not an addon to his work, not the price of having done his work, is the very center of his work

Jesus’ “life work” was important but not enough to purchase salvation for his people

not a case of coming to end of his bucket list and saying “ok, I’ve done everything, I can die happy now”

no death and subsequent victory over it for Jesus, no hope of deliverance for us

not to be the end of hope

next chapter (Matt. 17:9) following Transfiguration, told of resurrection again: “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”

side note: seems Jesus’ followers not surprised by event of his death, not even disappointed by it. Their problem with timing of it and what expected Jesus to accomplish. Were looking at what he would achieve before his death, not by his death. Were saddened by his failure to accomplish what they thought he would – redeem Israel from her earthly oppressors – before his untimely death. (Luke 24:21)

D. he must be raised

to keep his word

had declared from beginning of public ministry that death would not overcome him: “destroy this temple…”; public enough to make impression on scribes and Pharisees: “we remember how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise'” (John 2:19-22; Matt. 27:63)

told his disciples what he would do “after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” (Matt. 26:32)

to fulfill scripture – Luke 24:44

everything written about him must be fulfilled; Peter declared resurrection was necessary fulfillment of Psa. 16:8-11 – “you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Acts 2:27, 31)

to provide genuine hope

if Son of God himself cannot pull off bodily resurrection, no hope whatever for the rest of us

to be consistent with God’s design for human existence – soul and body

from beginning God has had plan to redeem his good creation from its fallen state, to provide for redeemed mankind’s full existence – purified soul in perfect tent, our habitation from heaven

It was package deal: go and suffer and be killed and be raised, all come under umbrella of necessity. One missing element destroys entire plan – God can’t work his plan, Jesus doesn’t know what he’s saying, Bible is fairy tale. WE know by testimony of God’s Word and Spirit the Bible is no fairy tale. Much about the cross is hideous, awful to view; it’s even a foolish message to a dying world. But for redeemed sinner, cross is something in which to boast; Christ exalted is hollow victory without Christ crucified. Same is true of empty tomb – Easter without Good Friday has no significance. May we like Paul boast in Christ and his great victory, glory in his cross and what it means to those who cling to him by faith.

I Am He

John 18:1-11

Jesus’ Authority

Think of “I am” statements of Jesus, what comes to mind first: bread of life (John 6:35); light of the world (8:12); the door of the sheep (10:7); the good shepherd (10:11); the resurrection and the life (11:25); the way, the truth, and the life (14:6); the true vine (15:1). Don’t so often think about 7 other occurrences of εγώ ειμι, I am, also found in John’s Gospel (John 8:24, 8:28, 8:58, 13:19, 18:5, 18:6, and 18:8), 3 of them in our text.

Given great meaning expressed in two words, sinful mankind’s foolishness plain to see. Judas, instrument used by Satan to accelerate progress to the Cross, was an insider yet he really wasn’t. Had been present when Jesus showed mastery over demons, wind and wave, incurable disease, even death. Yet comes with squad of Roman soldiers, temple police, religous leaders, lanterns, torches, weapons – an overwhelming show of force to take one man away from 11 defenders armed only with two swords. Didn’t seem to grasp that no amount of earthly force could prevail over the one he was going to betray.

A. true knowledge v.4a

right time

6 months earlier: told brothers his “time had not yet fully come” (John 7:8)

they even “sought to take him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come” (John 7:30)

this night was different – “Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father” (John 13:1)

right circumstances

Jesus conscious of OT prophecies regarding him – “knowing all things that would come upon Him”

short time earlier – made explicit point of Judas and his eating with them and betrayal being fulfillment of Scripture

day of resurrection – road to Emmaus, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27)

personal readiness

had agonized over what he was facing

Matt. 26:39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Matt 26:42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

John 18:11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

and come to terms with it – listen to progression of Jesus thought, speaking of cup of his Father’s wrath

that it required this from Jesus gives a little insight into awful burden he was about to bear for those he loved

B. true mercy v.4b

Jesus took initiative

didn’t leave it for Judas to find him – went to meet them

eliminated need for Judas’ betrayal

gracious condescenscion to the max

once again there is mercy in the Garden offered in form of a question

where are you? who told you? what have you done?

each question an opening for confession and repentance

instead met by more sinful behavior – blame game

this time – not fallen man hiding himself, but perfect man revealing himself

the one who would in just few hours perform greatest act of mercy

receiving the penalty for sin that the really deserving might receive mercy

C. true power v.5b

his word (5-6)

εγώ ειμι: very simple words, incomprehensible significance

stating again what he declared John 8:58 – Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

not simply the man from Nazareth saying “that’s me”

declaring that he is the eternal self-existent God

when said at the temple, tried to stone him (Johh 8:59)

here said in such a way that

hardened Roman soldiers put in fear

Judas also beginning to get the idea – who he was up against

same one who said “let there be light, firmament, dry land…..”

any wonder they would be in awe of that voice, those words

recognized voice of authority, terrified by it, at least momentarily

his command (8)

in no way to be understood as a plea bargain, negotiation

given as a command

“a beautiful merging of his mercy and his majesty” Morgan

able to guard his followers from unnecessary harm – in effect Jesus tied hands of enemies respecting the disciples

clear to any objective bystander that Jesus would only be taken as he allowed it

if he simply had to speak and soldiers retreated, what if….

D. true authority

put away your weapon (11a)

had already showed his supremacy over earthly manifestations of power

would soon show supremacy over “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12)

shall I not drink the cup (11b)

authority to take the cup

authority to endure its contents

also who’s in charge throughout passage, who takes command

challenging the authorities – “whom are you seeking” (4, 7)

corraling Peter – “put up your sword” (11)

only when Jesus is finished with preliminaries is he arrested (12)

had sights set on Calvary and beyond – see John 10:17; Heb. 12:2 – only the I AM could do that

told his disciples he would lay down his life that he might take it up again

endured the cross, despised the shame because of joy set before him

Now mark the majesty of these next four verses. “Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth.” (John 18:4) That statement is full of significance, bearing out and emphasizing the fact that the pathway of Jesus to His Cross was not the pathway of a Victim. All the way He knew all that was coming to Him. Perfectly familiar with it all, He “went forth,” went forth in majesty, never more majestic than when His eyes were set upon His Cross. G Campbell Morgan

Important to remember:

a perfect sinless man is an inadequate substitute – at best he could save himself

a willing victim is an ineffectual substitute – someone sacrificed to Roman politics and Jewish religious zeal accomplishes nothing

only one who has both power and authority to “lay down [his] life that [he] may take it again” (John 10:17) can be our Savior

was God’s actions to punish our sin willingly born by the God-man and then accept his payment in full on our behalf that’s important

Angel told Joseph: “call his name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21); Jesus told disciples he had “come to save the lost” (Matt. 18:11). In prayer in Garden told Father “I have finished the work which you have given me to do” (John 17:4). His final cry from cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30).

If Bible is true and word of God, if words have meaning, if these words mean what they say, then Jesus accomplished all that was necessary for our salvation by his life, death and resurrection. Nothing left to add to it – nothing necessary, nothing possible. The church can add nothing. Saints can add nothing. Good Christians can add nothing. We must come to the cross empty-handed, trusting in Christ and Christ alone to save us. Hear the words of Paul the apostle from Romans 10:9ff

“if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. …For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.””

Do Not Weep for Me

Luke 23:28

Luke 22:54-62; 23:1-7; 23:13-19

Thursday evening: The Last Supper, final preparatory instruction and comfort given to disciples, followed by Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Early Friday morning: Jesus was Betrayed and Arrested; initially questioned by Annas (father-in-law), then sent to Caiaphas and Sanhedrin for informal trial before dawn, formal condemnation after dawn. At about 6am, Jesus’ Roman trial began, appeared before Pilate (agent of Roman emperor), then Herod (ruler of Galilee) and finally back to Pilate where, at about 8am, sentenced to death. He was scourged, then led away to be crucified. He was expected to carry the crossbar (patibulum) approximately 1/2 mile from Praetorium to Golgotha, perhaps also the placard around his neck describing his offense – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews – later affixed to his cross.

Along this short but seemingly endless path described as Via Dolorosa, Way of Sorrows, we see Jesus. He had already collapsed from stress of his treatment and burden expected to carry; Simon of Cyrene drafted to help. Not out of merciful consideration for Jesus, Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders alike didn’t want him to die and thus escape torment and degradation of crucifixion. Perhaps even more important: it’s hard to see how some OT prophecies would have been fulfilled short of crucifixion – Psalm 22 & Isaiah 53 for example.

Jesus was object of great interest, followed through the streets by great crowd of people. Romans appreciated that, would suit their purpose of using crucifixion as a deterrent; similar to public hanging of criminals in prior years. Almost certainly a mixed crowd – those who had called most loudly for Jesus’ death; ones who had seen and heard teaching in Temple, perhaps with respect; some who had little knowledge other than what they saw that looked like a setup; intimate followers of Jesus likely including Peter and Matthew. Each had their own thoughts, their own reasons for being part of that great multitude.

A. daughters of Jerusalem

A group among larger crowd, women, outward and visibly distressed by what was happening to Jesus – they “mourned and lamented Him” (v.27); “do not weep for Me” (v.28) – not the two criminals accompanying him. Jesus addressed them as daughters of Jerusalem. This is an Old Testament way of thinking and speaking that views the residents of Jerusalem as representative of all Israelites.

It was fitting Jesus should address the nation; just a few short hours earlier the Great Sanhedrin, highest authority in Jewish culture, had rendered a final verdict on Jesus and his claims. Rejected Jesus’ claim that he had come from God the Father and did his Father’s work (Matt. 12:24; John 10:32-33); rejected Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God (Mark 14:62); judged him guilty of blasphemy and worthy of death (Mark 14:64).

Should not come as a surprise: in many ways Jewish trial simply a formality. Jewish people had already rejected Lord Jesus; that’s why John at beginning of his Gospel could say: “He came to his own, but his own received him not”. (John 1:11) The arrogant assurance their cause was right reached high point outside Pilate’s palace: instigated by chief priests and elders mob confidently called down a curse on themselves and children if Jesus’ death was truly unjust. (Matt. 27:25)

B. do not weep for me

In this context Jesus urged the Daughters of Jerusalem to mourn their own fate and the fate of their children more than His. They were weeping over the injustice of one man’s death, but Jesus urged them to consider something else.

Jesus’ predicament entered into voluntarily: Phil. 2:7-8 humbled himself, became obedient to death, poured himself out. Lord Jesus knew that, because of mankind’s fallen sinful state:

Q. 15: What sort of a mediator and deliverer then must we seek for?

A. For one who is very man, and perfectly righteous; and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is also very God.

Q. 16: Why must He be very man, and also perfectly righteous?

A. Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others.

Q. 17: Why must He in one person be also very God?

A. That He might, by the power of His Godhead sustain in His human nature, the burden of God’s wrath; and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life.

Q. 18: Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real righteous man?

A. Our Lord Jesus Christ: “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

The Lord Jesus willingly committed himself to be that Redeemer and Mediator. Jesus traveled the road to Calvary out of love, not compulsion. Eph. 5:25 “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” To an onlooker, appeared that Roman soldiers were in charge of Jesus’ fate; Pilate thought so, too: “Don’t you know I have power to release you and power to crucify you?” And then Jesus’ immediate response: “You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:10-11) He willingly offered himself as a sacrifice to God in our place. (Heb. 9:14)

desire for a large family John 17:24 “I want those you have given me to be with me where I am” The one by whom all things were created had the power to acquire brothers and sisters another way; yet he willingly redeemed those whom the Father would adopt into his family, then conform to the image of the Lord Jesus that he might be the “firstborn among many brothers”.

Jesus not to be pitied – heroes are to be praised, in this case, worshiped. Foolishness of the cross: shame and failure and disgrace and dishonor accomplished something good; the one viewed as a blaspheming failure actually the hero. Lord Jesus the only one in all of history able to conquer sin and death in place of fallen sinners.

C. weep for yourselves

Luke 19:41-44 Jesus, on Sunday, wept over Jerusalem; following Friday he tells women to do the same. What prompted Jesus to grieve for the city should cause the Daughters of Jerusalem to weep over it as well. True, Jesus knew what would occur in 70 AD with siege and eventual fall of Jerusalem, destruction of the Temple, horrendous hardship and loss of life; the women couldn’t know those details.

Yet Jesus’ contemporaries, if they had eyes to see could perceive as Jesus did the nature of underlying problem: minds clouded and hearts hardened by sin. The evidence was more than sufficient: by his teaching, his miracles, his perfect life, should have been no question that Jesus was truly Son of God. Men, women, boys, girls from all walks and stations of life recognized him for who he was. But only a remnant; overwhelming majority of Jewish people refused to acknowledge him as the Messiah of God.

His exhortation to women and to us: gain a true understanding of sin and sinfulness.

When a sense of sin has been awakened in us, we shall mourn, not for what Christ has suffered, but for what He suffered for us. Edersheim, Life and Times

Right understanding of nature of sin and degree of our sinfulness will cause godly sorrow of the sort which leads to repentance. (2 Cor. 7:9-10)

Sin attempts to dethrone God. It denies God’s all-sufficiency; every prodigal who leaves the Father’s house says in effect, It is better to be elsewhere. It challenges the justice of God, and dares God to do his worst. It disowns his omniscience. It despises the riches of God’s goodness. It turns his grace into license to sin. In short, sin is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight of his power, the contempt of his love. Venning, Sinfulness of Sin

It is right that we weep tears of sorrow because of our sinfulness, of our children, of others who are strangers to God and his mercy.

Right understanding of sin and our sinfulness helps us understand greatness of what Lord Jesus actually accomplished on the cross. It is right that we weep tears of joy because our Savior willingly endured what we could not in order to achieve for us what we need. May God use both sorts of tears to draw us farther from sin and closer to him. May he use us to point others to the One who can save them from their sinfulness. And may Jesus’ blood and righteousness be an endless source of joy and thanksgiving for us.


Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Mark 15:33-41

Scripture Reading Genesis 22:1-14 The Law

Mount Moriah – later, the site of the Temple in Jerusalem

“Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.”

Jehovah-Jireh – God will provide [a substitute sacrifice]

Scripture Reading Psalm 22:1,6-8,12-18 The Writings

a Psalm of David

“This is beyond all others The Psalm of the Cross.” Treasury of David

poetic anticipation of the Savior’s suffering

v1 Jesus’ cry
v6 Reproach v7 Mockery v8 Taunt v12-13 Animosity ==> directed toward Jesus
v14 Faintness v15 Exhaustion v16 Piercing v17 Emaciation, Insulting Gaze v18 Dividing up Belongings ==> experienced by Jesus

Scripture Reading Isaiah 52:14-53:10 The Prophets

horrifying to look at – disfigured beyond recognition by Roman soldiers

bowed by the burden of man’s sin and iniquity

stricken, smitten, afflicted, wounded, crushed, chastised, oppressed by God

Scripture Reading Mark 15:33-41 The Gospel


Father, give us eyes to see the horror of the Cross, ears to hear the truth of how our sin made the Cross necessary, minds and hearts prepared to receive the glorious mercy found at the Cross for those who believe.

Focus of attention on the wrenching cry of Christ from the cross –“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” What did it mean that Jesus was forsaken, for what purpose was he forsaken, and what difference should it make to us?

A. What did it mean

We must remember – we stand on the shoulders of generations who have labored to answer that and similar questions. Onlookers that first Good Friday had a much different perspective:

Ray Boltz, Watch the Lamb

Daddy, Daddy, what have we seen here,
There’s so much that we don’t understand.

When the “cry of dereliction” burst from Jesus’ lips – an expression of anguish of soul as he drank the cup of his Father’s wrath for sin unmixed with favor or love. “This is my Beloved Son” but a distant memory; love and intimacy experienced in eternity past and even during years of incarnation fully withdrawn from him. The Son felt completely abandoned by his Father’s loving care, given over to his Father’s wrathful punishment.

Remember the words of Isaiah, resounding in our ears like the blows of the hammer, driving the nails through feet and hands into unforgiving wood – stricken, smitten, af flicted, wounded, crushed, chastised, oppressed… by God. Yes, it was the Father who was actively punishing – striking, smiting, …etc. – the Son on the Cross. His greatest suffering came from the hands of his Father, not the Roman soldiers or his bloodthirsty countrymen.

This does not mean that: the God-man stopped being God, the Father’s love turned to hatred, that God left the Man Jesus to his own devices, to bear the brunt of sin’s awful punishment. Had the Father removed his divine support from the Son on the Cross, the Son would have been destroyed by his punishment. The Father was still present, he still loved his Son; yet the punishment measured out on Jesus so overwhelmed and overshadowed the Father’s grace and love that the Son felt abandoned.

B. For what purpose

Jesus was forsaken by his Father in order that he might experience the full penalty for the sin he bore, in so doing completely satisfy his Father’s requirement for justice, and bring us safely home to God. Real guilt transferred to a real substitute who suffered a real penalty to accomplish real reconciliation for real people to a real God.

There was a meeting together of all the sins of the faithful, from Adam to the last man that shall be in the world, as it were, in one point upon him, and the punishment of all these was laid on his blessed shoulders, who suffered for them in both body and soul. Richard Sibbes

The words of the prophet Isaiah:

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, 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 has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

For the atonement to be a source of hope for us, our Substitute must have made full satisfaction on behalf of those for whom he died. For the Substitute to make full satisfaction, he must have experienced and paid the full penalty in the stead of his people. The full penalty is an eternity of death and suffering – think hell – an infinite penalty because an infinite God was offended, sinned against. Our Savior experienced that full penalty, an eternity’s worth of intensity compressed into 3 hours of physical and spiritual darkness on Calvary’s cross.

The goal of Jesus’ sacrificial death is full redemption and reconciliation to God of those who believe in him; nothing short of that would satisfy the soul of our great Savior.

Again the words of Isaiah:

He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:11

If an atonement has been made by one who was actually substituted in the place of the guilty; who, as so substituted, paid the penalty and rendered full satisfaction to the law, so that the law has no longer any claims; then there has been undoubtedly an actual reconciliation. Peace has been made by the cross between God and man.James Boyce, Abstract

C. what difference does it make

Contemplating the cross of Christ should change how we think about sin, our obligation to Christ, and the greatness of God’s mercy.

But if you would indeed see the most ugly colours of sin, then see it in Christ upon the cross, see how many sighs and groans it cost him, how bitter a thing it was to his righteous soul, forcing him to weep tears of blood, and send forth strong cries to his Father, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Richard Sibbes

Our sin cost Christ a life of sorrow, being made the object of his Father’s wrath, a horrific death. To minimize our sin denigrates and devalues the sufferings of our Savior in our place.

Recognizing what took place at the Cross informs us of how great our obligation is to Christ: he lacked nothing in his suffering which would contribute to paying the penalty for sin. He exchanged his heaven for a kind of hell to do you good. What he experienced on our behalf defines the measure of our debt to him, one we can never repay but for which we can be eternally thankful.

In fact, this is one of our greatest comforts:

Question 1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?

Answer 1: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him. Heidelberg Catechism

Here at the cross we see where justice and mercy meet, where in his infinite mercy God gave to another what we deserve and in his infinite grace gives to us what another merited. That is the greatest demonstration of love known to mankind, displayed in God’s masterpiece of redemption where his love, mercy and grace are glorified.

John 3:16 God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son

Romans 5:8 God shows his love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us

1 John 4:19-10 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The greatest demonstration of love the world has known required the greatest sacrifice of all – the life of the perfect Son of God given on behalf of sinners. Where better to see the “width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:18-19


Flavel Vol. 1, p.414ff

Manton Vol. 2, p.288ff, esp. p.298 #2-4

Sibbes Vol. 1, p.497ff