The First Three Hours (Mark 15:22-32)

Monday, April 20th, 2015
Sermon Series: Led to the Cross, Mark

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The First Three Hours

The crucifixion of Christ from 9 am to 12 noon on Good Friday

from the gospel of Mark 15:22 to 32

 

Most of you know the story of the Viking village that was suffering under a kleptomaniac. Things kept disappearing, stolen, sometimes found in ruins. The law said this crime must be punished by thirty-nine lashes in the public square. After nine months, the thief was caught and confessed. It was the king’s own nine-year-old son.

There was no joy in the village, because all knew that the punishment for the crime had to be carried out regardless of the prince’s relationship to the king. But all knew that the punishment would certainly kill a nine-year-old boy. Plus, if the king made an exception for his son, he could no longer be king.

The day arrived, and the entire village came to witness what would happen. They took the prince to the center of the square, stripped off his shirt, and tied him to a long pole. Then dead silence, as the whip was thrown back in preparation for the first of thirty-nine stripes. Just as the child was about to be struck, the king shouted, “Hold!” while everyone gasped!

It was then that the king walked down from his viewing platform, walked over to his son, took off his crown, stripped off his coat and took off his shirt. And then this giant of a man wrapped his arms around his son, covering his son with his huge, kingly body–then ordered the man to begin the scourging.

That is what Jesus Christ did for each of you who are His own. Jesus Christ took the punishment you deserved for your sin. And you’ll see that today as you open your Bibles to Mark 15, verses 22 to 32, as we exposit the first three hours of Christ on the cross.

If you’ve been with us, you know what Christ is going through. He went through the agony of the Garden, asking the Father to remove the cup of wrath He’s about to face on the cross. The reality of somehow being separated from the Father, enduring God’s wrath for sin, and bearing sin itself is so agonizingly stressful to holy, pure, righteous Christ that our Lord actually sweats blood.

But after praying three times, Christ is then resolved to do His Father’s will and go to the cross–Christ is unwavering. Then Christ is immediately arrested, faces six trials–the religious trials before Annas, Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, then the secular trials before Pilate, Herod, then Pilate again. During all those trials, it was not Pilate who rendered the final verdict–it was the Jewish people who shouted, “Crucify Him.”

Pilate is culpable for his cowardice and injustice, but Jesus even said in John 19:11, it was the Jewish people of the Lord’s day who committed the greatest sin. Speaking to Pilate, Jesus said in John 19:11, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

You remember, it was the Sanhedrin–the religious experts, the wisest men of their day, who actually condemned Christ. They were the first to slap, punch, spit, and mock the idea that Christ is their God, their true King and their only Messiah. Theirs is the most severe apostasy since they denied the Scripture about the Messiah. They rejected what their prophets said about God the Son. They scorned the Bible’s only redemption. They were the first and worst blasphemers–they sneered at God incarnate, spit on their only Savior, rejected their Creator, and were determined to kill their only hope of salvation.

So why doesn’t God do something? Why doesn’t God toast them, send some hit angels and stop this? Shouldn’t these merciless men be sent immediately into Hell? Shouldn’t fire fall from Heaven and burn these wicked guys up? Shouldn’t the ground swallow up these compassionless ones whole? Shouldn’t these hypocrites be immediately eaten by worms and die? You’d expect a true, holy and just Father to do something to these wicked, cruel, and hateful blasphemers. But it appears as if God does nothing.

So during all these trials, Christ has been beaten, spit upon, abused and finally scourged. But that’s not been the focus of the gospel writers. The focus of the gospels has not been about the physical suffering. Jesus is scourged, but no details are given. Today Jesus will be crucified, but no details are given.

The true emphasis has been on the mockery, the blasphemy, the cruel statements, the harsh words, the scornful treatment of our Lord. They regard Him with cruel disdain. Plus Christ is also at His physical limit. He hasn’t slept, He’s been beaten all night. He’s bled from stress, and is torn up by scourging. Christ has fallen under the weight of His own cross, and Simon from Tripoli had to carry it for Him.

Look now as Christ arrives, and Mark describes the first three hours on the cross in Mark 15:22 to 32. “Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it. 24 And they crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. 25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him.  26 The inscription of the charge against Him read, ‘THE KING OF THE JEWS.’ 27 They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors.’ 29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, ‘Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’ 31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!’ Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.”

These verses are describing around 8:40 am until noon on Good Friday. Though Christ could have stopped this process with a single word, since He already said, “I AM,” and over two hundred men were thrown down–and though He could call 72,000 angels to help Him or kill them, Christ allows this horrible suffering to continue, starting with . . .

#1  The Soldiers’ CRUEL Work  Verses 22 to 28

Half these verses focus on the work of the soldiers, who’re responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves, beginning with their role in . . .

First  Bringing Christ to GOLGATHA  Verse 22

Look at the dramatic picture that verse 22 paints, “Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.” Then they brought Him—“brought or bring” means to bear or to carry, and implies Jesus was so exhausted the soldiers had to support Him or partially carry Him to this place of crucifixion, called Golgotha.

The Greek, “to the place Golgotha” includes the preposition, “upon”, literally “upon the Golgotha place”–which indicates that Golgotha was not a hill or mountain, but a knoll, which is an uprising of dirt, a mound of land. Golgotha is the Aramaic form of the Hebrew word meaning “skull”. And Mark tells us in verse 22, “which is translated, Place of a Skull”–literally skull’s place.

Our familiar English term Calvary is derived from the Latin rendering, calvaria, meaning “a skull.” Calvary is referring to this place of the skull. Calvary is the sacred place where the God-man accomplished our salvation. It is where the crucifixion will occur. It’s where Christ will die for sin. It’s a little knoll which, according to Roman and Jewish custom, must be outside the city walls.

The absolute certain location of Calvary is unknown today, but out of the two potential locations, only one remains today. Gordon’s Calvary was made popular in 1885. It’s known today as the Garden Tomb, which exists outside the current wall of Jerusalem. It is a very popular spot with its own skull-looking hill and roll away stone tomb. Sadly, it’s been clearly proven to be a second century tomb, and not the tomb of Christ.

The other potential tomb and knoll actually exists under the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church exists inside the old city now, but it was, at the time of Christ, outside the city walls. The Roman emperor Hadrian, in the 2nd century AD, built a temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Venus on this spot in order to cover the tomb where Jesus was buried. But the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, ordered that the pagan temple be replaced by a church in 335 AD.

Because of, first) the closer proximity to the time of Christ, and second) the current excavations under this church, most believe the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to be the actual sight of Calvary. So picture the soldiers assisting, possibly carrying, an exhausted Christ up a craggy knoll, about to be crucified. Next they are . . .

Second  Offering a DRUGGED wine  Verse 23

They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it.” What was this for? It was to dull the pain of crucifixion. Why dull the pain? Executing people by crucifixion was appalling and ghastly. They used nails that were more like railroad spikes, a full half-inch wide and seven inches long, they were driven through the wrists, then the feet were overlapped and one massive nail was driven through both feet.

Prior to crucifixion, there was the scourging in which the very bones of the back, shoulders and around the ribs were laid bare, with the skin shredded and the muscles ripped open. The combination of the wounding through scourging, and the wounding through the nails, and then suspending a person who’s basically hanging by those nail wounds creates a desperate need to breathe.

The victim has to push himself up by the nails in his feet, or pull himself up by the nails in his hands. As he does, he must rub his back up and down the rough-hewn cross, making the pain so excruciating, that they offer them a mild analgesic, a kind of sedative or mild narcotic that would ease the agonizing pain.

This actually was not a Roman custom. Rabbinic writings indicate the drink was provided as a charitable act by rich women in Jerusalem who, in accordance with Proverbs 31, offered wine mixed with myrrh, giving the wine a bitter taste like gall, but helped in deadening the excruciating pain of crucifixion. This drugged wine would dull the senses. Apparently it was offered by the women, and allowed by the soldiers, prior to crucifixion to cause the victim to relax enough to make the labor of crucifying easier.

But verse 23 tells us, “but He did not take it.” Its bitter taste instantly told Christ its nature, so Christ refused it. Why? For you–Christ was determined to meet His suffering and death in full possession of His faculties. For you–Christ meant in His self-giving there was to be no self-sparing. For you–Christ was determined to drink the bitter cup of His vicarious sufferings consciously to the very last. For you–Christ would voluntarily drink the cup that the Father had given Him.

And even this detail was prophesied in the Old Testament. Psalm 69:21, “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Regardless of the Lord’s refusal, of the drug drink, they went ahead . . .

Third  CRUCIFYING the God-man  Verse 24a

And they crucified Him.” That’s all that is said—“crucified.” Crucifixion originated in Persia, where one false deity viewed the earth as sacred. Because of this, an executed criminal had to be raised above the earth in order not to defile it. So they suspended a criminal on a long pole and left them there to die. The practice was adopted by the Greeks, then the Romans, whose extensive use of crucifixion caused this death method to become identified with them.

In 4 BC, a Roman governor crucified 2,000 Jews who’d been involved in a revolt. According to Josephus, General Titus crucified 500 Jews a day during the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70, until there was no longer room for crosses to be erected. Crucifixion remained the primary form of capital punishment in the Roman Empire until AD 337, when Constantine banned it. It’s estimated by the time of Christ, the Romans had crucified some 30,000 men in Israel, primarily for insurrection.

The places for execution were intentionally chosen by well-travelled roads, because the Romans wanted people to know what happened when they broke the law. Cicero refers to crucifixion as a “cruel and disgusting penalty,” and Josephus states it provided “the most pitiable of deaths.” Crucifixion was not designed to bring about death quickly, but to torture the victim to death. It was basically death by exhaustion–if the victim was slow in dying, his legs would be broken in order to hasten their death, since they wouldn’t be able to push themselves up in order to breath.

Often crosses were supplied with a seat and a footrest on the vertical beam. This would enable the victim to relieve his lung muscles and keep him from asphyxiating. The footrest allowed the victim to relieve the lung muscles by pressing against the nails. Depending on the severity of the scourging, some victims survived on crosses for several days. Since no major arteries were severed, so death didn’t come by blood loss, but from hypovolemic shock or exhaustion asphyxia, or heart failure, or a combination of all.

Crucifixion was an excruciatingly painful, prolonged torture, which was also a socially degrading way to die, as in most cases those who were crucified were completely naked. It was so horrible that one historian described the victims as “feeding the crows on the cross.” Sometimes birds and animals would actually feast on the victim before they were dead. The victims could not brush the birds away, nor prevent the animals from chewing on their own flesh.

So picture this–the soldiers would order Simon to place the patibulum (the cross beam) on the ground, and Jesus would be quickly thrown backwards with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire would feel for the depression at the front of the wrists, and then drive a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist, and deep into the wood. Quickly, he would move to the other side and repeat the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some movement.

The cross beam is then lifted in place near the top of the vertical beam. The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim is now crucified.

As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain–the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.

The movement up and down is driven by the need to breath–which can only occur when He pushes Himself up by His feet. The strain to the lungs, heart and all the internal organs is vast. Yet this torture can go on for hours, even days. All of this was also prophesied in the Old Testament. Look at Psalm 22:16b, “They pierced my hands and my feet.” But the soldiers not done, they continue by . . .

Fourth  Dividing up the Lord’s CLOTHING  Verse 24b

And they crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take.” Soldiers got to keep your clothes when they killed you–that was their compensation for having to perform such an ugly duty. Those who had to experience the gore and gross execution took the right to take your clothes.

John 19 gives us more detail, verse 23 to 24. “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. 24 So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be’; this was to fulfill the Scripture: ‘They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.’”

That’s directly quoted from Psalm 22:18–they would cast lots for His garments, and that’s what they did. “Garments” is used generally to include all His clothes. Apparently there were at least four soldiers present, since they made four piles of clothes. William Barclay reminds us, “A Jew wore five articles of clothing—the inner robe, the outer robe, the sandals, the girdle and the turban. When the four lesser things had been assigned, that left the great outer robe.”

They took those clothes from Christ and the two thieves, they made four piles of clothes, one for each soldier, then they gambled over the great outer robe, which they didn’t want to tear into four parts but leave it in tact, since it was worth more as it was, seamless. They cast lots to see who would get which articles of clothing. One of the soldiers had a box of dice, and they used the dice to determine the winner of the tunic.

The Romans may have crucified Christ naked, or in respect for Jewish scruples they possibly allowed Christ to wear His loincloth. We simply do not know. But it was customary for executioners to get those pieces of clothing from their victim. But it wasn’t customary for this to occur a thousand years earlier when this detail was prophesied in Psalm 22:18, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And what’s even more amazing is, they did all this in the morning.

Fifth  The TIMING of the Crucifixion  Verse 25

It was the third hour when they crucified Him.” That is 9:00 AM on Friday morning. The gospel of John says the sixth hour, but the writer John is probably using the Roman timeframe, which points to the moment Pilate condemns Jesus to crucifixion. We can see here that this entire process happened very fast.

Thursday night they were still in the Upper Room, and sang hymns together as they went out to the Garden on the Mount of Olives. After some hours in agonizing prayer, Judas shows up with a huge entourage of two hundred plus, because they feared reprisals if the regular people knew they were going to arrest the One they’ve been hailing all week.

They arrest Jesus, and all night from midnight to morning, Christ is being tried and tortured for being their Messiah, for being God incarnate. And in spite of not discovering any crime Christ has committed, they decide to kill Him anyway. Six different phases of His trial, three with the Jews, three with the Gentiles–all of that happened to get Him on the cross by nine in the morning.

Again, what’s the hurry? They don’t want the crowd to turn on them and rescue Christ. But the real reason? This is all God’s plan so that Christ will die at three in the afternoon, the very moment all the Passover lambs on Friday are being slaughtered at the Temple. Now the real, one, true, final, sufficient Passover lamb will die. But the soldiers don’t know this–all they know is Christ claimed to be King.

Sixth  Placing the SARCASTIC Sign  Verse 26

The inscription of the charge against Him read, ‘THE KING OF THE JEWS’.”

The Roman custom included hanging a sign around the neck of the condemned criminal, which stated the charges against the prisoner. Then the sign would be taken from the criminal and affixed to the cross. Though there were many kinds of crosses, the traditional one we wear and build in churches is correct, since the vertical beam had to extend above Christ for the sign to be nailed above him.

What did Pilate put on the sign? “THE KING OF THE JEWS.” The religious leaders didn’t like this–but in spite of that, in three languages the full inscription is in John 19:19 to 21. “Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, ‘JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.’ 20 Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”; but that He said, “I am King of the Jews.” ’ ”

You do understand the irony of the inscription (King of the Jews) right? The irony is this–it’s the truth. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God–HE IS THE KING OF THE JEWS! So the soldiers prophetically, wickedly, and ruthlessly are taking part in this torture, and yet in all of this the plan of God was to atone for your sins through the Son’s death on a cross. Further insult was thrown at Christ by . . .

Seventh  Crucifying Christ between two BRIGANDS  Verses 27 to 28

They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors.’” These could be Barabbas’s buddies who were also guilty of insurrection and murder–or they’re two random thieves. We really don’t know who they are. But they’re guilty enough to justify the death penalty by crucifixion. It seems unbelievable that our Lord would be placed between two criminals.

Their position on Christ’s right and left almost seems to point to James and John, who wanted to be on Christ’s right and left in glory. As if Jesus were reminding them that those who follow Christ to glory will suffer in this life. There’s one on each side to add another mocking element to this appalling parody. They put Jesus between two thieves, as if to say Christ, the Jewish King is no better than a thief.

Never forget–the Lord’s cross wasn’t bigger, nor did it stand up higher than the other two. That would miss the jab. The dig at Christ was to say this–your King is no better than a common criminal. Take a look at your king, the King of the Jews. He is put to death with the lowest/vilest men in the land. And this detail was also prophesied in the Old Testament in Isaiah 53:12, where Scripture is fulfilled with, “And He was numbered with transgressors,” reminding us . . .

Eighth  PREDICTING these details in Advance  Verse 28

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors.’” Later manuscripts may leave verse 28 out of Mark 15, but in the same context, Luke 23:37 adds it as a fulfillment of prophecy. The Old Testament predicts that Christ will be treated as a transgressor and be numbered as a criminal. You have to be amazed–every single detail of this ghastly event has been specifically and accurately predicted hundreds, even thousands of years before Christ. The statistical facts make the chances of this randomly happening impossible! Now with the cruel work of #1 The Soldiers almost complete, Christ now faces . . .

#2  The BLASPHEMING of the People  Verses 29 to 30

Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, ‘Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’” Following the example of their hypocritical leaders, the populous begins hurling abuse at Christ. The Greek word “hurling” is  blasphemy–to charge someone falsely, to attack with malicious intent.

Accusing Christ of blasphemy–they blaspheme their own Savior! And they wag their heads, an Old Testament gesture of scorn and derision. You’ve seen it, and you’ve done it–NO! As they were walking by, they would say, “HA!”–which is an exclamation of surprise, found only here in the New Testament. Its use here is ironic. They taunt Christ as the destroyer and builder of the Temple–they heard that charge against Him from their spiritual leaders, the Sanhedrin.

“Ha, you’re going to destroy and build the Temple again in three days? Yes? Then save Yourself!” There’re only two commands in this paragraph–and both are directed harshly at Christ, and this is one. “Save Yourself!” And ironically, Jesus is in the very act of fulfilling that prophecy. His body is being destroyed, but in three days He will rise again.

So they say to Christ, “If You, Christ, can destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days, then You have supernatural power, so use that same power to save Yourself.” And verse 30, “Come down from the cross.”

The Greek word “save” is used in a purely physical way here–“Deliver Yourself from this awful suffering and sure death.” This taunt comes from the stark contrast between His large claims and manifestations of power, and now His obvious helplessness and seeming hopelessness on the cross. Get this–they dreadfully taunt Christ for not saving Himself, while Christ is actually magnificently saving others. But the abuse poured out on Christ while on the cross isn’t done yet.

#3  The SCOFFING of the Religious leaders  Verses 31 to 32a

In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!’” The Sanhedrin are not done with Christ–their hatred is so intense, they can’t help themselves but come to His crucifixion and mock their Messiah even as He is suffering on the cross. Mark records for us two hateful statements.

First  Hateful Sarcasm  “He saved others; He cannot save Himself.”

That’s total sarcasm. They’re saying Christ doesn’t save anybody. Christ saved others, haha, how about that? He claimed to be Savior, yet here He is dying on a cross–He couldn’t even save Himself. All of it is hateful scorn and mocking ridicule. Consider the irony in this–by not saving Himself, Christ does in fact save others. By giving His life a “ransom for many”, our Lord does in fact save those who turn to Him.

Second  Harsh Skepticism  “Let this Christ . . . come down from the cross.”

In verse 32, they don’t believe Christ is the King of Israel. They don’t believe anything they say here. It’s all hypocrisy. Verse 32, “Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” They will not believe if Christ came down from the cross–that is grossly untrue. How do we know?

If healing all kinds of diseases, restoring sight to the blind, cleansing lepers and raising the dead–if those works of power and mercy did not cause them to believe in Jesus, but rather hardened their hearts so that they hated Him for it, then would a descent from the cross have caused them to embrace Him as their Lord and Savior? No way. Signs, miracles, or decisions do not produce faith in Christ—God alone produces faith, and does so through His Word.

Remember the words in the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:31? “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” If they don’t listen to God’s Word, they will not believe.

The Greek shows us they command Christ to “come down from the cross so that we may see and believe!” Christ did come down. They took Christ down. They put Him in a grave, and three days later He came out of the grave. Did they believe? No–when it was reported to them He rose from the dead, what did they do? Did they believe? No–they bribed the soldiers to lie.

So that we may see and believe!” is all a big lie–they won’t believe. They won’t believe Moses and the prophets, and they won’t believe Christ is their Messiah. They didn’t believe Christ rose from the dead, or that He is the only way of salvation–they choose not to believe. Plus coming down from the cross may be a miracle, but it would disqualify Christ as the true Messiah, because the true Messiah must submit to the Father’s will and give His life a ransom for many. And finally, the abuse poured out on Christ even comes from . . .

#4  The INSULTS of the Crucified Thieves  Verse 32b

Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.” Sadly, the mockery of the leaders is picked up by those who were crucified next to Him. Even the lowest people of the land are throwing abuse at Christ. The thieves are also in on the joke. Luke tells us one of the thieves said, echoing the Sanhedrin, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us.” It’s all mockery.

They too are caught up in the ridicule, even in the midst of their own imminent death. These men have most likely been scourged, beaten, and are now nailed to crosses too. They’re facing death and staring eternity in the face, yet Matthew 27:44 says, “The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.” The same words as the leaders–they’re imitating their spiritual leaders and insulting Christ. Luke 23:39, “One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, ‘Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!’”

But then something dramatic and very good happens. One commentator says, “One of those thieves is literally taken captive by the power of God.” Luke 23:40 to 43, “But the other answered, and rebuking him said, ‘Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ 42 And he was saying, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!’ 43 And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.’”

And in a moment salvation came–one thief said to the other, “Why are you doing that? This Jesus is a righteous man. We’re getting what we deserve. This man has done nothing.” Then He says to Our Lord, “Remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” He affirms a belief in Christ–a belief in Christ’s future life on the other side of death, that Christ truly is the King. And just like that, conversion has taken place.

And you have in that moment the salvation of a blasphemer. How powerful is the cross? So powerful that those who were there at this time, blaspheming Jesus to His face, could be redeemed! Acts 6:7 says, “And a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” Some of the priests who were there were later forgiven. In a few hours, the centurion who was in charge of the execution and some of his soldiers said, “This is the Son of God,” and you’ll meet them in Heaven.

So why didn’t God do anything? Why didn’t the Father, call down fire and toast all those mocking His Son? Answer–because God was pleased to kill His Son for those sinners. That thief, those priests, the soldiers, and those who walked by could be saved. Isaiah 53:10 says, “The Lord was pleased to crush Him.” God was pleased to crush Christ–why? Love for you. That’s why Paul says in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” And why else did God not stop this mocking crucifixion? An even greater reason, God’s love for His Son. God plans to give Christ a redeemed humanity who will spend eternity loving Him, serving Him, praising Him, honoring Him, and reflecting His glory throughout all eternity.

Disciplers–be aware of the power of your influence and example

Parents–encouragement is more powerful than mocking criticism

Spouses–dying to self is how you love your spouse best

Non-Christian–surrendering your life to Christ is your only hope

And Christian–never forget the amazing love of Christ for you

Never forget the cross–never forget the cost of your salvation. If His suffering did not make Jesus give up on us, nothing will. And never forget what happens in the next three hours, but to do that you have to come back next week. Let’s pray.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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