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Monday, May 16, 2011

Simple sermon on the cross


Jesus and His disciples had worshipped together in the city of Jerusalem in the upper room, observing the Passover and ending the service with a song.  They went from there to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus warned them that all of them, even Peter, would fall away from Him that very night, scattering like sheep without a shepherd.  Christ had now come to the threshold of the task He had come to accomplish on this earth.  He who is from everlasting to everlasting (cf. Jn. 1:1), had come by way of the virgin (Mt. 1:25), had grown to maturity obedient to Joseph and Mary (Lk. 2:51), had powerfully taught and debated, healed and comforted, and had triumphantly entered Jerusalem earlier that week said, in John 17:1, "the hour has come."  After praying, He and His disciples crossed over the Brook Kidron into a garden called Gethsemane.  From that moment until He is pulled down from the cross, our Lord goes through a series of events that caused Him suffering and pain.  Will you remember these words?
  • Intensity (Mk. 14:32-42).  We see the textual evidence of the intensity--in His demeanor (33-34), His posture (35), and His prayer (36).  We notice the reason for the intense emotions--the drowsiness of the disciples, the solitude of the situation, and the content of the cup.  Jesus understood the importance of His death but also the pain of the cross.
  • Incarceration (Mk. 14:43-52).  It was facilitated by depraved betrayal, signified by Judas' kiss.  Eleven times in the gospels he is identified simply as "the traitor" or "betrayer."  It was impeded for a moment by blind zeal (cf. Jn. 18:10; Lk. 22:49).  It was accomplished, however, by Divine permission (Mk. 15:49; Ac. 2:23).
  • Injustice (Mk. 14:53-65). He faced injustice from the Sanhedrin (53-55), false witnesses (56-60), and the officers (65).  How else could a mob of wicked men have seized a perfectly innocent man?  No mistrial can compare to the travesty of justice in the case of Jesus of Nazareth!
  • Infidelity (Mk. 14:66-72).  Peter quickly broke his vow in verse 29.  He was running with the others who fled (50).  His infidelity started with his position (54), was fueled by his fear, was prompted by the questions, and was confirmed by the rooster.  
  • Interview (Mk. 15:1-5).  It was brief, consisting, according to Mark, of only two questions.  "Are you the king of the Jews?" and "Aren't you going to answer all these charges?"  Jesus was not panicked or defensive.  He was only silent.  Pilate was amazed, led to two conclusions: (1) He was not guilty (Lk. 23:4) and (2) He should not be crucified (Mk. 15:14). 
  • Inhumanity (Mk. 15:6-23).  Petty jealousy and and fear of exposure had mushroomed into unmixed hatred.  Civility was replaced with brutality.  Remember that their bitterness was being unleashed on a perfect and innocent One.  Oh, how He suffered!


What do we learn from these events, from Gethsemane to the cross?  We see the last day of Christ from His perspective:  apprehension and dread (He. 5:7; 12:2).  We see it from His disciples' perspective: confusion and fear.  We see it from His accusers' perspective: blind rage and perverted satisfaction.  We see it from His judge's perspective: amazement and belief, but ultimate cowardice.  We see it from the soldiers' perspective: indifference, unbelief, and depraved ungodliness.  As you look back at these events, remember the six "I's" that hopefully help you see more clearly what your Lord endured for you.  --
Neal Pollard

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