Ancient Road Publications


Words from the Cross

Introduction.  (Philippians 3:7-11).  Just before these verses Paul was reflecting on the status he had achieved before coming to Christ.  Yet now he...

·         Counts these things “loss” for Christ (vs. 7).

·         He counts “all things loss...for the knowledge of Christ”  (he considers them) “rubbish” to “gain Christ” (vs. 8).

Why?  Because in Christ is where true “righteousness” is to be found.  Why is this important?  Because of judgement.  Paul realized (what we must all recognize) that one day he would stand before God in judgement.  Only by being acquitted of sin and guilt can one do this without fear of judgement.  This can only happen if one is “found in Him” (vs. 9).  Part of being “found in Him” involves knowing Jesus.  Paul declares three things about Jesus he wants to “know”...

1.      “The power of His resurrection.”

2.      “Fellowship of His suffering,” and what it means to be...

3.      “Conformed to His death.”

This morning let’s talk about one aspect of “knowing Christ.”  We are going to study Christ’s behavior with a goal towards understanding His character in order to imitate it.  Nothing tests a person’s meddle more than how they face death.  This morning I’d like for us to see what seven statements Jesus makes from the cross show us about His character.  What do Jesus’ words from the cross teach us?

I.  Compassion.  

A.    “Behold you mother” (John 19:25-27). 

·         When Paul describes to the Romans those who will receive “indignation and wrath” on the day of judgement, he lists those who are “self-seeking” (Romans 2:8).

·         When he defines what love is, he says that it “does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

In Jesus’ words here to the Apostle John concerning his mother according to the flesh, He demonstrates true love.  Even the best of souls becomes selfish in the face of death, but Jesus, even at this most horrible time was concerned with others.  

Even in death Jesus was CARING.

B.     “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:32-37).

·         Perhaps the greatest indication of Jesus’ disregard for Himself and His concern for others is seen in the fact that even here He is concerned with others.  It makes sense to care for one’s family—but care for one’s persecutors?  Perhaps it is because He could understand what His death would accomplish.

1.      Only a short time before this he declared, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).  Who would have every guessed that crucifixion would be the way to do this?  Yet, Jesus could see this!

2.      His whole life was focused on this moment and what it would accomplish for mankind’s spiritual condition.  He declared, “...the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Even in death Jesus was MERCIFUL.

Someone might say, “That’s easy enough for Jesus to be caring and merciful in death—He was God!”  That is true, but in Jesus we also learn...

II.  Humanity.  Although it is difficult for us to fathom—the nature of Christ was fully human and fully Divine.

·         Colossians 2:9 says of Christ, “ Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

·         Yet, Hebrews 2:17 says of Him, “ all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

One might say, “I know plenty about humanity—I don’t need Jesus to teach me about that!”  But the fact is that we do.  We need to learn in Jesus how to make it through times of hardship and weakness to something better.

A.    “I thirst” (John 19:28-29).  This statement demonstrates physical need.  Christ’s Divinity did not diminish the drives and needs of His flesh.  Certainly He knew who He was and where He was headed, but that didn’t change the fact that it was a struggle.  It is a mistake to assume that Christ’s foreknowledge softened the horror of the cross.

·         Think what it would be like to know and picture in your mind that you would die as clearly as you experience this present moment!  It would drive most people mad!  This certainly was enough to bring “sweat as drops of blood” (Luke 22:44).

1.      Before Jesus went to Jerusalem (Matthew 20:18-19).  Imagine the foreknowledge of every painful step of this being fulfilled! 

It is an insult to the truth of Christ’s death to imagine that Christ’s Divinity lessened His suffering.  

In death Jesus was IN NEED.

This suffering sacrifice, who is our High Priest, also understands discouragement...

B.     “Why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45-49).   There is a very true sense in which God the Father had forsaken Jesus.  Because of the grotesque fact that Jesus, in His death, took on the horrible mass of sin as an atonement for it, the One who “is of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13) could not accept Him as He normally would have.

1.      2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Imagine the discouragement of remembering the glory which He had with the Father before the world began (John 17:5) and yet knowing that at this moment you represented the very thing which the Divine nature abhorred! 

In death Jesus was ALONE.

Yet Jesus teaches us that even in the face of need, solitude, and death one can possess..,

III.  Spirituality.   Let’s look at three final statements.

A.    “You will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).  We usually look at this text to consider facts about salvation under the Old Law, prior to the gospel being established.  Or, we may look at it with regard to what it teaches us about the distinctions between final rewards and punishment and that part of Hades called “paradise,”  That is all important but we must not miss a clear point...

In death Jesus was CONFIDENT.

1.      On one occasion Jesus told the Pharisees,  “...I know where I came from and where I am going...” (John 8:14).

2.      He told Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13).  In death would be have confidence about our destination? Paul did...

3.       He told Timothy, “...I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

B.     “Into Your hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:44-46).  Jesus, with all of His power and wisdom and knowledge had never before experienced death.  While He was confident of His destination, at least in the human part of His nature, this required some degree of trust...  

In death Jesus was TRUSTING.

How many of us could have this kind of trust to commit our spirit unto God?

1.      Hebrews 12:9 describes God as the “Father of spirits.”

2.      We teach (and know) from an early age that in death, “...the dust will return to the earth as it was, ad the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

We try to accept and believe that the spiritual side of our being is what is truly enduring and important, but do we really trust God that if we do what He has commanded, He will do what He has promised?

3.      Paul’s confidence (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

C.     “It is finished” (John 19:30).  After all the struggles of His death...

In death Jesus was TRIUMPHANT.

1.      Jesus death was not pleasant but it was the purpose of Jesus’ coming.  He declared, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27).

2.      For Christians who have lived their lives faithful to God, death is also a triumph.  The Holy Spirit promises, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Revelation 14:13).

Conclusion.  Jesus is our example.  We should imitate his example and His character (Philippians 2:5-11).  We should imitate Christ...

·         In His care for others, His mercy to His enemies...

·         We should do this even in times of need, and solitude...   

·         Yet, we can only be confident, trusting, and triumphant...

If our hope is in Christ and in the power of the gospel.

Kyle Pope 2010

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