Sovereign Grace Blog

Sermon Summary - The Crucifixion

Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice will be our meditation this holy week. To set the stage, Jesus has been arrested, delivered over to Pilate, and Pilate has given in to the Jewish Sanhedrin’s request for him to be crucified. By the time the soldiers were done with Jesus, he was half dead. The 60 soldiers decided to have some fun with their victim, mocking Jesus, giving him a scepter, and a crown of thorns. They beat him and spit in his face. At about 8:30 in the morning, they force Jesus to carry a cross beam, a five and a half foot piece of wood weighing about 70 pounds, as they head to His final dying place. After stumbling through a few blocks, an African Jew named Simon is forced to carry the cross beam instead. They finally reach the gate where they can see a hill called Golgotha (Calvary) (Luke 23:32-33). Jesus is offered wine to numb the pain (Mark 15:23). Then the soldiers grab one of Jesus’ arms, stretch it out and drive a 6-inch spike through his wrist with a mallet to secure Him to the wooden cross beam. Next, they do the other arm. The crowd gathered there watching includes Jesus’ mother Mary, the apostle John, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and many others. The executioners then drop the cross-beam into place along the groove of an 8 foot vertical wooden beam. Another 6-inch spike and three more strikes with the mallet secure Jesus’ feet to the cross. Jesus’ shrieks of pain ring through the air. Finally, they take the placard and nail it right above Jesus, “This is the King of the Jews.” With the soldiers’ work now done, and having already stripped Jesus naked, they cast lots to see who gets to keep his clothing. 

New Testament scholar D.A. Carson notes that during crucifixion, in order to breathe it was necessary to push with the legs and pull with the arms just to keep the chest cavity functioning. Collapse meant asphyxiation. Jesus hangs nude on his journey of slow suffocation. His public shame was visible not just to the crowd, but thousands coming in and out of Jerusalem that day. The religious leaders are there mocking him too (Luke 23:35), their taunt echoing Ps 22:6-8. God will answer their ridicule in just a few days in an extraordinary way (as we’ll see next Sunday). Having succeeded in getting Jesus crucified, the issue was settled for these religious leaders - Jesus cannot be the Messiah, as He was cursed by God on a cross (Deut. 21:23). This was the lowest humiliation for the Creator of the universe who had become a human being (Phil. 2:8, Matt. 27:39-43). No wonder Isaiah cried out 700 years prior of the suffering servant (Isaiah 53:2-10). There is no salvation for any of us right now from the justice that we all deserve except through this brutal, gory cross of Jesus from Nazareth. Imagine being there, Jesus hanging on the cross and seeing in the distance the temple with all its rituals and sacrifices, and consider Heb. 10:4-7. This is the only Savior from guilt and sin. This is the way He saves (Cf. Rom. 3:23-25, John 3:16). 

C.S. Lewis looks at this scene on Calvary and writes, “God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing - or should we say 'seeing'? there are no tenses in God - the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath's sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a 'host' who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and 'take advantage of' Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.” - (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves). The cross of Jesus shows us plainly and clearly he did not come to save good people, but sinners. 

Lastly, Jesus in His true humanity, while he hung on the cross cried out a prayer, “Father, forgive them.” Three implications we see from this: first, sin is a state that has plunged every one of us into darkness and ignorance (Rom. 1:18-20). That state is what creates in us all the ability to crucify the Son of God Himself. What every one of us needs to hear in a life-giving way is Jesus on the cross saying, “I forgive you.” The second implication is that this shows the love and the mercy of God in the death of Christ are deeper than any of us could possibly imagine. Jesus was fulfilling Isaiah 53:12. This should teach us to never put limits on God’s saving grace (Cf. 1 Tim. 1:15-16). The third implication for all of us Christians is that we should feel the need to forgive and to pray for those who have wronged us. Jesus is our model (1 Pet. 2:21-23, Cf. Rom. 12:19, Luke 6:27-28). As Jesus hangs on that cross, he says to every soul what he says in Matt. 11:28-30. 

Listen to the full sermon here


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