The death of those we love has a way of defining our life.
- Honestly, I cannot remember many other deaths until later a couple friends in HS.
- B – committed suicide
- Chip – tragic car accident
- Since HS, I have had friends, an aunt, an uncle, and paternal grandmother pass away.
- In ministry, officiated multiple dozens of funerals and walked alongside others whose life has been impacted by the death of their loved ones.
Death is never easy. No one, rightly, rejoices at someone’s loss, sorrow, and grief. Yet, when you do not know the person who died, emotions can be compartmentalized.
In today’s message I want to help us know the one who died on the cross. I believe that some people know Jesus second-hand or from a distance, and therefore are unmoved by His death. Therefore, the aim of our text and message is to better understand who died upon the cross that we can say,
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small.
Love so amazing so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
Oh, the wonderful, wonderful cross.
EXAMINE John 19 Palm Sunday
3 revelations of Jesus on the cross.
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”
Jesus reveals the King of Heaven came down (Jn 19:1-5).
The religious leaders have conspired with the Roman government to get rid of Jesus. They view Jesus as a trouble-maker against their pride and threat to their power. So, they work together to arrest Jesus during the dark secrecy of night where crowds cannot protest. He is assaulted by the religious leaders, and then passed to Pilate for execution.
Pilate has Jesus flogged. A short statement to our simple eyes and ear causes us to envision a minor skirmish. Yet, this was a professionalized form of Roman punishment. There were multiple beatings from the Roman soldiers: fustigatio (less severe), flagellation (severe), or verberatio (severe scourging). It is possible John is referring either to the scourging Jesus faced, or Pilate’s original intent to punish then release Jesus (Lk 23:16), since he found no fault in him (Jn 19:6).
Next, the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns placed upon the head of Jesus. A curse from the fall of the original Adam, now pierces the second Adam’s head. Further, they wrapped the beaten and bloodied body of Jesus with a purple cloth.
While the robe was mockery of Jesus’ kingship, it also veiled the devastating and disturbing wounds of Jesus’ body so that the public would be able to return their eyes to the scene. Ironically, their insults toward Jesus as king of the Jews were far greater realities than they understood.
Jesus’ entire aim from incarnated birth to divine life was to reveal God’s kingdom on earth. Previously, in John’s Gospel, Jesus states:
- John 18:20 “I have spoken openly to the world. I have taught in synagogues and in the temple where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.”
- John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
- John 18:37 “Pilate said, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘… For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
In Jesus, we discover Jesus is not the king the Jews expected nor deserved. At the time, they would rather be ruled by the harsh pressures and hellish intimidations of Caesar rather than the humble servant king Jesus.
Like Putin’s Russia, who thinks they are gaining respect with bullying and brutality, our world often values power and dominance. Earthly accomplishment is obtained through competition and promotion to bigger and better than others. We measure success by going up not by coming down.
Yet, Jesus, the King of Heaven left His throne to be born in a manger and live in meager resources. Jesus taught that the prideful will be brought low while the humble will be exalted. Servanthood determines success, and the selfless will become great in the eternal kingdom.
Pilate presented the humiliated king Jesus to the Jews and said, “Behold the man!” (Jn 19:5, 14) It is this suffering Savior that we must continue beholding. When we behold Jesus, we become like Him. We see His humility and heart to become saturated with the fullness of His life that we too can make the difference He made.
If we are saturated with the humility and heart of Jesus, then when we are squeezed by the world, Christ-likeness will ooze out. We will not attempt to rule the world or dominate relationships with our pride like Pilate. We will not attempt to manipulate and play politics to get our way like the religious leaders. Instead, beholding Jesus helps us not be bothered by temporary attention grabbers, but to be enamored with what will matter for all eternity.
To behold Jesus, you must learn to sit still. We cannot speed-rush having a Savior or fast-track authentic faith.
- We must pause to behold the humility of Jesus to die for us. If God designed salvation through the cruel death of His Son, we must reconsider our feeble attempts of righteousness and self-justification.
- We must pause to behold the gravity of our sin. Our sin and selfishness contributed to the necessity of the cross. Jesus was disappointed by disciples, betrayed by religious leaders, murdered by the Romans, and sacrificed on our behalf. When Jesus died on the cross, our sin was present to cause Him to die.
- We must pause to behold the enormity of God’s salvation. When we were at exceedingly worst, God gave His extraordinarily best.
- Sit w/ the cross this week: read end of Gospel(s)/reflect songs
Jesus reveals the Son of God lifted up (Jn 19:6-16)
6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.
Pilate having Jesus flogged was meant to appease the religious leaders. However, only Jesus’ death would satisfy their desire. Pilate believes he’s in control, claiming he finds no fault in Jesus and sends him back to the Jews (v.6). It is ironic that an unbelieving Gentile affirms the sinless life of Jesus while the religious leaders reject the Messiah. But Jesus did not need favors or the protection of a puppet king.
The Jews insist Pilate condemn Jesus to death based on their religious laws of Jesus claiming to be the “Son of God” (v.7). The Jews viewed this as blasphemy deserving death (Lev 24:16), but deity to Roman ears instilled a level of fear. Pilate was taken back.
Yet, Pilate’s fear of approval is greater than his fear of deity. He thinks he has power to threaten and kill Jesus.
Yet, Jesus responds that Pilate’s power is inherited not innate – it is only what is permitted by the sovereignty of God (v.11 “You have no power unless it were given from above”). God predetermined the cross for the Son of God to become the final sacrifice for salvation.
- John 3:14-15 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
- John 7:38-39 “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given since Jesus had not yet been glorified (or lifted up).”
- John 8:28 “Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be’”
- John 12:32 “when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself”
Jesus lifted up meant His suffering, yet He spoke of it as life-giving. Few, if anyone, embraces suffering with this intentional perspective. The Bible helps us to see that all our suffering is not wasted. God is sovereign and writing a story with all our circumstances fitting together for an inconceivable beautiful tapestry. Like looking at the back of a cross-stitch, all we see is a tangled mess and we cannot understand the picture on the front. But we know God is working all things together for good. He is lifting up what is burdened and broken, so that a future redemption can take place.
- Look up. No matter what is happening in your life, even what is intended to bring you down, look up: seek available help.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Jesus reveals the crucified Christ poured out.
So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things… 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”
After flogging and being mocked, Jesus carries His cross – just the horizontal beam, which would later be hoisted upon the vertical beam for crucifixion. Each of the other Gospels record a man Simon of Cyrene, assisting the weakened and wounded Jesus. While John neglects this detail, he includes multiple other details such as transitional care of mother Mary (vv.25-27), final quotations and cries from the cross (vv.28-30), and the piercing of Jesus’ side to confirm His death (vv.33-35). All of these items are in fulfillment of prophetic Scriptures.
Jesus was crucified at a place called “Golgotha,” which means Place of the Skull (Latin phrasing is “Calvaria” aka: Calvary). It was a very public place, and undoubtedly Jews forced to observe the execution as a deterrent of crimes or insurrection.
When Jesus breathed last, He cried “It is finished” (τετέλεσται). A person’s last breath often appears as a defeated conclusion, but with Jesus this one word was an announcement of completion with ongoing power.
A person’s last breath often appears as a defeated conclusion, but with Jesus this one word was an announcement of completion with ongoing power. Jesus’ cry “It is finished” (τετέλεσται) implied grace would forever cover God’s children by faith.Tweet
Tetelestai was a transactional word, sometimes used on business documents or receipts. When you owed a debt, you had to either work to make payment or enter prison. If you entered prison, you were not able to work and earn money, so the only way you could be free was if someone else came on your behalf to pay the debt. The list of your debts would be held up against you and stamped with a single word – tetelestai / paid in full. Essentially, they were saying, “Here is the receipt proving your freedom. Keep this receipt for your safety in case someone accuses you of still owing the debt.”
Likewise, in terms of our sin debt the wage is death and payment must be made. God does not do amnesia to forgive our sin, but atonement. In the OT, God dealt with the sin debt of people through the sacrificial system. The life of animals was substituted for humans, because sin causes death and blood equals life (cf. Lev 17:11; Heb 9:22 “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”). Each year on the Day of Atonement, there were 2 sacrificial goats (Lev 16): The first goat was a sin offering, sacrificed on the altar as payment for sin. This symbolized propitiation, where the penalty of sin is paid. The second goat was sent away, outside the camp, into the wilderness as a symbol that sin and guilt were removed from the people. This symbolized expiation – “As far as east is from west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). In Expiation, the power of sin is removed.
However, the sacrificial system needed to be repeated each year. As one biblical author notes, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:4). It was as if the OT saints were paying for sin by credit until the Christ came.
When you make a purchase with a credit card, the item becomes yours but only for as long as you make good on the payments. The OT sacrificial system was the credit payment, but it was ultimately insufficient until the final payment was paid by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Rom 3:24-26; 1Jn 4:10).
So what does this practically mean for us?
- Guilt is gone.
The cross is your receipt for your sin and shortcomings. You don’t have to worry about not being forgiven or loved, just look back to the cross for the reminder. Allow guilt to convict you to repentance, and then move forward in grace (cf. 1Jn 1:7-9). And stop comparing yourself to others good or bad; God doesn’t grade on a curve, but on the cross. Let Jesus be your comparison standard and keep your focus on God instead of people.
- Problems are not payback.
When a person experiences tension/trial/tragedy, the tendency is to think, “God is punishing me for something I have done.” But, based on the gospel, we should realize that problems are not always God’s means of paying us back. God has already paid fully and finally all that is needed for your sin. So, you will never experience the eternal consequences of sin. However, there are times when earthly consequences for choices will occur and God uses those not to pay us back but bring us back to a right relationship with Him.
- Finished isn’t final. Jesus said, “IT is finished”, not “I am finished.” After Jesus died, He was just getting started. There was still more to come. In three days, Jesus would resurrect, spend forty days with over 500 eye-witnesses, and send the Holy Spirit to work through the church for the next couple millennia.
If you ever feel finished or tempted to quit, remember you can backup but don’t give up. God is always at work and has a purpose for everything you endure.
After Jesus died, the Roman soldiers examined the victims to confirm their death. Remember – these are professional executioners, and they were responsible if someone lived when they were not supposed. The soldiers broke the legs of the others so they could no longer push up and gasp for air. However, Jesus’ bones were not broken – a) to fulfill Scripture (Ps 34:20), and b) because He was dead. The evidence of Jesus’s death was testified by the Roman soldiers piercing His body with a spear. If Jesus were not already dead, the spear to the heart would have been the death blow. However, John notes eyewitness testimony of death having already occurred with blood and water pouring out of the body.
Jesus did not love us just a little but with His whole life, even unto death. If He loved us unto death, how much more does His love continue to lead us after the resurrection? Jesus was poured out that we might fill up with Him.
- Jesus died not just bc we broke God’s law but bc we broke His heart. Fill up by opening up your heart, your hands, and life.
- Before we give Jesus our best, give Him your worst (sin). Ask Him to forgive you and grow you.
- Start reading His word and following His leadership.
Jesus died not just because we broke God’s law but because we broke His heart. Sin separates. Thankfully, Jesus redeems and reconciles.Tweet
Death has a way of defining our life; so does resurrection.
- Spoiler warning – Jesus resurrects.
- Join us next Sunday 9am or 10:45am (INVITE SOMEONE!)
Jesus is alive not just in heaven but on earth.
- God is with you. He’s not giving up on you, even if you have.
Jesus is alive and we will face Him.
- 24 year old athlete died yesterday. No one knows their last breath. WE are only ready when we have repented and received grace.
 Lyrics adapted from Isaac Watts.
 Adrian Rogers.