Sir, We Would See Jesus at His Death
Text: Romans 1:18-20
I. Certain Greeks once came to the disciples asking for the privilege to see Jesus - John 12:20-21
A. We don’t really know anything about the physical characteristics of Jesus.
1. We know that it was prophesied that he wasn’t handsome - Isaiah 53:2
2. But the reality is that they weren’t there to see Jesus’ person but to learn who he was
B. We too cannot see Jesus in the flesh
1. But we can see him through his witnesses - I John 1:1-4
2. Even seemingly minor details reveal character - Romans 1:20
C. In this lesson, we will focus on the events of Jesus’ death – events which reveal to us many invisible characteristics of our Lord and Savior
II. What we see in a composite of the Gospel accounts
A. After they mocked Jesus, they took the purple robe off him and put his own garments on him. They led him away to be crucified and he went out, bearing his own cross. As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, a traveler coming in from the country. They pressed him into service and placed the cross on him to carry behind Jesus.
1. Though Jesus was the son of God, we see the implication of the extent of his suffering. He started out carrying his cross, but before long a man was pressed into service to complete the task.
2. Jesus wasn’t superhuman. He suffered the limitations of human flesh, just as we all do - Hebrews 2:9-15
B. A large crowd of the people followed, and of women who were mourning and lamenting him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
1. Here we learn that Jesus was loved and that he loved the people. Though he was suffering to the point of weakness, though he was being led to his death, he was more concerned for the people’s future than his own. - Matthew 23:37-38
2. A people who treated him so shamefully and yet whom he loved. An not just those of that day - Romans 5:8 – A visible demonstration of God’s love for the erring.
3. Jesus points out that the future is bleak. If the rulers, both Jewish and Roman, will crucify an innocent, righteous man, what will happen when destructive forces are turned on a wicked and rebellious people? - Matthew 23:29-36
C. When they came to the Place of the Skull, which is called Golgotha in Hebrew, they tried to give him wine mixed with bitter spices: gall and myrrh, but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.
1. The Fourfold Gospel, p. 724, “This mixture of sour wine mingled with gall and myrrh was intended to dull the sense of pain of those being crucified or otherwise severely punished. The custom is said to have originated with the Jews and not with the Romans. Jesus declined it because it was the Father's will that he should suffer. He would not go upon the cross in a drugged, semi-conscious condition.”
2. In this we learn that while suffering, Jesus chose to experience it fully. Nothing was held back.
a. In the garden, at his arrest, Peter tried to defend Jesus - Matthew 26:52-54
b. Jesus had options. Man was not forcing the son of God to the cross, though it might so appear. - Hebrews 5:7-9
c. No, Jesus wasn’t looking forward to death. He wasn’t eager to meet death. But he understood the necessity of it and when he went he faced it fully taking nothing to even dull the pain.
D. And they crucified him along with two thieves, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Thus the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And he was numbered with transgressors.” But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
1. Once again we see the compassion of Jesus. Even while they are pounding nails into his hands and feet, he is praying to the Father to forgive them of what they were doing in ignorance.
a. They did not fully comprehend who it was they were killing nor the consequences of that death. But then, if they did, they would have not done so - I Corinthians 2:7-8
2. It fulfilled the prophecy - Isaiah 53:12
a. No other religion teaches men to pray for their enemies. No other religion asks men to seek forgiveness of those who do them harm. The world teaches men to seek revenge. “the Christian bears reproaches and persecutions with patience, and prays that God would pardon those who injure them, and save them from their sins.” (Albert Barnes’ New Testament Commentary). - Romans 12:17-19
b. Jesus taught - Matthew 5:44-48
c. To Jesus, it was more than words. Jesus lived by his teachings.
E. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his outer garments and divided them into four parts, a part for every soldier, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to decided whose it shall be.” Thus they fulfilled the Scripture, “They divided my outer garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And so the soldiers did these things. And sitting down, they began to keep watch over him.
1. It seems like a small thing, almost not worth mentioning, but it contains a powerful message.
a. We see the callousness of the soldiers who are profiting from the death of three men while they are dying.
b. But it is the prophecy that should shock us - Psalm 22:18
(1) This was written by David almost 1000 years prior to the event
(2) Those involved would not have known the prophecy, nor would they be interested in aiding the fulfillment thereof.
(3) Yet, God had the power to bring about even this small detail.
2. It emphasizes the point that Jesus’ death was not accidental. It was planned by God and fulfilled by Jesus.
a. Ephesians 3:8-12 - God had an eternal purpose that Jesus carried out
b. They had acted as God had determined - Acts 2:22-23
c. We see the power of God, his control and his great knowledge.
3. If God knew this small of detail, then he understood all that Jesus would suffer beforehand
a. Luke 22:22 - Jesus went as determined
b. But still the prospect was not pleasant - Luke 22:41-44
c. Again we must stand in awe at the willingness of Jesus to do what needed to be done.
F. Pilate had written an inscription and had it placed on the cross above him. On it was written, “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.” 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 Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews complained to Pilate saying, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews’; but that he said, ‘I am king of the Jews.’” But Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
1. Even in ancient times, the forces of the politically correct moved to change history, even before history was completed.
2. It was the Jews who had claimed that Jesus’ claim for kingship was dangerous - Luke 23:1-3
3. Now that they had gotten what they wanted, the charge was too embarrassing to be made public. They were admitting that it was only words to them. That they did not perceive a danger from Jesus’ claim
4. Yet, Pilate’s wording and his refusal to change it shows that Jesus had touched his spirit during the trial - John 18:33-40; 19:6-15
a. Pilate recognized Jesus, at least on some level, and taunted the Jews with the fact that they themselves refused to see.
G. Those passing by were hurling abuse at Jesus, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the king of Israel; let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God rescue him now, if He delights in him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
1. What temptation Christ bore on our behalf! He was fully able not only to come down from the cross, but to destroy these men along with the world that he himself had created - Colossians 1:15-17
2. What commitment Jesus showed in staying where he did not want to be. What wondrous love he demonstrated toward these miserable sinners and toward us as well. - I Peter 2:21-24; 3:13-18; 4:12-19
H. One of the criminals who were hanged with him was hurling abuse at him, saying “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom!” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.”
1. Imagine the insult that even those dying with you are taunting you! Of course, we see it is from selfish motives; this man wanted to be rescued.
2. But the other showed great understanding of what was happening.
a. He knew that Jesus was innocent, just as he knew that he was on the cross because he deserved it.
b. He knew that Jesus was a king and that his kingdom was not of this world.
c. He knew Jesus would receive his kingdom after his death!
d. Even Jesus’ own disciples failed to grasp this point - Acts 1:6
3. In the midst of his own suffering, Jesus gave forgiveness to another. Such was his right and such was his power - Matthew 9:2-8
a. But the authority wasn’t given to men, but to the Son of God - John 5:20-24
b. No one but God can forgive sins because sins are committed against God.
c. Jesus is demonstrating his deity as well as his compassion - Colossians 1:19-23
I. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.
1. I wonder why the arrangement was made, when Jesus had living brothers. James himself became a leader in the church, he though he, along with his brothers did not believe in Jesus while he lived. - John 7:5
2. Perhaps it was because of their lack of belief that he committed the responsibility of care for his earthly mother to the disciple to whom he was closest
3. Once again we see Jesus mindful of his duties and responsibilities. As the psalmist wondered - Psalm 8:3-4
J. It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?” which is translated “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, he is calling for Elijah.” Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a hyssop reed, and gave him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”
1. Even though Jesus called out in a loud voice, those standing nearby misunderstood what he was saying. We realize that Jesus is weakening. The strength of his voice was fading. Thirst was overwhelming him.
2. Jesus understood that to be forsaken, to be forgotten by God, is the worse thing that can be suffered. - Psalm 42:9-11
3. In taunting Jesus, the Jews had quoted Psalm 22:6-8
4. Jesus, at the end responded with the beginning of Psalm 22:1-5. It is not a cry of despair, but of trust. He was left (or forsaken) to the power of his enemies, but even then he would trust God’s judgment.
5. As Isaiah stated - Isaiah 53:3-12. In all aspects, Christ fulfilled God’s great plan. As painful as it was, Jesus chose to offer his life as a sacrifice for you and I.
K. Therefore, when Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished.” And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Having said this, he bowed his head, and breathed his last.
1. Confidence, trust, submission all shine through.
2. His final words are a quote from Psalms 31:1-5
3. He did so of his own free will - John 10:17-18
III. The effect of Jesus death
A. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, who was standing right in front of Jesus, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” The centurion began praising God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent.” And all the crowds who came together for this spectacle, when they observed what had happened, began to return, beating their breasts.
B. Notice that a Roman, not a Jew, came to certain conclusions
1. Seeing what happened, he concluded that Jesus was an innocent or righteous man.
2. He saw that Jesus actually was the Son of God.
3. He saw reason to praise God.
C. The Jews saw reason to fear. As Peter reminded them of the occasion - Acts 2:36-41
D. You know, the answer remains the same. Seeing Jesus for whom he truly is, there is only one thing to do - Acts 22:16