April 8, 2012 Series: Easter
Scripture: Matthew 27:22–28:20
Good morning Church! JESUS IS ALIVE!!
Today we remember the most important truth in the world: GOD DIED TO SAVE SINNERS, like me and like you. God saves rebels. We cannot save ourselves, but Jesus can save us. Only by belief in Him are we delivered from our sins.
No matter where you are today, whether you are a doubter, a backslider, an atheist, or plain unsure - I know that you are here, and it wasn't by chance. God brought you here. God wants you to hear what He has done. I hope that some of you, will even get saved today.
In Jesus, we are granted forgiveness, hope, freedom, joy, and a new life -- some of you will receive this today by believing that God loves sinners, and God died to save sinners.
I keep saying God died, because the Bible says that Jesus is God. Let's be clear about Jesus. Jesus is not a man become God, He is God who became man. The Bible declares that Jesus is fully God, he's not God Jr. or Diet God. Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Jesus is just as much God as God the Father. Today we hear what the Triune God did to save sinners. Father, Son, and Spirit.
I hope you come to worship Jesus today. Christianity is all about Jesus. Jesus, came to earth, stepped into our story, to ransom sinners. To bring us back to God.
Jesus was born in small rural hick town, not too different from Magnolia. And for 33 years Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. And then according to plan, Jesus was killed. He died on the cross. This wasn't surprised. It's exactly what he came to do.
We see this, starting in Matthew 27:22
At this point Jesus has been betrayed by Judas, arrested, went through a kangaroo court, false witnesses & lies, Jesus has been abandoned by the disciples, due to their fear. Jesus is taken to the Roman ruler of the area, Pilate. And every year at this time, Pilate would release a prisoner. So Pilate puts up Barabbas, a notoriously nasty criminal, and Jesus. Hoping the crowd would pick Jesus, but they want Jesus dead, so they pick Barabbas.
Before Jesus walks the road to the cross, he is scourged.
The gospel writers do not give us details about scourging, because everyone in their time knew how horrific it was. But we do not. And the last 1,500 years we have domesticated what happen to Jesus.
What happened to Jesus is horrifying, and it's horror must be felt. It's part of the gospel. Jesus' great love for you is discovered in the wreckage of Good Friday.
Scourging involved a leather whip, with bones and metal at the end of the strands.The Jewish laws limited people to forty lashes, but not Rome. Romans were only restricted by their strength.
Those being flogged would stripped naked, tied to a post, and their bodies would be reduced to a bloody pulp, mutilated, exposing bones and entrails. Jesus endured that for you. Jesus was basically flayed open. Men's lungs would collapse, vomiting, seizures. Many died at this point.
Secular historian Josephus says, "They were whipped, their bodies were mutilated, and while they were still alive and breathing, they were crucified." Involved a march to the spot of crucifixion, no wonder Jesus didn't carry his cross.
If that weren't enough, the soldier began to mock Jesus.
After mocking the eternal God, they led him away to be crucified.
Jesus was forced to march down a crowded street to Golgotha, the place of the skull. He was so weak at this point, He couldn't carry his cross beam. There were three ways to be crucified, X, T, the one we see the +.
A man is picked from the crowd to carry Jesus' crossbeam, as the soldiers do not want him to die on the way to be crucified.
The drink they are offering isn't a kind gesture, it has gall, bitter herbs, maybe even poisonous toxins. They are mocking Jesus again, "Here King! Drink your wine!"
And then -- Jesus was crucified. "they had crucified him." Those might be the four most horrific, shocking, and hope-filled words in the Bible.
They would lay Jesus, with his mutilated back, on a piece of rough timber, covered with other men's blood, sweat, urine and feces. You didn't get a new cross. They were recycled Next they would have take 5"-9" iron stakes and hammed them into Jesus' hands and feet. There's no doubt he was naked, Matthew tells us they gambled his clothes away.
They would then lift up the cross and drop it in a pre-dug hole. Imagine how violently your body would shake, the pain that would course through your nervous system.
Crucifixion was done in a public area (v. 39), to really humiliate, and to send a message to the citizens, "This could be you." Crucifixion was so painful, a word was invented to capture the pain, excruciating, "out of the cross." People being crucified died by asphyxiation, in a combination of hundreds of other things. Basically, you are hanging by your limbs, and your lungs are struggling to get air, to take a breath. The only way to catch breaths, was to get leverage from the nails in your feet.
Crucifixion was so horrible that Roman citizens could only be crucified with a direct edict from Caesar. Crucifixion was a slaves death, traitors, pirates, and terrorists were crucified. Only the worst of the worst went to the cross.
So when we say, Jesus died -- this is what happened. Verse 50. He died there.
WHY DWELL ON THESE HORRORS? What benefit is there?
HE DID THAT FOR YOU.
He went there -- for me. He didn't go there because he upset the religious leaders. He went there, because He wanted to save people from their sins. Hate didn't send Jesus to the cross, love did.
Jesus said, "I came, to give my life as a ransom for many."
1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Do you see why Jesus endure the cross? To carry your sins. If you believe in Jesus, He pays for them -- you do not.
It's at the cross where we see the glory of God's grace. WE DON'T DESERVE JESUS.
WHY DID HE DO IT? BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU.
But, "I'm a failure, I drop the ball. I'm so unworthy." PERFECT. That's who Jesus came for. Only the unworthy are worthy candidates to believe in Jesus. Paul, a murder, says in Gal. 2:20, "He loved me and gave himself for me."
It's as though Jesus stood before the Father and said, "I will take their punishment. I will pay for their crimes. Your wrath be done -- to me. And they will be free." Only Jesus does such a thing. No other religious leader has laid his down for rebels.
Maybe you dont' get it, I pray you do, but the crowd didn't get it either.
They don't see it. Jesus is the Son of God, and since He is, he is staying on the cross, because only He can save us.
He isn't trying to save himself, He's saving us. "come down and we will believe." They got it all wrong, He is staying on the cross so we can believe.
God is delivering us. Jesus is delivering us. Every drop of blood was freeing sinners. His perfect righteous life was rescuing our sin filled lives. Jesus died, v.50 and then v. 54. A guard at the foot of the cross -- believed. Jesus went from life to death, and this centurion went from death to life.
Jesus death, was meant to bring us life.
After Jesus died, he was buried -- VERSE 59. Most of the time, those who were crucified were left to be food for birds and wild dogs, or thrown into the city dump. Jesus was put in a tomb, and the religious leaders, probably after the earthquake, were still worried about Jesus. They know Jesus was a dangerous man, he was a threat to their religious system.
They think the disciples are going to steal his body. They high-tailed it since Jesus was arrested.
But notice what they think of Jesus: Impostor / Fraud. Many people in the 1st and 2nd centuries refused to recognize Jesus as Savior. They called Jesus a terrorists to the Roman Empire, a magician, a deceiver of Israel. He died a criminal's death. To worship someone who died in this way, is not normal!
In the 1st and 2nd centuries, people thought the christians were crazy.
* Pliny the Younger - “they sang hymns to their Lord as to a god..I discovered nothing but a perverse and extravagant superstition.”
* Christians put forward “sick delusions” a “senseless and crazy superstition”
* “Christians worship a criminal and his cross”
* A man asked how he could get his wife out of Christianity the reply was....
“Let her persist in her vain delusions, lamenting in song a god who died in vain delusions, executed in the prime of life, a death bound by iron”
* Painting of a man being crucified with the head of a donkey, with a man, bowing before the man, it the inscription says, “Alexemanos, worships his god.”
But another 1st Century Document says, "Those who had in the first place come to love him, did not give up their affection for Him." So those who loved Jesus at first, kept loving him still.? How's that? Why didn't this whole Jesus Movement die with him.
BECAUSE JESUS ISN'T DEAD. He rose again.
The greatest truth in the world doesn't end with a dead man, but a risen one.
The angel declares, "HE HAS RISEN." This wasn't just a spiritual resurrection, his actual body came back to life. His amino acids kicked in, his heart started pumping, lungs began to expand, eyes opened, He sat up, and the world would never be the same.
Jesus' resurrection proves to us, Death has died. Jesus destroyed the bonds of death. And shows us that eternal life is ours if we go to Him.
Easter Morning is the proof that Good Friday, really was good. Just about everyone agrees that Jesus died, but do you agree that he rose again? The world can cope with a Jesus who died, but what about a Jesus who rose again?
A dead savior means zilch, a risen one -- changes everything. Jesus walking out of the tomb shows us what our future entails -- eternal life. A new life is possible with Jesus.
Let me ask you a question, "Why are you here today?"
I love what the angel said in verse 5. "I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified." Do you know what you are seeking? Religion will not fix you. Church attendance will not fix your life. Only Jesus can. Are you seeking Jesus? We are all here for a reason. God brought you here, to show you Jesus.
I pray that you will go to him, just like these women who were looking him at the tomb.
v. 8 - 10
They fell at his feet, and worshiped Him. That's what we all need to do today. There is nothing else for us today, but to worship Jesus. Will you worship Him? This whole account shows two types of people, those who are with Jesus or against Him. Where are you?
Will you throw yourself at his feet, wave your white flag, and give your life to Jesus.
You cannot earn your way into heaven, because you will not trump Jesus. He is the standard. And Jesus loves to save broken people. God loves messed up people like us. No matter what sins you've done, you think you are too far gone from God, Jesus will welcome you. Nothing is too great for God. His grace goes higher, wider, and deeper than we can imagine.
God will forgive all who ask Him. Today is all about worshiping Jesus. It's all about Jesus. It's always only about Jesus. He is the hero. He is worthy of all of our worship.
The disciples are worshiping, but some are confused, and wondering -- what is happening! "What do I make of all this?" Maybe that's where you are right now.
Jesus tell us,
What should you think of Jesus? Jesus is the cosmic authority, and he reigns and rules over all things. He is God. He's the only Savior.
He told his 11 disciples, "Go and make disciples." He told his followers, tell people to follow me. And Jesus is telling all of his followers, from all time, "Tell everyone to follow me."
Today, I am sent to tell you, from the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, Follow Him. Look unto Him and you shall be saved. That's why God brought you here.
The Cosmic King invites you to come to Him. There's no one else, but him. Becoming a Christian isn't inviting Jesus into your life, it's being invited into His. Our lives our broken, His is perfect and he welcomes you into His.
Believe that Jesus died and rose again, to forgive you of your sins.
The Bible says in Romans 10:9-13
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Tell Jesus from you heart, "Jesus, save me from sins. Forgive me. I believe you died for me and have forgiven me. I believe you rose again. I want to follow you for all of my days." If you believe those things, you are a new creation. You have been saved by Jesus. And He will never leave you, He says. He will be with you always.
If you now believe in Jesus, Jesus says "Be baptized" (v.20)
Baptism is a symbol of what happens in the heart. We die with Him, and our raised again, to newness of life. It's a visual sermon of what has happened to your life, that you are now united to Jesus, you are united to His death and resurrection. Baptism doesn't save, it's a picture of our salvation.
We are baptizing people today. Celebrating new life in Jesus. If you need and want to be baptized, once the band starts playing you can head to the foyer, we have clothes you can change into, a shirt you can keep, we want to celebrate your new life in Jesus.
And if you are a Christian, and you haven't been baptized yet, come. Let's baptize you too. Go to the foyer, get a change of clothes, and we'll baptize you.
Many of you may be fighting the holy spirit, maybe shame or fear, kill all of that. Submit yourself to God and follow Him.
Acts 22:16, "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
Jesus is alive! Is there any greater news! Jesus is alive! We are forgiven! We are loved by God!
Glory to God!
LET'S STAND AND PRAY.