The Death of Christ
Take your Bibles please and turn to John 19:1-30...
This morning weíre going to look at one of the Fundamentals of our Faith.
The word "fundamentalist" is not a bad word.
The moderates and the liberals of our day have tried to make fun of and ridicule...
Those who call themselves fundamentalists.
A fundamentalist is not someone who is mean-spirited...
Not someone who hates people...
Not someone who is a bigot.
A fundamentalist is simply someone who believes in the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
And this is one of them.
The inerrant, infallible, inspired word of God is one of the fundamentals.
If the Bible is not true, then why in the world are we here today?
The Bible is the true word of God, and thatís the reason weíre here today.
The second one is the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
If Jesus is not born of a virgin, then he had an earthly father...
And if he had an earthly father, he has inherited a sin nature...
And he himself is a sinner and needs a savior.
The third fundamental of our faith is the sinlessness of Jesus Christ.
The Bible says he had no sin.
The Bible says he did not sin.
The Bible says he knew no sin.
He was the perfect, sinless, holy, righteous Son of God.
Jesus Christ is sinless.
There is nothing wrong with him.
Thereís no fault in him.
Thereís no shadow of turning in him.
Thereís no guile or deception in him.
He is a sinless Savior.
>But the next fundamental of our Christian faith is that Jesus died upon a cross.
Now throughout history there have been those who profess to be Christian...
Who have objected to the cross.
As a matter of fact, one mainline denomination in America a few years ago...
Went through their hymnal and took out every hymn that referred to the blood of Jesus Christ.
They just absolutely were offended by that concept...
And so they went through their hymnal and took out every reference to the blood of Jesus...
To be found in all the hymnbook.
Their people made such a strong protest that they came out with a new hymnal...
Putting back into their hymnal sons about the blood of Jesus.
Friends, I want you to know, the Bible says that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.
If Jesus Christ had not died upon the cross for us...
Then you and I would be hopelessly lost in our sin.
There would be no possibility of salvation because there would be no remission.
There would be no forgiveness of sin.
Jesus died for us.
>Now I want to share with you from John 19 four truths.
>First of all, the death of Jesus was a vicious death.
Now Iíve seen lots of people die and I have to tell you that not everybody dies a vicious death.
As a matter of fact, there are some people who die a very, very quiet death and a very peaceful death.
There are some people who have actually been sick for so long...
That death has become a very welcome friend to them.
But the death of Jesus was not like that at all.
The death of Jesus was a very vicious death.
>First of all, his death was vicious physically.
There are seven things I want to share with you from these verses that prove to us the vicious nature of Jesusí death.
Look in verse 1: Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.
The flog was a whip.
It had a handle of about a cubit in length, about 18 inches long...
And flowing from one end of that handle were nine long leather straps.
It was often referred to as a cat of nine tails; and embedded in those leather straps were sometimes human teeth.
Sometimes they embedded in there sharp pieces of metal or sharp pieces of bone or even rock.
And so here was a man who was carefully skilled in how to use that cat of nine tails to its maximum effectiveness.
And so when the Bible says that Pilate flogged Jesus, it simply means that the whip was brought down...
Upon the back of the Son of God time and time again.
I mean mercilessly, viciously, he was whipped.
And every time those leather straps came upon his back...
Those teeth and claws of metal and all those bits of rock and bone ripped into his flesh...
And every time they were pulled away the flesh of Jesus was pulled from his back.
And all around on the ground were pieces of the flesh of the Son of God.
>Look there in verse 2: the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns.
"Heís a king and a king should have a crown", they said.
So mockingly they fashion a crown of thorns.
Not those little soft thorns on a rose bush...
But those spike thorns about an inch and a half to two inches long...
Hard as a ten penny nail, and they fashioned it into a crown...
And they forced it down upon the forehead of the Son of God.
And all around the front and the sides and the back those spikes, those thorns like nails...
Were crushed into his head and the blood began to flow down over his eyes and into his beard...
And all over his ears and down the back of his neck.
Physically vicious death.
>The Bible says in verse 2: they clothed him in a purpose robe.
Now you might think that would be an act of kindness, but it was not.
You have to understand that the back and the shoulders and buttocks of Jesus...
Have now been mercilessly beaten with this flog.
The purple robe upon that freshly beaten back that looked like he had come out of a butcher shopís grinder...
Would have added even greater pain and torment.
The hot woolen robe pressed upon that back that had been ripped to shreds was not an act of kindness.
It was even a further step to prove the viciousness of the death of the Son of God.
>Down in verse 3: and they struck him in the face.
Some translators say that they walked up and slapped him on his cheek with an open hand.
Some say they pounded him from the bottom of their fist like a hammer.
Some say that they rolled up their fingers and made a fist and slugged him like a boxer hitting head on.
Which was it?
Well I have an idea that it was probably all three.
There were some that slapped him with the open hand...
And some that beat him with a hammer-like fist...
And some that hit him head on with a full thrust simply because they wanted to insult him further.
And so the Bible says: they struck him in the face.
Which illustrates the physical viciousness of his death.
In verse 17 the Bible says: carrying his own cross.
The book of Acts says two times that Jesus died upon the tree.
The word "tree" in the Greek NT is the word culon...
And it literally tells us that the cross of Jesus was not anything as beautiful and ornate as the cross behind me.
That the cross of Jesus was really nothing more than two tree trunks that had been stripped of their limbs...
And cross-tied together.
And so here is Jesus carrying this cross that weighs probably several hundred pounds.
Now understand, he has already been beaten mercilessly with the flog.
The blood is flowing from his head...
He has the agony of this robe on his freshly beaten back...
And now the cross weighing hundreds of pounds is placed upon him.
Another gospel tells us that it became so heavy a load that Jesus fell beneath the weight of it...
And a man by the name of Simon of Cyrene came and helped Jesus bear physically this cross.
It was simply another illustration of the vicious nature of his death.
>The Bible says in verse 18 that: here they crucified him.
The crucifixion is the most heinous form of capital punishment ever created.
But there has never been a hangmanís noose, a gas chair...
Thereís never been an electric chair, or any other device created in the minds of man...
More vicious than death by crucifixion.
When Jesus was crucified, he was crucified like thousands of others were crucified.
His body was laid upon the cross...
Nails were driven in his hands...
Nails were driven in his feet...
He was suspended up between heaven and earth...
The base of the cross was dropped in a hole...
The cross would hit the hole...
He would jar with a thud ripping the flesh of hands and feet...
And there hung the Son of God for hours under the heat of the sun...
And there Jesus died the most horrible, vicious death known to man.
And so Jesusí death was a vicious death.
>In verse 28 Jesus said: I am thirsty.
Medical scientists tell us that having hung there on the cross as long as people did in those days...
That their mucus membranes would dry up.
Now you may not know what your mucus membranes are, but I want to tell you...
Youíve got them and youíll be glad youíve got them when you find out what they are.
Your mucus membranes are that part of your body that produces necessary fluids for your body to work.
Itís like the oiling of a fine machine.
If your mucus membranes dry up them you have no saliva in your mouth...
And it becomes impossible for you to swallow.
If your mucus membranes dry up, then your eyes no longer produce a fluid...
And every time you blink your eye it is like raking sandpaper across your eyeball.
You see, friends, Jesusí mucus membranes had dried up and he was there on the cross all those hours...
And he cried out, "I am thirsty".
Which simply illustrates once again the viciousness of the death of the Son of God.
>But not only did he suffer viciously from a physical standpoint...
His death was vicious from an emotional standpoint.
Pilate had talked with him...he had tried him...
He had done everything he could do to find something wrong with Jesus...
And yet on two occasions Pilate says, "I find no fault in him."
And yet finding him innocent of any crime...
Finding nothing for which to put him in jail, much less crucify him...
Pilate tried to let him go.
Pilate said, "I donít find anything wrong with him"...
But the political pressure was so heavily placed upon him...
That even though he had declared and officially decreed that Jesus was innocent of any crime...
He delivered him over to be crucified.
That is emotional viciousness.
>The Bible tells us that Caiphas was the man who handed him over.
There in verse 11, Jesus is not referring to Judas about the man who handed him over to Pilate.
Heís referring to Caiphas the high priest.
Caiphas was the high priest of all of Israel.
If there was a man in the area that should have known God...
If there was a man in the area that should have been led by the spirit of God...
If there was a man in all of the area that should have been able to interpret the word of God...
It should have been Caiphas the high priest.
And yet Caiphas is the very one who so hated Jesus that he lied about him...
And did everything he could to see him brought to death.
And it was Caiphas who handed him over to the hand of Pilate.
>But what about those soldiers?
The soldiers were the ones who stripped him naked.
Jesusí clothing was there at the bottom of the cross.
They didnít have to take it off him as he hung on the cross.
They had already taken it off him.
There was not one stitch of clothing.
Now artists throughout history because of their modesty...
As they have painted the picture of Jesus on the cross and the thieves on either side...
Have shown some kind of loincloth around his midsection.
But there was no loincloth.
When men or women were crucified, they were hung there in total nakedness.
And there was the humiliation of the virgin-born, pure, holy, sinless, righteous Son of God...
Hanging there totally naked for an ungodly world to gape upon.
I tell you that was emotional suffering.
It was a vicious death.
>Now let me share with you a second thing.
Not only was the death of Jesus a vicious death, his death was a voluntary death.
Who crucified Jesus?
Well we might say that the Romans did because he died upon a Roman cross...
At the hands of Roman soldiers under the regime of a Roman government.
We might say that the Jew crucified Jesus because Jesus died in Jerusalem...
The holy city of the Jews, as a result of the hostility of the Jewish leadership.
We could easily say that we crucified him because it was our sin that nailed him there.
But the truth of the matter is, Jesus laid down his life for his friends.
No man took his life from him.
He gladly laid it down.
>Do you know why Pilate did what he did?
Do you know why Pilate turned Jesus over to be crucified?
He didnít want to do that.
He wanted to let Jesus go.
But there were some of those who stood by, some of those Jewish leaders...
And they said, "Pilate, this man not only claims to be the Son of God...
This man claims to be a king, and if you let him go free...
Caesar is going to find out about it and you will not be Caesarís friend."
Pilate did what he did because he wanted to be Caesarís friend.
But bless God, Jesus did what he did because he wanted to be your friend.
He voluntarily laid down his life for his friends.
>But not only was his death a vicious death and a voluntary death...
Thirdly, the Bible tells us that his death was a vicarious death.
Now the word "vicarious" means he died as a substitute for us.
In Romans 5:8 Paul says that: God commended his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And that little word "for" is the Greek word huper.
It means in place of, instead of, for the sake of, on behalf of.
Jesus died in place of us, for the sake of us, on behalf of us, in the stead of us.
He died for us.
I should have been crucified. I should have suffered and died.
I should have hung on the cross in disgrace...
But Jesus, Godís Son, took my place.
He wasnít there because of any sin he had ever committed.
He was there bearing my sin and your sin.
Isaiah said it like this: he was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities.
The chastisement of our peace was upon him.
Jesus died for us...his death was a substitute death.
>But I want to share with you finally, his death was a vicious death.
His death was a voluntary death.
His death was a vicarious death.
But finally, his death was a victorious death.
Now most of the time we think that death is a defeat.
And to be sure, most of the time it is.
The Bible talks about death as being the last enemy we will face.
The Bible talks about what death does to a body.
It says the body is sown in dishonor...death dishonors a body.
A man, woman, boy, girl, strong, healthy, strapping...
And death comes and renders them motionless.
They can no longer see or hear or run or play or work.
Death dishonors the body.
But I want to tell you, while death is oftentimes seen as defeat...
I want you to know the death of Jesus was a victory.
First it was a victory over self.
Jesus was just as much a man as though he were not God...
And just as much God as though he were not man.
And there in the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed, "Father, if there be any other way, let this cup pass from me."
He was not trying to cower out of what was going on.
But Jesus knew that on the cross his father was going to turn his back on the Son...
And God in the judgment of our sins, not any sin in Jesusí life...
But because Jesus was bearing our sins God would turn his back on the precious Son of His holy self.
And Jesus knew that they had never known separation like that.
And yet when Jesus died on the cross he won victory over self.
>But also he won victory over Satan.
I tell you, Jesus was destined to die, but the devil did not want him to die on the cross.
The devil tried to kill him in a lot of ways.
The devil tried to kill him in the womb of his mother on the back of that donkey...
As they made that 90-mile trip to be taxed.
The devil tried to kill him at the hands of this group and at the hands of that group and at the hands of this council.
The devil did not want Jesus to die upon the cross because the devil knew that in Genesis 3:15 God said...
"One day through the seed of a woman Iím going to send one.
Yes, youíre going to bruise his heel, but through the bruising of his heel, heís gonna stomp your head into the ground.
Heís gonna bruise your head."
And the devil knew that when Jesus went to the cross that if he ever made it to the cross...
That the devilís number would be up.
And so he tried to kill him here or kill him there or kill him down at the Sea of Galilee.
But it wasnít the time.
Jesus said, "Mine hour is not yet come."
But when the hour had come he submitted his hands into the will of the father...
And he went to the cross and when he died on the cross Satan did not laugh.
Satan did not have a party.
Satan wept because Satan was defeated at the cross.
Jesus won victory over self.
He had victory over Satan.
>But he also had victory over sin.
Not his, bless God, but mine.
You see, you and I were stained with sin.
We had a stain that nothing could wash away.
We told lies and we had jealousies and envies and we held grudges and were greedy...
And we had all of the sins of our lives.
And yet Jesus Christ took our sin upon himself.
The theologians call that double imputation.
That when Jesus died, my sin was imputed to him and his righteousness was imputed to me.
The theologians may call it double imputation.
I call it "glory!"
He took my sin...I took his righteousness.
And the songwriter said, "You ask my why Iím happy. Oh, Iíll tell you why. Because my sin is gone."
He is our sin bearer.
He is the one who washes away our sin.
His death was a victory over self.
His death was a victory over Satan.
His death was a victory over sin.
Jesusí death was vicious, voluntary, vicarious and victorious.
>If youíre here today, I want to tell you, you have absolutely no hope whatsoever in the name "Baptist".
You have absolutely no hope whatsoever in the name "American".
You have no hope whatsoever because you are living here in the Bible belt.
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesusí blood and righteousness.
All other ground is sinking sand.
Have you ever been to the cross?
The cross upon which Jesus died is a shelter in which you can hide.
Its grace so free is sufficient for you and for me.
If youíve never trusted in Jesus today, I want to tell you, friend...
Thereís always room at the cross for you.