The SHAME and SUFFERING of Calvary
INTRODUCTION: On this Palm Sunday please turn in your Bibles and follow as I read I Corinthians 15:3-8.
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: (6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. (7) After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. (8) And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”
In verses 3-4 we have in summary the Gospel of the “DEATH, and the BURIAL, and the RESURRECTION of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Often Jesus spoke of His DEATH and RESSURRECTION:
In John 2:19, “Jesus answered and said unto them, destroy this temple, and in three days I will rise it up.”
In Luke 9:22, “Saying, the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.”
Jesus said, in Matthew 20:18-19, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.”
In Luke 23:33 where we read, "And when they were come to the place, which is called CALVARY, there they CRUCIFIED Him…"
The saddest story of man began in Eden, when he became separated from God. However the saddest story of God is CALVARY. A far cry it is from the Garden of Eden to CALVARY, but they have a very intimate relation.
The TRAGEDY of one is the reason for the TRAGEDY of the other. In Eden we see the beginning of the TRAGEDY which is to end on CALVARY.
The agony of the atonement for sin which we see on CALVARY has to do with the TRAGEDY of sin, which we learn about in the Garden of Eden.
I trust CALVARY is not just another word in your vocabulary. The cross of Jesus is the emblem of SHAME and SUFFERING. The hymn writer wrote:
King of my life, I crown thee now, Thine shalt the Glory be.
Lest I forget thy throne crowned brow, lead me to Calvary.
Lest I forget Gethsemane, Lest I forget thine Agony,
Lest I forget thy love for me, Lead me to Calvary.
Let's for a brief few moments take a look at the cross from several different aspects, so that the Holy Spirit may speak to our hearts about this horrible but necessary event.
FIRST: "There was the Shame of the Cross:" In Galatians 3:13 we read, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, CURSED IS EVERYONE THAT HANGETH ON A TREE." History tells us the instrument of the cross, the most horrible form of death, was reserved for the worst of criminals.
Crucifixion differs in two major ways from today’s current forms of execution.
First: Today’s executions are, for the most part, private events. In contrast, crucifixion was not only allowed to be a public event, it was designed to be a vivid reminder that the penalty for breaking Roman laws was certain, brutal, and extreme.
Second: Today’s executions are swift and even somewhat merciful. On the other hand, crucifixion was designed to be an excruciatingly painful, humiliating, lingering death.
Today the cross is an object of veneration designed to become a thing of beauty. The outline of the cross is framed in metal and etched in lovely, mood-setting stained glass.
But the people of the first century would be shocked to see our modern treatment of what was, to them, an object of brutality and the cruelest kind of death. It would be comparable to our wearing the image of a hangman’s noose on our lapel or framing an artist’s rendering of an electric chair on our living room wall.
In Hebrews 12:2 we read "Looking unto Jesus…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the SHAME…"
Just how shameful was the cross? Can you let your mind picture it? All night long, through 3 Roman trials and 3 Jewish trials, from court room to court room, Jesus was BEATEN, MOCKED, and CURSED as a common criminal.
Just how shameful was the cross? 700 years before the crucifixion,
Isaiah 53:12 predicted that he would be, "…numbered with the transgressors…"
In Mark 15:27 we read, “And with Him they crucified two thieves the one on His right hand and the other on His left.”
There were three thieves involved in the crucifixion.
There was Barabas, who was released by Pilate in the place of our Lord.
There was the impenitent thief whose bitter heart grew more callous as he hung on the cross.
There was the repented thief who said, "Lord remember me when thou cometh into thy kingdom." To which the Lord replied, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."
Jesus came from the GLORIES of Heaven to the SHAME of the cross, crucified between two thieves.
Christ wasn't ASHAMED to die willingly and openly between two thieves. He did it for you and me. In Romans 10:11 we read, "… Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.”
I trust you will not be ashamed of the curse of the cross, where Christ paid the eternal debt for your sin and for mine.
I trust you will begin to love and serve the Lord more and more and openly proclaim him to others.
SECOND: "There was the Suffering of the Cross: In Philippians 3:10 Paul expressed to us this about Christ, “That I may know (know this in experience) Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering…”
I wish I had the ability in words to describe for you a picture of the suffering of Christ. Each time I return to Golgotha and relive the horror of His final suffering, I am more deeply thankful and yet realize how inadequate I am to express my profound gratitude for my Saviour’s willingness to suffer as He did in my place.
Isaiah expressed it in Isaiah 53:5-6, "But He was WOUNDED for our transgressions, He was BRUSIED for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His STRIPES we are healed… "
Luke expressed it in Luke 24: 46, "… thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to SUFFER …"
Paul wrote in Hebrews 9:26, "For then must He (that is Jesus) often have SUFFERED since the foundation of the world…"
Peter who was an eyewitness to the crucifixion wrote in I Peter 3:18, "For Christ also hath once SUFFERED for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God …"
Reading the scriptures, you will discover that Christ suffered from 3 directions: He suffered from the hands of Men, He suffered from the hands of Satan and He suffered from the hands of God.
NUMBER 1 – Christ suffered untold agony at the hands of Men. Nobody ever suffered like Jesus did on that CRUEL, CURSED, CROSS. In Isaiah 53:3-4 we read, "He was despised and rejected of men; a man of SORROWS and acquainted with grief: … he was despised… Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."
Would you carefully listen to an account given of crucifixion?
From the betrayal that took place in the Garden, the soldiers seized Christ and brought Him to Pilate's judgment hall where Christ was whipped. Jewish law states that a man should not receive more than 40 lashes, with leather straps, each studded with a stone or medal tip. By the end of the whipping, the back of our Lord would have been a shredded mass of crimson tissue.
In time one by one, the soldiers came by to strike, to spit on, or to pull the beard of Jesus and ask Him to prophecy which of them was guilty.
A purple robe was placed about His bleeding shoulders to disclaim Him king.
A branch was twisted into a wreath and the thorns were driven into His scalp. Understand the scalp is a very rigid tissue, any injury to the scalp will bleed very freely. The crown of thorns opened those ever-flowing vessels, and in minutes Christ's hair and beard were soaked with blood.
The Lamb of God, bleeding, broken, beaten was now presented to the Jewish nation. Though His mind was dulled by lack of sleep and His life was oozing from the many wounds, He still could hear the throng chant, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him."
As was the custom in those days, the condemned was to carry the cross-beam, weighting approximately 110 lb., 650 yards from the prison to the execution site, where it was placed on an upright stake.
The one being crucified was stripped of all his clothes and laid down upon the implement of torture. His arms were stretched along the cross-beam, and at the center of the open palms the point of a huge iron nail was placed, which, by the blow of a mallet, was driven home into the wood. Then another huge nail tore its way through the quivering flesh of each foot separately or possibly through both together. Then the “accursed tree” with its living human burden was slowly heaved up and the end firmly fixed in the hole in the ground.
To be able to keep breathing, the victim on the cross had to stay in constant motion, and so he literally dragged himself up and down, up and down, constantly, so as to make breathing possible. Eventually, he could no longer lift himself sufficiently to continue breathing. With each second, the pain mounted. His arms, His legs, His entire torso screamed with pain; the nerves were pulled tightly, like strings of a violin across its bridge. Slowly and steadily, he was being asphyxiated, as though two thumbs were pressing against His throat.
Death by crucifixion seemed to have included all the pain one could ever experience. There was dizziness, cramps, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, public shame, horror of anticipation, and mortification of untended wounds. The wounds, inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened; the arteries, especially of the head and the stomach, became swollen and oppressed with surcharge blood, along with the pang of a burning raging thirst. Such was the suffering and death of Christ at the hands of men.
Oh, don't ever lose sight of the cross. Don't ever take your eyes off CALVARY lest you began to drift and backslide. We often sing:
Jesus keep me near the cross, There a precious fountain.
Free to all a healing stream, Flows from Calvary's Mountain.
Near the Cross, Near the Cross.
Oh, Lamb of God bring its scenes before me.
Help me walk from day to day with its shadows over me.
In the Cross, In the Cross, Be my Glory ever.
Till my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river.
NUMBER 2: Christ suffered agony at the hands of God. While suspended between Heaven and Earth, Jesus uttered 7 statements from the cross.
FIRST: are the words of FORGIVENESS, "Father forgiven them; for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34
SECOND: are the words of SALVATION, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43
THIRD: are the words of AFFECTION, "Woman behold thy Son; behold thy other." John 19:26-27
FOURTH: are the words of ANGUISH, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46
FIFTH: are the words of SUFFERING, "I Thirst." John 19:28
SIXTH: are the words of VICTORY, "It is finished." John 19:30
SEVENTH: are the words of CONTENTMENT, "Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit." Luke 23:46
Let me call your attention to the fourth cry of the cross during the 3 hours of darkness found in Matthew 27:46, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
You may say, “What was so special about this utterance?” Surprisingly, this is the only time in the earthly life and ministry of Jesus that He addresses God other than by the word "Father."
What does this utterance mean? In II Corinthians 5:21 we read, "For God hath made Him, to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ."
On the cross, Jesus took the sinners place. Literally the cry of Jesus was, "My God, My God, why have you turned your back from me?” It was a cry of an abandoned soul.
Forsaken by the Father, Jesus was suffering the agony of separation for a few hours, that we might live with God the Father forever and ever.
NUMBER 3: Christ suffered at the hands of Satan. Not only did Jesus suffer at the hands of cruel men, and by the abandonment of God the Father, He also suffered the torments of eternal Hell for each one of us.
If you would compare the story of the Rich Man in Hell found in Luke 16, with the crucifixion of Jesus, you will soon discover that Jesus suffered on the cross everything the rich man in Hell is still suffering. Someone said, "Luke 16 is the Sinners Hell in review."
The Rich Man in Hell suffered the agony of THIRST. On the cross the Lord Jesus cried "I thirst."
The Rich Man in Hell suffered the agony of SEPARATION. In Luke 16:26 we read, “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us…” On the cross the Lord Jesus cried, "My God, My God why has thou abandoned me?"
The Rich Man in Hell according to Matthew 23:13 is experiencing DARKNESS. There on the cross for 3 hours Jesus experienced darkness.
On the cross where Jesus died, God played out His great anthem of love. There is no greater love than Calvary as we again read in Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth His love to us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross
The emblem of SUFFERING and SHAME.
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best,
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see; For 'twas on that old cross
Jesus SUFFERED and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
So, I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
'Til my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.
But yet there came that THIRD day when the tomb became empty as our opening text in verse 4 said, “…and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:..” "He arose from the grave!"
That's what the Angel said in Matthew 28:5-7a, "Fear not; for I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified. HE IS NOT HERE; for He is risen, as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay, and go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead…"
That's what Mark wrote about in Mark 16:6, "… Ye seek Jesus … who was crucified; He is risen; HE IS NOT HERE. Behold the place where they laid him."
John wrote in Revelation 1:18 speaking of Jesus, "I am He that liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore …"
That's what Peter wrote in I Peter 1:3, "… according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
This is what Christianity has proclaimed over 2000 years. You are here not just on this Easter Sunday but every Sunday as a testimony to the RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST. It did happen, HE IS ALIVE.
Everything depends on the RESURRECTION of Christ.
It is the CORNERSTONE upon which the whole superstructure of Christianity rests; undermine it, and the whole business collapses.
It is the KEYSTONE of the arch; knock it out, and the whole thing falls with a crash.
The NATIONAL ANTHEM of the RESURRECTION, a hymn written by Dr. A.H. Ackley expresses it clearly:
I serve a RISEN Saviour,
He's in the world today.
I know that He is LIVING,
whatever men may say;
I see His hands of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him,
He's always near.
In all the world around me,
I see His loving care.
And though my heart grows weary,
I never will despair.
I Know that He is leading,
through all the stormy blast,
The day of His appearing will come at last.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.
Down through the centuries, that empty tomb has transformed countless lives. Not by trials or by scientific studies, but by simple faith of an honest heart.
Let me ask this Easter Sunday morning, "Is the living, resurrected Christ alive in you?"
Listen, we are not here just to enjoy the festivities on this day we call Easter Sunday. We are here for a purpose.
We are here to understand our eternal redemption not only rests upon the finished work of Christ at Calvary, but it also rests upon the resurrection.
In Romans 4:25 we read, "…who was delivered for our offenses (who was crucified at Calvary for our sins), and was raised again for our justification."
The Bible is saying Jesus Christ went to the cross of Calvary to keep you from going to hell and was raised from the grave to get you into heaven. It's as simple as that.
The word of God says in Romans 10:9, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
If you believe that, you are saved. However, if you have never believed that you have to reach out with a heart of faith and say, "God I believe, save me,” you will never know the power of His life in your life.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon “The Shame and Suffering of Calvary” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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