Epic Jesus - His death paid the price!
I, along with 19 other ministers in the state of Ohio, have been given a wonderful opportunity. We all received grants permitting us to walk where Jesus walked. We will experience a spiritual pilgrimage to Israel in late May. I promise not to show you any vacation slides but when I read the itinerary it almost seems a little surreal. Day 3: Walk a trail to the top of the Cliff of Arbel for a panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee. Visible in the distance is the Plain of Gennesaret, Capernaum, and the Mount of Beatitudes. Then descend the trail and drive to Capernaum. Day 5: Take a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee to En Gev and visit nearby Kursi (the traditional site of where Jesus healed the demoniac and cast the demons into swine). Day 7: Drive through Galilee to Sepphoris and Nazareth. Return by a different route that offers a better view of Mount Tabor - the traditional Mount of Transfiguration. Day 9: Transfer from Galilee to Jerusalem. Along the way visit Megiddo (Revelation 16 tells about a great battle between good and evil at “Armageddon.” Day 10: Go to Bethlehem. Day 12: Begin exploring Jerusalem, starting with a panoramic view of the Old City from the Mount of Olives, then the Garden of Gethsemane, and then the Via Dolorosa. Day 13: Walk the Stations of the Cross devotionally ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Tomorrow/Today marks the final six days of Jesus’ life on this earth. Let’s count them down. Day #6 – Sunday: better known as Palm Sunday or the Triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem found in Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19 and John 12. The LAB tells us that “Sunday through Wednesday Jesus spent each night in Bethany, just two miles east of Jerusalem on the opposite slope of the Mount of Olives. He probably stayed at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.”[i] Day #5 - Monday: Matthew 21 tells us that Jesus goes into Jerusalem and clears the temple. Day #4 - Tuesday: Jesus’ authority is challenged in Mark 11 and Jewish leaders confront him in Mark 12. Tuesday marks the day Judas agrees to betray Jesus! Day #3 – Wednesday: The Bible doesn’t tell us what Jesus was doing on this day, but Matthew 26 tells us there was a plot against his life. Maybe he was laying low with his disciples, maybe he was teaching – maybe he was praying! Maybe all three! Day #2- Thursday: Jesus speaks to his disciples in the upper room in John 13. He washes their feet - all 24! He then tells them to do the same. On that night some 1,981 years ago Jesus tore bread and said “Take and eat; this is my body.” He took a cup of wine and said, "Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Later Thursday night Jesus will be tempted by Satan in Gethsemane and betrayed by Judas – his own disciple. And now the Final Day – Friday: Better known as Good Friday! Jesus will be arrested and stand before both Pilate and Herod. He will be tried by both Jewish and Roman authorities for crimes he did not commit. Peter will deny that he even knows Jesus. Judas will hang himself. Barabbas will be released and Jesus will be crucified. All looks lost, but remember its always darkest before the dawn!
Now what Jesus did happened this week is on Paul’s mind as he reassures the church body at Corinth. Once again I need you to turn to 1st Corinthians 15. Who needs a Bible today? Jesus was dead and buried but he came back to life. And so will you – if you trust what God said and respond to what Jesus did! Let’s start with verse 1 of 1st Corinthians 15. (Read 1-8) Go back and read 3 & 4 again!
“Raised on the third day according to the Scriptures – that’s next week. That’s Easter weekend, but before Jesus can come back from the dead he has to die! Find verse 3 again! What makes Jesus EPIC – what makes him impressively great is not THAT he died – it’s WHY he died! And why did Jesus die? Paul gives the answer in verse 3 - “that Christ died for our sins” Did you notice what Paul does here? In verses 3 through 8 Paul presents two types of eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. The eyes of scripture and the eyes of people. But he doesn’t do that with Jesus’ death. Paul doesn’t say, “Peter saw his lifeless body hanging on the tree.” He doesn’t need to defend Jesus’ death. I don’t either. It’s a historical fact that Jesus was a real person. His mother was Mary – his earthly father was Joseph. He had four brothers and several sisters.[ii] And eventually in the spring of AD 30[iii] Jesus died. Again – Paul tells us why and so does Isaiah. Look again at verse 3. (...according to the Scriptures) Paul doesn’t say it’s Isaiah, but it’s Isaiah. Turn to Isaiah 53. Isaiah is called a major prophet. Not because of importance but because of sheer volume of material. The book of Isaiah is literally a mini Bible. There are 66 books in the Bible and 66 chapters in Isaiah. You can split Isaiah into two themes. The Old Testament had 39 books – and the first 39 chapters of Isaiah are words of judgment. There are 27 books in the NT and the last 27 chapters of Isaiah are words of comfort. Chapter 53 happens to be in the comfort section of Isaiah. Find verse 4. (Vs. 4-6)
700 years before Jesus is even born, Isaiah tells us that the real Messiah will be pierced and crushed. Why? For our transgressions. For our iniquities. Paul said it right. Christ died for our sins! Are you familiar with www.dictionary.com? I love that website. This site gives you a dictionary, thesaurus, quotes, reference options, crosswords and “the word of the day!” The “word of the day” last Friday, April 15 was “vociferate.” To vociferate means “to speak, to shout or to cry out loudly[iv] and I can’t tell you the last time I used vociferate in a sentence. Let me give you another word I haven’t used in a long time – propitiation! The reason I probably have not used this word is that it’s a King James word. Look at the screen. Here is 1 John 4:10 in the KJV: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Same verse in the NIV: 1 John 4:10: This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. What makes Jesus so great? Jesus’ death on the cross became our sacrifice, our propitiation and both mean the same thing. Jesus became an “offering that turns away wrath!”[v] That’s why Jesus died – to turn God’s wrath away from us and place it directly on his only son!
You may not like to hear this, but our basic problem is that our sin has made us the object of God’s wrath! Find your newsletter. (1st Thess. 1: 9-10) Our sin has pushed us away from God. Dr. Jack Cottrell helped me understand this. Sin means we are no longer “one” with God. Atonement is “at-one-ment!” Atonement brings us back to God! God’s wrath is real, but so is his love. God took the initiative. He provided the offering that turns away his own wrath[vi] and that offering pays the price for our many sins! Please let this sink into your mind and heart! What turned away God’s wrath? It wasn’t his life, his ministry, his sinless example, or his teaching! It was his death on the cross. Now with this in mind – let’s remember Jesus’ body and blood. Ushers, please go and prepare communion! But before we take communion let’s make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Sing with me.
“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.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown. (Pray for communion – Susan Treer to play)
I’m not sure about you, but I really like this set up. Jesus paid the price. That’s what makes him EPIC! He suffered and died and I don’t have to do anything except acknowledge that it happened. I can just sit back and relax and sin whenever I want knowing God’s going to forgive me! Turn to John 12:12. Jesus is entering Jerusalem. Now drop to verse 23. (Read 23-26) Some products have multiple uses. I never knew you could do so much with Windex until I watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I had to go to the doctor and the doctor said, “I don’t want you to use a band aid. I want you to use duct tape!” I’m thinking, “Seriously, duct tape?” Is there anything duct tape can’t do? There are over 2000 uses for WD-40 including keeping flies off cows and removing all traces of duct tape![vii] Today we find ourselves waving palm branches. Could palm branches have multiple uses? They are good for waving! They are good for fanning. They are good for tickling or poking, but don’t do thatJ I wonder. Is there a difference between a palm branch and a foam finger? Yea God. Yea team. You go Jesus. You go Lebron, Kobe or Colt McCoy! On Sunday the people are cheering. On Friday their cheering for Barabbas and shouting/vociferating at Jesus! Jesus wants to know. Are you his fan or his follower? Followers get what Jesus did on the cross. He became an offering. And now our lives become an offering to God – Paul said, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I have something for you today. Mark Stier found these. It’s an African Palm Cross. Come get it! Get what Jesus did for YOU! He became our sin-bearer. He endured God’s wrath! Peter gets it. 1 Peter 2:24: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. Do more than thank Jesus – live for him!
[i] WORDsearch-Life Application Notes software/Major Events of Passion Week
[ii] Mark 6:3 (NIV)
[iii] H. Wayne House, Charts of the NT, Zondervan, 103
[iv] www.dictionary.com – Word of the Day/Vociferate
[v] Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once for all, 265
[vi] Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once for all, 265