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Pondering The Death of Jesus

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Let’s Ponder the Death of Jesus

In the National Gallery of Art in London there's a picture of the death of Jesus Christ that is so dark that when you first look at it, you can't see anything.

But if you stand and ponder it, and if you do not permit your gaze to falter, eventually you will see in the darkness a very dim figure of the crucified Christ.

If you look longer and do not allow your attention to be diverted, you then begin to discern behind the figure of Christ the presence of God the Father, whose hands are holding up his Son, and on his face is a look of unimaginable grief.

The point is that in order to really see the death of Christ you must ponder it. 

That’s what we’re going to do this morning.  We’re going to ponder the death of Christ as it is recorded in Matthew 27:35-50. 

If we ponder the death of Christ long enough we too will see the hands of God the Father.

If we ponder the death of Christ long enough we too will see the look of unimaginable grief on the face of God the Father. 

If we ponder the death of Christ long enough what appears vague at first become more and more distinguishable.

First of all let’s ponder the Crucifixion itself. 

Matthew writes simply that they crucified Him.

This one line underscores the depths to which human depravity would sink. 

This one line underscores just how spiritually blind humanity had become.

They crucified the Son of God.

They crucified their Savior.

They crucified their Redeemer.

They crucified their Deliverer.

They crucified their Messiah.

They crucified their King.

He had demonstrated God’s power in their midst.

He had turned water into wine.

He had touched blind eyes and caused them to see.

He had touched deaf ears and caused them to hear.

He had touched mute mouths and caused them to open.

He had touched limp limbs and caused them to revive.

He had healed their sick, raised their dead, drove out their demons. 

But they crucified him. 

They stripped Him of his clothing.

They forced Him to carry his cross out to an abandoned, oval-shaped rock quarry west of the city of Jerusalem called Golgotha.

They tied His arms (those same arms that opened to embrace them) to a crossbeam.

They drove large iron spikes through his hands and feet.

They lifted ironically up with forked poles until his feet cleared the ground.

They seated his cross into the ground

Then they watched as he suffered and waited for him to die.

On his head they had placed a cruel crown of woven thorns. 

Above his head they had paced a callous citation -- THE KING OF THE JEWS.

The Jews even protested that, saying we don’t want you to write that, instead write that HE SAID HE WAS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

But Pilate persisted, saying, what I have written I have written. 

On either side of him, they placed 2 malefactors, robbers, thieves.

Someone has said that in this scene, we gain insight into suffering.

We have the bad thief, good thief, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

All three are suffering.

This lets us know that everybody suffers.

The unsaved suffer, the saved suffer, and the Savior.

Sin is the reason the unsaved suffer.

Sin is the reason the saved suffer.

And sin is the reason the Savior suffered.

(Isa 53:5-6 KJV)

"But he was wounded for our transgressions,

he was bruised for our iniquities:

the chastisement of our peace was upon him;

and with his stripes we are healed.

{6} All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned every one to his own way;

and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

And as our Lord’s broken body hung there. 

As our Lord’s redeeming blood came trickling down his face.

As pain gripped him as never before.

Those who had been left to guard him, gambled for his clothing.

But Matthew wants us to ponder his crucifixion and see something in his crucifixion that escapes human eyesight.

With human eyes the world saw a man who claimed to be someone he was not getting what he deserved.

With human eyes the world saw a man who was stripped of every bit of dignity. 

But Matthew saw God’s will being done and God’s word being fulfilled. 

For in Psalm 22:18 it is written …

They divided my garments among them,

And for my clothing they cast lots.

But he became naked to cover our nakedness.

But he was unclothed so that I could be clothed in his righteousness.

Secondly, let’s ponder the contempt Jesus endured. 

First of all contempt came from the passing crowd. 

Matthew says those who passed by blasphemed Him, shaking their heads in mockery.  "So! You can destroy the Temple and build it again in three days, can you?

Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!""

The passing crowd has contempt for Jesus.

The passing crowd are those folk with no real conviction about Jesus.

The passing crowd are those folk who marvel at the fact that you and I have so much devotion to Him.

The passing crowd are those folk who don’t understand why we come to church.

The passing crowd are those folk who don’t understand why we get so excited about him.

Don’t be a part of the passing crowd, for he that endures till the end shall be saved.

The proud crowd has contempt for Jesus.

"The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders also mocked Jesus.

“He saved others," they scoffed, "but he can't save himself!

So he is the king of Israel, is he?

Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him!"

"He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God."

The proud crowd are those folk who think they can save themselves by their own works or their own morality.

The proud crowd is impossible to teach or to lead for they already know it all.   

The proud crowd are those folk who question your trust in the Lord.

The proud crowd trust in themselves.

The proud crowd trust in their money.

The proud crowd trust in their ability.

Don’t be a part of the proud crowd, for the Lord resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.   

The perpetrators have contempt for Jesus.

Matthew says, even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.

Finally, let’s ponder the covering God provided. 

Matthew says from the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness covered the land.

"He's Dead Now, but He'll Be Back."

Pastor Robert Russell says that one night during his Easter pageant he sat behind a 5 year old boy.

The boy was very excited about the pageant. 

When the crucifixion scene took place, he got real quiet.

But then Jesus came back from the grave and there was a song of celebration and his eyes lit up.

He looked at his mother and said, "He's alive, Mom. He's alive!" and began to clap.

And he hugged her around the neck. It was fun to see somebody understand the resurrection for the first time.

I told that to a youth minister from another church. He said, "I want to tell you what happened in our church. We showed a cartoon video of the crucifixion and resurrection to our kindergarten students. When Jesus was buried, one little boy who knew the story pretty well turned to a buddy and said, 'He's dead now, but he'll be back.' "

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