(Use the “Back” button or arrow on your device to return to the Study Index when finished)Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 5/15/2014
(edited July 2020)
This is the Apostle John’s account of Christ’s crucifixion. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior then you, like myself, may acknowledge that you contributed to His death. He died in our place. This can make a passage such as this, which is already terrible and brutal enough, almost too difficult to study or want to think about.
Tonight though, with God’s help, we will look at an aspect of the death of Jesus that is a little different. And our point will be this, when the Greatest Man Who ever walked on this Earth was arrested and put on trial, Agape Love, God’s Love, was being put on trial too! God is Love and Christ is God so I am asking you, as we work our way through this, to think of Love itself being on trial right there with Jesus. But whereas Christ was tried once for us all and, as He said at the end from the Cross, it was finished. Praise the Lord, His blood need never be shed again in that manner for us! But God’s Love, Christ’s Love, is STILL on trial to this day. It is still being doubted, thwarted, and stifled in our towns, our families, our own hearts, and even in our churches. God’s Love is under attack this very moment, whether we realize it or not, by forces of darkness and sin. Join me now, if you will, in this meditation:
Love Faces Tragic Rejection
Verses 1-9: “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.”
How Love Responds
Sometimes, after much effort, I often feel like giving up on trying to live in what has been called Christ’s Way of Love. O, I know it’s the right thing to do, but it’s such a steep climb in this world to try and be a loving and caring person. At least it has been for me! But Jesus, even at this moment in His life on Earth, was still willing to show Love and forgiveness. What a model of Love He is for us today. Listen as He answers Pilate:
Verses 10-11: “Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”
Next comes even a harder lesson than what we’ve seen so far. It might not be a shock that the secular rulers don’t always support Agape Love. But what about those who profess to already believe in God? What about the clergy and the church-goer? When they attack Love it can be devastating. This has killed the faith of many. Except for Christ, Himself, it would have done me in long ago and I mean many times over.
Religion Can be the Enemy of Love
Verses 12-15: “And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”
Love is on trial. Love is at war and under attack. And what are some of the results of that conflict, then and in our day?
Love Faces Pain: Physical Pain
Verses 16-18: “Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.”
How Jesus could endure this and not totally crack, I can’t imagine. But I think one reason He forced Himself to focus, even in these horrible circumstances, was to set an example for those who would come in the future. For us. He knew that those who would follow His Way of Love, would also have to suffer, and have to persevere and overcome. You know, I have symbols of the Cross in my home and of Christ, but not images of Christ on that Cross. Truthfully, I often try to avoid thinking about the crucifiction. The horror is all too real. My guilt about helping to put Him on that Cross, as did all sinners, is also too strong.
But there is an exception to my internal rule about this. When I have to suffer, significantly suffer, or have to share in the significant suffering of another, I sometimes meditate briefly on Good Friday from noon to three. And I let Jesus show me how to hold up, and keep up, and move on even when everything within and everything without is screaming panic and surrender now to darkness and despair. And He does help me! Amen. Let’s go on:
Verses 19-24: “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was Jesus Of Nazareth The King Of The Jews. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.”
What was the emotion pain, I wonder, for Christ to have to look down from that Cross and see the indifference of the Roman and Jewish leaders as they bickered over politics? Or the greed of the soldiers? Even His Disciples had fled and hid or disguised themselves. And what about me? I wasn’t there to abandon or mock Him, but I did all those things eventually once I came along and became aware. And I think He knew that even then, if you can see my point?
The emotional burden on Jesus must have been excruciating, long before the lash, the thorns, the nails and the sword ever touched Him. If you don’t believe me on that, read about Christ’s determination to get back to Jerusalem for what He KNEW would be this final time (that’s described in Luke 9:51 and Hebrews 12:2-3) and, also, his lonely vigil in Gethsemane just before His arrest (see that in Matthew 26 and Mark 14).
How Love Responds
It matters how we treat those closest to us in a time of crisis. Look at Jesus here, imitate Him if you can. Don’t be a Saint to strangers and, then when under pressure, act more like a rat at home. I have sometimes been guilty of doing that.
Verses 26-27: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”
Finished! Not just the end of the Savior’s pain, but the opening up of a Way into Heaven for the masses of all nations and races! It is accomplished: Eternal Salvation for those who would come to believe! WOW! If we have great goals and plans that include reaching out to the hurting or hopeless, we must not abandon them when suffering comes. Jesus didn’t. He remembered about your welfare the whole time. True Love, Christ’s Love, did not abandon its highest purpose, not even in torment and torture!
Verses 28-30: “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
By the way, a few chapters before this, John actually reveals the forces behind the assault on Love. Listen as Jesus tries, better than I can, to explain it to His Disciples in John 14, verses 29-31:
“And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.”
Christ’s Identity Only Confirmed by His Suffering
If he could, Satan would obliterate Love from the face of the earth. He tried that, I’m sorry to say with our help, on Jesus. Christ was disposed of at that time like garbage, if you really want to take a look at it. But what befell Jesus of Nazareth at Calvary actually served to only confirm His Messiahship, His Gospel, His Mission to us, and His Love:
Verses 31-37: “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.”
Yes, the Devil is not pleased today when you or I dare to take up our cross in this world and try to live in Christ’s Love. And yes, there will be some negative consequences for us related to that, severe consequences perhaps. But, like the Savior, in this world or the next, we can Rise Again! That is the promise of true Love! That is why, despite all the evidence to the contrary in our current world, Loving as Christ Loved is good for BOTH the recipient AND the giver! There is an eternity of Love to be gained that outweighs all the sufferings of Righteous living in this world.
Even in death, the Love of Jesus still kept on ministering to others. Look at the immediate effects it had on these two men:
Verses 38-42: “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”
Even in death, the worst this world can do to a person, Love shines on. From the coldness of a tomb, Jesus inspired courage in Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, and in others. Let His Love, His Calvary Love inspire you and change you and those around you!
Well, I know I’ve gone overtime tonight, and I thank you for your patience with me. We’d better stop here. There are many who could have presented it better, but there is no better topic for us to have considered. Let’s pray.