Craig Groeschel - Jesus Never Said You Get What You Deserve
Hey, if I get a little bit emotional today, it's because I am, because of the reason that we gather, and because who we gather with. It's hard to get my mind around, but our one church is gathering in 33 locations today, with believe it or not, 261 services, 261 services. And we're honored to welcome hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, on the other side of computer screens at church online. And we gather with millions, may I say billions of people this weekend, to celebrate the greatest event in the history of the world, on which our faith is built. The tomb is empty. God's Son, and our Savior, Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and we gather together today to give him honor, to hear his word, and to see lives changed.
I wanna welcome all of you today, those of you that are in overflow at different places, thank you for doing your best to be a part of church. We're in part four of a message series, if you're not a church person you may say what is a series, what's a message series? What we do is we go through different themes, ideas, books of the Bible, and we'll start a new message series next week, called Chasing Carrots. We're gonna talk about the continual pursuit for more. Today we're concluding a series called Things Jesus Never Said. Some of you may say why in the world would we talk about things Jesus didn't say, in church.
Let me explain. If you're new to the Bible, in the New Testament, there's four books at the beginning of the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If you read in certain Bibles, you'll find words that are in red. Those are the words of Jesus. When you read the words of Jesus, they are so other worldly. If you've been around the gospel for awhile, sometimes you tend to take for granted the power of what Jesus did say. I like to contrast sometimes what he didn't say, what he could've said, what I might've said, to embrace the power of what he truly did say. To start off the message, just to keep it kinda fun, I'll show you three things Jesus did not say about Easter.
What did Jesus not say? Unfortunately for many of you, he did not say blessed are those who wear fly Easter outfits, for theirs is the kingdom of God. He didn't say that, but you do look particularly fly today, I might say. He didn't say as often as you gather together, eat Cadbury Creme Eggs, Peeps, and chocolate covered bunnies in remembrance of me. You can do that today, if you want, but he didn't tell you to do it. He did not say this, come follow me, and no one will fight in the car on the way to Easter services at church. Some of you are like we just proved that. Shut up kids, don't fight. We're gonna worship Jesus. Praise the Lord, hallelujah we're in church today. How do I know about that? That's the reason we drive separate cars to church. It just works better when we do.
I wonder how many of you, and you don't need to raise your hands, I wonder how many of you battle with feeling guilty? I often feel guilty. We're gonna look today at what Jesus didn't say about guilt and sin. I researched guilt this week, just for fun. I found out that one of the top guilts that people feel is food guilt. Just be prepared if you're going somewhere after this. Food guilt. Fully 29% of what we eat makes us feel guilty, interesting. If you're a man, you feel guilty for about 20 minutes. If you're a woman, for some reason, you feel more intense guilt that lasts longer. I have no idea why, nor will I comment on that, that's between you and God, I have no opinions whatsoever.
There's all types of guilt. There's mom guilt, no matter what you do, it's hard to measure up. If you're a working mom, you feel guilty at some times, that you're not home. If you're at home you feel guilty you're not working. If you've got a Pinterest perfect friend, you love her and you hate here, 'cause she never forgets any event, and always brings baked goods, and not only did you forget to bring baked goods, you forgot your kid, and you feel so guilty. There's general guilt, I'm guilty that I don't do enough to help people, I feel guilty that I don't say no when I need to say no, 'cause I always feel pressured to say yes.
There's spiritual guilt, I don't serve enough. I don't give enough, I've lost my YouVersion Bible streak, dear God, somebody help me, now I'm back at one. I told a lie, I was jealous of somebody. I did the best I could to hold my marriage together but as hard as I tried, I couldn't hold my marriage together, I still feel guilty. I say bad words, I take God's name in vain. I love Jesus, someone might say, and yet I still battle with looking at lustful images, and feel guilty. What do we do when we find ourselves feeling guilty before God? Today I wanna look at what Jesus did not say about sin, and guilt. If you feel guilty, I understand, I have pastor's guilt. I never live up to my own standards as a pastor. I never feel like I live up to God's standards as a pastor.
If I'm doing what I should be at church, I'm not being the dad I should be. If I'm being the dad I should be, I'm not doing what I do at church. And sometimes I do really bad things, like years ago, we had a fellowship in our house, and it was going great, until the very end, when a few people wouldn't leave, just four, just four, four, they were not married. Everybody was amazing, these people happened to be single for a reason. I probably shouldn't a said that out loud. I'll probably feel guilty for it, but you may know somebody like this. And so I tried to get them to leave, I did everything I could, I dropped hints, I said hey, we'll see ya at church, hey thanks for coming, it was great to have you, love you, guys, God bless you, we're gonna call it a night, but they wouldn't leave.
So I honest to goodness, Amy'll tell ya, eventually came out wearing a robe. They didn't take the hint. I turned the heater up to 82 in the winter, they didn't take a hint. And so what did your pastor do? I went into the bedroom where Amy was, and had a very loud expression, I said these people have no social awareness, they're probably going to hell. I can't even believe they're still in our house, I've done everything but say get the heck outta my house. They're still there, I walked into the living room and the four of them, their eyes were this big, and it was then that I realized that the baby monitor in our bedroom... In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I confess my sins publicly. And throw myself on the grace of Jesus, I understand guilt.
We're gonna be in Luke's gospel today, Luke 23, and we're gonna look at the way Luke describes the final hours of the life of God's son, Jesus. Let me give you some context. It would surprise you how you see Jesus. Instead of wearing a golden crown, he was wearing a crown of thorns. Instead of being surrounded by servants, he was surrounded by thieves. Instead of sitting on a throne, we're gonna see Jesus hanging on a cross. And Luke's gospel says this of him, in verse 32 of 23, two other men, everybody say two.
I want you to pay careful attention, because I'm going to ask you a math question. The answer is in this text, and I hope you get it right, or you may feel guilty for not paying attention in church on Easter Sunday. Two other men, everybody say two. Two other men, both criminals, we also led out with Jesus to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, the crucified Jesus there, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. The question is this, how many people were hanging on a cross? The answer is three, all of our churches, I need all of you with me, those of you in Florida, those of you in New York, how many criminals, how many people were hanging on a cross, the answer is three, three were hanging on a cross.
Let's talk for a moment about death by crucifixion. This will give you some context into what Jesus did for us, also it'll give you some insight to who was hanging next to him on the cross. To be executed by crucifixion was known at the time as the most painful and brutal way to die. Not only was it physically painful, but it was spiritually shameful to die on a cross. And I'll explain to you why. Physically, it was horrible. If you've ever heard the word excruciating pain, ex means out of, cruciating means cross, crucifix, the word excruciating means out of the cross. It was shameful because one, they would strip you down naked to further humiliate you.
And scripture actually says that it's shameful, or cursed, as anyone who dies on a tree. This was implying that you're dying on a cross. It was physically painful, and it was spiritually shameful. This is what would happen. First it would start with the scorging. The Roman soldiers would take a whip that had glass or nails woven into it, take off your shirt and would whip you 39 times across your back, until your internal organs might be exposed. You would lose so much blood that you would often go into a state of shock. Once you would finally physically recover, you would carry your own cross to the place where then they would take seven inch stakes and drive them through your wrist, and through your heels. These would be the points that which would hold you up on the cross, the stake wouldn't go through the bones right here, and the only way that you could get a breath, would be by pushing yourself up and pulling yourself, and you would do this for a long as you could, often for two days, three days, four days or so.
One of the reasons why this was a rare way to kill somebody, is because it would often take four days, and you'd have to pay four Roman guards to stand watch the whole time. It was the most expensive, most excruciating, and most spiritually shameful way to die. Sometimes you'd go mad, you'd bake under the sun. Eventually you would either die by suffocating, or from sheer exhaustion. On day number four, if you were still alive, as an act of mercy, the guards would take clubs, and beat your knees until your legs were broken, as an act of mercy so you'd no longer would have the ability to push yourself up, and then you would suffocate, and die a brutal death. This was reserved for the worst of the worst criminals. This was reserved for those who broke significant crimes. In other words, the two criminals hanging next to Jesus, they weren't pickpockets. They had done something horrible, deserving of this very expensive, very painful, very shameful way to die.
Three people were there hanging on the cross. Jesus, in the middle of this, as the crowd was spitting on him, imagine that, cursing at him, he looks up to heaven and he prays. What he did not pray was God, send 1,000 cocky angels with swords, and wipe 'em out. What he didn't pray was give them hemorrhoids. In their ears, or whatever, you know, that's what I mighta done, right? What he did pray was Father, please forgive them, because they don't even know what they're doing. Scripture goes on to say, in verse 39, that one of the criminals who hung there, hurled insults at Jesus. Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us. This arrogant, prideful, very guilty man who saw no need whatsoever for mercy, grace, or a Savior, hurls insults at Jesus. But the other criminal rebuked the first one. And asked don't you even fear God, he said? Since you're under the same sentence?
Then verse 41, he says something very interesting to me. He said we're punished justly for we're getting what our deeds deserve. The other criminal recognized, we committed some type, we don't know what it was, some type of very real significant crime. And the punishment that we're getting for our actions is fair, it's just, we are getting what we deserve. If I could get all of you to participate with you, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna just give you a statement, and you should know the end of the statement. If you know the end of it, just say it aloud. So all of our churches, please play along with me. Here's the first one, what goes around? Comes around, very good. Your past will come back to? Haunt you. If you make your bed, you gotta? Lie in it, or sleep in it, whatever. These are all different ways to say you're gonna get what you? Deserve. If you're anything like me, there's a dark part of me that actually likes that someone gets what they deserve after they've done something wrong.
I don't even know if I should admit that publicly in church. I'm sure your much more holy than I am. But if I am a law abiding citizen, driving the speed limit, and someone drives by me at 90 miles an hour, in a sports car, acting like they own the road, and seven or eight miles later down the road, they're pulled over. There's a part of me that does this. You get what you deserve. You shouldn't been speeding like that. There's a sick part of me that likes when somebody gets what they deserve, except for when it's me. I don't wanna get what I deserve.
The second criminal, let's look at what he said, again he said we're punished justly, for we're getting what our deeds deserve. But then he looks at Jesus and he said but this man, Jesus, he's done nothing wrong. Then watch what this criminal, who's aware of his own sin says. He looks at Jesus and says Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And let me tell you what Jesus did not say. Jesus didn't look at him and say, nah, I never liked the way you looked. You always got on my nerves. No, buddy, sorry, you're going to hell. Where the worm never dies and there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. He didn't say no, no, no, no, no, I was preaching at the Sermon on the Mount, and you had your chance then. You weren't paying attention, I saw you there playing a video game or scrolling on Instagram, or whatever you were doing on your phone, you had your chance, but you missed it. No, I'm sorry, after the way you lived, what you did, I can forgive a lotta things, but not your sins, you've gone too far, you've done too much, it's too late for you. Jesus didn't say anything like that.
Let me tell you what he did say, and let me tell you who he did say it to. He said it to a criminal who couldn't do a single thing to earn his right standing with God. He said it to a person who couldn't do a single good work, 'cause his hands were spiked to a tree. He couldn't turn over a new leaf, because his feet were bound. He couldn't get baptized, he couldn't join a church, he couldn't give an offering, he couldn't even lift his hands up to God, because his hands were bound. He couldn't do a single thing to earn any right standing with God. And Jesus looked at this guilty, sinful and repentant man, and this is what Jesus said. Jesus said that I tell you, today, today, you will be with me in paradise. Your sins will be forgiven. Even though you can't earn it, even though there's nothing you can do to deserve it. I will show you grace, and you'll be with me in paradise. But wait a minute, that's not fair. It's not fair, he didn't deserve that. He didn't deserve that.
Let me tell you what I don't deserve. I don't deserve in any way, shape or form, to be preaching to you today. I don't deserve it at all. I grew up going to church, church kid. I had a head knowledge, but not a heart understanding. And my life was messed up. I'll just be honest with you. I used to lie, I'd exaggerate, I'd like, I'd lie, I'd lie. I lied so much that I think I actually started to believe my own lies, and I wasn't even sure what the truth was. I used to cheat a lot, top student, cheating, got caught cheating. I used to steal, a lot. Stole, and stole and stole until finally I got arrested for stealing, arrested for it. I partied like the best of 'em, wild, hurting people, sinning sexually, and the list would go on and on and on, until finally I woke up and I just looked at myself and thought I hate who you are. Hate it. Ashamed, deep shame. And the guilt was overwhelming. The only way I know how to describe it, and some of you, you're gonna know exactly what I mean when I say this, I was dead on the inside. Dead. No hope, no joy, no life. Dead on the inside.
One day I was walking to class. And a gentleman from an organization known as The Gideons, handed me a free, green, New Testament Bible, and I started reading it, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. I read all the way to Ephesians chapter 2. And this is the verse that I didn't just read it, it read me. And I no longer went from having a head knowledge, something moved about 18 inches down into my heart, and this was the truth that moved into my heart. Scripture says this, Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. I want you to notice this, like the rest, like all of us, like you, like me, by nature, because of our sinful nature, we deserve punishment from God, that's what scripture says. By nature, we were deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, our good God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in our transgressions, he made us alive.
Church, I hope somebody will know it, feel it, and believe it. That Jesus did not come just to make bad people good. Jesus came to make dead people alive. Our God is that good. Scripture says for it's by grace that you've been saved, through faith, it's not from yourselves it's the gift of God, not by works, so that nobody can boast. Jesus makes dead people alive. Imagine for a moment, what would it be like for that undeserving criminal to hear those words, you're forgiven, your sins will not be held against you. Imagine if the Roman guards heard that, and thought well, we might as well let this guy go. Didn't happen, but imagine if it did. Imagine if they took this guy, this criminal, this guilty guy, and let him down off the cross. He would have horrible wounds, but listen. His wounds would heal, he would recover, and there would be years added to his life.
What do you think the rest of his life would be devoted to? After someone else died, so he could live. You know it, you can feel it. Every moment, every day, there would never be a day where he wouldn't think about what that innocent man did for him, never a day. His life would be fully devoted, completely given to the one who gave it all to him. By his grace, I am saved. And if I feel that, and you sense it, it's because his story is my story. It's my story. I am undeserving, unworthy, guilty, and the innocent one, Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Son of God, was slain for my sins.
And if I live passionately for him, it's because everyday, everyday I'm aware. I didn't get what I deserved. I don't know about you, but I thank God for his word. I thank God for his grace, I thank God for what he says in Psalm 103, that our God does not punish us for our sins, that he doesn't deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great at the height of the heavens above the earth. Our God is so good, he has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. That's how good our God is. His story's my story. How many people were hanging on a cross? Three. Three of you answered me, I'm gonna ask you again. 'Cause it's no fun without ya.
How many people were hanging on a cross? Three. Three, back when I was in cemetery... Seminary. That's a preacher joke, I spent four years in grad school. It almost killed me, back when I was in cemetery, I studied something called numerology, numerology. It's the study of the spiritual meaning behind numbers. If you never studied it, it's fascinating. Numbers have meanings in scripture, like number one always represents unity or the oneness of God, it represents God.
Four, if you see it in scripture, tends to represent the earth. Five represents grace. Seven is perfection or holiness, God's number. Six is one less than perfection, the number of man, or the number of the evil one, 666. Eight represents new beginnings, 10 is the number of testing. 40 is the number of trials, and there's all sorts of different things where you'll see the same spiritual theme behind numbers. Three, in scripture, always means completeness, or wholeness. It means it's completed, it's fully done. It means wholeness. God is often represented in three different natures. Who is God, he is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are often seen are triune beings. We are body, soul and spirit. God is represented many times and described as having three qualities, he's omnipresent, he's everywhere. He's omniscient, he's all knowing. He's omnipotent, he is all powerful.
In Revelation, Jesus was described as the one who was, and is, and is to come. The grace of God, it manifests itself in three different forms. There's justifying grace, sanctifying grace, and there's glorifying grace. In the Old Testament, there's three patriarchal fathers. There's Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The tabernacle has three sections, the outer court, the inner court, the holy of holies. The angels cried out to God three times, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty. Daniel prayed three times a day. Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days. The New Testament has 27 books in the Bible, 27, that happens to be three times three times three, and I know I'm pushing it, but work with me, because we're having fun. The apostle Paul was blinded for three days with a bright light from heaven. He prayed three times for the thorn that tormented him. He was stranded on Malta for three months after being shipwrecked. Jesus, when he was born, had wise men visit him, who brought him three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh.
At the age of 12, he was separated from his mom and dad for three days. His public ministry lasted three years. It started at the age of 30, it ended at the age of 33. He was tempted there times by the devil in the desert. He had 12 disciples, three were in his inner circle, Peter, James and John, who saw him at the Mount of Transfiguration, who also were with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times, and Peter did. He restored him, showed his love and his grace three different times before Peter preached at Pentecost. God spoke audibly, recorded in scripture, to Jesus three times. Jesus raised three people from the dead, Jairus's daughter, the widow's son, and of course Lazarus. Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane. Tradition tells us he fell three times while carrying the cross.
There were three men hanging that day on the cross, and above Jesus was a sign that said King of the Jews, written in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Jesus, God's son, our Savior, was placed on the cross, at the third hour of the day. At the ninth hour, which is 3:00 p.m., he declared three words of victory, Jesus said it is finished. And the earth shook, and darkness fell across the land, for three hours, and the world went silent. No hope, no life. Day one, nothing happened. Day two, nothing happened. But on the third day, when the women went to the tomb, the stone was not there, it had been rolled away, because the work that our God sent Jesus to do, he completed, it was perfect, it was done, it was over. It is finished, he declared, and that's why, because the perfect work for the forgiveness of sins has been displayed by the love of God. They will no longer hold our sins against us when we are in Christ, it is because of that, Jesus could look at a repentant person, who could do nothing to earn his forgiveness, and declare your sins are forgiven.
If you walked in, or if you're watching, and your guilt is heavy, confess it to him. Our God is faithful and just to forgive all sins, and to cleanse us from all righteousness. You are not here by accident, you are here to experience the grace, the gospel, the good news. If you feel dead on the inside, Jesus didn't come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive, and for that, we give him glory, we give him honor, because he is risen.
So Father, today, work in the hearts of your people. As you pray in all of our churches, those of you who are followers of Christ, and you wanna be ever aware of his grace, so you could ever represent his love, lift your hands right now. God thank you for a church full of people, ready to show the grace of Jesus, bring it to the front of our mind, every moment of every day, that we live and we're right with you, because Jesus gave his life for us.
As you keep praying today, in all of our churches, there are those of you, you're gonna become intimately aware that you don't have that joy, you may look at your life, and say I'm a little bit dead on the inside. You feel the weight of your guilt. You may be like me, I was a church person. I kinda went to church, I had it in my head, I didn't know it in my heart. You may not be a church person at all. And suddenly there's something drawing you toward the things of God, what is that? That is the loving kindness of God, and you are not here by accident. God's grace is drawing you. He's drawing you to Jesus, who is Jesus? He is the Son of God, who is perfect in every way, died on the cross, and rose again, so that anyone, and this includes you, doesn't matter who you are, doesn't matter what you've done, doesn't matter how dark your life feels, doesn't matter how heavy the guilt is, anyone who calls on his name would be saved and forgiven. That's why many of you are here today.
All of our churches, those of you who say I know it, I am guilty, I need his forgiveness, I need his healing, I want the peace, I want the joy, I feel dead on the inside, I wanna feel alive, because Jesus is my life. Today I turn from my sin, today I give my life to him, that's your prayer, would you lift your hands high now, all over the place, lift 'em up and say yes, back here in this middle section, right back over here, both of you, praise God for you, right back over here, oh my goodness, and back here as well. Yes, Jesus, right over here. We thank God for you. Church online, you click right below me. All the way back here toward the back, here in the middle section, somebody at church oughta give God some praise. Right back over here, Jesus, I surrender my life to you. I give my life to you. Church, in honor of those meeting Christ today, would you stand to your feet? We're gonna pray aloud together. Join your faith with those around you, and just pray after me, pray:
Heavenly Father, I surrender my life, completely to you. Jesus, save me. Forgive my sins. Make me brand new. Fill me with your spirit, so I can show your love, in all I do. My life is not my own. I give it to you. In Jesus name I pray.