Dr. Ed Young - Words of Comfort
I love to read biography! I've read a lot of biographies... Somehow when you walk inside the skin of men and women, significant, insignificant, historical, Biblical, I just love biographies! How many of you like biographies? Lift your hand-yeah, yeah, a lot of us do. It's something about it. It keeps us awake a little better than other types of literature. But if you've read a lot of biographies, you'll notice something. The account of the central character's death is usually very brief. Sometimes just a sentence or a page; sometimes maybe a small chapter towards the end. But when you study the story of Jesus, do you realize that half-almost half of Mark, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John take up the last few days of His life.
That's out of the ordinary. I doubt you'll find another biography ever written in which the preponderance of the story takes up the last days of His life and a big hunk of that is His death and Resurrection. Why do you think that is? It's because the death of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus is central in understanding the Good News of what God has done for man in Jesus Christ. We always sing, "Jesus, keep me near the Cross," right? We sang that a little earlier. And we have in our Christian vocabulary, stay near the Cross. Cling to the Cross! Kneel at the Cross! Run to the Cross! Don't ever get far away from the Cross! Right? Isn't that a part of our vocabulary?
"All your sins are washed away at the Cross"! At the Cross... What's that all about? Is that just some slick little Christian words that we throw out? "Boy, just stay near the Cross. Man, don't get far away from the Cross... Linger at the Cross! Fall at the Cross! Cry at the Cross! Go to the Cross"! What's that all about? Now, another question: If you had been in Jerusalem on the day of the Crucifixion, maybe Passover, happened to be there-how near to the Cross would you have been, huh? You reckon? I thought about. You know, reckon I'd been at the Cross? Do you think I'd a gone there? I'm a Jew... uh, I went to the Passover, uh... Would I have been here? What's the importance of being near to the Cross?
I thought about that, and I said, "You know, I want to learn what this really means and understand it," so I thought it'd be good if we interviewed some of those people who were near the Cross, who were under the Cross, who were standing at the Cross. We could go and interview them and ask them, "Why are you here"? And we would learn something from those who were at the Cross. And that's our Scripture. Look at it. Therefore, Verse 25, ...the soldiers did these things... We looked at that, the soldiers ...but standing by the Cross of Jesus were His mother, His mother's sister, the wife of Cleopas, Mary Magdalene. And when Jesus then saw His mother, the disciple He loved was standing nearby. (That's John). Five of 'em at the Cross. Four were women.
Where are the big courageous men? Five were at the Cross, standing near the Cross, under the Cross. Four were women. Does that embarrass any of you guys? What about all of our courageous masculinity! Where were the men? Had one. John. But let's interview those that said, "Standing by the Cross of Jesus was His mother..." Mary was standing by the Cross. Surprise anybody? You see, Mary, we go back to the Gospel of Luke, Mary was told she was pregnant, and look at her response in Verse 29 when Gabriel came, of Luke Chapter Number 1. One word I want you to see: And coming in, he said to her, Gabriel, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you," but she (Mary) was very perplexed.
The Greek word there, I want you to see it. Diatarass?. And it's translated trouble, perplexed, afflicted, greatly burdened, this word... Troubled, I think, is the best translation. And we see, and you look at the life of Mary, you see trouble. Trouble there to the fact she was a virgin engaged to be married, and now she was pregnant. Troubled, troubled... We know an angel, Matthew tells us, appeared to Joseph, explained it to him. And she responded and said, "I will do the will of God. Not my will, but Thy will be done". Almost pre-supposing the same battle that Jesus had in Gethsemane that we looked at very closely. She was troubled.
Can you imagine when she was 9 months pregnant, and she had to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem, 9 months pregnant? She was troubled. And when she got there, there was no room in the inn? You can be sure Mary was diatarass?. She was troubled. And they had no place to put Him except in a feeding trough, a manger... A mother, mother, listen moms, that, that would trouble you. She was troubled. And then we know she went to the temple 8 days to commit Jesus for purification, and we've already looked at Simeon, who said, "Through this Son, your soul will be pierced". That's the meaning of this word, "diatarass?". It means all the way though-dia. Tarasso, greatly distressed. Troubled. Troubled, troubled... We see that all the way through Mary's experience.
By the way, Mary isn't prominent in the New Testament. It's almost like she's in the shadows over here. She's sort of in the shadows over here. To be sure, when Jesus, when He was 12, didn't leave with the rest of them. They had to go back and find him. A mother-she'd be troubled, wouldn't she? Absolutely, she'd be troubled. She'd be troubled. Trouble, trouble, just covered the life of the virgin Mary because of Jesus, Jesus, her virgin-born Son. She would be troubled. And do you imagine that when Jesus spoke in Nazareth in the home synagogue, in the home town, He was standing up as the Rabbi presiding in a service, the whole family would have been there, would they not? Sure they would have been, to hear my Boy, my Son!
But what happened? He became so piercing in His attack upon the lack of faithfulness of the Jews they wanted to kill Him and push Him over the cliff! And I've been to that very cliff in Nazareth, and you go over that cliff-I can tell you, it's all over. Boy, that would have troubled Mary. And what about when the family went to Jesus while He was teaching in the middle of His ministry there in Galilee, and His family, His brothers, four brothers-at least two sisters, they said, "Man, He's out of His mind! Have Him to come out here. We'll take Him home," and He wouldn't even go out to greet His family. Mary was troubled, troubled, right? Right? Mothers, you understand that. She would have been troubled. It was a mystery to her. She understood. She, she had inside information-make no mistake about it; but still, that didn't simplify her high and holy calling, did it?
All the way through, trouble, trouble, trouble. And we see, certainly she was at the foot of the Cross, near the Cross; she was troubled. Did you notice, she was the only member of her family there? Where were the four sons? Where were the least two sisters? She's there alone. Evidently, they had given up on Jesus and they said, "He's crazy. He's foolish..." and they just stayed away, and she had to stand there at the foot of the Cross, troubled. But we interview Mary, the mother of our Messiah, and we ask her, "Why are you near the Cross"? We're gonna learn. It's because she would tell us, "I believe. I believe! I don't understand all these side streets; I don't understand the persecution. I don't understand the religious leaders condemning Him. I don't understand the brutality of Rome. I didn't expect this, but I'm here because in all the mystery of the Cross, and the unjust trial and death of my Son, I stand here because I believe"!
At the foot of the Cross, you discover belief-belief. Then let's interview the next one at the Cross. It says Mary sister... It would be Salome. Name ring a bell? Salome was the wife of who? You remember who? The wife of the man who gave birth to two of the Apostles, James and John? The wife of Zebedee, right? And remember what Salome had did? Had gone to Jesus just a few days before and said, "Jesus, I see You're coming in Your Kingdom. I want my boys to be vice-president and secretary of state"! Hello! She was at the foot of the Cross. What do we see? Why was she there? She says, "I'm here in light of the Cross; I'm experiencing humility".
At the foot of the Cross, you find humility, ladies and gentlemen. That's what Salome found-humility. All the pride, the push in first place. Now she wasn't saying, "You know, I don't where are my boys"? Remember Caiaphas when he was examining Jesus. He said, "Where, where are Your disciples? Where are your followers? You're here by Yourself". Jesus didn't answer, remember. They were AWOL, absent without leave. They'd run away! But here Mary was there. She was saying, "I believe". Salome was there. She was saying, "I am humbled. I'm humbled. I've pushed my boys, and I'm humbled". And then we have another Mary... three Marys were there, Mary the wife Cleopas. Remember him? I had to look up Cleopas. Cleopas was one of the disciples Jesus met in the road to Emmaus.
And evidently, she was there because she'd been a follower of Jesus, and she didn't understand His death. She was there because she was simply faithful, because we see from the account there on the road that her husband was evidently a faithful disciple, and therefore, Jesus remember revealed Himself to him in that resurrection appearance. So she was there simply, "I'm faithful". So you find faithfulness at the Cross. You find belief at the Cross. You find humility at the Cross if you interview those who were standing near the Cross, staying near to the Cross... And then Mary Magdalene was there. Oh yeah. Why was she there? What would you learn from Mary Magdalene? You would learn, I think, one word-redeemed. She had seven devils. She lived a vicious, immoral life.
Lot of people speculate she was the woman who washed the feet of Jesus in the Pharisee's house; that is sheer speculation. It certainly could have been, but we know that she met Jesus, and all of a sudden, she experienced salvation, and salvation remember has two big words about it. Salvation means that you have been released, and it means you have been healed. Released and healed-rescued and healed-salvation. She experienced that, so therefore at the foot of the Cross, you introduce her, you tell you, she says, "I don't know what's going on exactly here, but I can tell you one thing: I've been redeemed! I've been redeemed".
Okay-that's the women. We learn a lot interviewing them near the Cross. It's all available to us near the Cross; but there's one man there, there's John, the beloved disciple, "John! John, you're here! Now you ran away like the rest of them. You were not even as bold as Peter to warm around the fire there... But you are now back here at a strategic time at the Cross. John, why are you here"? He says, "I'm here to be forgiven"! You find forgiveness at the Cross. What these five individuals found, it's available for all of us. That's the reason we're to stay near the Cross. We're to go to the Cross. We're to kneel before the Cross. He said, "I'm forgiven". And what a story John would tell. Not only the Gospel of John did he write, but he wrote the Book of Revelation. He was the one who lived longer than the other apostles, and God in His divine economy just lifted a little bit, the lid from Heaven and let John see all the way into eternity!
Man, what a privilege that he had! So at the Cross, at the Cross where I first saw the Light, and burden of my soul rolled away! It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I'm happy all the day! At the Cross! Boy, we interview those people, we pick up. By the way, there was somebody else there! He was hanging on the Cross! What was that? Salvation! We've already looked at it. Rescue and healing! Rescued by the Cross, by Calvary, by the shed blood of Jesus, and healing by the Resurrection in and out of us forever. At the Cross at the Cross where I first saw the Light. The burden of my soul rolled away! It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day at the Cross! That's why we say, "Come to the Cross. Kneel at the Cross".
Salvation was there too, summarizing all the rest of it at the Cross, as we look at this experience. And now, we have that, those final words, phrases, in this third word of Jesus. He looks at Mary and says, "Woman, behold your son..." and pointed at John. Looked at John, His closest, best, most intimate friend, said, "John, from now on, this is your mother". All of this from the Cross, from the Cross. The two people in the flesh Jesus most loved-His mother and John, His mother and John... He provided for them. Now just get this in your mind! I had a tough time getting a hold of this. Here is Jesus in a cosmic transaction. Get that? A cosmic transaction. He is the propitiation; He is the substitute for all of mankind, leaving a way for human beings to find a way all the way to God and all the way to Heaven.
That is taking place there on the Cross. But what does He do? He remembers His family responsibilities. I know a lot of people in my profession, and they say, "Well, you know, the preacher's kids were always bad kids. They're always rebellious! They always go astray... ahh, ahh, ahh... Boy, the preacher's doing all this godly work. He doesn't have any time for his family..." Or, "You're so active in the church, and I was teaching, and I didn't have..."
Let me tell you something: Whatever your calling, your highest responsibility, under God, first of all, is to make sure that you're there as a spiritual leader, as a mom, or a mother in your family. Here is Jesus-let me say it again-with a cosmic transaction, and He thought of His mom, and He thought of his best buddy, and there was a Jewish adoption that took place. It reaffirmed John. He didn't have to say, "John, I know you ran. I know you weren't there when I ne..." It just reaffirmed him, and it gave security for His mother because evidently, the rest of the kids had all disappeared.
Two little quick things that I bumped into. First is the Resurrection experience. There's one resurrection account which talks about-remember James and, I mean, Peter and John ran to the tomb there on Easter morning? You remember that one? And they got there, and it's in the Gospel of John, by the way... and they ran there, and John says that he outran Peter. Read it. It says, "John outran Peter. The beloved son outran Peter. He got there first; Peter-ha, ha, got there second, a little overweight".
John didn't go in. Peter went in and saw all the clothes there, and he said, "Man, man He's gone"! He believed, and they began to believe He was resurrected. And then it says, "They went to their own house". They left there-John went back home following this view of an empty tomb. Why do you think he went back home? I think he went back home to tell Mary, the mother of Jesus! That's why he went back home! "Mary, we don't know what's going on. We didn't understand the Cross, but I tell you, the tomb is empty, and everything is laid in place..." He went home to tell Mary, the adopted son.
I'll show you something else that's I think so interesting. In Acts Chapter Number 1, I think it's Verse 14, we have-this is Crucifixion. Now we have Resurrection. Now they're going the Upper Room to pray for Pentecost. It names all the apostles that are there, and he says, "Mary went there with her four sons," the AWOL brothers of Jesus. Mary went there with James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Jude, her other four sons. Evidently now, following the Resurrection, healing had taken place in the family. Jesus said, "I came like a sword to divide," but also He came like One Who healed.
At the Cross, at the Cross, do we learn anything from these four ladies? Do we learn anything from Him Who was dying on the Cross? Absolutely! We find belief. We find humility. We find redemption. We find salvation, all at the Cross, at the Cross, at the Cross where we first saw the Light! Do know how Memorial Day began to remember those who died in our nation's service? Anybody know? Better not guess-I know. Memorial Day didn't begin after the Revolutionary War. Oh, there were some Memorial Day celebra... Memorial Day really began, and the pressure to make it official on our calendar, following the Confederate War. Wheww! Surprise!
Following the Confederate War in 1866 in a confederate cemetery outside of Columbus, Mississippi, there was a confederate cemetery, and the mothers on this particular weekend-the mothers of confederate sons who had died, went out there with just carloads of flowers and covered all the graves of their sons and their husbands who died in the Confederate War. I mean the whole-it was a sea of flowers in this confederate seminary, cemetery. And when they got back, they looked around and they saw just grassy spots in this confederate cemetery, and they were not covered with flowers. And they went out there and discovered that union soldiers were also buried all through this confederate cemetery. And those mothers said, "You know, there are mothers there up North, who they don't know where their sons are buried, and they're not here..." and they went and took flowers and put them on all the union soldier's graves who gave their life and now whole cemetery was covered with flowers.
That was where Memorial Day began, right there in that cemetery. There's something about a mother, isn't it? Something about a mom! Memorial Day is a reflection of Mother's Day, and we see how important it is to see Mary, the mother of Jesus standing by the Cross of her only begotten Son. Ladies and gentlemen, that is where you and I need to abide, to stand, to kneel, because it is there we discover belief. It is there we find humility. It is there we find steadfastness. It is there we find salvation. It's all there at the foot of the Cross. So we can pray, Jesus, keep me near the Cross! Bring me to the Cross, because there is a point of new life.