Greg Laurie - What The Death Of Jesus Means To You?
Lemme start with a question, "'what is the moment of your life where you experienced the most pain, the most pain"? Maybe it was physical, maybe you fell, maybe you broke an arm or a leg or something else, we've all had those moments of pain, but then there's different kinds of pain, right? There's emotional pain that we can go through when we've been hurt. For instance, pain of rejection, or the pain of betrayal, or the pain of abandonment, when the husband says to the wife, I've been unfaithful to you, when the wife says to the husband, I want a divorce, when the child says to the parent, I don't wanna live the Christian life, when the parent says to the child, we don't love you or want you, or when the pastor who has just preached for two hours says, one more thing, that's a joke, right?
But we all know what it's like to feel pain, and maybe one of the worst kinds of pain you can experience is when you've been betrayed by someone you care about, someone that you thought was a true friend, someone you thought you could trust. Well, it cuts like a knife, doesn't it? So when do you think Jesus experienced the most pain? Do you think it's when they put the crown of thorns on His head? Do you think it's when He was beaten with a Roman whip, most likely a Roman cat-of-nine-tails? Do you think it's when they drove those nails through His hands and His feet?
As horrible and horrific as all of that was, I don't think that was His most painful moment. I'll tell you what I think His most painful moment was in just a moment, but we pick this story up in Mark 15, starting in verse six. "Now it was the custom at that time to release a prisoner when the people requested it. A man named Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionist who had committed murder and the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. Pilate says, 'Do you want me to release to you Jesus, the King of the Jews?' Knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priest had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priest stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. Pilate then says, 'What shall I do with the one you call the King of the Jews?' They shouted in response, 'Crucify Him!' 'Why'? Pilate asked, 'What crime has He committed?' And they shouted the louder, 'Crucify Him!'"
So the custom of the time during Passover was to release a guilty person and that people could choose. So Pilate thought, okay, this is a slam dunk, I'm gonna put Jesus out there, the very model of virtue, the miracle worker, the healer, and then Barabbas an insurrectionist, a murderer, the Romans would have called him a terrorist. Who do you want, Jesus of Nazareth, or do you want this terrorist murder? But the religious leaders are stirring up the crowd and much to the shock of Pilate they cry out, "We want you to release Barabbas and we want you to crucify Jesus". So Pilate is trying to find a way to appease this blood thirsty crowd, so he gives the order that Jesus should be scourged, scourge.
Now we could read the word whipped and scourged and we don't know what that means, but basically the whip that would have been used, well, here I have a reproduction of it here in this table. This is what is called a Roman cat-of-nine-tails, you can see it just short wooden handle, strips of leather, and here at the end of this are pieces of sharpened metal. Sometimes it will also be bone and glass embedded in the leather strands of the whip. So when this whip comes down on the back of a person as you can understand it digs deeply into the body. This whip would have lacerated veins and arteries and even the kidneys and vital organs could be exposed and slashed. A horrible, horrible process to be whipped by the Romans, and Jesus was whipped 40 times minus one, they held back one out of mercy, so 39 times this whip came on the back of Jesus Christ.
Listen, some people died from this scourging alone, it was described in that day as a halfway crucifixion. That's how bad it was. Hebrews 2:17 tells us, "He Himself has gone through suffering, and because of that He is able to help us while we're being tempted". So don't think that God's up in heaven disconnected from what you're facing, Jesus has faced it, He's experienced it, He suffered. Now after Christ has been whipped with the Roman cat-of-nine-tails, Pilate brings Christ out before the bloodthirsty people and he says, which means, "Behold, the man". In other words, look at this guy, has He suffered enough? Is there enough blood for you? Can I let Him go now? Oh no, they're not satisfied, they still want more, they want His death by crucifixion. They say, "Crucify Him and let His blood beyond us and on our children".
We read that Pilate then washes his hands in a basin, sort of in a symbolic way, saying, "I'm done, I've done everything I could to free this man, I wash my hands of the matter", but listen you can't wash your hands of Jesus Christ. Now Jesus has led off to be crucified. Matthew's Gospel tells us that He was surrounded by a whole garrison of Roman soldiers. This was a lot upwards of 600 of them, and by the way they were the elite legionnaires. The legionnaires are sort of the cream of the crop of the Roman army, a modern equivalent would be the Green Berets or Delta Force or Navy SEALs. And as they saw how much Jesus had suffered, how His back had been ripped open and tremendous loss of blood, you would have thought that they would have had sympathy, sadly it's the very opposite.
Mark 15:17 says, "They put a purple robe on Him". By the way purple was the color of royalty, so they're mocking the fact that He is supposed to be a king. "They put a purple robe on Him and twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on Him, and began to call out, 'Hail the King of the Jews!' And again and again they struck Him on the head with a staff and they spit on Him, and falling on their knees, they paid homage to Him". It was all done in mockery. These people literally spit in the face of God and then they take this crown of thorns and they place it on His head. Here's reproduction of what the crown would have looked like. Imagine having this placed on your head instead of a crown of gold, they put this crown of thorns on Jesus and it would have cut deeply into a scalp causing more pain, lacerations and bleeding.
But it's interesting because the thorn is actually a symbol of the curse that came upon humanity, but Jesus is about to take the curse upon Himself. He was cursed in effect so you don't have to be. The Bible tells us that, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us". Because the Bible says, "Cursed it is everyone that hangs on a tree". Maybe you've thought, oh men in my life is cursed. No, no, it doesn't have to be, Jesus was cursed so you don't have to be cursed. There's no curse on you if you put your faith in Jesus Christ. We read in verse 19, "They struck Jesus on the head". And we wonder they cry out, "Where's your army to deliver you"? Where was His army?
I can tell you right now, His army was nearby. This is a Roman sword, a reproduction of one, and I can tell you right now that the army of Jesus which were angels were on standby and ready to strike at a moment's notice. Remember in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter pulled out the sword and sliced off the ear of the high priest servant whose name happened to be Malchus. I think he was probably aiming for his head, but Peter was a fisherman, not a swordsman, right? And Jesus said to Peter, "Put that thing away Peter, put that sword away. Don't you know that I can call and 12 legions of angels would come and deliver me right now". To show you the power Jesus had, He didn't even need the angels to deliver Him because we read that when they came to arrest Him, He says, "Who do you seek"? They replied, "Jesus of Nazareth". And then He says, "I am". And they all fell backwards. Why? Because He was making a claim of deity.
Remember what God said to Moses at the burning bush? Moses says, "Who shall I say has sent me"? God says, "I am that I am". Jesus was effectively saying the same thing. I am. I wonder if it reverberated. I am m, m, m, m, boom, they fell over. All these soldiers with their swords and their spears and their shields and their gleaming armor like dominoes falling on each other. He could have said, I am, and you were, bye. Game over. But He went through all of this for us because He had to sacrifice His life for us in our place. Now Jesus takes up the cross and begins His journey to Golgotha. And the word Golgotha means, "the place of the skull". Jesus was carrying His own cross. Here we have a cross, a basic Greek production of the general size of what the cross would look like. This would weigh approximately 300 pounds.
Now imagine how hard it would be to carry this. Understand Jesus was a strong guy. Don't forget Pilate said of Him. "Behold, the man". You know, He knew how to put His back to a task, He was after all a carpenter, He would chop trees down and build tables and frame home, so He could pick up heavy things so much for the anemic Jesus of so much religious art. Jesus was strong, Jesus was a man's man, but also don't forget, Jesus had His back ripped open and He had been punched in the face, and His beard was ripped out of His face, and a crown of thorns was placed on His head and He has to carry a 300 pound cross. And so as He's carrying this very heavy cross, He collapses beneath the weight of it as He is making His way to Golgotha.
Mark 15 says in verse 22, "They brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha. That is the place of the skull. They offered Him wine drugged with myrrh, but He refused it. And the soldiers crucified Him. It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified Him and a sign announced the charge that was against Him, The King of the Jews, and the revolutionaries were crucified with Him, one on His right and one on His left". Look back at the cross for a moment, imagine a sign at the top. Pontus Pilate wrote it down, "The King of the Jews". He wrote it in three different languages. It was sort of like Pilate's gospel track that he put up on the cross for everyone to read.
The religious leaders pushed back and said, "Don't write down He's the King of the Jews, write He said He was the King of the Jews". Pilate responded. "What I have written I have written". And a better translation of that would be, what I have written has been written and will always be written. Pilate said, I said what I meant and I meant what I said. So there's Jesus now hanging on the cross. This center cross of the three was reserved for Barabbas who had been set free. So Jesus was effectively dying on someone else's cross. He had committed no crime, the men hanging on the cross as they had committed many crimes. He was dying for Barabbas and all sinners everywhere. He was dying for you, and He was dying for me. As Paul said, "He loved me and He gave Himself for me".
Christ gave seven significant statements from the cross. We have to kinda piece them together from all the Gospel to get them in their proper order. So as Jesus is hanging on the cross between two thieves or two other criminals, His first words were, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". One of the criminals crucified next to Him turns to Him and says, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom".
And Jesus gives second statement from the cross when He says to this man, "Truly, truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise". Standing at the foot of the cross, there stands Mary, the mother of Jesus. Imagine her anguish to look up there and see her beloved son. She once guided those little tiny hands that are now nailed to a cross. Isaiah tells us He was so bloodied and beaten and traumatized, you can not even tell He was a man.
And Jesus looks down from the cross and He says His third statement from the cross, which is, "Woman, behold your son". John the apostle was standing nearby, and then He says to John, "Son, behold your mother". In effect saying to John, take care of my mother for me.
Then presumably He takes on the sin of the world and gives the fourth statement from Calvary which is, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani"? Which is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"?
Statement number five is, "I thirst".
Statement number six, "It is finished".
And the final statement statement number seven He says to the Father, "Into your hands I commit my spirit".
Let's contemplate for a moment that rebutting first statement of Jesus, when He says, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". That's in Luke 23:34. Jesus is basically saying, Father forgive them, they need forgiveness so desperately they've committed a sin that is wicked beyond all comprehension. Father, forgive them they don't know what they've done. And by the way, it's implied in the original language He said that more than once. So it wasn't just one statement, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do, but rather, Father, forgive them they know not what they do. Father, forgive them they don't know what they've done. Father, forgive them. He was saying it over and over again.
Now initially we know that both thieves joined in the chorus of mockery with the people standing at the foot of the cross who were saying, "If He is the Christ, if He is the Son of God, let Him come down from that cross, He should save Himself". So at the beginning, first Christ is crucified, everyone's mocking Him including the criminals on each side. Jesus gives statement number one from Calvary, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". And one of those thieves comes to his senses and he believes, and he rebukes the other guy. In fact, he actually says to the other guy, "Don't you fear God, knowing we're under the same condemnation"? What woke this man up? Why did he believe so quickly?
And by the way, to become a Christian it doesn't take years, it doesn't take months, it doesn't even take hours, it can happen just like that. It can happen for you at this moment while you're listening to me speak where you suddenly realize, all of this is true, Jesus is the Son of God. I can come into a relationship with Him, I can know God in a personal way. That's what happened to that guy. What won him over? What softened his hardened heart? It's when he saw Jesus forgive the men who had done this horrific thing to Him. By the way we don't know that those thieves had been scourged, we don't believe those thieves had crowns of thorns on their heads, but Jesus had all that, in addition to the holes of the crucifixion, and that man believed because he saw this forgiveness in action. Jesus forgave this hardened criminal, "Today you'll be with me in paradise".
Now an ominous moment takes place. This has been described as the crucifixion in the crucifixion. It's nine o'clock in the morning, suddenly the sun goes dark, it's like an eclipse and some extra biblical sources suggest there was a universal darkness. This darkness falls on the land and that darkness is pierced by the voice of Jesus giving this fourth statement from the cross in Mark 15:33, "As darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. At three o'clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani"? Which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"? If you were a fiction writer and some people suggest the Bible is fiction, you would never have your hero make a statement like this.
Some people say, oh the Bible's fiction, it's all made up. No, this is a true story and this is showing what Christ was experiencing. Now we know at some moment Jesus bore the sin of the world, the Bible clearly tells us this. When it happened we can't be exactly sure, but it would seem to me this is the moment when all of the sin of humanity past, present and future is poured upon Christ, thus He says, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"? Look, Jesus had been forsaken by His disciples by and large they had fled, but He always had the Father. The Father was always there with Him, but now at the cross as the sin of the world is poured upon Jesus, God the Father turns His face away from the Son. Why? Because God in His holiness cannot look at sin.
The Scripture says of God, "He's of pure eyes and to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity". So in effect the Father turns His face away as He's poured His wrath on His Son. The wrath and anger of God that should have been poured on you, it should have been poured on me was poured instead on Jesus. And this was His most painful moment. I raised the question earlier, what was the most painful moment? Was it when they put the crown of thorns on His head? I don't think so. Was it when they used the Roman whip on His back as horrible as that was? I don't think that was it. Was it when they pounded the spike through His hands and His feet?
Again, no, it was when all the sin of the world was placed upon Him. Why? Because Jesus had never sinned ever, not even one thought out of harmony with the Father. Jesus said, "I always do the things that please Him". Who could say that but Jesus? And it was true, but here is Jesus now separated in effect from the Father. But listen to this, Jesus was forsaken so I don't have to be. Lemme say that again. Jesus was forsaken so I don't have to be. Jesus was forsaken of God so I could be forgiven. Jesus entered the darkness that I might walk in the light. Jesus was forsaken of God for a time that I might enjoy His presence for ever.
Jesus then gives His fifth statement from Calvary, "I thirst". I thirst, this wasn't any normal thirst, that He was just dying there dehydrated, and He cries out, "I thirst". And by the way, that shows the humanity of Christ. Yes, He was God walking among us, but He was also a man. He felt that pain when they struck Him in the face, He felt that pain of the crown of thorns, He felt that pain as they tore His back open, and when they nailed Him to the cross, and He felt the pain of separation from the Father.
Now statement number six, "It is finished". Jesus was 33 when He died. At the age of 33 most people are saying, it is beginning, but Jesus was saying it is finished, but He did not say I am finished. This is not the shout of a victim, this is a shout of a victor overcoming his enemies. In the Greek it's one word, it is finished is one word in the Greek it was a word that was commonly used in the language of that day in many situations. If you built a table and it was finally completed you would say it's done. Or even after a great meal was prepared you'd say the meal is completed.
So He says... They knew what that word meant, it's a word that meant it's finished. It stands finished, and it will always be finished. And by the way, He cried out with a loud voice. He didn't just say, He said, It is finished, it's completed, it's done. The war is over, a new covenant now has been established with God and man. And I think what I call the battle cry of the cross reverberated through the hallways of heaven as well as the hallways of hell. The mission had been accomplished, the job had been completed, the death of Jesus satisfied the righteous demands of the Father.
Now the final statement of Christ from the cross He says to the Father, "Into your hands I commit my spirit". The Roman soldier was shocked to see that He had died, and normally they would take the mallet, the hammer and smash the legs and so the crucified person would collapse and could no longer breathe, and that's how they would kill him, but Jesus did not need that done. The Bible says, "They haven't broken a bone in His body". That's prophesied of Christ, He gave His life up. See, no one the life of Jesus, He gave His life, He laid His life down. Jesus said, greater love has no man than this, and He laid down His life for His friends. Notice, three times on the cross Jesus addressed the Father. His first words, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". His fourth word, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"? And His last words, "Father into your hands I commit my spirit".
Jesus addressed the Father at the beginning, in the middle, and the end. And we should do the same in life, shouldn't we? Address God in the beginning when you were a young man or a young woman, commit your life to the Lord, don't throw your life away. Do it in the middle of your life, and obviously you wanna do it at the end of your life. So the question is raised earlier, why did Jesus die for us on the cross? What does the death of Jesus mean to you? Answer, it means everything. He did this for you because He loves you and He wants you to come into a relationship with the Father. Maybe God has spoken to your heart and you have seen your need for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came from heaven to this earth. He was born in a manger, He died in a cross, He rose again from the dead. Why? Because He loves you, and He wants a relationship with you.
Listen, I'm not talking about religion. I don't wanna be a religious person, I don't think you wanna be one either, I'm talking about relationship with God. Jesus who died and rose again stands at the door of your life, and He knocks, and He says, if you'll hear His voice and open the door He will come in. Question, have you asked Jesus Christ to come and live inside of you? You might say, well, I think so, I'm not sure. Hey, if someone moved into your house in the middle of the night, do you think you would be aware of it? I'm sure you would. And in the same way, if Christ has come to live inside of you, you will know, and if you don't know, maybe He has not come in yet. He's just a prayer away. All you need to do is say, "Jesus, I want this relationship with you, I want you to forgive me of my sin, I wanna go to heaven when I die".
Would you like to do that? Would you like Christ to come into your life? If so, why don't you just pray this simple prayer with me? You can pray it out loud or you can pray it in the quietness of your heart, but this is a prayer where you're asking Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord. pray this with me now.
Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. Now come into my life. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus name. Amen.
Did you just pray that prayer with me? If so, I want you to know in the authority of Scripture that Christ Himself has come to live inside of you. And lemme be the first to say to you, congratulations and welcome to the family of God.