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There is so much in this passage, the best thing I can invite you to do it just read it. More than once. Probably several times. Take your time reading it and let each sentence sink in. Let the words within the sentences penetrate your soul, comma to comma.
On the way to The Skull, he still stopped and taught to the women who were following him and weeping for him. Jesus knew all things, past and present and he knew the destruction that would come on Jerusalem in a few short years. He knew that even though He had come, and would die and come back to life in this way for his people, many would never choose to accept him as the Messiah. And God’s wrath would be poured out on them. And it was. Having already been beaten and mocked and spit on and…he tried one last time to reveal to his followers who he was. It’s amazing. When any other human would be seeking pity for themselves, Jesus was still trying to reach people.
Now the worst part.
They Crucified him there.
Along with criminals.
And Jesus prayed a prayer of forgiveness for them.
But still, they threw dice for his clothes.
They ridiculed him.
Just take some time and let all that sink in. No matter how good we think we can be, no matter how much better we think we are than others, no matter anything we could argue or rationalize, at best we are at the foot of the cross when we should be on it. When we really see Christ for who He was, see the cross for what it was and see ourselves for who we are, we see that we’re really undeserving of the death he died for us. We are not entitled in anyway to any of this, it’s a free gift from God. If you ever tried to boast in who you are in Christ, now would be a good time to stop and ask forgiveness for that. None of us are anything before Christ, and when we come to Christ, it is the work of Christ that washes over us that makes us acceptable to God. It’s the free gift from God, so that no man can boast.
Then for three hours, darkness came over the earth. If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, you know that when darkness comes over the earth it’s a sign of God’s judgement – God’s wrath. Here we see God’s judgement coming down on Christ while He was on the cross. Certainly the judgement was coming down on the land as well for their unbelief, but the wrath of God was placed on His own son in this moment – the wrath that we deserved.
Luke 23:26-49 (NET)
26 As they led him away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country. They placed the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A great number of the people followed him, among them women who were mourning and wailing for him. 28 But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For this is certain: The days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore children, and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will beginto say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ 31 For if such things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two other criminals were also led away to be executed with him. 33 So when they came to the place that is called “The Skull,” they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 [But Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”] Then they threw dice to divide his clothes. 35 The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the king of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who was hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 because the sun’s light failed. The temple curtain was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And after he said this he breathed his last.
47 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all those who knew Jesus stood at a distance, and the women who had followed him from Galilee saw these things.
Ask God to help you see just how much Christ did for you on this day so many years ago. Thank God for seeing you through his Son and not through the wrath that you deserve. Ask God to begin open the minds and heart of those in you 8 to 15 who will be here this weekend. Pray that they will be in a place to not only see what Christ did for them when they didn’t deserve it, but to believe in Him and commit their lives to following Him. Jesus said If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father in heaven. While there is more to this passage than we can get into today, what I want us to know is that we want God to accept us at the time when it counts the most. When we stand before the Father in Heaven, we want Jesus to say – Yes, I know you. We don’t want him to say I don’t know you. Just as the most important time for God to accept us, the most important time for us to proclaim the name of Jesus is before men on earth. It is our responsibility to Proclaim the name of Jesus so that all may hear and know. Pray for boldness so you will be able to stand before Men this day and invite them to see Christ for what He did for them.
Spend time today worshipping God for the work He did for us on the Cross. There is a Spotify playlist below that you can use to guide your time of worship today.
Visit the site: http://thedayjesusdied.com/ (WARNING – there is some content on this page that might be hard for you to watch, or your children. Use your own discretion…)
As you think about the grace you have received, think about those in your 8 to 15 who still need that grace. Unless they accept Christ, the wrath of God is still a very real thing they will have to face. Pray for them, pray they will be open to Christ and find their way to Him.
Invite your 8 to 15 to Easter. We will be sharing this whole story on Easter – without reservation or hesitation. We will boldly proclaim the story of the Gospel on Sunday.
You may want to change your facebook profile picture or cover photo to our Easter invitation – go to http://www.facebook.com/sixeightchurch to see the pictures, tag yourself in them and use them to invite your friends.
Whatever you do, don’t just let today go by without spending some time remembering what Christ did and being extremely grateful for His sacrifice. Whatever you do, don’t hoard this message of the cross to yourself, share it with someone.