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The Crucifixion

A Walk with Christ to the Cross  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Were You There?

Matthew 27:32–44 NIV84
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
This old spiritual beckons the question about experiencing the crucifixion of Christ. It draws our for me a feeling that makes me think about the horrific events of that day. It helps me transport my mind back over 2000 years.
Now, as we continue this Walk with Christ to the Cross, I am very drawn to look at the characters in this passage from Matthew’s gospel. I wonder what they experienced in their hearts and in their minds as they witnessed the events unfold throughout this day.
We know that the mock trials have happened, the verdict has been given, and the orders are being carried out to crucify Jesus. The description from all 4 gospels can put together a hour by hour timeline of what exactly happened. We get eyewitness accounts and each gospel writer provides some different insight, but all point to the brutality of which this event took place.
Jesus is carrying perhaps the cross beam of the cross. He has had sleep in days, He has been beaten, ridiculed, spat upon, and unjustly convicted of crimes He did not commit. He is worn out.
As they are going to the place of crucifixion, the guards want the procession to move faster. There is a crowd in the city that day preparing for the Passover. Many people from out of town are there and one man who seems to just be passing by, perhaps at the wrong place at the wrong time, is forced to carry this cross.
Simon from Cyrene is called out, “You carry His cross!” Simon realizes that he was not asked to carry that cross, but told to do so. He is smart enough to know that if he resists, he very well could be persecuted for disobeying a Roman official. So he goes over to the cross beam, lifts it off the Savior’s shoulders and begins carrying it up that hill.
Can you imagine what that must have been like? Looking into the eyes of this Man that had be convicted of a crime, sentenced to death, and you, a passerby forced to carry the very instrument that would be instrumental in killing Him.
We don’t know much about this man. However, Mark in his gospel tells us a bit more.
Mark 15:21 NIV84
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
We learn from here and in church history that Alexander and Rufus were leaders in the early church. Could it be that this very encounter that their father Simon from Cyrene had changed him and his household? I can’t help be wonder if Jesus looked into the eyes of Simon with compassion and Simon met His Savior and the changed his life so much, that his family also became followers of Christ and their lives were changed as well!
Parenthetically, moms and dads, your encounter with Christ will greatly influence your families’ encounter with Christ!
Were you there?
They come to a place called Golgotha, which means the place of the skull. I have learned through my studies that this place was a very public place of persecution and perhaps bones were visible from previous persecutions.
They guards gave Jesus a drink. The Bible tells us that it was a bitter mix of gall and wine, perhaps given to Him to help drug the pain that He was experiencing and the pain that was about to come. Jesus tasted it, and refused to drink. The Old Testament reminds us of this process:
Proverbs 31:6–7 NIV84
Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
But, Jesus wanted to not be numb or drugged, He had to experience this totally.
Jesus perhaps remembered that this was foretold:
Psalm 69:21 NIV84
They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
Psalm 69:21
He tasted the bitterness, as one theologian wrote, “He let no bitter cup go by Him untasted, when He was making atonement for all our sinful tasting of forbidden fruit; now he was tasting death in its full bitterness.”
Were you there?
Matthew tells us that they crucified Him. This means that they took this cross beam, lashed to another post, nailed His hands and feet to the cross, then lifted Him up, slid the post into a hole in the ground and began the process of a very painful, slow death. He was not going to die from a loss of blood, but rather from suffocating because His body was conformed in a way that He couldn’t get a breath.
Matthew points out that when they crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots. Perhaps they felt that there was something magical about those garments because people did get healed from just touching them. Maybe they hoped to get money from their friends for such a prize as the very garments of the Messiah. Or maybe they just wanted to have something to pass the time while they waited for His death.
Psalm 22:18 NIV84
They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
Psalm 22:8
You know, historically, this was written by David but this never happened to him. Perhaps in David’s spirit he felt that his offspring would be stripped of His glories and have them divided among us.
Nevertheless, we can be reminded in times when we feel we are stripped of the finer things in life, this can be a reminder that the enemy may take our clothes but he cannot take from us the garments of praise! Though the finer things of life can be taken away, the best comforts we have in Christ shall never be taken away!
Were you there?
The bible tells us that they placed a sign above His head written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
There is a common belief among scholars today that this little sign was not written in the way it should have been written. While the intent was for it to be written in a way that was to be mocking, it actually became the first Gospel Tract! Instead of ridicule, it became a declaration! It was designed for reproach, but God used it that as an accusation it became an announcement of honor!
Were you there?
We learn here that 2 robbers were being crucified with Jesus on His left and right. Think was just a coincidence?
Isaiah 53:12 NIV84
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Jesus was crucified with sinners, but while He lived He was separate from sinners as a saint. In their deaths, he was not separated so at our death, we might be among the saints!
Jesus was crucified between them. The middle place was for the chief offender. The thieves on the right and the left were to atone for their sins, but the One in the middle was to ATONE for ALL sins!
Were you there?
Hanging there on that cross, Jesus was still ridiculed, mocked and humiliated. When He was dying He was bearing our iniquity (our gross injustice and wickedness), he was loaded with our reproach (our fault and our blame) and not even one who had cried HOSANNA the week before came to His rescue.
Those that passed by condemned Him and blasphemed Him. They taunted Him and jeered at Him. Again, this was prophesied in the Old Testament:
Isaiah 37:22 NIV84
this is the word the Lord has spoken against him: “The Virgin Daughter of Zion despises and mocks you. The Daughter of Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee.
Isaiah 37:32 NIV84
For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Jeremiah 18:16 NIV84
Their land will be laid waste, an object of lasting scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads.
Lamentations 2:15 NIV84
All who pass your way clap their hands at you; they scoff and shake their heads at the Daughter of Jerusalem: “Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?”
Psalm 22:7 NIV84
All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
Psalm 109:25 NIV84
I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads.
Psalm 10
Were you there?
They wanted to see the mystical unfold in their mockery by saying, “come down from the cross and we will believe in Him” but instead we learn that He was to do something even greater by coming out of the grave!
Even the robbers on His left and right chimed in on the insults. The other gospels show us that one of them was convicted of these insults and had to take a stand.
Luke 23:40–43 NIV84
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
In the verses following, Jesus cries out,
Luke 23:40-43
Matthew 27:46 NIV84
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
A question on His lips and darkness on His heart, Jesus ultimately did die on that cross, a horrible, horrible death.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
We learn that Jesus ultimately did die on that cross, a horrible, horrible death.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Hebrews 5:7–10 NIV84
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
1 Corinthians 6:19–20 NIV84
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians
The long and short of it is this: Jesus went through all that, for you and for me. He paid the price so we could receive the gift! He gave HIS life so you and I could have abundant life. Jesus paid it all.
Were you there? He sure was and He did it for you and me!
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