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6 Sixes Around the Cross

Walking with Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:36
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 SIX 6’S AROUND THE CROSS Daniel Lange The Message of the Cross December 10, 2017 Introduction “Six 6’s around the cross.” What does that mean? It means that we’re going to be looking at six things that pertain to the cross, each of which has something to do with the number six. 6 Trials of Jesus First, let’s begin with the six trials of Jesus. John 18:13 says that they “led Him away to Annas first.” Who is Annas? He was the father-in-law of Caiphas, the High Priest that year. This tight-knit relationship and work among the former and current High Priests reminds us of the bind Jewish leaders and communities were in as they sought to straddle the fence between submission to the higher governing authorities and their own pursuits and desires for power and sovereignty. This pragmatic approach to accomplishing their will and desires is truly a theme that will carry itself throughout the entirety of Jesus’ venture to the cross, and one that for much of man’s history and up to today will continue to press on. “Do whatever I need to do, say whatever I need to say, in order to accomplish my goal and purpose,” that’s all we’re really talking about in short. And as man does whatever it is that he needs to do, there we see God’s man in the midst of it all, unmovable, steadfast, accomplishing His mission and goal according to the will of God. But God’s man will suffer along the way. He is struck with the palm of the hands. Then He is sent to Caiphas. Matthew 26:57ff tells us of false witnesses rising up, accusations of blasphemy, spitting, striking again, and mocking. Trial number three, we skip over to Luke 22, near the end of that lengthy chapter. Verse sixty-six tells us that as soon as it was day he was brought before the council of the priests and scribes. Again, God’s man is questioned, and tested. They ask Him if He’s the Christ, and God’s man refuses to deny. Then He is brought before Pilate, the governor of the province. Pilate wants nothing to do with Him, so he sends him to Herod, and kindles a new friendship. But Herod can find no fault, so he sends Him back to Pilate. There God’s man endures his sixth and final trial where He is brought before the people. The people dismiss the innocence pronounced upon Him, they’re after blood, and even brutal torture will not do. They decide to swap Barabbas, a known rabble-rouser and murderer, to see God’s man crucified. Those are the six trials of Jesus. 6 Hours on the Cross We press on then to the crucifixion of God’s man. Mark 15:25 tells us that they crucified Him on the third hour, that’s 9 A.M. in our time today. Verse thirty-four tells us that it was the ninth hour, that’s 3 P.M. in our time today, when God’s man would cry out those words, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,” and with a loud voice would breath out His last. Six long hours God’s man endured the cross. Though it be worthy for us to consider at length the cruelty shown upon that tree, for our purposes we will only settle upon a few key points. First of all, we ought to be mindful of the torture leading up to the cross. Witnesses tell us that while He was in the garden before His arrest, His sweat had become like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Dr. Alexander Metherell calls this a symptom of “hematidrosis,” where certain chemicals in the body are released under very rare circumstances of anxiety and stress and cause the sweat gland to release with a tinge of blood. The skin becomes very fragile at this point. Think about cold butter vs. warm butter. Both can be cut with a knife, but one requires some effort while the other requires little to none. In light of this we consider the flogging. Roman soldiers stand near unto our Lord with a leather whip in hand, typically fashioned with metal balls, sharp bones, and whatever kinds of sharp metal pieces that might be found, and then proceed to shred his beaten and red body, metal piercing His flesh like a knife that cuts into soft butter. We skip ahead to the crucifixion itself. His hands are nailed to the patibulum, the horizontal bar, where Roman soldiers typically used six to seven-inch spikes and would drive them just slightly below the hands in the wrist area, where Dr. Metherell says the “Median nerve” runs, the largest nerve going into the hand. The pain would feel something similar to hitting your “funny bone” as we call it, but instead of being able to withdraw immediately from the pain, it would be like someone holding a screwdriver there and continuing to put the pressure. Then, for the next six long hours, with His torn and tender back against the cross, God’s man would likely die for one of two reasons: 1). Asphyxiation, no longer able to push himself up upon the nail that would be locked into the tarsal bone of His foot. Or 2). Cardiac Arrest, due to the heavy loss of blood and likely the hypovolemic shock that began early on with the flogging. This is just a glimpse into the six long hours of God’s man upon the cross. 6 Statements to the Cross If it weren’t enough that God’s man endured six trials of false testimony and beatings, and six hours upon the agony of the cross, we also are reminded of six statements made by those enemies of the Christ while He hung upon the cross. Turning to Matthew’s account, beginning in verse thirty-nine, the enemy passes by, blasphemes, wags his head, and says, “You who destroy the temple and built it in three days, save Yourself!” Save yourself, Savior! That’s statement number one. Of course, we know He could have. “Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? Mat. 26:53 But Jesus didn’t come to save Himself, He came to save you, and you, and you, and you. Funny, how much the enemies actually do reveal at the cross of Jesus. In a second statement made in verse forty-two, the enemy of God’s man says, “He saved others.” Amen and yes, He did! And He’s still saving today brothers and sisters. He’s saving wretched and poor men like me, who once were lost, but now am found. But then we hear this false statement made, number three, “Himself He cannot save.” Himself He cannot save? He who could cast out spirits, still great tempests upon the sea, heal paralytics, and forgive the sins of men with but a word, who could pass between the mist of men and vanish away, Himself He cannot save? But here’s another true statement they do make in verse forty-three, statement number four, “He trusted in God.” Again, we say, amen and amen. God’s man trusts in Him and in Him alone. Psa. 62:2 Why did the enemies of God’s man say that about Him, except that truly He did trust in God, and in God only. “Let Him deliver Him,” statement number five. Oh, He will friend! He will deliver Him, and He will also deliver you, through Him, if you are humble enough to let Him. “For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 “O’ wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! Rom. 7:24 For indeed, as the enemy himself said, statement number seven, “for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the Son of God He is, testified to you and to me by witnesses who beheld His mighty signs, wonders, and deeds. John 20:30-31 But let’s keep pressing on now to our fourth number six: 6th Hour Darkness Befalls Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record as we read in verse forty-five now of Matthew’s account a “darkness over all the land.” Ge, land, country, ground, but most commonly translated throughout the New Testament, “the world.” Over all the “earth,” as it is read in Luke’s account, NKJV. We’ll have more to say about the miraculous aspect of this event in a moment, but for now it is important to just stop and consider the spiritual significance of what this event meant. The darkness that covers the whole entire world in the last three hours of Jesus’ crucifixion no doubt is symbolic of God’s punishment and wrath upon sin throughout the entire world. “There is none who does good, no not one.” Rom. 3:12 The prophet Amos in chapter eight in verse nine spoke long ago when contemplating God’s judgment upon Israel, but likely looking unto visions of that day when the sins of all the earth would be judged and brought upon the Savior, saying, “And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord God, “that I will make the sun go down at noon (that’s the same hour darkness covered the earth according to Matthew), and I will darken the earth in broad daylight.” (Amos 8:9) How can one not see the similarity? Or what about Isaiah, in Isa. 13:9-10, where the prophet speaks about judgment upon Babylon, and again we see the similarity of this apocalyptic language paralleling the events that transpire in Jesus crucifixion, “Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.” (Isa. 13:9-10). Indeed, the darkness is symbolic of God’s judgment, and it is also a taste of His punishment. For just as the angels who sinned were delivered to chains of darkness, so now also sin receives the same. Or as Jesus spoke of that unprofitable servant, “cast into the outer darkness.” Mat. 25:30 But now with these last two sixes, we begin to see a ray of light 6 Miracles Connected with the Cross With the crucifixion of God’s man, six signs and wonders come to pass that reveal and confirm that regardless of what the people have done and said with Him, He truly is the Man and the Son of God. And first of course there is the darkness as we have just mentioned. Again, it is not just a partial darkness, but a darkness that spans the entire earth. Two ancient sources corroborate the New Testament accounts by the names of Thallus and Phlegon, both of whom speak of a great darkness in the 1st Century. One speaks of its scope blanketing the entire world. Another speaks of its time, becoming night at the sixth hour. Second, there is the veil. Matthew says it was torn in two from top to bottom, and seemingly such took place preceding the earthquake that followed. Third there was the earth that quaked, notice not “earthquake,” but the “earth quaked.” All the world shook! Read Heb. 12:25-29 when you get a chance. Fourth, there was the open graves. We’ll come back to the rest that follows later in a second. Later we also see Jesus’ grave opened on the third day. A large stone moved by an angel. Fifth, there was the grave clothes. Luke’s account tells us in 24:2 that they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. Where’d it go?! Jews said Christians stole it. Just one problem, they never found it! Then finally, sixth, resurrection, both of our Lord and His saints. Matthew 27:52-53 tells us that saints came out of the grave after Jesus’ resurrection and appeared to many. Imagine a loved one you buried showing up at your front porch one day. Would that convince you of something? 6 Reasons to Follow the Cross So let me just end with this last six around the cross, six blessings and reasons to follow the cross. Blessing and reason to follow the cross number one, the cross reveals a truth. It reveals a truth about God’s hatred for sin, but His desire to save you. God has no pleasure in the death of one who dies. Eze. 18:32 God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. John 3:16 The cross is a blessing and a reason to follow God’s man because it also confirms this truth. What man is there among you who would give His whole life, give His own body to the cruelty of the cross, confessing that He was the Messiah, but knowing that He was not? What did Jesus have to gain? What did Jesus get out of all that pain and suffering? The cross both reveals and confirms God’s love for you, and that Jesus truly is His Son. Number three, the cross is a blessing and a reason because it offers the forgiveness of sins. “This is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Mat. 26:28 God loves you. Jesus is His Son. And your failure to match up to His likeness is not only forgivable, it is expected, and prepared for. It has been in God’s plan since the beginning of time. You can start a fresh, you can start anew. Number four, five, and six, with that come three wonderful blessings: Answer to prayers, addition to the church, and a place prepared in heaven. “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” John 16:23 “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47 “In My Father’s house are many mansions… I go and prepare a place for you.” John 14:1-2
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