BRIDGEND AOG Sunday pm 10th August 2008
Place: Bridgend AOG. Date: Sunday pm 10th August 2008.
Text: Matthew 27:31-43. Theme: The Highest Hill in the World.
What is the name of the highest mountain in the world?
Everest at 29,028 feet = 8,850 metres in China and Nepal.
Ben Nevis at 4,409 feet = 1,344 metres in Scotland.
Snowdon at 3,560feet = 1,085 metres in Wales.
Scafell Pike at 3,209 = 997 metres in England.
Slieve Donard at 2,786 feet = 852 metres in Northern Ireland.
BUT, what is the name of the highest hill in the world? I believe it maybe Calvary. In Latin it is called Calvary. In Hebrew, Golgotha, or “place of the skull.” If you look carefully you can see it, a supernatural image, a symbol of death, where God came among men. It is not a very high hill physically, but spiritually speaking, I believe it to be the highest hill in the world.
For it was on this hill that God’s justice was affected by God’s grace. Man’s sin interacted with God’s sovereignty. History meets eternity on the highest hill in the world! No event in history is as important as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
1ST POINT: SIMON OF CALVARY, VERSES 31-32.
“And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.
Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross” Matthew 27:31-32.
It was required that a prisoner carry his own cross to the place of execution. Not only has Jesus already been scourged, His body lacerated and hanging in ribbons, but He is already wearing the crown of thorns, driven deep into His scalp. He has been repeatedly beaten for hours now, and it was simply more than His physical human nature could bear. Though He was all God, He was all man, and He collapsed under the load. But there would be no delay. They wanted Him dead, and now!
So the Roman soldiers quickly drafted the first able bodied man they could find. Simon by name, from the country of Cyrene, which was a country in northern Africa, what we would today call Libya. They “compelled” him to carry the cross. They made him do it against his will. The cross was the ultimate form of degradation.
Crucifixion was the supreme method of killing the worst of the worst criminals; you did not even talk about it in polite company.
You can imagine his humiliation and resentment at having to do this, and being associated with the ‘criminal.’
He is an example of those who come to church because they are made to, and end up meeting the Saviour face to face. Every week we have some here who do not really want to be here. In some cases they are a child or teen, and they have been ‘compelled’ to come. Maybe it is a spouse, who has been begged repeatedly, or a friend or relative.
And if you are one of those who have been ‘compelled’ to be here today, you ought to thank God that somebody cared enough about you to bring you.
It does not matter how you get here, the Word of God is still sharper than a two edged Sword. So bring them in from the fields of sin, and after they get here, the music melts their heart, the friendliness of this family warms their heart, the Bible convicts their heart, and chances are, God will come into their heart and they will live to see the day that they thank God they were ever compelled to come!
2ND POINT: THE SOLDIERS OF CALVARY, VERSES 35-36.
“Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”
Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there” Matthew 27:35-36.
When you see the soldiers you see calloused, hardened, cursing men who were apparently unmoved by what they were witnessing. They came to actually enjoy the sport of their trade, and they even gambled for his clothing at the foot of the cross.
This was routine for them, they had seen hundreds of crucifixions. Well, today we are a little too much like these soldiers. We have heard the story of the cross so much that it no longer stirs us. We can sing the precious words to these songs of the season and they go right over our heads. Our hearts should be stirred, and our hands should be motivated. WE should be compelled by this story.
I maybe now be preaching on the cross, and some in the room have trouble just staying awake! Or they are thinking about supper, or the week ahead. Well we have a problem! Our eyes are dry, our faith is old, our hearts are hard, and our prayers are cold. We are calloused and cold God help us to light a fire, and find a passion for the Passion of Jesus!
Do we not realize that we should have been crucified? That it was our sins laid on Him there? That we are the soldiers in this situation? That we are the ones who drove the nails!
We need a fresh look at and a fresh love for the cross of Calvary. The cross reveals what is in the heart of a person. What does the cross reveal about YOUR heart? If it does not call you to a higher level of consecration then something is desperately wrong!
We sing a song “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Yes, we were all there! Do not allow the death of Jesus to be in vain. If you have never been saved, get saved today. Do not be one spitting in the loving face of the One who hung there for you.
Do not be one of the soldiers, taking it lightly. Be a Simon. Allow yourself to be compelled to carry the cross and follow Him, to give Him all, to have a passion for the Passion of Christ!