Summary: In this sermon I review the events leading up to the crucifixion, talk about the significance of Jesus’ death, and then talk about our response.
A. It was a day when the world seemed to stand still.
1. The date was November 22, 1963.
2. President John F. Kennedy sat in the rear seat of an open limousine as it traveled down the streets of Dallas, Texas.
3. At 12:30 p.m., the cars approached an expressway for the last leg of the trip.
4. Suddenly, three shots rang out and the President slumped down, hit in the neck and head.
5. Doctors worked desperately to save the President, but he died at 1:00 p.m.
6. News spread across a shocked nation.
7. Millions around the world watched the events with deep sadness. Including the Olbrichts who were serving in Germany at the time.
8. It seemed everyone knew what had happened.
B. While Jesus didn’t hold political office, the news of His death spread throughout that ancient world just as quickly and with just as much interest.
1. Within hours of Jesus’ death, everyone in Jerusalem and around Judea knew about what had happened.
2. It was a day when the world seemed to stand still.
C. As we continue our “Devoted To Jesus” Series, today we are going to talk about the crucifixion.
1. To begin with, I want to review the event and the developments that led up to Jesus’ death.
2. Then to finish up the sermon, I want us to consider the significance of Jesus’ death.
3. Many of the insights I will share today were gleaned from Phillip Yancy’s book, “The Jesus I Never Knew.”
I. The Story
A. Yancy notes that most biographies devote less than 10 % of their pages to the subject’s death.
1. That includes those who died violent and politically significant deaths – like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandi.
2. The Gospels, however, devote nearly a third of their length to the climactic last week of Jesus’ life.
3. As the last week of Jesus’ life unfolds, we are swept away by the sheer drama of it.
4. The most sophisticated religious system of its time allied with the most powerful political empire, and rose against a solitary figure, the only perfect man who has ever lived.
5. And although he is mocked by the powers and abandoned by his friends, the Gospels reveal that He Himself was overseeing the whole long process.
6. No miracles were allowed to break in, and no supernatural rescue attempts were made.
7. Jesus had resolutely set His face toward Jerusalem knowing the fate that awaited Him there.
8. The cross had been His destination all along.
B. As we rehearse the story, our challenge is to try to see everything through the eyes of those who experienced these events.
1. It is a challenge for us who know the outcome in advance to recapture the dire end-of-the-world feeling that certainly descended on Jesus’ followers.
2. Over the centuries, the story has grown so familiar to us, that it is hard for us to feel the impact that that final week had on those who lived through it, but we must try.
C. The Last Week of Jesus’ Life Begins with The Triumphal Entry
1. All four Gospels tell the story of the Triumphal Entry, which seems like such a departure from Jesus’ aversion to acclaim.
2. As Jesus approached Jerusalem the crowds spread clothing and tree branches across the road to show their adoration.
3. They cried out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Mt. 21:9)
4. Though Jesus usually recoiled from such displays of fanaticism, this time he let them yell, and explained to the indignant Pharisees, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Lk. 19:40)
5. One certainly wonders how, with such a throng throwing themselves at His feet at the beginning of the week, how did Jesus get arrested and killed later that same week?
6. Those crying in support of Him were likely the people from Bethany, still exuberant over the miracle of Lazarus, pilgrims form Galilee who knew Him well, and Matthew points out that further support came from the blind, the lame and the children.
7. But lurking in the crowd were the religious authorities and Roman authorities who felt so threatened by Him.
D. While in Jerusalem that week, Jesus cleared the temple for the second time in His ministry.
1. He also did quite a bit of teaching - telling parables, answering questions, and confronting the Pharisees.
E. Then Came The Last Supper
1. When Jesus gathered with his disciples for the Last Supper and they moved through the Passover ritual, laden with symbolism, they were in for many surprises.
2. In startling fashion, Jesus interrupted the progress of the meal, by getting up in the middle of it and washing their feet.