Summary: A message about the various groups around the cross of Christ on crucifixion day.
CROWDS AROUND THE CROSS
MATTHEW 27:26, 31
INTRO.: If you were to look at Rembrandt’s painting of The Three Crosses, your attention would be drawn first to the center cross on which Jesus died.
1. Then as you would look at the crowd gathered around the foot of that cross, you’d be impressed by the various facial expressions and actions of the people involved in the awful crime of crucifying the Son of God.
2. Finally, your eyes would drift to the edge of the painting and catch sight of another figure, almost hidden in the shadows.
3. Art critics say this is a representation of Rembrandt himself, for he recognized that by his sins he helped nail Jesus to the cross.
BKGD.: About 29 A.D., a large, somewhat dubious, multitude gathered at a gruesome place just to the north of the city of Jerusalem.
1. The site was a place in which executions were carried out, through the ancient method of crucifixion.
2. On that day, the multitude of people watched Jesus of Nazareth as he was dying.
3. As they did, they gathered into their own little crowds, and I find three such crowds assembled there.
The first group is the . . .
I. CROWD OF APATHY
Ill.: Definition – Lack of feeling or emotion; impassive; lack of concern or interest, indifferent.
A. Many in the crowd that day have no feelings concerning those being crucified. (Lk. 23:35)
1. Jerusalem was filled that week because of Passover.
2. For many, they are simply spectators at a Roman crucifixion.
3. Some did realize that something dramatic had occurred, but they went away, having not been affected by it. (Lk. 23:48)
B. Many of you today stand in the crowd of apathy around the cross.
1. You’ve seen the One on the cross, his suffering, his death.
2. But for you, it has had no meaning, no affect on your life.
3. You stand there, feeling nothing, seeing only an historical event.
4. Or maybe you are even sympathetic, but you have failed to grasp the significance of this great phenomenon.
C. Some here today have accepted Christ as your Savior, but you have grown apathetic to the cause of Christ.
1. You stand here gazing at the cross, unmoved by its implications.
2. For truly, if you have met this Jesus, and have accepted His death on behalf of your sins, you recognize the fact that you owe Him.
3. You owe him your life, to live for Him, to serve Him, to proclaim His name and what He did to all whose paths you cross.
4. Yet you sit idly by, do nothing, unconcerned about a world that is sliding into hell.
The second group is the . . .
II. Crowd of Animosity
Ill.: Definition – hostility; open hatred toward another.
A. Some in the crowd that day is openly hostile toward Christ.
1. The soldiers are in this crowd, their mocking of Christ politically motivated. (Mt. 27:27-31)
a. Supposedly Christ was a king, and they had but one king, Caesar.
b. Their mocking and treatment of Christ was cruel.
2. Many in the crowd that day mock Jesus out of spiteful motivation. (Mt. 27:39-40)
a. It had been reported widely that Jesus had said He could rebuild the Temple (which took 46 yrs. To build) in 3 days.
b. If He was capable of rebuilding the Temple in 3 days, surely He could rescue Himself from the cross!
c. Of course, Jesus’ meaning was misconstrued, but now the people want a show!
3. The mocking of Jesus by the religious leaders is religiously motivated. (Mt. 27:41:43)
a. This man had claimed to be the Messiah, the King, the Son of God.
b. If He would come off the cross now, it would be proof that He was who he said.
c. They even suggest that they will believe on Him if He does come down!
d. Through their derision, they admit that He "saved others!"
4. The two thieves mock Christ for purely selfish reasons. (Mt. 27:44; Lk. 23:39)
a. Both thieves participate in ridiculing Jesus.
b. They take up the cry of others, hoping Christ will save Himself, and save them, too, in the process!
c. They ware looking for a way to escape their punishment.
B. Some today are in this crowd of animosity, hostile to Christ and His work.
1. Many are outwardly and openly hostile, opposing the work of Christ by every means possible.
2. Others are hostile to Christ in ways they do not realize:
a. Backbiting their brothers and sisters
b. Gossiping about others
c. Living a lifestyle opposed to Christianity
d. Unwilling to tell others of Christ’s death
e. Unconcerned about helping others.
3. Many Christians today live as practical atheists, opposed by what they do and say to the cause of Christ.