Summary: This sermon describes the horror of the cross and asks the question: why would God do that?
OPEN: I once heard a man tell of WHY he entered the ministry. He said he entered the ministry because he was afraid of God.
Now granted, Scripture tells us we should fear God. Proverbs 9:10 tells us "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” But THIS man’s fear of God bordered on terror.
His God was a stern, unloving deity with long flowing robes who sat in a judgment throne…
- waiting for him to make just one mistake
- waiting for him to sin
- waiting for him step out of line even just little bit
- so that He could… punish him or destroy him with a wave of His hand.
I. Now, this man’s view of God WAS based on Scripture.
Nahum wrote: “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.” Nahum 1:2
Paul wrote: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10
Jesus said: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
And the writer of Hebrews tells us: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:31
Scripture tells us MUCH about the judgment of man - by God… and it’s not a pretty sight.
And so, this man’s (this preacher’s) life was focused on the potential of THAT judgment… his life was devoted to pleasing and appeasing His God, so that - just maybe - his good deeds would outweigh the wrong he’d done, or said, or thought.
This ultimately led him to do anything and everything he could… including entering the ministry, hoping that perhaps this act of contrition would soothe his God’s wrath.
But even as a preacher, his life was filled with despair and disappointment. Even this did not seem to satisfy the anger of his God.
QUESTION: Did you ever feel that God was angry with you? That somehow, you wouldn’t blame Him if He punished you? Hurt you? Destroyed you without a 2nd thought.
Do you know why we feel that way?
Because it’s true.
We DO deserve judgment.
We have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
We all deserve to face severe punishment for our actions and tho’ts
II. But then… we read things from Scripture like what we see in Isaiah 53
Look there with me: Isaiah 53:4-5
“But he was pierced for OUR transgressions, he was crushed for OUR iniquities; the punishment that brought US peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
It was our transgressions
Our sinfulness and selfishness and bitterness, lust, greed
That was why He was pierced
That was why He was crushed
That was why He was punished
We all like sheep had gone astray… had turned to our own way
And so God laid on him the iniquity of us all
Now… I’m sorry… but why on earth would God do such a thing????
It’s not right
It’s not fair
Jesus should NEVER have had to have endure the nightmare of the crucifixion
ILLUS: A Dr. Garland Bare told of what took place:
Scourging: A Jewish scourging was relatively "humane." It consisted of thirty-nine strokes of a whip, one short of the forty lashes permitted by Jewish law. A Roman scourging, on the other hand, was a masterpiece of brutality. The instrument used was a flagrum. This consisted of a short, leather-bound handle to which were attached long leather thongs. Embedded or tied into the tips of these thongs were hard objects, usually sheep knuckles, but also sometimes sharp stones, bone fragments, or glass. The one who wielded the whip was usually a hardened convict. The number of strokes was limited only to the whim of the one ordering the scourging.
In the process of scourging. the leather thongs, applied to the bared back of the victim, whipped around the body. The sharp objects gouged through the flesh exposing raw muscle, blood vessels, nerves, and even viscera. Eusebius of Caesarea, writing in the fourth century A.D., states that up to one-third of Roman scourging victims died of the scourging alone.
When the death site was reached, the victim was stripped of his clothing and prepared for crucifixion. Metal spikes were driven through the area of the carpal bones at the base of the palms. The victim’s feet were placed one atop the other; a spike was driven through them into the main post.