Summary: As we look at Jesus, it’s important to realize that his death was no accident. The cross did not happen to Him – He came on purpose for it. His death resulted in our acquittal and gave us open access to the Father. Just as people have responded differen
The Case For Christ: His Death
Rev. Brian Bill
I was on the wrestling team in High School. The wrestlers and the basketball players didn’t get along very well. We practiced on the gym stage while the wimpy round-ball guys ran around in the gym. There was a big stage curtain that we always pulled shut so we wouldn’t have to look at our rivals. We used to really enjoy it when a basketball would slip under this thick curtain and bounce on one of our mats. We had a routine whenever this would happen. We’d give the ball to Guy Duffy, who wrestled heavyweight, and waited for one of the basketball guys to jump up on the stage to retrieve the ball.
When “Basketball Jones” would poke his head under the curtain and crawl up on the stage, one of us would tackle him and the rest of us would pile on. When we were done tenderizing him we’d roll him off the stage and then throw the ball out after him. As the season went on, I think they wished this curtain could have been a brick wall!
Do you ever feel like there’s a brick wall between you and God? Does He seem far away and distant? As you read through the Old Testament, you can’t help but recognize that God is holy, majestic, and separated from His people. There’s a definite doctrine of divine distance. Close contact with the Holy God of the universe was formal, and somewhat limited. A clear line of separation was drawn between what was sacred and what was profane. When God spoke to Moses, He told him in Exodus 19:21: “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish.”
Jesus came to bridge this gap by making God near and accessible. This morning we’re going to focus on three short verses from the Gospel of Mark. Please turn to Mark 15:37-39: “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God.’”
In this brief passage, we see three truths:
• The Victory Has Been Won
• The Way is Now Open
• The Offer Still Stands
The Victory Has Been Won
Verse 37 tells us that Jesus let out a shout right before He died: “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed His last.” When Jesus died he didn’t whimper or whisper. The phrase “loud cry” can be translated, “a big, or exceedingly great voice.” His final words were a roar of victory. He died knowing that His work was complete. The price had been paid. The sacrifice had been accepted.
John 19:30 tells us that this shout contained the words, “It is finished.” That means that all of our moral mess-ups and our total sin debt has been canceled.
When you think about it, it’s amazing that Jesus was able to give a loud cry right before He died because victims of crucifixion usually had no strength left, especially when they were close to death. I came across a medical summary of what happens to the human body when it is crucified. Let me read part of it to you:
The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. The soldier drives a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The cross is then lifted into place.
As the man slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms and explodes in the brain. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet.
As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. Carbon dioxide builds up in his system.
Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.