Summary: Four women loved Jesus so much that they were willing to risk their lives to be with Him as He hung there upon the cross. (Powerpoints available - #208)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #208.)
A. As you already very well know, today is celebrated throughout the Christian world as "Palm Sunday" in remembrance of that day 1,9__ years ago when Jesus made what is called His "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem.
So enthusiastic were the people in welcoming Him that crowds lined the streets, throwing flowers, & spreading their cloaks on the road as a carpet for Him. And following the traditional method of welcoming kings, they cut palm branches & waved them in the air before Him.
In the face of such a wild & tumultuous event, the Pharisees who had been plotting against Jesus cried out in despair, "Look how the whole world has gone after Him!" (John 12:19)
B. But you also know how quickly everything changed. In just a few days the shouts of "Hosanna!" turned into "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" And crucify Him they did.
Crucifixion was a slow & horrible way to die. By Roman law it was reserved for only the worst of criminals, those whose death could serve as an example to the people of the futility of defying Roman might.
Most of the time, as we talk about the cross, we picture the terribleness of that scene. We speak of the nails being driven into His hands & feet. We see Him hanging there, suspended between heaven & earth, as the crowd passes by laughing & mocking at Him.
"If you are the Christ, come down from the cross, & we’ll believe in you then! He saved others, but Himself He cannot save."
But as Jesus hung there, He was not absolutely alone. We are told in the gospels that 4 women were there with Him. The apostle John says, "Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, & Mary of Magdala" (John 19:25).
C. Now I realize that some scholars explain their presence by saying that in those days women were so unimportant that no one took any notice of them, & therefore these women were running no risk at all by being near the cross of Christ.
But I think that is a poor & unworthy explanation. It was always a dangerous thing to be associated with a man whom the Roman government declared to be so dangerous a criminal that he deserved a cross.
No, the presence of these women was not due to the fact that they were so unimportant that no one would notice them. Instead, I’m convinced that they were there because they loved Jesus so much that they were willing to risk their lives to be with Him as He hung there upon that cross.
They were bewildered, heart-broken, drenched in sorrow – but they were there. They were there because they loved Jesus, & for them, as for so many, perfect love had cast out all fear.
ILL. William Barclay wrote, “Love clings to Christ even when the intellect cannot understand. It is only love which can give us a hold on Christ that not even the most bewildering experiences can break.”
D. There is a beautiful old hymn that we often sing with deep feeling & reverence entitled, "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross."