What Jesus Knew About the Passion
April 11, 2004
Intro: "You have to be living in a hole like Saddam was to avoid all the attention that’s been given to Mel Gibson’s new movie The Passion of the Christ."
I encourage you to go see it if you haven’t. It has caused quite a stir in our culture hasn’t it? Ever since the movie came out there has been non stop talk about Jesus! Some of it has been negative but there’s been a whole lot of positive. I heard there was going to actually be a 20-30% increase in people attending Easter worship services then last year—just because of the movie.
For the month of April here at Riverwood Church we are going to focus on the Passion of Christ. When we talk about the Passion, that word means his sufferings. Specifically we are talking about the last 12 hours of his life and the pain and suffering he endured. In our growth groups for the next three weeks we will be diving into this topic in more detail. I want to invite you to join a group if you aren’t in one already. I am so proud of you all. 100% of you who attended a growth group during our 40 Days of Purpose indicated you wanted to continue meeting. Praise the Lord. Those of you who are not in one I want to really challenge you to give one a try. What a great time to do that. What I would like to do now is have everyone tear off the information side of their bulletin. I want everyone to fill out this information and if you want to try out a growth group just check the appropriate box. When the offering basket comes by just drop it in there.
TRANSITION: I am so glad you all are here today this Easter morning. I pray we all understand what this day is all about. It is a family day and I hope you take the time to spend it with family. But it is also a very significant day as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. But there could be no resurrection without the cross. I want to look at a very significant reality about Jesus just before he goes to the cross.
Let’s look at Matthew 26:1-2. “When Jesus had finished saying all these things (instructions to the disciples), he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
Now, I don’t know about you but if I were Jesus and I knew I was going to endure crucifixion I would probably have taken the first donkey out of Jerusalem! I wouldn’t want to stick around. You wouldn’t have either! Jesus is making this statement as fact…his death was about to happen…and it wasn’t going to be pretty. Now, that leads us to a serious dilemma about Jesus. Someone who knows he is about to suffer like this and yet goes through with it is either one of three things. He is either out of his mind, crazy. Or he was a very good con man. Or, he was who he was claiming to be. And Jesus was claiming to be God! Really, there are no other alternatives. And this forces a decision for you and I—what do we believe about Jesus?
We either believe he is a liar, lunatic or he is Lord. What do you believe about him? You had to have been crazy to endure what he did unless he was who he said he was. Jesus didn’t run away from the cross but he endured it. Why? There were some important truths that Jesus knew. He knew something that most everybody did not know at the time.
I. He knew this was the Father’s will & purpose
This was his destiny. This is what the Lord wanted him to do. In Matthew 26 we see the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. And Jesus is desperately trying to come to terms with what he was about to do. It was en excruciatingly difficult decision Jesus was wrestling with. He could have at any time said, “I’m out of here.” But he didn’t. He even asked his Father, “If there is any other way to do this, please do it, but not my will but yours be done.” The death of Jesus was God’s plan of winning man back to himself. The Bible says we are all sinners and all have sinned. We are all guilty of sinning against a holy God. We all stand condemned and we all deserve a place in hell.
But in an incredible act of grace, justice, mercy and love God sends his Son to die in our place. “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.” Isaiah 53:6 The sins of the whole world—all the sins you have committed before, all the sins you will commit in the future were put on Jesus Christ. Think about all the different ways you have displeased God. You are probably pretty embarrassed by them...hopefully. And so can you imagine the struggle that Jesus is having the night before his crucifixion there in the Garden. The emotional struggle. The physical struggle. He knew what was coming. The pain, the agony of his flesh being torn apart. He knew what was going to happen physically. “Yet the real issue is that He realized He was going to take the blame, the guilt for every evil act ever done in history on Him. Imagine the burden. He realized he was going to take the blame for every rape, for every child molested, for every wife who was beaten. He was going to have to take the guilt for every murder, for every lie, for every jealousy, for every unfaithfulness and adultery, for all the pornography in the world. He was going to take the guilt for every sin, every theft.” Rick Warren
And so Jesus goes willingly. He knew God’s plan and he willingly surrendered to it. Look at what John 10:18 says, “No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down on my own accord. I have authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
He willingly laid down his life. He willingly suffered for you and for me.
“Jesus took the 12 aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.”
If you have read the book (the 4 gospels) or saw the movie you get a glimpse of how horrific the abuse Jesus had to endure. It was absolutely horrible. Words can’t describe it. Jesus should have died during the scourging. But every time he was hit, spit upon, every time he was hit with that cat of nine tails, he endured it for you.
I want you to know that if there was any other way to win you back he would have done it. Only a perfect sacrifice could pay for your sins. That sacrifice was Jesus Christ. I don’t know if you knew this, but in the movie the hand holding the nail was Mel Gibson’s hand. He chose that because he said, “I want everybody to know it was my sin that put Jesus on the cross.” If you think about it, it is all of our hands that drove the nail in Christ’s hand.
So, Jesus knew his facing the cross was God’s plan to win man back to Himself.
II. Secondly, Jesus knew the rest of the story.
Why didn’t Jesus check out? Why didn’t he run the other way? He knew the rest of the story. He knew what would happen post-Calvary. You see as sure as he knew he would endure great pain and agony he was just as sure he would rise again. Luke 18:33 “On the third day he (Son of Man) will rise again!
He also knew what would happen after the resurrection. He would pay for our sins, rise again. But he sees all the way to the end of time. Jesus is far sighted! I believe one of the imagery’s Jesus had in mind while he was on the cross is found in Matthew 25:31-33. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”
Jesus saw that day not only when he was going to rise again but when he was going to come back to get what he paid for! He is coming back to get those who purchased by his blood. He will come back to get us as the conquering king. And it will be a glorious day. Jesus saw all the nations gathered together and worshipping him as their king.
When Jesus went to the cross it was a dark day. But that dark day turned bright. Jesus saw past the darkness and I believe what he saw sustained him. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
What joy could there possibly be in the cross? “The joy of pleasing his Father. The joy of reuniting with his Father in heaven. The joy of triumph over sin. The joy of being surrounded with praise by all the people for whom he died.” John Piper
Jesus knew that his facing the cross was his Father’s plan. He also knew the rest of the story. In closing let me share with you what you need to know now.
1). God first loved you. Just the fact that you are here listening to this message, whether you want to be here or not is God’s way of saying, “I love you and I want you to know my Son.” God is at work in the world. He is at work in your life. And because God loves us he has made it possible to love him back. We are not only to love him back but to make much of him too!
2). Everyone here stands in need of what Jesus offers.
It doesn’t matter who you are. The Pope needs what Jesus offers. Billy Graham needs what Jesus offers. Donald Trump needs what Jesus offers. Kobe Bryant needs what Jesus offers. It is a gift. You cannot earn it. You can only receive it.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Sometimes it takes getting to the end of your rope to get to the point where you realize Jesus is all you need. Some people trust Christ and accept him during normal times in their lives. Others have to experience a lot of hard ache and misfortune.
There as an interview with Mel Gibson about his personal life. As you know Mel Gibson is probably one of the most popular actors and directors of all time. He had it all (millions of dollars) fame, fortune, pleasure. But he realized something was missing in his life.
Maybe you can relate to Mel right now. You’ve tried it all. But you know it still ends up falling short.
3. You don’t have to have it all figured out to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. Did you know that for most of my life I’ve been a Christian and I still don’t have it all figured out. I still have doubts I still struggle. But it hasn’t stopped me from having a relationship with my Lord. But you do have to know that there is a difference between heart knowledge and head knowledge. So many people know the story of the Passion but they know it from a distance. Some people miss God’s best by 18 inches…the distance between your head and your heart. This is not simply knowing facts about Jesus but knowing him intimately.
If you are here today and ready to receive what Jesus offers will you pray this simple prayer in your heart? What better way to celebrate Easter than beginning it with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“God I admit that I am a sinner and stand in need of forgiveness. I believe that you sent Jesus, your only Son to earth to die for my sins. I now today, commit my life to Jesus Christ and ask him to come into my life to save me. Help me to live for you all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.