Summary: Expository sermon about Jesus’ Death: (1)Pathway of Obedience (2)Providence of the Almighty (3)Provision for the Natural (4)Proclamation of the Victory! Video clip from "Ben Hur" used in this message.
Triumphant Death of Christ
Fortifying the Foundations # 42
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus—that is the heart and soul of Christianity. One reason I have been preaching through the Gospel of John is to make sure we never lose sight of what is important to God. The death of Jesus is important to God and it is important to you and me in a way that no other death can ever be. All of human history revolves around this one great event. Jesus is the “Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.” Before the world was ever formed God’s heart was set on Calvary.
The Bible is about the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. It is a road map to Jesus. It has one major theme: God’s plan of redemption for you and me. That’s why the Bible tells you nothing about dinosaurs. The existence or non-existence of dinosaurs is irrelevant to your eternal destiny. The Bible is not a history of the world. The Bible is God’s love story for mankind. It’s a revelation of God’s unwillingness to give up on humanity and His way of saving us from our own destruction. The Bible doesn’t get distracted with what may or may not be on other planets. The Bible is about you and your relationship with God. The Bible is a message from God telling you and me how we can know Him and spend eternity with Him. All of revelation revolves around one great event—the death and resurrection of Jesus. That’s why the closer you get to the cross the more revelation you find in the Bible and the further you get from it the less revelation you find.
John leads us to a close-up look at the cross in his gospel. We are invited to stand with him and consider what Jesus has done for us. We are invited to put our faith in Christ and His great sacrifice for us.
I. Pathway of Obedience (verses 16-22)
Our text begins with the Pilate’s soldiers leading Jesus through Jerusalem toward Calvary. It was common practice and most likely that a rope was placed around Jesus’ neck and he was led by the soldiers like an animal. The cross was placed upon his bleeding back and the journey began. We are never told that the crown of thorns was removed from his head and it is probably still there. The crowd grows as Jesus and the two criminals are led northward toward the Damascus gate. In the background is that eerie sound of Middle Eastern women weeping and wailing for those being led away to their crucifixion.
It is quite a contrast to see the proud soldiers marching arrogantly through the city and Jesus stumbling under the weight of the cross. The scene before us is a powerful reminder of the difference between what God values and what man values. Man does not seek a cross. He seeks a crown without a cross. Man does not seek rejection and apparent failure. He seeks popularity and success. Jesus is not being honored and led to the temple. He is being led outside the city to a place called Golgotha, the place of the Skull—the place where criminals are executed—the place of death. Don’t miss the relevance of this for you and me. Heb 13:12-14 makes this application, “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” Those words “bearing the disgrace he bore” are not easy words for me to hear. If I’m not careful I’ll jump past words like that looking for something I want to hear. If I’m not careful I’ll find a revised version of Christianity that will tell me what I want to hear. Beware of a Christianity without a cross. It is attractive to the flesh but it is another gospel. Jesus says to his disciples (Matt 16:24-27) "...If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” That statement tells me something my flesh does not want to hear. The way of God is not always a pathway of success according to human standards. That day on the Via Dolorosa the Roman soldiers looked more successful than Jesus. The priests and Pharisees looked more successful than Jesus. In fact, to the natural eye it looked like the end for Jesus.