Summary: This sermon was written in preparation for the Easter message where Jesus Rises Again to bring new hope and eternal life and the hope of the Resurrection. It can be adapted as part of evangelistic message also.
WITHOUT HOPE ON A SEA OF GRIEF
By Pastor Jim May
Last week we began a journey toward Calvary that began with Jesus standing on the hill weeping over Jerusalem. At that time we spoke about the preparations for the Passover meal that Jesus would enjoy with his disciples in the Upper Room in a message titled “Such a Man”. From the Upper Room we traveled with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane with the 11 remaining disciples as he spent time in prayer, communicating with the Father in Heaven and ultimately winning the terrible battle with the flesh to face and he readied himself for the cruel time ahead. We ended that message titled, “The Lord’s Cup” with a look at what Jesus saw in the “Cup” that he was to bear at Calvary and why it was such a dreaded cup.
Now I want us to continue the journey to Calvary. Most of the time, we wait until Easter Sunday to talk about the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus and end it with that great Resurrection from the dead. But I want to look at all of those events from a little different perspective as we journey onward.
Beginning in John 18:12 and reading through John 19:37 you will find the terrible story of the suffering and pain that Jesus had to endure in his last hours before his death. In past years we have dealt with this scenario in great detail but now I want to just mention a few things of interest concerning the crucifixion.
This past year there was a film made by Mel Gibson titled “The Passion of the Christ” that attempted to depict the sufferings of Jesus as Mr. Gibson saw it. All of us know of the controversy and the popularity of the film. Many of us have seen it: some more than once. I have heard many preachers put down on the film and some of them make some pretty good arguments against it, but overall I cannot bring myself to fully condemn the film.
I am persuaded that I should take the stance of the Apostle Paul when he talked about those who would attempt to wound the Apostle in his ministry. Here’s what he said in Philippians 1:15-18, "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
I think, for the most part, that Mr. Gibson did the best he could, with the training and knowledge that he had, to portray the suffering that our Lord went through as he paid the debt for sin. But I don’t think that any Hollywood production, no matter how much they tried, could ever show the reality of what Jesus went through. All we can attempt to show is the physical punishment and the suffering of the body, but it’s impossible to for us to show the spiritual pain and great anguish of the spirit that Jesus suffered for our sake.
If there is one thing that I would have wanted Mr. Gibson’s film to do, it would be to emphasize the Resurrection and the message of the repentance unto salvation through the blood that Jesus shed.
If all we look at is the suffering, without ever seeing the reason and result of what Jesus did, then all we have done is killed a good man. But, if we can see that “man” rise again by his own power; take hold of the keys of death, hell and the grave; and then be given a name that is above every name whereby men can be saved, then we have seen the real story.
So in this message I don’t want to focus on the suffering Christ. I can never say enough to praise the Lord for what he suffered for me and for you. I can never describe the agony enough to make it as horrible as it was. I can never do justice to the great price that Jesus paid for my soul to be able to enter into Heaven’s gates one day.
I want us to look at the death of Jesus in another perspective tonight. I want us to see, from the minds and the eyes of the disciples, the hopelessness that engulfed them all in a sea of grief.
After several long hours of agony on the cross, the time finally came when the debt of sin was paid in full. At the very instant that Jesus cried out, “It is Finished” and gave up the ghost, allowing his soul and spirit to leave the body of flesh. At that instant, when Jesus drew his last breath, there were some mixed emotions for those around the cross, and those who followed afar off. Those who followed Jesus and loved him as a friend were glad to see the suffering come to an end but they also believed that this was the end of their hopes and dreams for the future.