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On the Road to the Cross

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
April 6, 2023 6:00 am

On the Road to the Cross

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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April 6, 2023 6:00 am

Beginning his message "On the Road to the Cross," Skip looks at some of the people Jesus encountered on that road to Calvary, including how they responded to the Messiah.

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So he says, don't weep for me. I'm not the real victim.

You need to know that Jesus was not a victim. He was the victor. He said, nobody takes my life from me. I lay it down of myself.

I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it again. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzel, Skip begins his message on the road to the cross and looks at some of the people Jesus encountered on that road to Calvary. Now here's an offer that will help you experience closeness with Jesus as you relate to him through the eyes of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. For those who knew Jesus while he walked this earth, the road to discovering and believing that Jesus was resurrected started in disheartening confusion, but it ended in decisive confirmation. And we're excited to send you a special set of resurrection resources by Skip that include five of his finest Easter messages for digital download or CD and a full video titled On the Road by Skip. Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was while they conversed and reasoned that Jesus himself drew near and went with them. With your gift of support of $50 or more, we'll send you a copy of this hope-filled package of five audio messages for download or on CD and the full video On the Road as thanks for your gift to expand Connect with Skip Heitzel to reach more people in major U.S. cities. So request your resource when you give and take a walk with Christ on the road to Emmaus.

Just call 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, let's turn to Luke 23 as we begin today's message on the road to the cross. We are told in verse 26 as they led him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon, a Cyrenian who was coming from the country and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.

A man walking on the road comes into Jerusalem. The gospel stories give us his name. His name is Simon.

I'm going to tell you a little bit about him. And the Roman soldiers conscript him to help Jesus carry the cross all the way to Calvary, to Golgotha. Of course, this is Rome and Rome has the authority to do whatever they want, but it was highly unusual for anybody to help anybody else carry the cross because Roman law dictated that the criminal must bear his own cross to the place of execution.

And indeed, in John chapter 19 as Jesus faces the sentence of Pontius Pilate, we're told, and Jesus going forward or going out bore his cross. But he didn't make it all the way. We don't know why.

We're not told. He could have fallen down. He could have been exhausted. It could be that the Romans simply wanted to speed things up and get him to Golgotha quickly because after all it was Passover. But Pilate gave the order. Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus along the road. Cyrene is an area of Northern Africa. We know he was Jewish because his name was Simon.

That's a typical Jewish name. He was a Jewish man who was from North Africa. Cyrene, if you know your history, especially World War II, is the area of Tripoli.

Some of you remember the marine songs from the or song from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli. Tripoli is in North Africa. That's the area of Cyrene. He was a Jewish person from the area of Northern Africa from Cyrene who was in Jerusalem. I'm guessing there were several people from Cyrene there because there were enough Jews living in Jerusalem or at least visiting Jerusalem and living in Jerusalem to merit having their own synagogue in Jerusalem. We know they were there on the day of Pentecost. It says there were Cyrenians there. We also know in Acts chapter 6 that there was a synagogue that Stephen preached the gospel in called the synagogue of the freed men.

Do you remember that? The freed men. And then it says afterwards in parentheses in that text people from Cyrene and Alexandria. That would be in Egypt. So they had their own synagogue in Jerusalem. Simon being a Jewish man was visiting for the Passover. There's no record that he'd ever met Jesus before. I'm guessing he didn't unless he had been there a few days before and maybe heard Jesus in the temple. He's just walking on the road and the Romans see him and he looks like a big enough guy to handle the job so they compel him or conscript him to carry the cross.

But here to me is where the story gets good. Because Simon seems like just a random guy that the Romans pick out of the crowd to carry the cross, right? It's just a random guy. But you who follow or follow Jesus Christ know that God doesn't do random, right? He's never random.

There's always a purpose behind it. And there was a purpose behind Simon. Well the fact that it names him is interesting because there's a lot of people in the story that are unnamed but they name him and they name him in the other gospels as well. In Mark chapter 15 it even says Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Now you and I don't know what that means but the only reason somebody would identify the name of the person and name the guy's sons is if the audience understood who he was talking about. So he introduces him, Simon the father of Alexander and Rufus. We know that Mark wrote his gospel to Christians who lived in Rome so evidently Christians in Rome knew who Alexander and Rufus were. It's not until we get to the book of Romans chapter 16, again this is the church in Rome where Paul says this, Greet Rufus chosen in the Lord and his mother and mine.

So we're starting to get a picture of a family who has been transformed. A man, a Jewish man named Simon who came to believe in the merits of the cross of the one that he was carrying that cross for to go to Golgotha. His wife, whoever she was, gets saved, becomes near and dear to the church in Rome.

Rufus, the son, becomes a leader in the church in Rome and this family becomes so close to Paul the apostle that he says, it's like having my own mother, his mother and mine. Something else, in Acts chapter 11, and you don't have to turn there but you may want to remember this or ask me to give these scriptures to you afterwards as well. In Acts chapter 11 it says, now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene who when they had come to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists preaching the Lord Jesus and the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Well now we understand that there's a church in Cyrene, not just a synagogue filled with Jewish people, but there's a believing assembly of Christians who are sending out missionaries and they send missionaries to Antioch to preach the gospel. Something else, two chapters later, Acts chapter 13, now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch and Saul and they ministered to the Lord and fasted the Holy Spirit said, now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.

So now we know that Simeon and his wife were saved, their son Rufus was influential in the church of Rome, there's a church that gets started in Cyrene, they send out missionaries to Antioch, one of them becomes a teacher, a pastor in Antioch and is part of the group that sends Paul the apostle out on his missionary journey. All of that from a random guy walking down the road. God doesn't do random. And I want you to know whatever part of the road of life you are on and life seems haphazard and random, you just remember this story. God doesn't do that. God has a purpose behind that person, behind that event. Even though you don't get it right now, you don't understand, maybe Simeon thought, man I've got other things to do besides carry a cross for a criminal. But then he comes to have a faith relationship with Jesus, his wife has one, his sons have one, a church gets started and people from his hometown go out and pastor that church.

Amazing story. So Pilate put him on the road, Simeon helped him on the road. There's another group of characters we meet on the road, a group of women, unnamed women. Women mourned him on the road.

We are told in verse 27 of Luke 23, a great multitude of the people followed him and women who also mourned and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, breasts which never nursed. And they will begin to say to the mountains, fall on us and to the hills, cover us.

For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry? A group of women on the road are part of the parade route route from the Antonia fortress to Golgotha. Very strong language is employed in the text when it says they were lamenting and mourning. It speaks of somebody beating their breast in deep grief. Again, they are unnamed. Who are they and why are they there? The best guess is that these were professional mourners, professional mourners. We don't get this in the west because we don't do this in the west but in the east they did that. They thought that when a person dies, you need to make a huge wailing and weeping and so you would actually hire people to come to the funeral and shout and scream and mess their hair up and tear their clothes and the louder and weirder it sounded, the more you love that person.

It was always done that way. Professional mourners. A few years ago in England, there was a group of people that started a business.

Listen to this. It was called rent a mourner and it was for this purpose. The idea is that people who are really in mourning because they lost a relative shouldn't be engaged in the weeping and the howling and the wailing. They should be involved in greeting guests and really going through the process of mourning so they would offer services as professional mourners and they got between thirty dollars and a hundred and twenty dollars per event not including tips.

Professional mourners. That was very common in the New Testament era. They probably didn't know Jesus.

In those days, most professional mourners hired for events like this did not even know the relatives or the family. They got a wage. They wailed. They tore their clothes. They threw dust in the air and people understood. That's just what we do and especially for somebody esteemed like Jesus, you should have some kind of presence of mourning people in that event especially if he is so ill treated by the Roman Empire.

By the way, just as an aside, just a little FYI. Never in the New Testament do we ever read of women being hostile to Jesus but always being tender and sweet toward him. We find plenty of men who are hostile toward him all the way through but when it comes to women they were always non-hostile, non-aberrational, very accommodating, very sweet toward him. I think that there were lots of sympathetic women who saw the plight of Jesus and here's a group of them. I don't think they were believers. I just think they were professional mourners but they could have been sincere and they could have felt very sympathetic but they weren't true disciples.

There's a lot of people like that today. There's a lot of people that they kind of like Jesus. They're not opposed to him. They think he's wonderful. They're attracted to his tenderness but they're not true disciples of Christ. They don't really follow him. There's been no repentance in their life. They're just attracted to him and so Jesus says to them as they're weeping, don't weep for me. I'm not the victim.

You are. And he pronounces judgment on Jerusalem. These are words of judgment as he talks about the city that is going to fall in 70 AD. He's already predicted it several times. He did it on the Mount of Olives a few days before this. He said the city is going to be surrounded by enemies and be destroyed.

This temple is going to be destroyed. So he says don't weep for me. I'm not the real victim.

You need to know that Jesus was not a victim. He was the victor. He said nobody takes my life from me. I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it again. And that's what he's doing.

He's giving his life. So he says to them, don't weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children. You're going to be victimized by the Roman government. And he quotes a passage from Hosea the prophet chapter 10. Hills fall on us.

Mountains cover us. That's what you're going to say when Jerusalem falls. You're going to say that to the hills and the mountains like Hosea the prophet wrote about. Now fast forward, you don't have to turn to it, but Revelation chapter 6. There's the sixth seal during the tribulation period and the same text out of Hosea is quoted. That people during the tribulation period when God judges the world will say to the mountains fallen us into the hills cover us. Hide us from the presence or the face of him who sits on the throne. Hide us from the wrath of the lamb for the day of his wrath has come and who is able to stand. So Jesus has a few words to say to these women. Don't weep for me.

Weep for yourselves and for your children. So Pilate put him on the road. Simon helped him on the road.

The women mourned him on the road. Another group we meet is a group of criminals, two criminals. Criminals accompanied him on the road for we are told this. Verse 32, there were also two other two others criminals led with him to be put to death. So they were part of that parade that left the Antonia fortress, were sentenced to death. They're walking with Jesus in that group all the way out to the place of execution. And when they had come to the place called Calvary where they crucified him and the criminals one at the right hand and the other at the left. Now we know because we've read the story before we know what happens to one of them. One of them, one of the criminals comes to believe in Jesus, has personal faith in Jesus. It is like it's a true foxhole conversion. They're at the point of death and one of them comes to believe in Jesus Christ.

Here's what I love. Jesus always had people like this around him. He always had sinners around him. He always had riffraff around him and it always caused a stir. People would always gossip and you have like the wrong kind of people around you Jesus.

Let me be your PR person, get some good people around you. But Jesus loved sinners. He was called the friend of sinners. It's only appropriate that when he dies he is surrounded by those same people that he loved so dearly.

They're walking with him on the road. One of them comes to believe in Jesus as I mentioned. He puts his faith in Jesus Christ. He confesses him. He says, Lord, Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom. Now that little statement reveals not only is he confessing Jesus as Lord but he is trusting in him and in who he was. Remember me when you come into your kingdom. He believed that Jesus was a king who was going to establish a kingdom.

And then third he made it personal. He said remember me when you come into your kingdom. And you know faith always has to be personal.

You know that right? We like to say God has no grandchildren, only children. You must make a personal commitment, a personal decision. You can't live off the faith and commitment of your parents or grandparents.

It has to be real to you. You have to be his disciple as well as anybody else. So you have two criminals. One was crucified on one side. One was crucified on the other. Both were equally as close to Jesus as the other. Both had a unique opportunity. One gets saved and goes to heaven. One is damned and goes to hell.

Amazing. Both had the opportunity. Both so close but one exercised faith and believed. And because he believed Jesus said today you will be with me in paradise. And I want you to know if you're here today you've been brought by a friend or a relative. You're at this communion service. We kind of think that people who come to these services are all born again believers but it could be that you don't have a relationship with them that's real and personal.

The Bible promises whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. I'm encouraging you to do that if you haven't done it right where you're seated. No matter what part of the campus you're at. No matter where you are in cyber sphere if you're watching this. This is being live streamed around the country and around the world.

It's on local radio as well. No matter where you're at call upon the name of the Lord. So we have Pilate who put him on the road. Simon helped him on the road. Women mourned him on the road. Criminals accompanied him on the road. And finally the father heard him on the road.

And I'm going to conclude with this little statement. Then Jesus said, Father forgive them for they do not know what they do. And they divided his garments and they cast lots. That's an unexpected thing to hear Jesus say. You would think that after the treatment he got from the Jewish leaders from the Roman leaders that Jesus would be hanging on the cross saying Father smite them. Father get even with them. Father go after them. Maybe he would have addressed the crowd and said something like you just wait for three days buddy.

I'll be back and I'm going to come and get you. But he didn't say that. I don't know why you're clapping for that. He didn't say that. I would say that. But Jesus said, Father forgive them.

You know why he said that? Because that's our greatest need. That is humanity's greatest need. Your greatest need is to be forgiven. And if you're watching this, you're not a part of this, or you're here today and you haven't entered into a relationship with God, you can be forgiven. So you put your name there.

You insert your name there. Father forgive Skip. Father forgive Tish. Father just insert your name there. Father forgive.

That's what he loves to do. world's ways. But we're called to a higher purpose. And we strive to encourage you in whatever the Lord may be calling you to. That's why we share these affirming Bible teachings to push you on in your pursuit of the Lord. And you can help encourage many others in living out God's calling on their lives. Your gift today means more people can connect with God's truths and that these messages will keep coming to you.

Here's how you can give now. had with the risen Savior. People are not really looking for God.

Even though they say they are. I meet people all the time. I'm looking for God. I'm on a spiritual quest.

Actually, no, you're not. You're not looking for God. The truth is God's looking for you.

And the only fact that you have an inclination about wanting to look for God is because he put that into you. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the cross. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications. Connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-06 05:06:58 / 2023-04-06 05:15:42 / 9

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