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The Wickedness of the Crucifixion, Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 30, 2023 4:00 am

The Wickedness of the Crucifixion, Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Grace To You
John MacArthur

I'm quite confident that right out of those religious leaders that mocked and blasphemed the name of Jesus Christ, God by sovereign grace took some to be His own. He is indeed the friend of sinners. He is eager to forgive. He is ready to forgive. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. It's a sad truth at some point in your life you would have blended into that Jerusalem crowd that called for Jesus' death. In fact, all of us would have. Today, John considers four groups that made up that mob, and the mercy God extended to people in each group. In essence, mercy that He has extended to you also if you're a Christian. This is part of John MacArthur's compelling study called The Murder of Jesus. With such a serious topic in mind, you might expect today's message to convict more than encourage, but I think you'll find it comforting, particularly if you're burdened for family and friends who have rejected the gospel.

And so with that, here's John MacArthur. Years ago, Greek Christians used to beg God to give them mercy for the unknown sufferings they might have caused Jesus Christ. And they realized that they themselves could not even conceive of all the suffering that He endured. Now, as we come to the scene before us in verses 27 to 44, we see His suffering at the hands of wicked men. For a long time now in Matthew's gospel, He's been emphasizing the rejection of the king, hasn't He?

It's been mounting and mounting and mounting, and now it reaches its epitome as He presents the crucifixion. To help us see the wickedness of the scene, I want to draw to your attention four different groups that appear in the scene. Let's call them the ignorant wicked, the knowing wicked, the fickle wicked, and the religious wicked. We looked at the ignorant wicked who were illustrated to us by the calloused soldiers in verses 27 through 37. But there's a more wicked group than that group, and that's the one we come to in verse 38. Let's call these the knowing wicked. They're not ignorant, they know.

Now, they don't know everything, but they do know something. Then were there two robbers crucified with Him, one on the right hand and another on the left. Now, of course, this is another way to dishonor Christ, to defame Him, to put Him in the middle of a couple of robbers, a couple of, as Luke calls them, malefactors, which means evildoers, criminals.

Put Him up there and thus dishonor Him and shame Him by His association with them. So He is with the wicked in His death. But even they are not the severest of rejectors because there's another group. We see them in verses 39 and 40. I like to call those the fickle wicked. I suppose there are a lot of different terms we could use, but they are illustrated by the careless passersby, the ignorant wicked, the callous soldiers. The knowing wicked are illustrated by what we saw in verse 38, the thieves, who I guess we could say are the crass thieves.

They're just into the world and that's the sphere of their concern. And now we find the careless crowd who represent to us the people who for a while hear about Christ, understand about Christ and even make some kind of overture to Christ, even invite Christ to be a part of their life to some extent, but eventually turn apostate or turn away from Him. Verse 39 says, And they that passed by. Now we can't read a whole lot into that phrase, they that passed by, but we can identify the fact that that would be a very common situation since people were crucified along a highway. And this would be right outside the wall of Jerusalem so it would be a road to the north of the city which would be very traveled and people busily going in and out back and forth because it was the day of the Passover, taking care of all of the things that needed to be done. Pilgrims swelled the city, they were inside and outside. All the things were being prepared for Passover because many of them would eat the Passover that evening.

And with all of this traffic and the population swelled beyond its normal size, it would be a very busy place. And so here were these Jews moving about, the same crowd that had cried, crucify Him. The same crowd on Monday had hailed Him with their hosannas, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord, the Son of David, hailing Him as their Messiah, the Savior, the one who would deliver them from Rome's oppression.

This is the same fickle crowd. They had a place for Jesus. They wanted His miracles. They wanted His signs and wonders.

They listened to His teaching. The crowd was fascinated by Jesus to some extent. And they knew full well who He claimed to be and they knew there was a demonstration of the veracity of those claims. But now He is just a victim of a Roman crucifixion. He is rejected by them and as they passed by, they reviled Him it says. Finally they kept on reviling Him.

It's an imperfect tense. Continual defamation, continual blasphemy and did it with a wagging of their heads in a taunting kind of mocking form. Psalm 22 predicted this is exactly what they would do. It says in verse 7 of Psalm 22, All they who see Me laugh Me to scorn, they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, and they say He trusted in God and so forth and so on.

Let Him deliver Him. So they fulfill exactly what the psalmist said they would. It isn't that they are trying to fulfill Scripture.

They don't even take any consideration towards Scripture. It is that Scripture knew exactly what they would do because the author is the Holy Spirit. And so they mocked Jesus. And they say this, Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

Now why do they say that? Because those were the two things that came out of the trial of Christ before Annas and Caiaphas. You remember back in chapter 26, verse 61, they got some false witnesses into that Jewish trial who said, This fellow, that is Jesus, said, I am able to destroy the temple of God and build it in three days. In other words, they were trying to come up with a crime. They wanted to kill Jesus. They knew what the verdict was. They just didn't have a crime.

So they were trying to come up with a crime. And so they brought false witnesses in who were bribed. And they had these false witnesses say, He said He was going to destroy the temple. Well, this had been a long time prior to this that He had referred to the destruction of the temple.

In fact, nearly three years earlier when He had first come to Jerusalem. And at that time when He said that, He meant the temple of His body, didn't He? So they're twisting and perverting and pulling something out of the past to use against Jesus as if He was going to actually destroy their physical temple. And then over in verse 63, Caiaphas says to Him, I adjure you by the living God that you tell us whether you be the Christ, the Son of God.

And Jesus said to him, You said it, I am. So they sort of capture these two things, the accusation that Jesus was going to destroy the temple and the claim that He was the Son of God. Now you remember when the crowd gathered that morning, the chief priests, the elders and the scribes wanted Jesus crucified. Pilate thought the crowd might be on Jesus' side. Pilate was ready to offer Jesus to the crowd. But at the moment that he was about to offer Jesus to the crowd, and the crowd might have been willing to let Jesus go because He was somewhat popular with them. At that very moment, Pilate's wife sent a messenger and said, I got to tell you something. And in the interlude when Pilate was getting the messenger from his wife, the chief priests, elders and scribes moved through the crowd and stirred the crowd up against Jesus. So by the time Pilate turned away from his little interlude, the whole crowd was screaming, crucify Him, crucify Him, crucify Him and release unto us Barabbas. And the things that they sowed in that crowd to call for the crucifixion of Christ was the claim that had been brought up in his trial that he would destroy the temple and secondly, that he was the Son of God, which they said was blasphemy. So as the crowd comes by again, the same crowd that heard those accusations, walking along the road and they see Jesus hanging there, they wag their heads back and forth and go on blasphemously reviling and defaming Jesus by mocking Him with words, you said you're going to destroy the temple, did you?

And build it in three days. Well, let's see you show that kind of power by getting off that cross. And they laugh. Oh, you're the Son of God, are you? Well, if you're the Son of God, then come down from the cross. And they mock.

It isn't enough that he dies. They have to taunt him in the process. Mindless, stupid, unthinking, fickle crowd that was throwing palm branches at his feet and hailing him as the Messiah and now is mocking and blaspheming His name on Friday. They're reminiscent of evil people today.

The fickle people. So many people that you know have been to church. They've attended the church. Maybe they've been raised in the church.

They know the message. Maybe they had Christian parents. Maybe they've had Christian training. They maybe have made a profession of faith. At some point along the line they've been baptized. They've gone to the church. But that's all in the past. They're not interested in that anymore.

They've gone on to other things. Jesus didn't fulfill their expectation. In fact, when Jesus rode in, they thought He would attack the Romans. He came back into town and attacked the Jews by wiping out the temple, buying and selling. And that was not in His favor.

They thought He ought to attack Rome, not them. And now how can this be the Messiah? All week long and He's done nothing. He's been here all week and now look at Him. He's hanging on a cross put there by the Romans. He is a victim. This is not our Messiah.

And even the affirmation of Pilate that He was innocent would have been somewhat convincing to the Jews because if Pilate found Jesus to be guilty of nothing against Rome, then he certainly wouldn't be the Messiah because they assumed the Messiah would come in a military triumph over Rome and all the other nations. It all was coming to pieces and they had forgotten their hallelujahs and hosannas. And now in their disappointment over Jesus' failure to give them what they wanted when they wanted it, they had turned against Him and were blaspheming His name. So fickle.

The world is full of people like that even today. People whose only interest in Jesus is an immediate satisfaction, an immediate self-indulgence. And if He doesn't deliver what they want when they want it, it's over with. And I grieve about that. There's a tremendous amount of responsibility for someone who knows Jesus, knows His claims, knows His power, knows His person, understands the truth and walks away from that. There is a tremendous amount of responsibility for that. That's the fickle crowd.

Find something they want more than they want Jesus Christ. At one time in their life they sing the songs and hail Him and another time in their life they blaspheme His name. The world is full of passers-by who taunt Jesus, who once hailed Him.

Oh, it was never really salvation, but they knew the truth about Him and now they reject it. The fickle, wicked, in a sense are traitors. But they're not the worst group. The worst group is yet to come in verses 41 to 43. The religious wicked.

They are illustrated to us by the canting, and that word basically means insincere and hypocritical. The canting leaders, insincere, hypocritical, the lowest level of blasphemers, religious hypocrites who parade their piosity, who want to appear to represent God and know the truth and be pure and godly and virtuous and represent the Word of God. And the truth of it is they're filled with hate and vilification toward the very Christ of God Himself. In verse 41 we meet them. It wasn't just the fickle crowd, likewise also the chief priests, all those various orders of priests that operated within the temple ministries were mocking Him along with the scribes who were the authorities on the law and the elders who were supposed to be the revered and renowned men of maturity and wisdom in the land.

They constitute the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of Israel. So all of these leaders who are supposedly the religious elite, who are supposed to know everything there is to know about the truth of God and the Word of God and the mind of God and the heart of God, who pretend to love God and revere His Word and hold up His name, they come along and what did they say? And notice please that the crowd talk to Jesus. The leaders don't talk to Christ. They hate Him. He is so despised by them. They will not talk to Him. They only talk about Him. So they talk to each other about Him. Verse 42, He saved others and they mean by that His healing ministry, His deliverance from demons.

He did it for others. Himself He cannot save. They never denied ever in the New Testament the miracles of Jesus.

Never. It was impossible to do that. There's never an indication that the religious leaders of Israel denied His miracles. They said they were by Satan done, by Satan accomplished, but they never denied them. They said He does what He does by the power of Beelzebub, but they never denied them. And now to see Jesus hanging on the cross, unable to come down, will affirm in their minds that indeed He did have power, but it was Satan's power, so we, when we put Him on the cross, we can be sure He'll stay there because God is on our side. Look, the fact that He is there shows that His power is not as great as ours. His is Satan's. Ours is God.

God's with us. They're mocking His power. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross and we'll believe Him.

If He has such sovereignty and such authority and such power, let us see it now. They put in the word now right now. They were forever and always asking for a sign. The truth of the matter is even if He had come down from the cross, they wouldn't have believed.

Their hearts were so evil. Whatever power you have, show it to us. Demonstrate it. They don't say that in sincerity. They're not saying, please come down and show us so we can believe. They're mocking. They're scorning. They're laughing.

They're ridiculing. They don't know why He's there. They think the only thing that anyone would want to do in a situation like that if He had the power to do it was get out of it. The only kind of power they know is used in behalf of self-interest. They don't understand sacrificial dying for someone else. That's foreign to them.

So come down, they say, and we'll believe. They attack His power. Then in verse 43, they attack His person. And they say here exactly what Psalm 22 8 said they would say. Now they're not quoting Psalm 22 8 by any means. They're saying what the prophet through the Psalms said they would say. Scripture is being held up here.

Not their knowledge of Scripture, but the truthfulness of the prophetic word. He trusted in God. Let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him. For He said, I am the Son of God.

So now they attack His person. Oh, you're the Son of God, are you? Oh, you trust in God, do you?

Then let's see God deliver you. He had claimed to be the Son of God on many occasions. And they throw that in His face.

He had recently claimed it in response to Caiaphas' question in 2663. And so they taunt Him with that. The religious wicked. They have all there is to have of religion and nothing to do with God. Blind leaders, apostates, false teachers, false prophets, hypocrites, wolves in sheep's clothing, doomed to the hottest hell.

So there's the scene. And everybody's there somewhere who's an unbeliever. I mean, you're either an ignorant unbeliever or you're a knowledgeable unbeliever or you're a fickle unbeliever who once knew and even affirmed the truthfulness of it and now you've turned away from it.

Or else you're a religious unbeliever who parades a certain kind of religiosity that has no reality. But everybody who's an unbeliever is in there somewhere. And let me tell you something, everybody who is unbelieving in any period of time is as guilty as the crowd there. I mean, do you realize in Zechariah 12, 10 it says, someday Israel will look on Him whom they have pierced and mourn for Him as an only son? And do you know that the people who are alive at that time and do that will not be the same people who actually put Christ on the cross, but they are as guilty by their unbelief? And you know, of course, that Hebrews 6 says that anyone who rejects Christ is guilty of crucifying the Son of God and putting Him to open shame. You either stand with those who believe or you stand with those who crucify. And maybe you're a part of the ignorant wicked, maybe the knowing wicked, maybe the fickle wicked, maybe the religious wicked. But all unbelievers are there somewhere. Now, listen carefully to what I'm going to say. The thing that sticks in my mind so much about Christ dying on the cross are His words, Father, what?

What does it say? Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. We see on the cross of Christ the friend of sinners who is actually on the cross, not because He could not come down, but because He would not come down. Notice verse 54 of Matthew 27, verse 54. Now, when the centurion and they that were with Him watching or guarding Jesus, who is that? Well, we just go back to verse 36 and it tells us it was the Roman soldiers who put Him there.

They sat down and watched Him. Now we see the same group, the ones that were watching Him along with their leader, a centurion was over 100 men. When they saw the earthquake and the things that were done, they feared greatly saying truly this was the Son of God. And in Luke's gospel, it's so marvelous, Luke says the centurion glorified God and said truly this is a righteous man.

And I believe the expression of Scripture indicates to me that there was a centurion at the foot of the cross that day who came to embrace Jesus Christ as Savior. By the sovereign saving grace of God, that soldier and perhaps some of his companions were plucked out of the group of ignorant wicked to embrace the Savior they had crucified. Now that's a God of grace.

That is a God of grace. Look at Luke 23 and verse 39, And one of the malefactors, one of the evildoers who were hanged, actually suspended, crucified with Christ, railed at Him, saying, If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us. And the other one answering rebuked Him, saying, Dost not Thou fear God, seeing Thou art in the same condemnation?

And we indeed justly, for we received the due reward of our deeds, but this man had done nothing amiss. And then he turned to Jesus and said, Lord, oh, what a word! Remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt Thou be with me in paradise. Now here you have the knowing wicked, the callous, crass, worldly, materialistic, self-indulgent thief who in one minute is heaping insults of blasphemy on Jesus Christ and in another moment is crying out for mercy to the only one who can save Him. And right there on the cross, Jesus rescues one of those knowing wicked and embraces him to his heart and meets him that very day in paradise.

That is the friend of sinners, is it not? And then I want you to look at Acts chapter 2. In verse 14, Peter stands up to preach and he preaches to the whole populace that are gathered there on the day of Pentecost. And he says, Ye men of Judea and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you and hearken to my words. And he launches into a great sermon about Christ in which he indicts them for the wicked crucifixion of Christ. In verse 23, he talks about the resurrection of the Lord. He comes to a climax in verse 36 when he says that God has made the same Jesus whom you have crucified, Lord and Christ. And what happens when they heard this?

Who's they? The people of the city, the same people who said Hosanna, the same people who screamed crucify Him, the same people who walked by wagging their heads and taunting Him. Now they've heard a sermon and they're pricked in their hearts. And they say to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And verse 41 says, They that gladly received His Word were baptized in the same day that were added unto them.

How many? Three thousand souls. Listen to me, that is the fickle wicked. Out of the crowd of Christ's rejecters, out of the crowd that screamed crucify Him, out of the crowd that wagged their heads and reviled Jesus on the cross, God by sovereign grace took three thousand souls. And it says in verse 47, More were added every single day. Is not Jesus the friend of sinners? Even the sinners that crucify Him. And then finally in Acts chapter 6 and verse 7, the church begins to flourish and grow and more and more of the people of that city are brought to the Savior. Grace is extended to those who hated Jesus Christ. And the capstone of it all comes in verse 7 of Acts 6, the Word of God increased, the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly and follow this, and a great company of what?

The priests were obedient to the faith. I'm quite confident that right out of those religious leaders that mocked and blasphemed the name of Jesus Christ, God by sovereign grace took some to be His own. He is indeed the friend of sinners. He is eager to forgive. He is ready to forgive.

I don't know where you are today. He longs to embrace you into His arms to give you the salvation He so freely offered. He stayed on the cross not because He couldn't come down.

He stayed on the cross because He wouldn't come down. And I believe that the Savior shed tears for those who shed His very blood. Such is the compassion of God and the gift of salvation.

Let's bow in prayer. Thank you, Father, for the scene that we have viewed today from your Holy Word. Thank you for the friend of sinners who died for the very ones who crucified Him in all generations. Thank you that His arms are open to all who come.

Oh, Father, may we be grateful enough, thankful enough, not only to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, but to live our lives totally in obedience to Him. You're listening to Grace to You, featuring the Bible teaching of John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, and his lesson today comes from his study titled The Murder of Jesus. Well, Jesus' arrest and crucifixion and resurrection, you can't find a historical event with a more fascinating cast of characters or with more drama.

And of course, John, what really makes Jesus' final hours the turning point of all history is the why of the story, the reason Jesus was crucified in the first place. Yeah, of course, you have to get beyond the history. You have to get beyond the events. You have to get beyond the scourging. You have to get beyond the nails. You have to get beyond the spear. You have to get beyond all of those things that are so fascinating, so compelling, so dramatic.

You have to get beyond all of that to the point of it all. You know, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, you read the account of the death of Christ. But then starting in the book of Acts comes the meaning of the death of Christ that stretches all the way through the end of the whole of the New Testament. Much more teaching done on the significance of the death of Christ than on the features within that death itself. I would love to put in your hands a book, the title, The Murder of Jesus.

Yes, this will take you down deep, you might say, into the details of his arrest, trial, and execution. But more importantly, it will end gloriously and triumphantly by opening up the significance of his sacrifice for us. And I believe understanding the full range of all that Scripture reveals about the death of Christ informs our worship. It is moving and powerful for me to consider that Jesus humbled himself to become a man, took a humiliation, the scorn, the arrest, the scourging, the mockery, the execution itself.

That is all moving evidence of his humiliation. But beyond that, the meaning of that, the triumphant accomplishment on the cross which led him to say, it is finished, and to think that he did that for me and rose again that I might rise from death to eternal glory with him. This is all the most marvelous of all Christian truth. It would do you well to get a copy of The Murder of Jesus, the most fascinating reading, the greatest crime ever committed, and the very story of your salvation. You can order a copy of The Murder of Jesus from Grace to You.

Yes, and do order it, friend. This vivid account of Christ's death is a great tool to help strengthen your love for God, especially your thankfulness for what he has done to secure salvation for those who believe. Order John's book called The Murder of Jesus when you contact us today. You can order The Murder of Jesus right now from our website, gty.org, or call us Monday through Friday, 730 to 4 o'clock Pacific time, at 855 Grace. The Murder of Jesus is affordably priced and we ship for free.

It's compelling reading, not just at Easter but all year round. Again, to place your order, call 855 GRACE or go to gty.org. And to download all of John's messages from his audio series titled The Murder of Jesus, go to gty.org. There you will find actually all of John's sermons from 54 years of his pulpit ministry, all of them free to download in both audio and transcript format.

Just go to gty.org. And also let me encourage you to follow us on social media. That's a great way to keep up with our ministry. You can learn about John's newest books, you'll hear the latest news about what's happening at Grace to You, and you will find us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here tomorrow when John begins a study on crucial but often missed details of Christ's resurrection. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-03 23:22:31 / 2023-04-03 23:33:40 / 11

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