Welcome to Insight for Living, featuring another message in Chuck Swindoll's special Christmas series. It's a 12-part study on the names of God he's called, His Name is Wonderful. While we've come to a sobering point in this series, join Chuck as he invites us to follow along as he traces the dramatic life of Jesus, from the manger to the cross. This course is a troubling question. Why would God allow, or even be satisfied with, His crucifixion?
Chuck titled his message, The Day God Answered, Amen. This is one of the first conversations that you've never heard before, and actually, it could be a life-changing experience for you. But you'll need a good imagination. I know that's harder for some of you than for others, but for us artist type, it sort of comes easily. But for you engineering types, work hard. Try to imagine.
Try to picture the scenes as they are portrayed for you. Now, we'll also need some rapid transportation. So, I've made arrangements with the time train. We'll catch it together, and I've got a seat for you so you can sit beside me. We're going to go all the way, well, we're here.
That wasn't bad, was it? We're here. We're in Palestine. It's the first century. The year is about 30 A.D. And the city is Jerusalem. You're a shopkeeper on the main drag in Jerusalem. Back in Southern California, it would have been like having a shop on Beach Boulevard that runs from the heart of the county all the way to the ocean. But here it's Bethphage Avenue, sort of a winding serpentine road from the base of the Mount of Olives all the way to the downtown temple. Busy street.
You like that. Being a shop owner, it means a lot of people come by. And having a lot of people means a lot of business. And a lot of business means a lot of money. That's important to you. And with all of that comes a lot of talk. It's sort of the center, sort of the nerve center of the scuttlebutt around the city. It's Passover time.
It's a holiday time. It meant nothing to us back in Southern California, but in the first century, in 30 A.D., it means a lot. A lot more people. A lot more business. You've had this shop for a long time.
In fact, it's been in your family 70, 80, maybe 90 years. But you've been at this site here on Bethphage Avenue only about a dozen years. In fact, when you first got the shop, it was sort of run down. You wanted to have some work done, and you tried to find just the right carpenter shop that could do it. The problem was the best one was up in the hill country, up in Nazareth in Galilee.
J&J's carpentry shop up there. Father-son establishment. You had heard about it through friends. Somebody even mentioned that the older son wasn't really the man's son, but out of a bit of pity for the woman who was carrying this child out of wedlock, they sort of slipped away.
In fact, the last word you heard is he was really born not far away over in Bethlehem. You don't know the details, and you don't get into stuff like that because it leads to conversations about morality, and morality talks about something about religion. You stay away from that.
It's not good for business. So those kind of things you sort of leave alone and run outside. The crowd is beginning to gather. It's an unusual kind of gathering. They're not moving along or milling around like a normal crowd would on a holiday week, but this crowd is sort of staying. It's almost like the beginning of a parade. In fact, it is a parade. There are children as well as adults, parents taking children by hand, and children are dragging these fronds, they call them, from the branches of a palm tree, and they're sort of waving them.
In fact, they're tossing them out in the street, of all things, and you wipe your hands off and take your apron and place it aside and ask the help to take over, and you decide to walk out front and to see what it's all about. You open the door and step out there, Hosanna, Hosanna, son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. The fellow right next to you said that. He belongs to your synagogue, Beth Shalom. He's been a member for years.
What's he saying? You thought it was maybe a Roman official on a chariot. They often did that sort of thing, threw their weight around, white stallions pulling their chariots, just kind of calling attention to the fact that they're in charge around here and don't you ever forget it. But it is not a chariot down at the end of that street. In fact, it's not even a Roman official. In fact, it's not even a Jewish official. Normally, you'd see a few Pharisees walking along, praying out loud, long robes and tassels, sort of showing off their spirituality, but they didn't fit the cry from the people.
In fact, there's sort of a festive scene where the children are sort of dancing around holding hands and the older folks are shouting back, Hosanna, Hosanna to the son of David. And you look. There's a donkey, sort of an awkward creature with a man sitting on his back, stepping gingerly over those branches in the street, sort of staggering along. And that's funny. You're sort of captured by his face. It's almost like he had been in your shop.
And so you say to the friend who you've known for years, who is this? Well, that's the Nazarene. That's the prophet from Nazareth.
He used to be a carpenter. Could that be the boy? And about the time he comes right in front of you, there is this very gentle wave in your direction.
Well, you're a good businessman, so wave back. And you smile back, but he has those eyes. You haven't seen eyes like that since you met with your tax collector two weeks ago. He looks right to the back of your cranium, right into your soul.
But these eyes are different. They're full of acceptance and compassion. And it's almost as if he nods, saying, I understand you.
I know you. The carpenter from Nazareth on the back of a donkey waving at you. As the beast passes on, the crowd sort of folds in behind, kind of like they do at the end of a parade when you sort of join in.
And before long, people move aside into the alleys that lead off into the innards of the city. And you watch for a little while longer as the crowd dissipates, and you notice that this little group that's been following him goes all the way to the steps of the downtown temple. And you wonder what he's about. You heard later that he threw some folks out of the temple.
What a strange thing. He didn't look the type. Strong, but gentle.
Masculine and rugged, but kind. Things have been in a bit of an uproar in your city. There's this constant battle between the Romans and the Jews, between the governor that's been sent there to take care of the crowd during Passover. You've never liked Pilate that much. You wonder if it's something to do with all of that, but you stay out of politics too.
Not good for business. You come back inside, and the day passes as your stomach is churning because you cannot get that face out of your mind. The prophet from Nazareth.
Night falls. In fact, a few days pass, and they're not that uneventful because the crowd that keeps coming into your shop, not only new faces, but some of the older patrons of yours are talking more and more about this Nazarene who seems to have taken the city by storm. In fact, one of your fellow workers says to you, have you heard him preach? I mean, your rabbi's good, but this man, when he speaks, he hardly raises his voice, but people hang on every word. He cuts like a hot knife through butter.
He goes right through all the religious facade, and he deals with issues that matter. He tells you what's even down in your own soul, and you remember that look. And you wish you would have heard him. You wish you would have spoken.
Another day passes. About mid-morning, you come in the store, and your help is there working hard, and you look up, and you sort of groan when you see Diatrophes, the Greek who owns the tent shop next door. He's so proud. He's so proud that he has this apprentice back in Tarsus, such a bright man he keeps talking about that he's training in the trade. But this is his main shop here in Jerusalem, and he walks in with a swagger, and he said, well, they got him. They got to Galilean. One of his own turned him in.
The carpenter? Yep, they got him. I knew it would happen.
You know who turned him in? A Judean. I knew it. Galileans are pretty thick. The rest of them are Galilean. But that Judean saw right through him. He's one of Simon's sons. His name is Judas.
In fact, it served him right. They were doing a weird thing. You're supposed to pray in the synagogue, and he's out there in the middle of the night with a group of his people. They're praying at night in the park down in Gethsemane.
Anything can happen down there. And a mob came. They had torches.
There were swords. Somebody cut somebody's ear off. It was a weird scene.
They got him. You know, I used to think that it would be Nathaniel who turned him in. You remember Nathaniel? Yeah, I met Nathaniel. I've sold him things before.
You remember the conversation. Nathaniel was the one who said to Philip, when Philip said, why don't you come follow him with us? Can anything good come out of Nazareth? I thought Nathaniel would be the one that would turn him, but it was Judas. In fact, he held the money.
Oh, you're interested. Judas handled the money. A Judean. I wonder what he's doing right now.
You can't put it together. You ask, what are they doing with him? Where is he? Where are they holding him? Well, my source says he's on trial.
In fact, he's been on trial through the night. That's not supposed to be kosher, but they did it because they're in a hurry to get him crucified. Crucified.
Yeah. Suddenly there is a flashback to when you were 17 years old, the last time you had been to that place of the skull. And you watched a couple of men hanging on Roman spikes until they slumped in death. And you thought, I'll never look at this again. It's worse than the worst horror story you've ever heard.
You couldn't imagine. It was about lunchtime, so you reached in the counter and you pulled out your closed for lunch sign. You hang it on your door and you lock up.
You tell the help to take the afternoon off. You start making your way with a crowd that's now moving along like a rapidly moving river just outside the city wall. You remember where it is.
There are sort of profane names for it that are thrown around by the rabble of the city. And you go there. You keep your distance because it's an eerie place to be. You hear one man on the side on a cross screaming out cursings against your God, and that's offensive. You see another man on the other side and he says very little. It's almost as though he's resigned to die.
But in the middle, that's him. Only you can't see his eyes now. His face is swollen. They're little slits. You walk around behind and you look and his back looks like raw meat draining with blood, sort of oozing down that stocky piece of timber.
Talk about police brutality. Those are thorns on his head. Somebody has jammed thorns down on his head and that's gotten into his eyes. He screamed that. The man next to you thought he was calling for Elijah, but you've been in this cosmopolitan trade long enough to pick up most of the languages you know ever make. You say it isn't Elijah.
He's not calling for Elijah. Those are the words of a prayer. Something like, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Something like that. Why does he say that? He really is disillusioned. You remember last Sabbath when the rabbi spoke about being aware that there will be all kinds of people who will come and they will try to act like they're the Messiah. And he used the scroll of Isaiah to describe what he would be like and he pictured it as one who would overthrow that Roman yoke and he's not done that. Could he be the Messiah? Somebody on the other side whispers, did you hear about the suicide last night?
No. Judas hung himself. What is this?
What's happening? Time was when life in the city was so simple. You sold your goods.
You ran an honest shop and aside from putting up with diatrophes next door, things were pretty simple. And now you've got a simple man in the back of a donkey and the very people who said hail son of David now are crying crucify him. And the one who turned him in has hung himself.
I am thirsty. One of the soldiers down below gambling for the garment sticks his spear in a sponge and in a bucket of vinegar and wine and pushes it up to his face, cuts him right there on the cheek. Jesus turns his face. Your heart goes out to him. And then he turns to spit out some of the blood that has begun to hemorrhage from his mouth and he said, it is finished.
What is finished? You look to your left and about four people over is his mother with her hands on her cheeks. Standing next to her is a friend somebody told you was John, one of the disciples. And you thought how cruel. Hard enough for a mother to give birth to a child but to watch him die at such a young age.
He's not 35, 40 years old. But she's standing in grief. And you think about that.
It is finished comment. And you worry over it like a dog with a bone. You can't figure out why he said that.
Why did he simply say I am dying? In fact, last time you heard that particular expression, one of the carpenters used it when finishing your shop back a dozen years ago. Maybe it's a carpenter's term. It's almost like you've worked to the end of an agenda and at the very bottom when you check the last thing off, it's all complete. It's done.
And you sort of swipe your hands together and you walk away and you get your pay and you go to the next job. It's almost like he's saying mission accomplished. What mission? It's gotten dark. Strangely dark. It's not supposed to be dark.
It's hardly three o'clock in the afternoon. Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. It's like he screamed it as blood came out and drained down his neck and he slumped. You can't stand that sound. It's awful. And then John, standing next to the mother, it's a prayer like you've never heard before. It's nothing like the rabbinical prayers you were taught as a little boy or a little girl.
It was something like this. Yes, take him home, my father. Take the prince to his king. Take this son to his father. Take the pilgrim back home.
He deserves a rest. Come, ten thousand angels, come and take this wounded troubadour to the cradle of his father's arms. Farewell, manger's infant. Bless you, holy ambassador. Go home, death slayer. Rest well, sweet soldier. The battle is over. Amen.
You have never heard anything like that. He knew God like you've never known him. He talked to him like a friend. Does that come from knowing and following this man on the cross? I believe, you say.
How will I ever explain it to my rabbi, to my friends? He is the son of David. He is the king. He is the Messiah. I believe it.
Oh, I wish I could have talked to him and known him. He's dead. To your amazement, while lost in your thoughts, the ground begins to shake. Earthquakes aren't that usual around here. You thought at first perhaps it was a large entourage of Romans going by and their chariots and implements of war.
But it wasn't. It was an earthquake in the darkness. And you look back behind you and you see under the shimmering light of the eclipsed sun some of the rocks splitting on their own. They're breaking. And somebody said from the back, those tubes over there, stones are rolling away. They're rolling uphill.
They're falling flat. It's like their corpses are going to come out of the grave. You heard later that at the temple, downtown temple, that big thick tapestry veil between the holy and holiest of all, where you never would be able to go, ripped from top to bottom.
They'll never be able to repair it. And all of that happened when he died. But what really got your attention was the words of a hardened soldier who had been on so many crucifixion details, he couldn't even remember what number this one was. But he stopped, looked at the stones, saw the tomb, and said as he looked into the face of the swollen carpenter, bruised and battered, this was the son of God. We've killed an innocent man that did it.
You can never erase those words from your mind. You go home that night, you slump onto the cot where you spend your evenings, and you stare at the ceiling of your little home. As that is happening, you don't know it, but there is a group of officials who have gathered at Pilate's office. Pilate opens the door. In come Pharisees, a couple of chief priests, and a local rabbi, not yours, but one nearby.
Their faces are grim. Sir, we remember that when this deceiver was on this earth, he said, after three days, I am going to rise again. Therefore, Governor, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him away, and say to the people, he has risen from the dead.
And then things would be worse than they were at first. Pilate said with a sneer, I never wanted to have anything to do with him anyway. My wife warned me about him. I'll let him go, hoping that people would say, let him go and crucify Barabbas, but they chose him. He's your worry.
You have your own guard. Make the grave secure. They left, and they did. . At moments like this, we truly wish that Inside for Living had a full hour to present Chuck Swindoll's entire message. Let me urge you to join us again on Monday when Chuck concludes his message titled, The Day God Answered, Amen. Well, I can't think of a more fitting way to celebrate this season and to conduct a study on the names of Jesus.
So please make it a point to join us every day for this series, His Name is Wonderful. If you'd like to learn more about Chuck Swindoll or this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, this daily Bible teaching program and all of its companion resources are prepared just for you. And we love getting your emails, notes, and phone calls. For instance, we recently heard from a friend who said, Well, on behalf of this pastor and countless others like him, we want to thank all those who give generously. Your contributions are channeled directly into making a life-changing impact on those who hear Chuck's teaching. We want to thank you, Chuck Swindoll.
You've been my spiritual father. To give a much needed end-of-year donation, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or you can give online at insight.org. A reminder that you're invited to supplement your Sunday morning church attendance by viewing the worship service at Stonebriar Community Church.
It's simple to access online. You'll find all the instructions for streaming Chuck's message at insight.org slash Sundays. . You've heard him teach about the Holy Land using word pictures to make us feel like we're actually strolling through the old city. Learning about Jerusalem is fascinating for sure, but seeing the land of Israel with your own eyes is life-changing.
In fact, it's absolutely magnificent. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and the gracious hosts and experts assembled by Insight for Living Ministries. Join us on an unforgettable 12-day tour, March 5th through the 16th, 2023. At special sites along the way, I will teach from God's Word. We'll worship at the Mount of Beatitudes and share the Lord's Table at the Garden Tomb. In fact, we'll sail the Sea of Galilee together, and we'll visit places where Jesus walked and taught.
To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. Just imagine walking along those sacred sites and seeing the Bible come to life before your very eyes. Mark your calendar for March 5th through the 16th, 2023. And make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444 or go to insight.org slash events. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us again when Chuck Swindoll continues to present his study called His Name is Wonderful, Monday on Insight for Living. .
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