Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The cross of Christ is history's central event. That amazing sacrifice is what makes salvation possible. We must come to grips with what happened on that cross. Let's begin by listening to the seven cries Jesus uttered before giving up his spirit.
From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, your series is on cries from the cross, a study in the seven last words of Jesus from the cross. Tell us about his wounds, our healing. You know, Dave, when we think of the cross of Jesus Christ, all of us know that Jesus bore our sin, but he also bore our sicknesses. Even though we do not experience healing in this life, sometimes we do, often we don't, the simple fact is that when Jesus died there, he died that we might be completely redeemed. So even in his death, I like to think of the fact that he indeed did bear our sins and our iniquities, and with his wounds, the Bible says we are healed.
What a wonderful event. To all those who are listening today, I want you to listen carefully to this series of messages that will prepare your heart for Easter, but more than that, it will enable you to worship Jesus Christ in a new way when we contemplate all that he did voluntarily for us. Let us listen. Christianity is the only religion whose God has wounds. Today we begin a series of messages on the cross, specifically cries from the cross. We're going to be considering the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross, but today, however, we have an introductory message on the wounds of Christ. It was Karl Marx who, when he was dying, his housekeeper said, what are your last words?
Share them with me and then I will be able to disseminate them to your followers. And he shooed her out of the room and said, no, last words are for people who haven't said enough in their lifetime, Marx said. Considering the fact that he was wrong about so many other things, we should not be surprised that he was wrong about this too. Last words are important and the people who have had the most to say have the most important things to say before they die. But today, the wounds of Christ, we begin this series with a great deal of reverence, with a great deal of appreciation. And may I say a great deal of mystery. Here we shall see the glorious attributes of God converge in an event like no other on this planet. Here we shall be overwhelmed with the purpose of God, the ways of God. And in this series of messages, we will pursue an answer to this question. How could the disciples take this time, this evil execution of their master, and how could they turn it into God's saving event par excellence, the very pivotal of that which God does to redeem humanity?
To put it differently, how could an event with so much darkness turn out to be an event with so much light? In this study, we will encounter the greatness of God, but also the greatness of our sin. We will see his love, we will see his mercy, we will see his justice.
It will all come together as we meditate and linger at Calvary. We'll discover that at the cross, it is there that our desire for salvation is satisfied, but at the same time, we will see that all self-exaltation is undercut and the axe is laid to the root of the tree. My text for today is taken from Isaiah chapter 53. Isaiah 53, I am reading from the NIV and I'm picking it up at verse 4.
Isaiah, it has been said, wrote this passage of scripture as though he were sitting at the foot of the cross, and so it was. We read, surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him. And notice now today's text and by his wounds, we are healed. We as evangelicals like to emphasize the spiritual suffering of Christ, and we're going to do that, especially when we get to that awesome remark, that awesome cry, my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?
But for today, I think it would be very good if we were to spend a moment meditating on the physical suffering of Jesus. We know that he was taken to see Pilate, Herod, then back to Pilate, and the Bible says, Pilate scourged him. You have to understand that his wrists were bound, and he was bound onto a column, and there he stood, and then he was whipped.
The scourging thongs had little balls of metal at the end, or else bits and pieces of broken bone. And as his body was lacerated, there were little beads of blood that would come out on his back, and his neck, and his shoulders, and then those beads of blood would break as the lacerations continued, as he was constantly being whipped and beaten. His legs give way, but because he's tied to the column, he cannot fall down.
He slumps, but the beating continues. And then they take a crown of thorns, and they put it on his brow, and they mock him, and blood spurts onto his neck, and his face, and is matted in his hair. And then Jesus has asked to carry his cross, not the entire cross, but probably the horizontal piece only.
The vertical would have already been there at the hole waiting for him at Galvary. And so he's asked to carry his cross, and he puts this on his back, but because he's bound, and because he has been so marred, the scripture says that he was unrecognizable as a man. He stumbles under the weight of the cross. The centurion is impatient, and so passing by is a North African by the name of Simon of Cyrene, and he's pressed into service, and he carries the cross for Jesus, and they walk about one-third of a mile as Jesus repeatedly falls all the way to Calvary. And then when they get there, Jesus is laid down. He is being helped as he's laid on the cross, and nails are taken, sharp, square Roman nails.
And through his palms, the nail goes into the wood, first one side, then the other, and then his feet are given support, and they also probably are nailed, and then the cross is lifted up, and it is put into the hole that is prepared for it. A doctor who studied the physical suffering of crucifixion says inexpressible pain darts like lightning through his fingers, shoulders, and into the brain. The most unbearable pain a man can experience is caused by wounding the great nerve centers.
Each movement of the body revives this horrible pain. And Jesus has to breathe in very short, gasping breaths because his lungs are full of air, but he cannot empty his lungs. So there he hangs for six hours. We live in an age when beauty is magnified. In fact, I hope to preach an entire message just on the cult of beauty, which is destroying the self-image of young people. But how did Jesus look? Did he look beautiful? Well, if your Bible is open to Isaiah 53, as I hope it is, notice what it says in the middle of verse 2. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. So if beauty is where it's at, Jesus wasn't where it was at. You can see here the extent to which his whole visage, the scripture says, was so marred more than that of any man. And now Jesus is hanging there and the blood is dripping onto the pavement, onto the dirt, and he hangs there and he will speak to us from the cross, as we shall see next week. For today I want to zero in on the phrase that we read together, by his wounds we are healed. And in order for us to understand that, I'd like to give you five facts, five facts regarding those wounds that become the means of our own healing and our deliverance. First of all, number one, his wounds were inflicted by others. They were inflicted by others. You'll notice that the text says that he was a man of sorrows. Verse three, despised and rejected by men. His enemies delighted in the fact that he was on the cross.
What a jolt of self-confidence they received as they saw him writhing there. Oh, I know that the religious leaders were in on it. They, they despise Jesus.
Let me explain to you why. We all derive our significance from something. Some people derive their significance from their wealth. Some derive it from whom they know.
Some derive it by their position. And you had all of these people in positions of authority and Jesus was undercutting them because the people were enthusiastic about him and they saw their significance diminished. And as a result, there was only one thing to do and that is to get rid of the man who was threatening them. You say, oh, they crucified Jesus for theological reasons. He claimed to be the son of God.
My dear friend, that was a smokescreen. Pilate says he knew that it was for envy that the people delivered him. So he was crucified by his enemies. He was also, I would say, that some of those wounds were because of a friend by the name of Judas who betrayed him. Now we have to pause for a moment and I realize that I'm speaking to many people today who have wounds that have been given to them by enemies. Some of you also have wounds that have been given to you by friends.
Some of you have had your childhood stolen because of abuse. Some of you have gone through experiences of betrayal and hurt and anger and all those things are within you and you know what it's like to receive the wound, a wound from an enemy and a wound from a friend. But I want you to know today, folks, that there's someone else involved in Christ's wounds and that is God. If he was afflicted by men, he was also afflicted by God. You'll notice it says in verse four, we read it a moment ago, surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God.
Wow. Verse 10, yet it was the Lord's will to crush him. I like the King James, I think that says it pleased the Lord to crush him. You say, well, did God do the crucifixion?
Did he do the dirty work? No, but as evil men did it, his purposes were being carried out. Those of you who attend here know that we often come across this anomaly or I should say a convergence of God's purposes with man's evil. We come across that in the scriptures. That is to say that men carry out their evil designs, but even as they do that, it's part of God's picture.
There is this convergence. That's a good way to say it. We can't understand it.
We can talk about it. We can try to explain it, but it turns out to be a conundrum. The reason I use that word is several months ago, a woman in this church told me that I was a conundrum and I had no idea what it meant. And so I got the dictionary out and I discovered that a conundrum is a riddle.
And so I guess I'm a riddle wrapped in an enigma, as the saying goes. I cannot tell you exactly how the sovereign purposes of God and the actions of evil men converge, but they sure do because he was smitten by God. God inflicted Christ there on the cross. And as we shall see in this series of messages, the first purpose of the cross is for God and not for us.
You say, is that right? That's exactly what Paul taught in the book of Romans. You see, if I may put it this way, God had a problem. And the problem was that his righteousness needed to be appeased because he had done some things in the Old Testament that on the surface appeared to be compromising his justice and he needed to straighten it out. You find in the Old Testament, people were being forgiven and there was no sacrifice for sin.
They were bringing animals, but the animals could not forgive them. And you get to David who committed murder and adultery and he cries up to God and God forgives them and catch this. There is no such thing even as a sacrifice in Old Testament times for murder and adultery. That's why he says you desire sacrifice, but I can't give it because there's none prescribed. You're supposed to be put to death. And here God comes along and wipes his slate clean. And you can look at it and say, well, that's not right. Where's God's justice in this? Pretending it didn't happen?
The answer is no. God says, I am saving you on credit because a day is coming when Jesus will bear David's sin. So Jesus had to die to do that. Ours as well, but the Old Testament, you say, well, where's that in Romans? In Romans three, the apostle Paul says, God set forth Christ as a propitiation as an atonement to declare the justice of God because of sins that were passed by in the Old Testament that God might be just and the justifier of those who believed in Jesus.
So God says, I need a sacrifice whereby these sins of the Old Testament could actually be taken away as well as sins that will be committed by a group of people who have not yet lived, namely us, and therefore to appease my justice, Christ must die. It pleased God to smite him. His wounds were inflicted by others, by enemies, by a friend, but also by God.
You have to hang on to that because in a few moments we'll see that for some of you that's going to bring some healing to your life. Let's have a second fact regarding his wounds. His wounds blessed others. I love this passage, but he was wounded for our transgressions.
I took a red pencil and I underlined in my Bible that little word our in verse five. He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought me peace, that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we, we, we, we are healed. His wounds blessed us my friend today.
You see they purchased our forgiveness. It says the same thing in verse six and in verse 11 it talks about the wonder, the suffering of his soul brings satisfaction and it brings peace. His wounds blessed us.
Now the thing is that as a result of that, the father was satisfied as we know and we've been blessed. I need to pause here and say that your wounds can bless someone else as well. You know we always want to be healed from our wounds and what we don't understand is that there is such a thing as God using our wounds to his glory.
But before I share that, there's something else that I must clarify. You say, well, does this mean that Jesus Christ, when it says by his wounds we are healed, does this mean that he died for our physical bodies too? The answer is of course he died for our physical bodies. He died to redeem us body, soul and spirit. We were purchased by God, all of us, not just our souls, not just our spirits, but our bodies were purchased. We were bought by Christ in total, in completeness. You say, well, does that mean then that we can have healing whenever we want it?
And the answer is no. You see, there are many people who take a correct premise, but they draw a wrong conclusion. Simple fact my friend is that when Jesus died on the cross, he purchased all that we will ever need to take us into the presence of God, but he also at that time purchased our resurrection body, which we do not yet have. He also died that he might abolish death, but guess what? Unless Jesus Christ comes soon and many of us are going to die, even faith healers die, and you must keep that in mind. It is wrong to say that we can be healed now whenever we want to be because if you say that, then you should say we should be able to escape death too. In fact, my family had some friends who believed that. They believed that they were going to live until Jesus Christ returned because they were going to be receiving physical healing moment by moment, day by day, Christ was going to keep healing them.
Well, both of them happened to die in a car accident. There are many different ways to die, aren't there? There is today a pervasive teaching that you find particularly on the part of some TV teachers that is just harmful to the body of Christ. People are told that if you're not healed, it's because you don't have faith. If you get healed, you thank the faith healer because he has the power to heal you. If you're not healed, it's your fault because if you had believed, you would have been healed. The pain that is caused, the sense of, of what shall we say, the guilt that is caused by that wrong theology.
Yes, it was all purchased, but it isn't all ours today. There is a not yet in scripture and the not yet is when we stand in the presence of Christ. His wounds blessed others by his stripes. We are healed. Let me ask you another question. What about your, your wounds? Can they bless others?
Absolutely. You know, there's a play by Thornton Wilder entitled the angel that troubled the waters. And in this play, based on the book of John chapter five, you remember at the pool of Bethesda where there was a legend that an angel came and troubled the water and whosoever then first after the troubling stepped in, the person was healed. You remember that story and the play is based on it. And there was a physician who struggled with melancholy and he wanted to get in on the healing.
So he'd always show up and he'd always wait for the troubling of the water. And one day the, the angel showed up and he thought to himself, I'm the first one who's going to step in. But the angel said, no physician, draw back.
And then the angel said this to him, he says, it is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble in the hearts of those who listen to you. And the angel says, not even angels can do what one human being broken on the wheel of life can do. I say to those of you today who are brokenhearted, who whose whole focus is for healing, so to speak, could I say it again? Not even an angel can do it. One human being broken on the wheel of life is able to do.
Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. I can't help but think that I'm speaking today to many broken people. You've been broken because of decisions that you have made.
You are broken because of decisions that have been made for you. But it is in the midst of brokenness that God does indeed offer his healing. And there's no place that we see this as clearly as the cross of Jesus Christ. I've written a book entitled Cries from the Cross, A Journey into the Heart of Jesus. It was written with the intention that we look more deeply into that event in history.
For example, let me ask you a question. Who was the cross of Jesus Christ for? Well, you say it was for me, it was for you.
Yes. But did you know that the first purpose of the cross really was for God? It was to declare God's righteousness. It was to show that God could be completely righteous while he justifies those who are sinners. And at the cross of Jesus Christ, we see the just one dying for the unjust.
And the implications for us in our personal lives extends way beyond what we could have ever imagined. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And let me remind you that Easter is just around the corner and it's a tremendous privilege for us to prepare our hearts for that pivotal event. And that's why we are making this resource available to you. The name of the book is entitled Christ from the Cross, the subtitle, A Journey into the Heart of Jesus. There we explore the tremendous event of what Jesus Christ did, but also what he said and its application to us.
He even teaches us how to die. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And let me thank you in advance for helping us get the gospel of Jesus Christ to so many people in this broken world. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 1-888-114. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago. Next time, more on the mystery of the wounds of Jesus, wounds that paid the price for the sins of the world. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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