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Punished for Me

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
April 12, 2022 9:00 am

Punished for Me

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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April 12, 2022 9:00 am

Pastor J.D. will help us see how the responses of the people surrounding the events of Jesus’ crucifixion give us pictures of how we respond to Jesus.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. What God did when Jesus died on the cross as he absorbed the pain of our injustice and said it will go no farther than here. I will not give you wrath and anger for what you have done. I will swallow. I will absorb the effects of your sin and I will give you love and acceptance even though you deserve anger. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vinovich, and we are so thankful to be jumping into God's Word with you again today. Okay, today we've reached the pinnacle of our teaching series called Instead of Me. Pastor J.D. is going to walk us through some of the important moments before Jesus's crucifixion that we often tend to breeze through rather quickly. There are lessons to be learned and we don't want to miss them.

As always, if you miss any of our programs or if you're in search of our featured monthly resource, you can find it all online at jdgreer.com or by giving us a call at 866-335-5220. But right now, let's join Pastor J.D. for this challenging message that he titled Punished for Me. Matthew 27, if you got your Bible this weekend, I would invite you to take it out.

Matthew 27, here is a question for you as you turn in your Bible to Matthew 27. Has there ever been a significant event in your life that you and somebody else interpreted very, very differently? I remember hearing the story of four people who were sitting across from each other in the stall of a train as it was barreling along the tracks. It was a basketball player, a college basketball player and his coach. And then across from them was a beautiful young college-age girl sitting next to her grandmother. And so you could tell that the college basketball player and this college girl were kind of hitting it off and they were exchanging flirtatious glances when all of a sudden the train goes through a tunnel, a short tunnel, and for 10 or 15 seconds, it was total darkness on the train.

And during that 10 or 15 seconds of total darkness, two distinct sounds were heard. One was the smack of a kiss and then the other was the slap of a face. Well, when they come through the tunnel and the lights are back on there, the girl thinks, the college-age girl thinks, you know, I sure am glad that he kissed me, but I wish my grandmother hadn't slapped him. The grandmother thinks, I can't believe that he had the audacity to kiss her and I'm glad she slapped him. The coach who was kind of rubbing his face was thinking, I can certainly understand why he kissed her, but I think that girl smacked the wrong guy.

And the basketball player was thinking, awesome, I got to kiss the girl and slap my coach at the same time. So you probably have not had that exact same experience, but you probably had some experience that you and somebody else in your life interpreted in very different ways. Well, today we are going to talk about the event, the event in history that has been interpreted in more divergent ways than any other event in history. Very few people, of course, debate whether Jesus died. Now you might find a person or two out there that says Jesus never even existed, but they're by far on the outside. The divergence comes in why Jesus died. That's what causes the debate. Gandhi, for example, wrote in his autobiography in 1894, he said, I can accept Jesus as a martyr and his death on the cross was certainly a good example of sacrificing yourself for others, but that there was anything else to his suffering that was mystical or mysterious like dying as a substitute for sinners.

This my heart can never and will never accept. Richard Dawkins, the famous atheist in our culture wrote the book, God Delusion. He calls the Christian understanding of the death of Jesus.

He calls it divine child abuse and says it's absolute foolishness. I've been in an audience where I heard the famous skeptic Bart Ehrman over at UNC Chapel Hill, where he was asked the question of what it would take to get him to believe in Jesus. And he said very simply, he said, had Jesus fulfilled his promise to bring peace on earth? He made this promise he was going to bring priests on earth and then he died. Basically, what he's saying is that Jesus' death was essentially the failure of his mission. Now, I realize, of course, that not many people or at least maybe many of you may not be that openly hostile to the gospel, but I've heard a number of people say things to me like, okay, God, I understand the need for God.

I understand why I need God in my life, but I just don't get the big deal that you Christians make about Jesus. Well, see, that's what we're going to press into today. We're going to do that by walking through the actual moments of the crucifixion. I'm going to try to show you some clues that one of Jesus' disciples, Matthew, who wrote the gospel of Matthew, clues that he put in the narrative to help you interpret why it happened.

And then at the end, we're going to do what we have done on all the previous weeks of this series. I'm going to try to show you how the responses of the characters that Matthew puts around the cross are there to give you pictures of yourself. Now, like I've told you, you're the one that's being examined here, and you're the one that's on trial. And in these responses that people give to what is happening, you should see yourself and see potential ways that you can respond to the cross of Jesus Christ, okay?

All right, that's what we're going to do. Chapter 27, we're going to begin right around verse 26. Let me pick up the end of that verse because it says, after ordering Jesus to be flogged, Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified. Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the governor's residence and gathered the whole company around him, and they stripped him and dressed him in a scarlet robe. They twisted together a crown of thorns, and they placed it on his head, and they placed a staff in his right hand, representing a scepter like a king would use to rule.

And they knelt down before him, and they mocked him, oh, hell, king of the Jews. And then they spit on him, and they took the staff out of his hand, and they kept hitting him on the head. You know, when we talk about the crucifixion, we tend to breeze right through this moment and focus only on the actual crucifixion itself where they nailed him to the cross.

But you have to understand that this part was equally cruel and just as terrifying. First, when it says the whole company, it meant 20 or 30 Roman soldiers that had circled him and begun to kick him and punch him and mock him like a mob or like the cruelest bullies surrounding a helpless child on a schoolyard or think a gang fight, delighting in his pain, beating him until he was barely conscious. You see, when they were finished, Jesus would have been barely able to stand up.

He would have been covered in spit, humiliated, and quivering in pain. Then at some point in this process, they flogged him. The whole process of crucifixion had been designed to be able to put someone through the worst kinds of pain without, first of all, killing them, and second of all, without making them go unconscious. Because what good is inflicting pain on somebody if they're not conscious to be able to suffer from it? So the Persians had invented a process of crucifixion. It wasn't simply nailing somebody up to a cross. They had invented this as a way of keeping people conscious and alive for a long period of time. The Romans had borrowed this from the Persians, and they had perfected it over nearly a century. I found an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that describes the process of flogging and crucifixion and explained why it worked like it did.

I'm going to kind of reference it for several minutes here over the next little bit. They used a short whip to give the flogging called a phlogram, or we sometimes refer to it as a cat of nine tails because it had nine braided leather thongs that had small iron balls and sharp splinters of sheet bone knotted into the thongs at various intervals. The victim was stripped of his clothing and his hands were tied up high above his head to a post. The idea being that the flesh on his body would be pulled very tightly so that it would tear easily. Then two Roman soldiers, one on each side, would with alternating strokes deliver the beating. Their goal was to weaken the victim to a state just short of death or unconsciousness. This article says, and I quote, as the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim's back with the full force of the iron balls, they would cause deep contusions and the sheet bones would cut into the skin and the subcutaneous tissues of the victim. Eventually, the lacerations of the whip would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.

Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. After they had given him this flogging, after they mocked him, they stripped him of the robe that they had put on him and they put his own clothes back on him and says they led him away to crucify him. The cross beam that they would have forced him to carry would have weighed about 200 pounds.

It would have been placed across his back with a placard hung around his neck that stated his crime and his sentence. The cross beam itself would have been recycled, let's say that, because it was used with previous crucifixion victims, which means that it would have still reeked with the gore of previous victims, rough hewn and full of jagged edges and splinters. Jesus was then paraded to the streets before jeering crowds with two Roman soldiers in front of him and two behind him.

Often, they say, people in the crowd would break through and come in and punch the victim or spit on them as they walked by. Verse 32, and as they were going out, they found a Cyrenian man named Simon. They forced him to carry the cross. You see, evidently, Jesus was so weakened from the flogging that he eventually collapses and is unable to carry any more this cross beam. And so they pull a random man from the crowd and they force this man to carry the cross.

Now, here's a question you need to ask yourself as you're reading a narrative like this one. The question is, why would Matthew go to the trouble of including his name? Why would Matthew name this man? Well, see, names in the gospels function like first century footnotes.

This was a guy who at the time of the writing would have still been alive. And what Matthew is doing is he is giving you an eyewitness who was there and basically saying, if you've got questions about this, just go ask that guy. The Gospel of Mark is going to take it a step farther and indicate that Simon was the father of a man named Rufus.

Now, why would he just give us details about his family? Well, evidently, Rufus was somebody that was commonly known, especially to the readers of the Gospel of Mark. We know, by the way, Mark was the guy that traveled with Peter. And Peter, of course, ended up in Rome. And when Paul writes his book to the Romans, he greets by name in Romans 16, 13, a guy named Rufus. And scholars tell us that this is most likely the same person. And the reason that Mark puts the name Rufus in the narrative, he's just like, you know, Rufus's dad, you got questions about how this went down, just go ask Rufus's dad. In other words, this is not a made up legend. This is an eyewitness account that he's putting a footnote in there saying, this guy's still alive.

Go talk to him if you got questions about this. You're listening to Summit Life with JD Greer and a message titled Punished for Me. We'll be right back with more teaching in just a moment. But I wanted to remind you about our current resource this month. It's a 10 day devotional study guide called Listen Up, 10 Devotions from the Parables of Jesus. Do you want to dig deeper into the lessons that Jesus has for us? This resource will bring comfort and understanding to some of his harder to understand parables and give us action steps to help us grow in our faith. So give us a call today at 866-335-5220 or go online to jdgreer.com to reserve your copy. Now let's get back to our teaching.

Here's Pastor JD. Verse 33, when they came to a place called Golgotha, which in Hebrew means place of the skull. The Latin word, by the way, for place of the skull is calvaria, which we then use to say calvary as the place where Jesus died. Verse 34, they gave him wine mixed with gall to drink. But when he tasted it, he refused to drink it.

Wine mixed with gall was a very popular narcotic of the day, functioning like a painkiller. The question you have to ask is, why did Jesus refuse the painkiller? Why was it that Jesus would not take that? Well, it's not that he was against painkillers.

It's not that this was, you know, his first just say no to drugs campaign or he wasn't a teetotaler and I can't touch wine. The reason that he would not touch this is, do you remember a few weeks ago when we walked through the Garden of Gethsemane? You remember I showed you that where, you know, I asked you the question, why would God give Jesus a glimpse of what he was about to encounter on the cross before he experienced it? Why give him this advanced view?

And you remember the answer I gave you? It was from Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards who said, he said, well, the reason that God gives Jesus an advanced view of the pain of crucifixion before he undergoes it is he wanted us to see Jesus go to the cross voluntarily so that the depth of his love for us would be put on display even more clearly because you understand the value of something to someone when you see what they're willing to give up in order to purchase it. And the whole cross was God's demonstration of his love for us. And if Jesus had dulled the pain, his love for us would not be as clearly on display as it is. God was demonstrating to us the depth of his love. And Jesus said, I won't take anything that is going to take away from the display that I'm going to go through to purchase you from your sin.

So he refused the narcotic. Verse 35, then they crucified him. One scholar explains, here's how the crucifixion worked. It was designed to keep the victim alive for as long as possible and to keep them from unconsciousness. And it did this by putting you through cycles of dizziness, cramps, thirst, sleeplessness, hunger, traumatic fever, of course, the humiliation and shame, the piercing wounds that felt like they were on fire, ripped tendons and joints out of socket. The way that they kept you conscious was by keeping you cycling through these elements of pain. And when one of those particular elements was about to drive you to pass out, the way that crucifixion was set up, you would kind of switch to another type of pain that would keep you conscious and you would just go back and forth. And that's how they kept you in a state of consciousness.

Here's how it worked. When you were on the cross crucified there with your nails in your hands and your feet, you were hanging down, obviously suspended by only your arms. Your feet were really no good to you because they had a nail to them. And so you couldn't put any weight on them. And as you hung there very quickly, they say your shoulders and your elbows would pop out of joint. The blood vessels from hanging down around your stomach would become swollen and gorged with surcharge blood. As you were hanging down, you couldn't breathe. And so you would start to suffocate that feeling that you have when you are drowning, that kind of I have no air. And so you would hoist yourself up by your arms in order to be able to take a breath, which immediately pulled on these nails that were through your hands and your joints being out of socket.

It caused excruciating pain. Then they say that your muscles, because of the way you were hanging, would immediately begin to cramp. And so you could only manage to hoist yourself up for a second or two when you would have to drop and go back down. And from that hanging position there, you would be able to take small breaths in but never exhale. So you would get quickly to that point where you feel like you couldn't breathe any longer. And so with the panic of suffocation, you would pull yourself up just a little bit, be able to take a breath in.

And as soon as it came in, you'd have to let go and hang back down. So for six hours, Jesus alternated between this searing, burning pain of the nails in his hands and his feet and his bones being out of socket, going between that and this panic feeling of suffocation. And every time he pulls himself up or lets himself slide back down his back, which is lacerated by the whips down to the muscle and bone, was further torn open by the splintered center beam of the cross.

Eventually they say the victim would give up and just die of suffocation. This is what Jesus was pointing to, by the way. This is what he was pointing to when he took that bread and that cup and held it up to his disciples and said, this is my body that's going to be broken for you. This is the blood that is poured out as the forgiveness for your sins.

This was the cup of God's wrath that Jesus had voluntarily taken so that you and I could be saved. He was wounded for our transgressions, for my small acts of rebellion, for the fact that I didn't want him to be in charge, for those little white lies that I had told, for the places where I had rebelled against God's law, for the fact that I didn't want God to be in charge. I wanted to be in charge. The fact that I didn't want him to get the glory. I wanted to steal the glory. He was wounded there like this for those things. He was bruised for my iniquity. The chastisement of my peace was put upon him so that by the stripes in his back that were put there by that phlogram, by those stripes, I would be healed. He was taking all this for me.

He was taking it instead of me. Now people hear all this and they say, well, well, that's really moving, but what would his suffering, what would his suffering have to do with my sin? I once had a Muslim tell me when I was a missionary over in Southeast Asia, I once had a Muslim tell me, he said, you know, I just don't understand why God would need somebody to die in order to forgive my sin. He told me, he said, you know, if you sinned against me and I wanted to forgive you, I wouldn't, you know, make you kill your dog or your cat or somebody. Why would God require some kind of sacrifice to forgive? He said, he said, in fact, the Muslim God is much more merciful than the Christian God because the Muslim God just forgives.

The Christian God requires this kind of sacrifice. I told him I certainly understood what he was saying, but that's a very superficial understanding of forgiveness. You see, any choice, any real choice to forgive somebody or something significant means that you are agreeing to absorb the cost and the sting of the injustice of what they've done. If it's a significant wrong that's been done to you, for example, if you borrowed my car or you stole my car and I didn't know it, you took it out and you wrecked it and you come back to me and say, JD, I don't have insurance and I don't have money to pay for this.

What are my choices? Well, I can make you pay for it. I could take you to court. You know, we could set up something where you pay me back over a period of time.

That's one choice. But if I looked at you and just got overwhelmed with compassion in the moment and said, you know what? I forgive you. I forgive you. You don't have to pay me back for wrecking and destroying my car. That's not going to happen, by the way, so don't steal my car.

But if I did that, if I did that, what am I agreeing to do? The car's just, I'm not going to say I forgive you and it's magically going to fix itself. What I mean is I'm absorbing the cost for your wrong. I'll bear the cost of the wrong, the injustice that you have done to my vehicle, or switch the metaphor for a minute or switch the analogy. If you slander me, if you speak very cruelly and unfairly about me and ruin my reputation, right? And then I figure it out.

What are my choices? How do I respond to you? Well, I could respond to you in kind, right? I could tell everybody what you've done and I could slander you and I could speak cruelly to you and speak angrily to you.

And you know what? I'd feel better when I did it. Why would I feel better? Because I feel like justice is being served. The wrong that you did to me is coming back to you.

Whenever you pay, repay somebody evil for evil, you feel good because it feels like justice. But if I looked at you and said, I forgive you, what am I agreeing to do? I'm agreeing that all the problems, all the pain that were caused by your slander of me, I'm going to absorb them in myself. And I'm not going to respond with pain back to you. I'm going to give you love and acceptance where you deserve hate and anger.

You see what I'm saying? So what have I done? I've absorbed the pain of your sin. What God did when Jesus died on the cross is he absorbed the pain of our injustice and said, it will go no farther than here. I will not give you wrath and anger for what you have done.

I will swallow. I will absorb the effects of your sin and I will give you love and acceptance even though you deserve anger. You see, you've got to have a real understanding of forgiveness. If you don't understand what I just said, it's because you've never had to forgive somebody of an actual wrong done to you. I don't mean like little trite forgiveness. I mean real forgiveness.

If you're going to forgive somebody, it's going to cost you dearly. And what you see at the cross is that God in his love absorbed the consequences of our sin and gave us love and acceptance and he swallowed the wrath that belonged to us. Right before Jesus died, Matthew tells us that Jesus utters a couple things from the cross that are going to give us clues as to as to what is happening. Verse 46, about three in the afternoon, Jesus cries out with a loud voice. Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani, that is, my God, my God, why have you abandoned me? A quote from Psalm 22 indicating that Jesus has been abandoned by God.

The father has turned his face away. What we saw begin in the Garden of Gethsemane has now been brought to full fruition. God has turned his face away from his son because that is the ultimate penalty for our sin. You want to know what hell actually is?

Hell is the total abandonment by God. It is you and I walking away from God and isolating ourselves and there on the cross, Jesus goes into total darkness, total abandonment, and all it can say is my God, my God, my father, why have you forsaken me? And then verse 50, but Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and he gave up his spirit. Now Luke tells us the gospel.

Luke tells us exactly what he said here when he did this. The word that he cried out is in English, three words. It is finished in Greek the way that it's written.

It's just one. The word he cried out was to tell us die. It was actually a very common word in Greek. In fact, archeologists say they found that very word to tell us die that Jesus says from the cross.

They found it scribbled across tax receipts when somebody had paid their tax bill. And essentially it meant it's paid. Jesus chooses a very common term as one of his last words from the cross when he says with a loud voice, it has been paid. You have no more debt that you owe. Every bit of it from the very beginning all the way to the end has been paid in full. Your debt is clear.

I have paid it for you. And suddenly verse 51, when Jesus says this, the curtain of the sanctuary was torn into from the top to the bottom and the earthquake and the rocks were split. That curtain was a four inch thick curtain made up of 72 different cords that separated the people from the presence of God, the Holy of Holies.

The name of it was the parakeet. It literally in Hebrew meant shut off because that's what it did to people. It shut them off in the presence of God and they could not go behind that curtain into the presence of God.

And if they did, they would immediately be put to death here. Suddenly as Jesus dies, as he lifts up his voice and he says, my God, why have you forsaken me? And then he says, now it is paid. When he says that comes out of his mouth, that four inch thick curtain, the parakeet is split in two, showing that the torn body of Jesus through the torn body of Jesus, the presence of God is now open to all. Hallelujah. What a savior. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. If you'd like to listen again, you can always find the full program online at jdgreer.com. We have a wonderful offer available for our Summit Life family today. You can be one of the first to get Pastor J.D. 's newest resource, Listen Up, 10 Devotions from the Parables of Jesus. We're praying that this devotional book will help you feel more confident and more joyful and reading the Bible and applying it to your life right away. When you give thirty five dollars or more today, we'll send you a copy of Listen Up as our way of saying thanks for your generous support. You can also request the study when you make your first donation as a gospel partner. Gospel partners commit to regular monthly giving. They're the real backbone of this ministry.

If you've been growing through this program, join the special family today. Give us a call at 866-335-5220. And remember to ask for the resource by Pastor J.D.

titled Listen Up. That number again is 866-335-5220. Or you can give and request the book online at jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Bidevich, inviting you to join us again next time for the conclusion of today's teaching here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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