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Affection From the Cross

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
April 14, 2022 8:00 am

Affection From the Cross

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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April 14, 2022 8:00 am

Join us for our Maundy Thursday worship service- For more information about Grace Church, please visit www.graceharrisburg.org.

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It was nine o'clock in the morning when the Roman soldiers laid Jesus down on a rugged splintery cross, took the hammers up over their head, and with swift precision nailed huge spikes to his hands and his feet.

They took a rope, they tied it around the top of the cross, they lifted it up in the air, it dropped down into the hole, drawing all of Jesus's bones out of joint. At 12 o'clock noon that day, all of a sudden darkness covered over the entire land, and that darkness stayed there for three straight hours until 3 o'clock in the afternoon when Jesus died. During those six hours, Jesus made seven statements from the cross, and I want to just very quickly share with you what those seven were. The first one we call the Word of Forgiveness. As Jesus looked out at the people that were crucifying him, spitting on him, mocking him, laughing at him, and and just cursing him. And Jesus looked up into heaven and said, Father forgive them for they know not what they do. The second statement was what we call the Word of Salvation.

As Jesus looks beside him at the repentant thief and looks right in his eyes and says to him, today you will be with me in paradise. The third statement that Jesus made was what we might call the Word of Affection, and I'll get to that in just a bit. The fourth statement that Jesus made is what we might call the Word of Anguish. As Jesus looked up to heaven and said, my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? The fifth statement we would call the Word of Suffering. As Jesus cried out and said, I thirst. The sixth statement that Jesus made, we could call the Word of Victory.

For Jesus cried out and he said, it is finished. And then the seventh statement that Jesus made, we could call the Word of Contentment. As Jesus is breathing his last breath, he says, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. I don't know about you, but as I think about those statements, as I roll them over in my mind, my heart begins to get tremendously stirred up. And the theologian in me immediately begins to want to lay out the doctrines. There's justification and redemption and substitutionary atonement. And then there's the preacher in me that wants to challenge you and say, look what Jesus did for us, how can we neglect so great a salvation? And then the sinner in me wants to just weep as I think about how much he loved us, and as I wonder why would he die for somebody like me, somebody that is so sinful, so vile, and so undeserving. And then when I think of myself as a Christian, I just want to rear back and shout.

I just want to shout and scream out to the world, what can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. The statement that I want us to look at today is the third statement that Jesus made from the cross.

I call it the Word of Affection. Jesus looked down from the cross, he saw John there, he saw his mother right beside him, and Jesus said to his mother, Behold your son. He said to John, Behold your mother. Three points I want to share with you very quickly tonight, and the point number one is the fulfillment of Simeon's prophecy.

Now look at verse 25 with me. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother's sister Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. There were four women there at the cross that are named. One of them was Mary, that's the mother of Jesus. The second was Mary's sister and Jesus' aunt, and her name was Salome, and she was the mother of James and John.

She was the wife of Zebedee. The third woman that is mentioned is Mary the wife of Clopas, and her son is James the Less, or sometimes called James the Younger. The fourth one was Mary Magdalene.

She's the one from which Jesus cast out seven demons. Now in Luke chapter 2 verse 23 and 25 through 26, we read about Simeon and the scripture says this, Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord Christ. Who was this Simeon? Simeon was an old man, but he was a godly man. He was a holy man. His heart hungered to be obedient to the Lord. His heart hungered for holiness. He loved the Lord with all of his heart, and for several decades he had been praying and expecting that the Messiah, the long-awaited promised Messiah would come. He had been preaching on that, excited about that, and finally the Lord speaks to his heart and says to him, Simeon, you will not die until you have seen the Lord's Christ.

Boy, Simeon was excited about this. He was so excited that every day he would go through the streets of Jerusalem, and he would look at all the women that had newborn babies, and he would go to them looking intently at each baby, wondering could this be, could it possibly be the Christ? Finally, the baby Jesus is born in Bethlehem, and eight days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem, and they dedicated him to the Lord, and they had Jesus circumcised there. By the way, did God have a reason for telling the parents of newborn babies, baby boys, that they should circumcise them on the eighth day after the baby's birth? There's a reason for that, and people had no idea what that reason was for millennia, but what they found out is on the eighth day after the male child is born, his enzyme level is higher in his body than in any other time in his life, which means that the blood clots more easily than in any other time in his life, and his pain tolerance is higher.

So on that particular day, eight days after his birth, that's the easiest time and the safest time for him to be circumcised. Now, ask the evolutionists if that just happened by chance. Folks, that didn't just happen by chance.

Back then, they had no idea even what an enzyme level was, but what they were able to do is this. They were able to say, we know that our God is the one who created this earth. He is sovereign. He is all-wise. He is all-powerful.

We can trust him because everything he says is right and good, and our response should just be obedience. But as Joseph and Mary are walking away from the temple after just having Jesus circumcised, as they're walking away from the temple, the Lord speaks to Simeon's heart and says, Simeon, that's the one, that's the Messiah. And I can see this old man just shuffling over to him as fast as he can go. His eyes are twinkling, his hands are trembling with excitement, and he walks over to Mary and he holds out his arms and she knows that this is a special time. And she reaches over with her baby and she hands it to Simeon. And Simeon takes that baby and he holds the baby Jesus up to his chest, and then he looks up to heaven and he says, Oh, praise God. Now I can die in peace, for I've seen the Messiah. I have seen the long-awaited Christ.

I've seen my Lord and my Savior. And then he gives a prophecy to Mary, and this is what he says, Behold, the child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against, and yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also. Surely, Mary had that thought in mind as she stood under the cross and looked up at Jesus suffering and bleeding and dying. Surely she thought back to that night 33 and a half years before that where the angel Gabriel came to her and said, Mary, you're gonna have a baby and you're gonna have a baby that is going to be conceived by the Holy Spirit. It will be a virgin-born baby and that baby will be the Son of God. And she wondered at that time, how's Joseph going to believe this difficult story? And are the people in Nazareth the gossips?

Are they going to try to ruin my reputation by calling me a woman that had a baby out of wedlock? She remembered back to Jesus' birth, they went to Bethlehem and there was no room for them in the inn, so they went to the stable back behind one of the inns and and there in that stable Jesus was born and they took the baby Jesus and laid him in a manger. She remembered the decree of Herod who decreed that all the baby boys in Bethlehem that were under two years old would be killed and she remembered how how Joseph and her took the baby Jesus and fled all the way down to Egypt to protect Jesus and were there for two years.

Then she remembered the last three years, she remembered the ministry of her son Jesus. What did he do? He healed the sick, he fed the hungry, he ministered very powerfully the gospel, he shared truth and shared the Word of God like nobody had ever heard with such clarity and such power and such anointing and such unction that it touched people's heart. He cast out demons of people who were demon possessed.

He did all of these things. Simeon was right because the religious leaders then, even knowing all the good that Jesus had done, they cursed him and called him agent of Satan. The prophecy of Simeon was fulfilled for what had happened, for a sword had pierced through Mary's soul also. As she looks up at Jesus hanging there, dying on the cross, I'm sure she remembered back to that night in Bethlehem where Jesus is lying in the manger and she reaches over and she kisses him on his forehead and now she looks up and she sees a forehead that has a crown of thorns crushed down in it and blood is just rolling down Jesus' face. She looks down and thinks back to that time where she reached down in the manger and played with his chubby little fingers and Jesus' chubby little toes and now she looks at those feet and those hands on the cross and they are ripped to absolute shreds by the huge iron spikes.

No mother ever suffered like this. His disciples deserted him, his friends forsook him, his nation despised him, and yet Mary stood there firmly under the cross. The crowds are mocking, the thieves are taunting, the priests are jeering, the soldiers are laughing, but Mary stands there firmly under the cross. Surely as she watched all that, she remembered the words of the old man Simeon, this little baby will one day cause a sword to pierce through your soul.

That was fulfilled. The second thing I want us to consider is the example that Jesus is setting for children to honor their parents. Ephesians chapter 6 verses 1 through 3. Paul said, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, this is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. Jesus looked down from the cross and he told his disciple, his friend John, that John, you were responsible for taking care and taking responsibility for my mother.

I give you that responsibility. Now I think by the silence of the scriptures we can rest assured that by this time Joseph has died and Mary is a widow. Mary has other sons, she has other daughters. There's James who became the first pastor in Jerusalem. He was the one who wrote the book of James. There's Jude or Judas who was a great evangelist and wrote the book of Jude. But at this time they are not believers and would not become believers until after the resurrection. So Jesus looks down at John and gives him responsibility because he's got to have a man of God to do this and a man that truly loves him.

And so he wants a man that's going to not only take care of Mary physically, taking care of her food and shelter, he wants a man that's going to feed her soul, that's going to share the scripture with her, that's going to be with her and give her godly counsel. I've often wondered if this event where Jesus did this, probably surely in front of James and Jude, I wonder if that's not what brought great conviction into their heart. They're thinking, this is our mother and here he's given responsibility for our mother to another, to one of his friends, to our cousin.

Why would he do that? And then they remember they're not believers. John is. And I wonder if the Lord just used that in their lives after his resurrection to bring them to faith.

I think maybe so. But by this action Jesus demonstrated his respect and his honor for his mother. Here in Ephesians 6, 1 through 3, the fifth commandment is being shared.

Let me read it again. Paul said, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, this is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. This command means much more than just a begrudging obedience. Folks, what's involved here in honoring and respecting your parents is love and affection and gratitude and respect.

Young people, I want to speak to you for just a minute personally. You're living in a time when the fifth commandment is mocked and laughed at. You watch TV shows and the kids on those shows ridicule their parents and mock them and disobey them. They laugh at their values, they break their rules, and there are no consequences, none whatsoever, that they have to pay for.

The TV programs always make the parents look out of touch and stupid, and the kids have to disobey the parents because parents just really don't know what's going on. Well, the fifth commandment did not say that if you were smarter than your parents or if you were more spiritual than your parents, then you don't have to worry about being obedient to them and honoring them and respecting them. Look at Jesus. Nobody was wiser than Jesus. Nobody was more spiritual than Jesus. Joseph was a sinner. Mary was a sinner. Jesus was not. And yet Jesus showed unbelievable respect and honor for his parents.

I remember not long after I came to know the Lord, I went to a seminar and the teacher was teaching on the God-given authority that we are to submit our lives to. And I remember him saying to us, when God gave the fifth commandment, he meant business. And then he said this, and I'll never forget it, he said, if your mother were to become a prostitute, then you are not to follow her example, you are not to condone her behavior, but you are to still respect and honor her position as mother. And he said, if you do that, you don't know what God will do with that honor and respect. He may use your testimony to her to break her heart and bring her to a saving relationship with Christ. I'll never forget that.

Does that sound crazy? Folks, God's ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts. We don't understand how all those principles work out.

We're not called to understand them and figure them out. We're just called to be obedient. This command of God is for you to honor your parents. Why?

Let me give you a couple reasons. Number one, your relationship with your parents is God's tool to teach you the principle of submission to authority. And if you're rebellious and stubborn and stiff-necked as a child, then it's a good chance that you're going to be predisposed to have that same attitude of stubbornness and being stiff-necked and rebellious against God-given authority when you're an adult. That easily happens.

And the most miserable people on earth that I know are the people who are living in rebellion against God. If you learn how to obey your parents as a child, then you will find it a hundred times easier to be obedient to God as an adult. Secondly, as a young person there's a tendency to think that a parent's restrictions are old-fashioned or just unnecessary. For example, a young man may be dating a girl. She's cute, she's flirty, she's fun, she is happy, and so he wants to introduce her to his parents and he does. And after being with her for a while, the parents talked to the son later and they said, you know, we just don't feel good about this. And he says, well I feel good about it.

I feel great about it. But those parents could see something that was lacking in the character of that young girl. The young man keeps dating her. He falls in love with her. They get married. Not long after the marriage, he finds out that she's cheating on him, that she's being unfaithful to him. The marriage falls apart, they get divorced, and his heart is absolutely broken. Were his parents just being old-fashioned?

No. God was speaking to that young man through his God-given authority, but he was choosing not to listen, and the breaking of that commandment cost him dearly. My dad's mama, Ani Langston Agnew, was one of the greatest Christian influences on my life. She died at 92. She had seven children, had a plethora of grandchildren. I was always the favorite.

I thought I was until I found out that everybody else thought that they were, too. She was an unbelievable lady. She gave me one thing, material thing, in my life that I can remember. I was five years old and I went into her house. It was Christmas time. She had a Christmas card up on the piano, and it was a picture of a little boy walking through the snow, and he's dragging a Christmas tree.

He's got an axe up over his shoulder and a little dog that's walking with him. I was just mesmerized by that, and so she saw how much I liked it, and so she took it down and took it away, and next Christmas she gave it to me all framed up in a picture. I have had that Christmas card picture on my wall for 65 years. It was so precious to me, so I took it to Martha Ferris.

I asked Martha, I said, could you paint this picture and make it bigger, and she did, and so I had those duplicated and gave them all out as presents to my kids. That thing that she gave me was absolutely precious to me, but it was not stuff that my grandmother gave me that meant so much. It was spiritual things that she did in my life. She'd put me on her lap and she would share with me different scriptures, and she would tell me about things that God had done in her life, and I remember saying to my dad, I said, Dad, she's different.

Why is she so different? And Dad said, It's Jesus. It's just Jesus, and he was right. She died when I was 26 years old. When my dad was getting ready to die, he shared something with me that it was just very beautiful to me, but he gave me a little devotional book. It was about the size that you could put in your pocket, and I said, Dad, where'd you get this? It was falling apart, and it was a book that was filled with promises from God's Word, and it had quotations from Spurgeon and D.L.

Moody and R.A. Torrey, and I said, Where'd you get this? And Dad said, My mother gave it to me when I was getting on the plane to go to North Africa to fight in World War II, and she said, I want you to take this with you because there's gonna be some scary times over there, and she said, I want you to learn how to stand on the promises of God's Word. He said the whole time he was there, he always kept it in his pocket, and he took it out over and over again. He said there were scary times that he went through, but the Lord used the promises of God to get him through those difficult times. My dad was getting ready to die, and he said, Doug, he said, I am so ready to see Jesus. He said, I can't wait to see him face to face.

He said, but you know, I want to see my mom, too. I want to see that one who pointed me to Jesus. My grandmother made a difference, and the reason that she made a difference was because of her relationship and her fellowship with Christ.

All right, the third thing I want you to consider is the power of love. Look at verse 26 to 27. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, woman, behold your son. Then he said to the disciple, behold your mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own home. By the way, this disciple, John, was the only disciple out of all the rest of them. By this time, Judas had already committed suicide, but he was the only one that was not martyred for his faith.

They took him, they threw him into a vat of boiling oil, and he lived through it. But 65 years after Jesus died on the cross, the Roman authorities took John from Asia Minor, and they put him on a boat, they carried him over to the Isle of Patmos, and he was there in exile, and it was there that he wrote the book of Revelation. But before he was on the Isle of Patmos, before they took him over there, he was at his church in Ephesus. Paul started that church, he planted it, but after that, John came in to pastor the church. He pastored it for several decades, and when John left Jerusalem to come to Ephesus, he took his family with him. He took his wife, he took his kids, guess who else he took? He took Mary. And Mary went to Ephesus, and she lived with him for years and years until finally she died right there. And what that tells me is this, John carried out Jesus's commission. Behold, she's your mother.

Take care of her. And boy, did he ever. But to really catch the beauty of this event, you must remember what has happened. On the night before the crucifixion, before the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Jesus got the disciples together and he says, guys, let me tell you what's gonna happen tonight. He said, you're all gonna get scared, you're gonna desert me, you're all gonna run away.

This will be fulfillment of Zechariah chapter 13 verse 7 that says, strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. He said, that's what's gonna happen. This is the time that Peter jumped up and said, no, no, no, that's not gonna happen. He said, I don't know about the rest of these guys, but I would never deny you.

I'd go to prison for you. I would die for you, but I'd never deny you. Jesus said, Peter, before the cock froze twice, you'll deny me three times. Matthew 26 verse 56 says that the disciples, right before, as the soldiers were coming in, they deserted him and they scattered, and Peter did deny Jesus three times that night. So the next day, when Jesus walked down what is called the Via Dolorosa, the road that goes to Golgotha or Calvary, as he walked down that road, he walked without friends. He walked without the disciples. He walked alone without people that knew, loved him, and cared for him. And before he walked down that road, the Roman soldiers had taken a cat of nine tails whip, they'd beaten him across his back, 39 lashes. He had lost so much blood that he was very, very weak. He tried to carry the cross and he couldn't. He fell, and one of the soldiers grabbed a man, Simon of Cyrene, and forced him, constrained him, to come and carry Jesus' cross, and he did. But when Jesus was walking along with him, we need to remember that he was alone.

He did it by himself. There was no encouragement from Peter. There was no prayer from John. There were no words of compassion from Thomas.

There were no tears of sympathy from James. They all deserted him. They'd all gotten scared, and they ran off, and they were hiding from the authorities. What they thought was that what the authorities were doing to Jesus by crucifying him, that would probably happen to them, so they took off. So in the hour that Jesus needed them most, they were nowhere to be found.

But there was one disciple who couldn't stand it any longer. His name was John. That next morning, as Jesus is going to be crucified, John says, I got to be there. I've got to see Jesus. I've got to let him see me.

I want him to know that I am so sorry for deserting him and maybe he'll forgive me. John gets there. There's a tremendous crowd there. The people are cursing Jesus and screaming at him and spitting at him, and John makes his way through the crowd. He gets right there to the foot of the cross and looks right beside him, and there's Mary, and she's sobbing. I can imagine John reaching over to her and just hugging her and holding her while she cries. Then they both turn around. They look back at the cross. Jesus looks at them, and it's at that point that Jesus commissions John to take care of his mother.

People, let me ask you a question. What was it that drove John back to the cross? I don't think it was courage. I don't think it was truth. I don't think it was faith.

I don't think those things were strong enough. I think it was love. John loved Jesus, and Jesus loved him, and John knew it. In John chapter 21, we read a very interesting statement. Peter's speaking to the disciple whom Jesus loved.

Who is it? Who is the disciple who Jesus loved? I want you to listen to John 21, 20 through 24. Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. The one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, Lord, who is it that's going to betray you? When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, Lord, what about this man? Jesus said to him, if it's my will that he remain until I come, what's that to you? You follow me.

So the saying spread abroad among the brothers. If this disciple was not to die, yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but if it's my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Then verse 24 says, this is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things and who has written these things and we know that his testimony is true. Who's the disciple that Jesus loved? It is the one who wrote these words. Who wrote these words? The Apostle John wrote these words. This is the man who Jesus looked down to from the cross and said, behold your mother. This is the man who Jesus says through the power of the Holy Spirit, this is the disciple whom Jesus loved and he loved Jesus. Let me ask you a question, the ultimate question.

Do you love Jesus? I remember several years ago there's a lady in our church that came up to me and she said, Doug, I need you to pray for me. I could tell she was very agitated and I said, what's going on? Why do I need to pray for you?

She said, I'm frustrated, empty, and she said, I think maybe that I have left my first love. I said, yes, I will pray for you. I'll pray for you right now, but I said, I also want to give you a verse of Scripture. Let me share with you what that verse of Scripture is. 2 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 3. Paul said, but I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a pure and sincere devotion to Christ. Listen, you leave your first love when you lose your daily dependence on Jesus.

Most of us leave our first love because our minds and our hearts get cluttered up, cluttered up with junk. Now, it doesn't need to be evil junk. Sometimes it's just everyday junk. Sometimes it's your business. You get so busy you don't have time to pray, you don't have time to read the Scripture, you don't have time to go to church.

If you're that way, then let me tell you something, you're too busy. I remember a few years ago I was reading in 2 Chronicles and I was reading about the hard-headed son of King Solomon, his name was Rehoboam, and in verse 14 there's a verse in 2 Chronicles chapter 12 that really hit my heart about Rehoboam, and I want to read it to you. It says, And Rehoboam did evil, for he did not determine in his heart to seek the Lord.

What's gonna cause you to get off base? What's gonna cause you possibly to leave your first love? It's by not determining in your heart to seek the Lord. If you want to regain your fellowship with Christ, if you want to to go back to your first love, that's the way to do it. Determine in your heart right now before you leave this building that you will be one who seeks the Lord, seeking his will, seeking his heart, seeking his presence, that you will seek the Lord. If you've left your first love, let me ask you something.

Who moved? It wasn't Jesus. Jesus said, I'll never leave you nor forsake you.

It was you. So what do you do? The scripture says you do this, draw near to him and he will draw near to you. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, I as a pastor in this church have been trying to prepare myself and this congregation for persecution. With a country that is moving rapidly away from your truth and your principles, we realize that there will be animosity toward your people. We beg you to remove fear from our heart and give us a bulldog stick-to-it-ness. Help us to despise compromise and to be more concerned with your glory than our comfort. May our world's secular agenda completely fail to break us. Help us to develop a solid, still, spiritual backbone.

How do we grow? Through study, through meditation, memorization of your Word, but also through participation in the Lord's Supper. Tonight we have that privilege. May your presence be so sweet and real to us as we partake of the bread and wine that we would leave this building more in love with Jesus than we've ever been before. It's in Jesus' holy and precious name that I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-01 10:49:36 / 2023-05-01 11:02:07 / 13

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