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Perspectives of the Cross

Words of Life / Salvation Army
The Truth Network Radio
April 9, 2023 1:22 am

Perspectives of the Cross

Words of Life / Salvation Army

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April 9, 2023 1:22 am

We have been in our Easter series with Majors Mike and Christine Harris as they study the various perspectives of those who witnessed the Easter story unfold. Today- they take us to the cross to discuss how the crowd responded to the torture of our Savior. No one present truly understood what was taking place- including the disciples.

Focus on the Family
Jim Daly

Hi, this is Bernie Dake. You're listening to The Salvation Army's Words of Life. Welcome back to Words of Life and Happy Resurrection Sunday.

I'm Bernie Dake. We pray that you and your family are healthy and happy as we celebrate Jesus' victory over death. We have been in our Easter series with Majors Mike and Christine Harris as they study the various perspectives of those who witnessed the Easter story unfold. Today, they take us to the cross to discuss how the crowd responded to the torture of our Savior.

No one present truly understood what was taking place. One of the great joys, of course, as officers that's afforded us is the chance to go over to the Holy Land and to kind of see where Jesus walked, where Jesus taught, ultimately where Jesus died. And I think one of the places that really hit me was the Garden of Gethsemane, to see those trees that are there that have been there for potentially thousands of years, to think that that was the very spot where Jesus prayed that prayer of agony.

That's true. Of course, when we were there, there were cars and a parking lot and a building had been built to pray in it. But to have closed our eyes and to imagine that garden, when Jesus walked in with his disciples, knowing that he was going there to pray because he knew what was going to happen. And so in John's account of this, they have the Last Supper first. And Jesus says in the book of John, the hour has come because he knew that soon, ultimately, the reality of human pain was going to be on him in every way imaginable. So he arrives to the garden and he's told the disciples in the scripture to sit here while I go over there and pray. He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.

Stay here and keep watch with me. So how do you imagine that level of burden that you get from those words? Well, it's the fact that he said, my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. I am startled by that reality that Jesus's perspective has taken a shift into having that on him. And the agenda was still the same, but now I feel like the difference is that sin is now on Jesus, that overwhelming. Not to say that Jesus has sinned, I'm not saying that at all. But all of a sudden he is feeling the enormity of human's sin that he knows he is taking on so that he could be that sacrificial lamb for us. He took on our sin to make us right before the Lord. And so there he is praying intently and the scripture tells us that he is praying so earnestly, so honestly, and probably like no man has ever prayed before that the sweat is like blood drops coming off of him as he is telling his father, Abba, God, take this cup from me if it be your will. Not my will, but your will. And let's face it, if we all had that, we would not be asking God's will to still be done.

We were like, God, please take this from me. I mean, we do that every day, asking him to take away the burdens or those things that are troubling us. And yet here Jesus is praying to him saying, take this cup from me, but if it is not in your will, then thy will be done. It is one of the most human moments recorded of Jesus as he is out there weeping and praying before his father. On the Thursday and Friday of Passover, during that week, there were a lot of people with a lot of different perspectives. The disciples came into that whole week kind of pumped up and ready because now Jesus was being recognized as Savior to being in that Last Supper where Jesus, we now know they weren't cryptic messages, but at the time that he's talking to the disciples, it was a little confusing.

They did not understand. We know that because of how Peter reacted to the news and how Judas reacted to things that were being said. Indeed, the Last Supper had proved to be one of the most important occasions for the disciples. In fact, John dedicated five chapters to this time with Jesus. But the words and the actions of Jesus make sense now that we're on this side of the resurrection. The disciples were confused and scared and trying to figure it all out. You have the high priests and the religious leaders.

On the other hand, they were thrilled by the events of what was taking place on Thursday. They had Jesus in their custody, and all they had to do was now catch him out publicly. So when they asked him, Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One? And Jesus replied with, I am.

I am. And they had them banged to rights, blasphemy. And the law says, Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord will be put to death. Now they had completely discredited Jesus as the Messiah, so stoning, which would have been their usual method during this time, no, they wanted him to die on a tree going to Old Testament law because it had a special significance. In Deuteronomy 21, it says, If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. For he who is hanged is accursed of God. So they're thinking, these religious leaders, the Pharisees, that if they put him on this cross, de facto a tree, then he is accursed of God. That means he couldn't be the Messiah. Exactly.

Oh. So Jesus' crucifixion, from the perspective of the religious leaders, stabilizes their authority. They are still the ones in control and in charge and have all those rights. All they have to do now is sway the people to put him on that cross. For the crowd of Jews who had traveled to Jerusalem for Passover, Jesus had become something of an enigma. They held him as king at the beginning of the week. But then, standing before Pilate, he is brought to them as somebody who needed and deserved death according to their law. And so Jesus said, standing before Pilate, my kingdom is not of this world.

My kingdom is of another place. The people wanted him to declare himself as king and to lead the revolt against the Romans, but he did no such thing because this is not where his kingdom lay. In fact, some of Jesus' own words were used against him as the Pharisees brought up his words to the money changers when he went into the temple and he was flipping the tables and he was so angry. And he said, I will destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days. The Jewish leaders were making sure that the people knew of this claim by Jesus. And then they used Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, to make their point. For Pilate, this was, well, frankly, it was just a terrible inconvenience of him. His job, his assignment was to keep peace in Jerusalem and it was becoming a little more difficult, and especially with this arrival of Jesus, the quote-unquote king of the Jews. And so here he was brought before him and Pilate knew he was innocent. But the Jewish teachers and leaders, those Pharisees, they used Roman rule to their advantage and they were very persuasive with Pilate. Indeed, Pilate's own wife went to him and said, have nothing to do with this man because he has troubled my own dreams. Always listen to the wife, right? A hundred percent.

She knew he was innocent. So you've got the Jewish leaders pumping up the people. They're shouting, crucify him, crucify him. Pilate really doesn't want all of this trouble that is happening.

He's got actual criminals that he needs to take care of and display and make a point with. His own wife is telling him, you cannot be party to this. Ah, so Pilate, the wonderful coward he was, he stood before them and he washed his hands and said, I am clean of this.

Basically, I am not taking responsibility for what you, the people, are asking today. So there it was. Pilate allowed this innocent man, his hands clean of this deed, go on to be crucified. As far as the Roman soldiers were concerned, this was just, you know, another person that they were going to hang on a crucifixion. They were very indifferent, weren't they, really, about who it was?

To them, it was just another person. And so they flogged him and they made sure that they beat him. But because they knew of what was happening and what the Jews had proclaimed Jesus to be, they had fun with it, as it were.

They mocked him. They openly made sure that they brought him a robe after scourging his body and they brought him a crown of thorns and they bowed before him to call him a king. And they gave him a scepter to hold. And then they took that same scepter and beat him over the head with it until he was a broken, bloodied man. How could the Messiah be reduced to what had just taken place?

But there's one more perspective. As Jesus is hanging on the cross, he had people who loved him right there before him. He had his own mother, Mary, and then there was Mary Magdalene. He had his Aunt Elizabeth, John the disciple.

Peter's wife is recorded as being there. And knowing God is watching this whole scene, knowing what has taken place with his Son, God knew that Jesus had to be stripped of everything. And there he was, literally on that cross. People had deserted him, had mocked and ridiculed him. One of his own trusted disciples betraying him. Everything was gone. And he cried out to God because it felt like God had also removed himself from this and said, Father, Father, why have you forsaken me? I cannot imagine what that was like at that time. Of course, that's where he breathed his last.

He did. As lost and as lonely as a human being could be. And there he died. On that cross.

And that Friday must have been so confusing as any day had been. And that night it says that the women who were close to Jesus were weeping. So the crowd of the people there were cheering because of what had taken place. Because they got their way. So they thought.

The pilot, he had washed his hands so he was relaxing with his wife as however he was. The disciples, those cowards were hiding for fear that this would also happen to them. And the religious leaders, smug, celebrating. They thought they had won as well. This was a day of differing and confusing perspectives.

But little did they know, Sunday was a-comin'. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to The Salvation Army. Visit to offer your support. And we'd love to hear from you. Call 1-800-229-9965 or visit to connect.

Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or your testimony. With your permission, we would love to use your story on the show. You can also subscribe to Words of Life on your favorite podcast store. Or visit to learn about more programs produced by The Salvation Army. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. Join us next time for The Salvation Army's Words of Life.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-09 02:25:58 / 2023-04-09 02:31:24 / 5

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