Two Secret Disciples – Matthew 27:57-58; John 19:38-42

We all have criteria which we use to measure other professing Christians. Some of these are clearly scriptural, while others are based on conclusions which we only think come from the Bible. I am obviously more spiritual than you because I am wearing a tie this evening while you are not. On the other hand, we all know a brother who declares that the opposite is true. But the fact is that wearing, nor not wearing a tie, has nothing to do with a man’s spirituality. Sometimes we are totally accurate in our assessment that someone is not the kind of Christian that the world needs and Christ wants. But those same people can later become great servants of the Lord, and we have to change our opinion. Sadly, some of us are very slow to correct our earlier assessment. Like those early Christians who refused to give converted Saul of Tarsus the right hand of fellowship. As we look at, and sometimes condemn others, we need to see ourselves as others might see us. WE are sound in the faith and have our lives rooted in righteousness. But can we become stale and essentially useless in the fight for the glory of the Lord? O, our doctrine may continue to be scriptural, and we may pray aright, but we no longer actually DO anything for the Lord. Are WE the serviceable saints that we once were? Nothing more clearly illustrates these questions like Joseph and Nicodemus in the light of the 12 disciples. The cross is the only context in which we read of Joseph of Arimathaea. He...

Perimortum / Postmortum – John 19:31-37

As you have been previously advised, I’m taking my text from a scripture other than Matthew. John is the only evangelist to deal with this aspect of the crucifixion. For this very reason some Bible-deniers say that this never occurred. Since Matthew and Mark don’t talk about it, the breaking of the criminal’s legs must be a lie. But if that is the argument, then there are several dozen other lies in the Book of John. And if the “beloved disciple” of Christ cannot be trusted, then nothing in the Word of God can be true. John was an eye-witness of the crucifixion, as well as the Apostle of the deified Lord Jesus Christ. And he raised his hand toward heaven, avowing, “He that saw it bear record, and his record is true; and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.” It is as though he expected people to distrust his statement. Perhaps John is the only historian of this event, because he was the only disciple who was present. His statement in verse 35 demands that we spend at least one message considering this testimony. Our message this morning may not be harmonious – or logically ascending to a critical conclusion. But I believe that we all need to meditate on what has been revealed to us in these seven verses. Let’s begin by considering the PERFIDIOUS RELIGION of the Jews. “Perfidious“ means “faithless,” “treacherous” – “deceitful.” “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high...

On What Day did Jesus Die? – Matthew 27:50-53

Our subject for this evening involves what particular day of the week Jesus died. In the back of my mind, I picture myself teaching or preaching a message on this subject, but I couldn’t find that message or any record that I’ve ever taught it. Perhaps it was a part of a larger message, but if so, it would take a lot of work for me to find it again. So I’m left with the hope that at the very least our young people need this brief Bible study. But someone might question my use of the word “need” – do people need this lesson. Why? Before I answer that question, let me repeat something I’ve shared with you before. Several years ago, the Oldfields and Palmers were visiting in Colorado, and we attended the evening service of the Baptist church that one of Judy’s cousins attends. I had preached that morning in the Victory Baptist Church in Loveland, and after lunch we heard a message by Brother Fulton. Later, when we got to the cousin’s church, I was disappointed to see that instead of a preaching service, there was going to be a patriotic music service performed on by the young people. The music and skits were well done, depicting the arrival of the Pilgrims in America in their search for religious liberty. Later that evening I mentioned to our host that the pilgrims hated Baptists and they had no desire for genuine religious freedom. The man was thoroughly dumbfounded; his mouth dropped open, but he didn’t say a word. That is exactly the response we get when...

And the Graves were Opened – Matthew 27:50-53

We come to another of the great mysteries which surround the sacrifice of our Saviour. Unlike some of the other enigmas found in this chapter, the mystery doesn’t lay in the details. We aren’t the least surprised to read that graves were opened by the earthquake and the power of God. I am absolutely convinced that once again, very soon, graves and tombs around the world will be ripped open and the bodies of long-dead saints will once again be filled with vigor and life. Paul was expecting it in his day, and we have been taught to expect it in ours. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” This church believes that a pre-tribulational translation of God’s saints is the Bible’s teaching. No, it’s not that Matthew 27 speaks about resurrections that surprises us. The mystery lays hidden in the heart of Jehovah – why? Why, on that particular day – the 14th of Nissan – the day in which Jesus died? And why did it take three days – 72 hours – to complete, when the omnipotence of God could have accomplished it immediately? There are lessons for us to learn in these things, but what exactly are they? In a sense, the Lord has presented us with another of...

Blood on the Drapery – Matthew 27:33-54

I have very eclectic reading habits. For the past several weeks now I have been re-reading Baptist history books. But I admit that I enjoy reading various kinds of mystery books. My last one involved the theft and forgery of some very valuable postage stamps. One of my favorite series depicts crimes committed in the early 1950s in England. But another involves a 21st century genealogist who solves mysteries and answers puzzles created by earlier generations. One of the comments I’ve run into several times is that what is depicted on television as crime scene investigation is rarely accurate. DNA testing, for example, is not as quick and easy as it is made to appear in the movies. And bug larva are not very often the little creatures to solve the crime. Analyzing dirt samples cannot ordinarily pin point the scene of the crime. Television makes crime solving look so easy – all is said and done in 45 minutes. Despite the fictitious simplifications, forensic science really has evolved into a crime-solving tool. For example, when someone is violently murdered, there is almost always blood. As the Bible tells us – “the life of the flesh is in the blood.” The way in which blood is disbursed around a crime scene can tell the scientists quite a bit. For example, if the body has been removed, blood left behind can indicate who the victim was. The blood can indicate how many victims there were, or if the bad guy was injured. Sometimes it can even say if there were people in the area who were not hurt. Sometimes the...

He Yielded up the Ghost – Matthew 27:50

There seem to be a lot of Christians who know the mind of God much better than I do. That is perfectly fine as far as I am concerned, because I am delighted with what I do know. And if it is true on their part – they do know the Lord well – then I’m sure it is very good for them. Some claim to understand the death of the Lord Jesus well enough to be very dogmatic about the details. I wish that one of them would tell me why it takes all four gospels to fully describe that death. Why didn’t the Holy Spirit fully describe the Lord’s passing all at once and in one place, or perhaps four times in each of the gospels? That the Spirit didn’t bring all the details into one or two verse surprises me just a little bit. After all, it is so extremely important to our salvation. Furthermore, why does each of the evangelists supply us with just one little additional comment. Even when we add them together, we still are left – I am left – with a great deal of mystery. Mark starts out with the simple statement – “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.” Matthew adds a single word and then uses one alternative word – “Jesus, when he had cried AGAIN with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.” But then neither Matthew nor Mark tell us what it was Jesus said. John supplies part of that message – Jesus cried, “It is finished, and he bowed his head,...

Incredible Intercession – Luke 23:32-34a

This afternoon I would like us to step back a few minutes during the events of the crucifixion. And let’s leave Matthew in the process. There is an invaluable lesson in these few words. Not only do we learn a little more about the Lord Jesus, but we have an example which needs to be applied to ourselves. “Father forgive them.” How many times have you looked at the moon during your life? I have lived through more than 24,000 nights. How many times have I, deliberately or casually, looked at the moon? 2,000; 3;000 – 5,000? Just a couple of weeks ago, Judy glanced up and then asked me, “Do you remember how Sahalie would look for the moon whenever she could?” She would say, as we were driving home from church, “Look the moon is following us.” She didn’t know a lot about the moon, but it fascinated her nevertheless. And how much do you know about that moon that you’ve looked at so many times? You probably know a lot more than a four-year-old, but there is still a lot more to learn. In a similar sort of way I have looked at the crucifixion of the Lord many times. I have no idea how many accounts and commentaries about Calvary I’ve read during the last fifty years. One thing amazes me as I read some of other people’s descriptions of the crucifixion – Some writers leave the impression that there are no mysteries left to them – they have all the answers. For me, there is a great deal that I do NOT KNOW about...

What Held Jesus to the Cross? – Matthew 27:33-50

Several years ago, I shared this illustration, but it is so appropriate to this message, I’ve decided to use it again. For some time, a man named Juanito Piring, imagined himself in the spot light, with 20,000 eyes watching him. Eventually all the details were worked out, and he laid himself down on a cross similar to that upon which our Saviour died. He had bought four 3 inch stainless steel nails. And with blessing of his Filipino priest, several of his friends nailed him to that cross. Why would a sane man do such a foolish thing as this? Mr. Piring claimed that it was to atone for his sins. It grieves me to tell you, Mr. Piring, but somebody has deceived you. Your friends were not truly friends, and your priest was not a minister of Christ. The ONLY cross and the ONLY sacrifice that can ever atone for sin, has become a part of history. 2,000 years ago when Jesus of Galilee hung by the roughest of nails, in the fierce Judean sun, on the nastiest of Roman crosses – that was to atone for sin. It was specifically for the sins of those whom the Lord intended to save. It is not YOUR blood or pain, Juanito, but the blood of the Lord Jesus, that God, the Father, accepts. And Christ did not die as a martyr, as an illustration or as an example for us to follow Him into death. He died as the real thing; the only perfect satisfaction for the demands of the law of God. I don’t profess to understand any...

Taunts and Testimonies – Matthew 27:41-43

Computers are marvelous instruments. I bought my first computer while visiting here on a visit from Calgary in 1987, and I haven’t looked back. I’m not sure anymore that I could prepare four messages a week, if it was not for my computer. And I know that I couldn’t maintain our church website without it. One of the things that they do for me is correct my mistakes – not theological mistakes – spelling mistakes. First, it points out to me any words which it thinks are mis-spelled, giving me the chance to fix them. And then I have trained my computer to recognize my most common typos and to instantly fix them. The problem in this case is that sometimes I want those typos, and there is a difficulty in convincing my computer to leave them alone. Another thing it does is capitalize the first letter after every period which is followed by a space. And again, sometimes that is not what I want, and I have to fight with it to make it comply with my will. For example, I have told it I always want the word “Father” to be capitalized, but not every reference to “Father” refers to God so I have to argue with it to bend it to my will. That illustrates something here in this scripture. The enemy of God were trying to make our Lord’s suffering more miserable than it already was. They were adding taunting, teasing and verbal torture to the pain of the nails, thorns and beatings. With sneers they were shouting, “If thou be the Son of God,...

The Three Crosses – Matthew 27:33-38

Have you ever wondered why there were 3 crosses on Golgatha that Spring morning so many years ago? We are aware that the Jewish priests hated and feared Christ Jesus, demanding His crucifixion. But do we hear them demanding that Jesus die that very day? Not that I recall. They might have been satisfied if Pilate had jailed Jesus with the promise of executing him in a few days. So why was He crucified between two thieves on the very day of His “trials” before the priests? It was probably because that particular crucifixion was already on the Romans’ calendar. The only change in their original plans was that Barabbas had been released with Jesus taking his place. Why were there three crosses that day? Very likely, it was because these two men were co-conspirators with Barabbas. Let’s remember that Matthew calls the man “a notable prisoner.” John calls Barabbas a “robber” – he was a plunderer – a thief. Luke tells us that he was guilty of sedition and murder. And Mark says, “There was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.” Barabbas was in jail awaiting execution with others – with co-conspirators in insurrection, theft and murder. I have no proof, but I am reasonably sure that these two men who were crucified with Christ, had earlier sinned beside their friend Barabbas. Let’s consider a few more things about these two who were crucified on either side of Christ. Beginning with the SIMILARITIES between them. The most obvious similarity is that they were...

Glimpses Beforehand – Matthew 27:33-50

Our message tonight is theological. Let’s go through the back door to consider the omnipotence, omniscience and sovereignty of God. Of course by “omnipotence” I refer to the fact that the power of God knows no limitations whatsoever. As Jesus reminded the disciples, perhaps looking seriously, if not somewhat sternly at them, He said, “With men (certain things are) impossible, but with God all things are possible.” “Our God is in the heaven, he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” By “omniscience” I mean that Jehovah “knowest all things.” “Great is our Lord, and of great power; his understanding is infinite.” The Hebrew word translated “infinite” is sometimes rendered “innumerable.” Then with the word “sovereign” I mean that with His omnipotence and omniscience, He is in absolute control over all things. “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.” God’s omnipotence isn’t theoretical or mere potential – it is actual, substantial and practical. These three things come together in Biblical prophecy. Jehovah not only sees far into the future, He omnipotently controls that future and all it’s events. He may permissively give men or Satan the opportunity to do what they wish, but He has complete veto power, or He may manipulate their feeble actions to accomplish His will. The Lord is the true King and is in sovereign control over nature, man and even spirit creatures. And by looking at those things which He has described in advance of their completion, we can catch a glimpse of His presence – His sovereignty, His omnipotence and His omniscience....

Anomalies and Contradictions – Matthew 27:33-50

Twenty years ago – in 1995 – I preached a two part message entitled, “If I was the Devil.” I didn’t pull them up to check, but if I remember those sermons, I suggested things that I would do if I was in charge of a God-hating world. And it just so happens that we could see those things taking place – and even more so now. As an addendum, may I add that if I were the Devil and I wanted to attack the Word of God…. or if I wanted to destroy Bible Christianity, I might nibble away at the edges of the truth. On the other hand, I might stab at the very heart of the matter – perhaps both at the same time. Since the core of Bible Christianity is the crucifixion of Christ, I think that if I was the Devil I’d do all that I could to confuse the subject of salvation through the merits and blood of Christ. And of course that is precisely what Satan is doing and has been doing for a long time. In comparing the four gospel accounts of the crucifixion, it seemed to me that God’s enemies might try to point out some apparent contradictions between them. Since this is not the sort of message that I’d want to preach on Sunday morning, and since there are several aspects of the crucifixion which are more worthy subjects for that service, I’ve decided to jump into the middle of this muddle tonight. And then there is the fact that this will be somewhat short. Consider for example, what...

The Crucifixion – Matthew 27:33-50

Not only do I feel inadequate for our subject this morning, I know full-well that I am. I am a child of God because of the grace of God and what took place in the verses we have just read. But there are mysteries here which I doubt that I will ever fully comprehend. Not only that, but I worry that our consideration – my consideration – will fall into a mere intellectual or academic exercise – “the soldiers did this, the Jews did that…..” But this is not JUST an important historical event – it is the pinnacle of the eternal decree of God. This is a major part of the very purpose of creation itself. There never has been anything so high or holy as the event we are considering here today. And to be honest, I don’t know the best way to approach it. But this is the path that I have chosen – right or wrong….. This morning we will simply skim the surface – we will fly over like a jet plane at 35,000 feet. In later messages we will be a little more specific and detailed about some of these points. May God bless us, and may God save souls. It appears to me that there are seven characters or groups of people participating in the crucifixion. First, there were the JEWS. Last week I quoted a few verses from John 1, beginning with verse 1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” That...

The Geography of Golgotha – Matthew 27:31-33

  I have decided to cancel this evening’s sermon – but you aren’t invited to leave just yet. I don’t know how to describe this message, but it is not a sermon. It might be a lecture, a lesson, an address or merely just rambling, but it is not a sermon. I thought that since it is helpful to me to review the geography of the crucifixion, it might also be helpful to you. I’ve thrown together a few thoughts on details which are somewhat incidental to the actual crucifixion. For example, we often speak of “Calvary” as the place where our Saviour purchased our redemption. But Biblically speaking, for every reference we make to “Calvary,” we should refer to “Golgotha” three times. Did you know that “Calvary” is mentioned in only one verse in the entire Bible? Luke 23:33 – “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” In the other three gospels we are told that Jesus was taken to “Golgotha” to be crucified. And “Golgotha” is only mentioned three times – once in each of the other Gospels. The actual place of the crucifixion is not mentioned in any of the Epistles or in the Book of Acts. Perhaps that in itself should tell me to stop where I am and dismiss us in prayer. Apparently the actual location of Golgotha is not strictly important. Nevertheless, I forge ahead, because I do feel lead of the Lord to do so. Perhaps a review of...

The Weeping Women of Jerusalem – Luke 23:26-31

When I first set out on this study through Matthew, I told myself I would stick to that man’s outline. I didn’t want to make this a study of the life and ministry of Christ, but rather a study of Matthew. There are several events recounted by Mark and Luke which we have touched only in passing. And there are a great many things in John which we haven’t addressed at all, because there is no hint of them in this book. But despite my original plans I have on a couple of occasions deviated from my intentions. And as we come to the conclusion of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus, I am going to do it more often. We are now into an area which is so incredibly important and eternal that not a drop of it should be missed. We are dining on a meal so spiritually delectable and nutritious that we can’t afford to miss a single crumb. Before arriving at Calvary, but after leaving Pilate’s judgment hall, we find ourselves traveling down one of the streets of Jerusalem. Last week Simon, the Cyrenian, was introduced to us – we see him in all three Synoptic Gospels. And here we are told that Christ was followed from the governor’s palace by “a great company of people.” Then somewhere along the road Luke – only Luke – introduces us to a group of mourning women who are bewailing and lamenting Christ and this situation. Why should we include this in our study? Consider the fact that this is the last known extended statement uttered by...