On this Easter morning, I have one goal with this message: to show you why my Jesus is the only Person on this planet, or in this known Universe—Who is worthy of your worship and allegiance in life, not just because of His power and magnificent creativity, but because of the unbelievable, sacrificial way in which He loves you and I—more than anyone has ever loved us, or will ever love us. One note to any new Christians, or those unsure of what to think about Jesus—everything we discuss today about His life and death is a proven piece of ancient history, which is more solidly established than any other event, to a true and unbiased historian.
Let's start in an unusual place: by getting a true picture of just who Jesus really is, and is capable of, when He so chooses: Revelation 19:11-16. With that picture in mind, let's see Him on earth living as a simple Man, by choice, for you and I [a simple, poor, uneducated, socially rejected (thought to be a bastard) Man, with no home, no church, and no money of His own]. Let's go to the end of His three and a half year ministry into the last hours of His life, leading up to what we celebrate as Easter, and not only walk through the events that occurred, which many of you have heard before, but take an intimate look at what the Scriptures blatantly say about Jesus during these events, yet most of us, sadly, miss. By the end, you should clearly see He is worthy of your love and worship.
Let's start with Jesus' last few moments of freedom on earth as a Human, just after the famous Last Supper. Jesus knows these are His literal last moments before the road of no return to the cross. He goes out to a favorite spot in a Garden just outside of the city to pray to His Father about what is to come. This is where the greatest battle of Jesus' earthly life was fought; not because of Jesus' fear of the unimaginable torture He was about to endure physically, but because He knew the horror of His Father having to place all the shame, hate, disgust, and rejection for everything we've ever done onto Him. He knew that for a time, He would feel the total despair and loneliness of a Man who has been condemned to hell for eternity. As we read His amazing reaction, think to yourself: “Why would an All-Powerful God allow Himself to be so completely enveloped in fear, dread, and pain?” How humble He has to be—how in love with us He has to be—to be pushed beyond His own limits emotionally and physically. [You think He asks too much of us!] Mark 14:32-36; Luke 22:42; Luke 22:44. At this point, Jesus is experiencing a very rare phenomenon known as, "Hematidrosis", or bloody sweat. It is brought on by extreme stress or anguish, and it is a very probable sign that Jesus is actually in a stage of shock. Imagine your loved one, or child, coming to you, shaking uncontrollably, extreme sweat, and literal blood running down their faces from fear. And they beg of you, "Daddy, I know you can take care of anything, please stop this from happening to me!" How would you feel? How badly would it break your heart? What if they left, and came back three times begging the same thing in shock and agony? But then imagine the love and loyalty it would take for that child to come on the last time, shaking, sweating, crying, bleeding, and say, "If this is what you really want me to do, I will go and do it!" Could there be a greater love? A greater heart of self-sacrifice? And to think, Jesus as God, Great Warrior, Unlimited Power, chose to allow Himself the Human frailty and circumstances to hurt that much, fear that much, suffer that much, be humiliated, all so He could take away our pain and suffering. How much do you think He would have to love you, if this were true? [And it is!]
After surrendering His will to the road ahead, He is arrested and taken to a false trial in the middle of the night. He stands before Annas (Former High Priest of the Sanhedrin) and before Caiaphas (Current High Priest of the Sanhedrin). Then, He is brought to stand before Pontius Pilate (Prefect of Judaea), then to Herod Antipas (Tetrarch of Galilee), and finally, back to Pontius Pilate (Prefect of Judaea), where He is made to look like an enemy of Rome, so Pontius would be forced to administer the death sentence for the Jewish Sanhedrin, who could not condemn a man to death. During these real and fake trials, Jesus was purposefully and brutally humiliated, and tortured for spite and sport: Matthew 26:67-68. Jesus is already weak and probably in shock, now, and a number of times to follow through the night. People clear their throats and spit into the Holy, Righteous face of the One come to save them. They punch and slap Him in the face until He is literally unrecognizable from the swelling and cuts: Isaiah 52:13-14 (written about this moment 700 yrs previous). Not only did Jesus endure this treatment, when He could have stopped it at any moment. He loved them still; He was concerned for them. Next, as part of the most vicious and torturous public execution methods ever devised, Jesus was scourged. He willingly embraced this as a way to take punishment for our sins against God. [How horrible our sins look to Him. How desperate His need to save us. Never again ask why God allows sin and pain--this is how far He went to take it away]. [If He had just decided to take away the sinner, and not the penalty—you and I would be gone as well]. Then, deep into hypovolemic shock at this point, shaking uncontrollably, racked with unbearable pain, not an inch of His Body without gaped open flesh—an entire battalion of Roman soldiers have their sport: Matthew 27:27-30. The crown of thorns would not be as we imagine around here. The thorns were 1 /1/2 to 2 inches in length, forced onto the vascular scalp, then repeatedly struck with a reed. (Victims have bled to death just from scalp wounds.) Imagine being in that horrid state, literally dying in unimaginable pain, and being mercilessly beaten more, having the crown shoved on your head, and being struck across the crown; having people clear their throats and spit on you in your dying moment—they are the people you are trying to save. Now, imagine you are the All-Powerful God and Creator, taking this by choice, In this weak, pathetic, humiliating condition, Jesus was displayed in front of His accusers in mockery: John 19:4-5. Every person who saw Him and bowed mockingly before Him that day will one day bow again before the Glory, and Power, and Magnificence of the Eternal King and remember. The Crucifixion (carrying the Cross): Scholars believe that the victim of crucifixion did not carry the entire cross to his execution, due to the weight and impracticality of the procedure, so, Jesus was to carry the patibulum (horizontal crossbeam) of the cross, weighing from 75 to 125 lbs. Somewhere along the way, Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, the Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent God, was pushed to His uttermost limits of human strength and ability, and He collapsed with nothing left. [Never let it be said that He didn't give you His all]. Simon of Cyrene, had to carry it the remainder of the way. Jesus was then finally crucified. This was horribly designed to be one of the most torturous and humiliating deaths ever devised. The Victim was hung (usually naked) by their arms, to cause slow and painful asphyxiation (on a reused cross already covered in urine, blood, feces, and other fluids). His Hands were nailed to the wood with a 5 to 7-inch spike, driven through the wrist, which would damage and pinch the median nerve. His Feet nailed, very possibly to the sides, through ankles. Once crucified, with every breath needed to live another moment, the Victim had to push up, bearing all of their weight on the nails in the feet or ankles, in order to exhale, and then shift their full weight back down onto the median nerves of the wrists as they exhaled. This cycle continued for hours with each breath, while scraping the raw strips of flesh on His back against the wood with each movement, and being feasted upon by insects, and being glared at, naked and mutilated by your enemies and loved ones, and having all of your joints begin to pull out of joint as you weaken, and screaming for water with every second of life as you are severely dehydrated from Blood loss and sweat. In all of this, Jesus is offered a potent drink of vinegar and gall to ease the pain a bit—and my God refuses even then—no dampening the pain He would take for us. There He hung, dying slowly of hypovolemic shock, exhaustion asphyxia, congestive heart failure, and as he hung on the cross in torment and humiliation, this is what He said: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” To His last tormented breath, He thought of us first. And finally, when He mercifully had passed, to be certain of Jesus’ death, a legionnaire drove a spear through His chest, which resulted in Blood and Water coming out separately: 1) says His final cause of death was most probably heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium 2) this Blood and water coming from the wound are a medical and historical guaranteed sign that the victim had already expired. Four Executioners had to say Jesus was dead, and if they were wrong, they were crucified as punishment. This is what Jesus Christ, the most worshiped, adored, and powerful Being in the Universe chose to allow for Himself: He placed Himself in a position to be pushed beyond Human endurance in torture, exhaustion, and emotional torment so we could be spared from the punishment a just God must execute; so He could share in our experiences of a sinful world, and show us His unstoppable love for us. One of the last things Jesus said, just before He gave up His life, was: "Tetelestai!" It is finished: meaning all the work needed to take away your judgment and make a way for you to be with Him forever was done. Was it in vain?
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