The Savior Who Died

Steve Viars March 31, 2007 John 19:16-30

 

- this is a wooden cat...and it was carved from a single piece of wood

- the owners from Swampscott, Massachusetts bought it at a yard sale for $2

- now, some of might suggest they overpaid for this item...

- they were curious, so they took it to an appraiser in Boston named Wayne Pratt...

- Mr. Pratt thought it was wonderful (I’ll let you be the judge)...he said it was made between 1850-1860, and because of the realism of the carving, right down to the forepaws being tucked under the way a real cat might sit...

- he told them it is “beautiful, which is important for a carving. The fact that it’s a cat, a popular animal, and the early date of the carving also adds to its value”,

- which he placed at between $6000 and $10,000

- sometimes things are more valuable than they appear...

- then there’s this model car...

- you can tell by comparing it to the people that it is a scale model, somewhat smaller than an actual automobile...

- A Dallas woman bought it at an antique shop in Fort Worth for $100...

- they used to display these kinds of cars at auto shows in the 1930’s to give potential customers an idea of what the new model was going to be like...

- Appraiser Noel Barrett told the woman that her $100 investment was worth between $25,000 and $28,000...

- then there’s this rooster...

- he found it in an oat bin in their family farm in Newtown, PA...a farm that once belonged to David Twining...

- the man also had the original deed to the farm, which Twining’s parents sold to their son for 5 shillings in 1757...

- the farm is well known because several famous paintings have been done of it over the years...some people consider it the most famous farm in PA...

- this weathervane, found in an old barn, was recently appraised at a value of between $30,000 and $50,000...

- [makes you want to go look around your barn...]

- one more...

- this is a tomahawk...it was given to a man in North Adams, MA by his grandmother...

- when he was a boy, he would often play with it out in the woods...chopping on things just like you would expect a boy to do...

- as it turns it, it had originally come from Philadelphia and was made around 1780-1790...

- because of the silver engravings, especially a rare Federal style eagle and several medallions...appraiser Bill Guthman declared it to be a national treasure...

- He set its value at $150,000...and told the owner, “If you’d known how much it was worth, you would have been more careful when you were playing...”

- sometimes things are more valuable than they appear...

- unfortunately that also works in reverse...

- you may have heard about how one of the originals of the Declaration of Independence was found hidden behind a painting in a flea market frame and sold for 8.1 million dollars

- so a woman named Dolores on a whim went up to her attic and started hunting around...sure enough, she found this copy of the Declaration of Independence...

- she said – “I was stunned when I found this.  I thought lightning was going to strike twice.”

- as it turns out, so did a lot of other people...

- Appraiser Ken Gloss explained that they had a barrage of these declarations of independence copies after the valuable one was found...

- Ken told Dolores her treasure was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of...

25 cents.

- sometimes things are more valuable than they appear, and sometimes they are not...

- this morning I would like to suggest that there is a topic that many people who call themselves followers of Christ do not like to talk about...

- they would prefer to have a life where this subject is not mentioned...it holds very little value in their eyes...

- they would prefer a faith, or a religion where this subject is not mentioned...even in a spiritual sense this topic holds little value...

- what God’s Word would want such individuals to see, is that this topic is much more important, and much more significant, and much more precious, and much more valuable than many people realize...

- we’re talking about the subject of death...

- with that in mind, would you open your Bible to John 19?...[page 89 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you...]

- this Easter Season we’re thinking about Reaching New Heights in our Love for the Savior...

- so we’ve been studying the Gospel of John chapters 18-21...

- chapter 18 began with the story of Judas, so we organized our thoughts around the concept of The Savior Who Was Betrayed...

- then we read the sad story of Peter, so we thought about The Savior Who Was Denied.

- Chapter 18 ended with details about The Savior Who Was Rejected.

- then chapter 9 explains how the wicked treatment of Christ intensified...so last Sunday we focused on The Savior Who Was Mocked.

 - this morning we want to continue on in chapter 19...thinking about The Savior Who Died...

- read John 19:16-30

- the amount of space that is given in each gospel to the events surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ would indicate that God assigns the highest importance to this subject...it is not necessarily a pleasant topic, but it is certainly a valuable one...

- maybe for people, regarding this issue, its time for a new appraisal...

- I’d like us to divide our time around these ideas...

I. The Value of Jesus’ Death.

II. The Value of Our Death

III. The Implications of Both

I. The Value of Jesus’ Death.

- according to the apostle Paul, what we are talking about this morning is truly at the very heart of our faith...

- he said it this way to the Corinthians...1 Corinthians 15:3-4 - For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

- that is the gospel in a nutshell...that’s why he had said to them earlier in this book...1Corinthians 2:1-2 - And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

- so when a person does not consider the death of Christ to be very important or valuable...they certainly have set themselves up against someone like the apostle Paul...this is at the very heart of what it means to know the God of the Bible...

- now, why is His death so valuable?

A. It demonstrated His abundant compassion for you.

- now, we made the point last week that the Bible does not glorify violence...nor would we in a study like this...

- however, on the other hand, one of the reasons some of these statements are rather brief is because the original audience just had to hear a word or two and they were so familiar with the practice that their minds immediately flooded with all the concepts necessary to get the point...

- to a person in this culture, one of the most horrible words they could imagine was the word crucified...

- verse 16 has 11 words in English...but it says volumes about what was transpiring...John 19:16 - So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

- death by crucifixion was both the cruelest and most humiliating form of punishment devised by man...

- even the OT has proclaimed that...Deuteronomy 21:22-23 - If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God)...

 - there were various forms of crucifixion but as piece together the details we have enough to basically understand what the soldiers directed by Pilate and ion concert with the religious leaders did to Jesus...

- we’ve already studied the scourging, and the mocking and the ridicule...so by this time Jesus has been terribly weakened by the abuse He has suffered...

- then verse 17 says they made the Lord carry His own cross...

- sometimes the victims were forced to carry just the cross beam, at other times the entire cross but we learn from other places in Scripture that at some point Jesus can no longer do it and a man named Simon is conscripted to carry it for Him...

- we know that Jesus was eventually nailed to the cross because of what the disciple know as doubting Thomas said when he refused to believe the resurrection...John 20:25 - So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

- those nails were like spikes that would be driven through the victims wrists...and feet...

- this would normally be done while the cross was lying flat on the ground...

- then the soldiers would lift the cross up with the person on it and as they lifted they would direct it to a hole that had already been dug...

- when the cross went down into the hole for the post...the slow torture would begin...

- I don’t intend to belabor this point...but I want to give us enough details to help us understand what was occurring...in his book The Murder of Jesus – John MacArthur explained – The emperor Tiberius is said to have preferred crucifixion as a method of punishment, precisely because it prolonged the victim’s agony without granting relief by death.  He believed death was an escape, so in his view execution would really be no punishment, unless the victim had as much mortal agony inflicted as possible before death.  Death normally came from slow suffocation.  The victim’s body would hang in such a way that the diaphragm was severely constricted.  In order to exhale, he would have to push up with his feet so that the diaphragm would have room to move.  Ultimately fatigue, intense pain, or muscle atrophy would render the victim unable to do this, and he would finally die from the lack of oxygen. 

- and please remember what Jesus had said to His disciples in the upper room as He instituted a practice for His followers we refer to as the Lord’s table...1 Corinthians 11:24 - and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

- if that was the only thing we had to say about this subject...it would make the matter of the death of Christ very, very valuable...

- but there’s more...

B. It fulfilled many ancient prophecies.

- I’ve raised this issue several times as we have worked through this study because I understand that we have a number of people attending our church right now who may be still making up their minds about what you believe...

- or maybe you would agree with the skeptics who would say that all of this is make belief...

- my response to that would be...it was pretty sophisticated make believe...because the death of Christ fulfilled exact details of OT prophecy that were written in some cases over 1000 years before these events occurred...

1. Psalm 22:7-8 - All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, “Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”

- that is almost verbatim what the chief priests said at the cross according to Matthew...Matthew 27:41-43 - In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying,  “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. “He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”

2. Psalm 22:14 - I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me.

- if we just had that verse, we might not have known exactly what the Psalmist was pointing to, but because of the other confirming details from Psalm 22, the way Jesus’ death was predicted and then fulfilled is astounding...

- you might say, I’m not sure about this, PV...this one will take any doubt away...

3. Psalm 22:18 - They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.

- that is precisely what John records in the verses we read...

- now you might ask...did Jesus know in advance that He would die in this fashion?...what’s the answer to that?...He certainly did...

- John 12:32 - And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.

- might say – but how do we know Jesus was talking about his death?...because the next verse tells us...

- John 12:33 - But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.

- all of this, down to the minute details about His death, were prophesied hundreds of years before they occurred---and Jesus accepted this responsibility for you...

C. It paid the wages of sin.

- Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

- Hebrews 9:22 - And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

- that is a major theme in Scripture---from their earliest days a young Jewish boy or girl would have learned this lesson...sin demands a sacrifice...sin demands a sacrifice...

- Christ was willing to pay that price...in the most hideous form possible...because of His love for you...

D. It saves us from God’s wrath and reconciles us to Him.

- some might object to that terminology, but that is exactly what Scripture says...

- Romans 5:9- 11 - Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

- and I know some people like to say...well, I don’t like to think of God as a God of wrath...that’s the God of the OT...

- there’s nothing further from the truth...that position fails to understand the holiness of God...we would agree with the writer of Hebrews who said... Hebrews 10:31 - It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

- the provision that was made so that a person could go from being an enemy of God, to being His child, is a wonderful, wonderful gift...

- His death truly is precious...

- now what about the person who would say...what if I choose not to believe that?...what if I reject that gift?...where does that road lead?...

- the Bible answers that question...it’s called the second death...death squared...

- Revelation 20:14 - Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

- and I realize that too is a concept that is shunned in our culture...but sometimes I think with all of this emphasis on how Jesus will meet your needs, and “what’s in it for you”, and how can Jesus make your life better?....

- every so often we need to be reminded that there really is a heaven to be gained, and a hell to be shunned...

- and the death of Christ, sparing those who have trusted in Him from the wrath to come, is a precious thing...

- I know that many people here are motivated by this...

- we want a God who is Holy...and it doesn’t take much to convince us of our own sinfulness...

- so we want to do everything we can to proclaim the good news that the Savior has died for the sins of man...

- 2 Corinthians 5:11 - Therefore, knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men...

- cf. those serving in the Passion play, inviting friends, etc.—encourage folks to do that this week...

- cf. faithful giving to the community center...not “hellfire and brimstone people” per se, but we are motivated by the truths of Scripture...

- now, how else does the Bible emphasize this topic?

II. The Value of Our Death.

- I want to ask you to turn over to another passage...Romans chapter 6...[page 122 of the Bible under the chair in front of you...]

- for many people, death is the king of terrors...they hate every aspect of the topic...that is truly not biblical thinking...

- read Romans 6:3...

- now the word baptize is used differently is Scripture...and you always have to allow the context to help us understand the meaning...

- this verse is talking about what theologians refer to as “spirit baptized”...being united with Christ the moment you trust Him as Savior...

- it then becomes the picture for water baptism, or believer’s baptism...but the primary focus here is what happens the moment you trust Christ...

- read Romans 6:3-11 [might have to skip 6-10 for sake of time...]

- now you might say...what’s the essence of that?...

A. The crucial doctrine of our union with Christ.

- the Bible teaches us that when a person places his/her faith in Christ...you are united with Him...

- that’s why we often read this wonderful little phrase in the NT...the possibility of being in Christ, and Christ being in you...

- and these verses explain...if you have come to Christ...you too have died...you are no longer the person you were before...

- [cf. II Cor. 5:17 – If any man be in Christ...]

- and for most of us, we’d say...hallelujah to that...

B. This is why the ordinances of the church are so important.

- the NT outlines 2 practices that churches are to regularly observe together...

- one of them is the Lord’s table [invite folks to be back tonight...]

- the other is believer’s baptism...I don’t say that because I’m in a Baptist church, I say that because it is clearly commanded in Scripture

- even in a place as central as the great commission -- ... Matthew 28:19-20 - Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

- now the great news is...the Christian message doesn’t stop at death...

C. We are no longer slaves to sin.

- Romans 6:6 - knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

D. The importance of “daily mortification”

Romans 6:11 - Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

III. The Implications of Both.

A. Christians should learn to value death.

- a summary verse for all we have been talking about today is -John 12:24 - Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

B. Christians do not see death as an end, but as a beginning.

- one of the reasons that people hate death so much is that they believe that’s the end...

- they want to hang on to what they know...even if it’s not particularly good...that habit is distasteful, but it feels like home...

- Romans 6:8 - Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

 C. Christians do not have to fear physical death.

I Corinthians 15:54-55 – ...Death is swallowed up in victory.  O Death, where is your victory?  O earth, where is your sting.

D. Christians make death an essential emphasis in our message.

I Corinthians 1:23 – We preach Christ crucified...

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987.  He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and they have three children. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church.  He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of Vision of Hope and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video