As usual, I am preparing to teach this coming Sunday and I wanted to think through the lesson in article form before presenting it to the children at church. I have been away for a few weeks on a mission trip to Southeast Asia. The Lord blessed our time there greatly. It is amazing to share the Word with people on the other side of the world. Also, there is nothing like worshiping with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, even if they worship in another language. We are praising the same Lord and it is amazing.
This week, in our walk through the Bible 2016, we have arrived at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This is a fascinating story. When Jesus came to this earth almost 2,000 years ago, He came to teach people how to connect with God. He did so for 3 and 1/2 years as He taught anyone who would listen, using the Word of God to explain man’s need for God. The message was:
- The time is now
- The kingdom of heaven has been brought to you
- Be forgiven/released
- Follow Jesus
- Learn to make more disciple
Many believed this message while many more rejected it. This is the same message that Jesus sent out His disciples to preach and teach.
Jesus’ second goal was to live a perfect life on this earth in complete obedience to the will of God and then offer Himself up as a replacement sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. This took place on the cross. He came to this earth as the second Adam, being fully human and fully God all at the same time. Taking all the punishment that mankind deserves because of sin, His sacrifice was able to appease the justice of God. Jesus had to die on the cross so that we could be forgiven and rescued from our sin nature. After His resurrection and ascension into heaven, He left a message with His apostles that He would return to the earth a second time as Ruling King. This message is found all throughout the Old and New Testaments. In this lesson, we will focus on the last two aspects of Jesus’ ministry.
In order to get into the flow of the teaching, we need to read the crucifixion account left for us in the Bible by Saint Matthew. Take a moment to read Matthew 27:33-56.
I. Jesus is mocked
Although Jesus is going to be sacrificed for the people, most of the people present at His crucifixion mock Him. I have written on the dangers of being a mocker. People have always been and they will always be ungrateful. We have to be born again and then taught to be grateful. Gratefulness is not part of our nature. We have to receive a new nature from God and then taught to be grateful in all things. The people witnessing the crucifixion actually begin quoting from Psalm 22 as they mock Jesus. He does not hold it against them though. He is there to accomplish His goal for the sake of humanity. He could have punished them right away but He showed them mercy by not giving them the punishment that they deserved. Jesus also shows grace by giving the people what they do not deserve, a second chance. He is going to die to offer them a second chance. One of the Roman soldiers benefits from that second chance because by the end of the crucifixion, he as come to acknowledge Jesus as God. The worst way that the crowds mock Jesus is by telling Him that if He will save Himself from the cross, they will believe in Him. This would have been pointless because saving Himself would have condemned humanity to the wrath of God. He stays on the cross to show mercy and grace to the people who are mocking Him. Many people today mock the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. They reject His second chance and choose to accept the wrath of God instead. Are you one of those people? Has the mercy and grace shown on the cross led you to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ?
II. The veil in the temple is torn
Upon the death of Jesus, the veil, that which separated sinful man from a Holy God was torn in two pieces from top to bottom. Before the crucifixion of Christ, the veil protected people from the presence of God. If sinful man were to walk into the presence of a Holy God, he would die. God, in the sacrifice of Christ, removed man’s sin debt so that he could enter into the presence of God through the work of Jesus Christ. This is another picture of the grace of God that Christ showed to all mankind. There is now a way to enter into the presence of a Holy God. We are invited into His presence for the first time in all of human history and we can enter without dying because of the death of Christ. Have you accepted the grace of God through Jesus Christ so that you can enter into the presence of a Holy God? If not, don’t wait because Jesus’ message was and is, the time is now. Do not delay.
III. Jesus quotes from Psalm 22
During the crucifixion, Jesus turns the tables on the mockers and He also quotes the first verse of Psalm 22. This is important because if you read all of Psalm 22, the majority of the Psalm is about Jesus dying on the cross for the sin of mankind. Yet, the end of the Psalm is a reminder that the work of Christ is not finished on the cross. Although He is mocked while on the cross, the Psalm ends with the same Jesus ruling the nations on the earth. This is a reminder that although Jesus is a meek King on the cross, He is going to return to the earth one day as conquering and ruling King. Are you ready for that day? If you do not allow Him to rule in your life now, it will be too late then. On that day, He will return on a white horse to make war on the unbelievers and rule them with an iron fist. On the other hand, for those who allowed Him to rule in their lives while they were alive, before His return, they will rule with Him. Are you ready to rule with Christ by letting Him rule in your life now? Or, will you experience His wrath because you mock his mercy and grace now?
May the Lord help us surrender to His rule now in our lives so that upon His return to rule the earth, we will reign and rule with Him!