23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Christianity was never designed to be comfortable or for us to approach our relationship with Christ casually. No, Jesus Christ is looking for devoted disciples who are completely committed to Him. He doesn’t want fickle fans, He wants/chooses faithful followers.
A cross is not merely a difficult life circumstance to be endured. Those who witnessed Roman crucifixions knew that to take up the cross meant to renounce selfish ambition and all rights to control one’s destiny, it is death to a whole new life. When Jesus carried the cross, he knew where He was going…He was giving up His life to die on that cross that He carried.
Listen to Luke 9:23 again: “And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
The word “and” could be translated “also,” indicating what comes next is a continuation from the conditional clause before it, “If anyone would come after me, let Him deny Himself and…” After making sure we desire to be a disciple, and we’re denying ourselves, the next step is to “take up his cross daily.” Taking up the cross, most of the times is mentioned when someone is going through trial/challenges, taking up the cross is one direction, dying to self.
To “take up” means, “to pick up.” It essentially means “to lift from the ground” meaning it’s a command to do it now, with no delay. If you are a follower of Christ, its not an option, you have died to self!
Interestingly, in Matthew 14:20, after feeding the 5,000, we read the disciples “took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.” After bending over to pick up leftovers, now they are called to humble themselves and pick up the very thing that will take their lives. The same word is found in Matthew 11:29 when Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you.” It was also used of Simon of Cyrene when he was compelled to carry the cross of Christ.
The command to “take up” shows crosses are not forced on our backs because they don’t come against our will. The cross is not something we HAVE to lift, it’s a burden we CHOOSE to bear for Christ’s sake. To “take up” is a conscious decision to be a cross-bearer by picking up what is difficult, and distasteful, and leads to death.
Note, Jesus said each one must “take up his cross.” Christ bore a cross we can never bear when He carried the collective weight of our sins and endured the righteous wrath of our holy God, resulting in our redemption and forgiveness. While Simon assisted Jesus with His cross, we are called to carry our cross, not His.
Charles Spurgeon told the story about a group of cross-bearers who were invited to bring their crosses and put them in a big pile. Then, they were told to pick up the one they liked best. Of course, no one took the one he or she had come with but went away with his neighbor’s cross on his back. After only a few hours, they returned, asking to have their old crosses back. They discovered the cross they had carried before had so worn their shoulders they had become used to the particular burden. The new cross was rubbing them in new places, so they were each glad to put their neighbor’s cross down and walk away with their own.
You are not called to carry someone else’s cross. You are to take up your cross and I’m to take up mine. Carrying your cross is unique and individualistic. Jesus cannot do it for you, nor can anyone else. Warren Wiersbe writes, “Jesus did not stop with a private announcement of His own death. He also made a public declaration about a cross for every disciple.”
These words of Jesus must have sounded radical in the first century. Crucifixion was a common Roman punishment, with over 30,000 nailed to crosses throughout the Roman empire during the lifetime of Jesus. A few years earlier, before Jesus and His disciples arrived in Caesarea Philippi, 100 men had been crucified in the area. One person writes, “At times, the roads around Jerusalem were lined with hundreds of crosses bearing dead and dying men, their bodies bloated in the sun, surrounded by flies, covered with maggots. It’s not a pretty thought or one calculated to win the masses.”
Jesus picked the one image which would make the most people turn away. Everyone knew the cross was an instrument of shame, suffering, torture and death. When a person took up his cross, he was beginning a death march. Here are some questions to make the call of cross-bearing more personal.
• Are you willing to lose your closest friends?
• Are you willing to be alienated from your family?
• Are you willing to lose your reputation?
• Are you willing to lose your life?
That doesn’t mean all this will happen, but the key is to be ready for them to happen. In essence, cross-bearing means being willing to pay any price for Christ’s sake.
Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.
Unfortunately, we have romanticized the cross by turning it into jewelry and artwork. When we do reference this verse, we often say something like, “Well, I guess that’s just the cross I must bear” and normally it refers to putting up with an obnoxious relative or living with an illness. Let’s remember the cross was carried by condemned criminals and ended with a humiliating and excruciating execution. To carry your cross meant you were bearing it until you eventually reached the place where you would be crucified. Everyone knew the person was saying goodbye to everything and there was no turning back.
We’re called to crucify the cult of self-fulfillment, self-promotion and self-centeredness. We’re to die to our rights – the right to be right, the right to take revenge, and the right to fight. As J.C. Ryle puts it: “A religion which costs nothing, is worth nothing.”
Interestingly, according to almost universal tradition and archaeological evidence, the apostle Peter ended up literally fulfilling this when he was crucified on a cross, reportedly upside down. It’s reported 11 of the disciples died martyr’s deaths.
Unfortunately, we live in a time of “cheap grace” and “easy believism” where Christianity is more identified with health and wealth than with surrender, sacrifice and service. Oswald Chambers says, “All Heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all Hell is terrified of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning.”
A number of years ago, a book came out which was made into a movie called, “Dead Men Walking.” It referred to a death row prisoner walking from his cell to the place to be executed. When he passed the other cells, the prisoners shouted, “Dead Man Walking!” The man was alive and walking, but he was as good as dead. He was on a one-way journey he would not be coming back from.
Once, A.W. Tozer was asked what it means to take up your cross. Tozer answered by telling a story, “A young man came to an older believer and asked, ‘What does it mean to be crucified?’ The older man thought for a bit and answered, ‘To be crucified means three things. First, the man who is crucified is facing only one direction. Second, the man on the cross is not going back. Third, the man on the cross has no further plans of his own.’” That’s good. A disciple is facing one direction, he is not going back and has no further plans of his own.
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
We’re to surrender ourselves as living sacrifices. As someone has observed, “The problem with living sacrifices is they keep crawling off the altar!”
From a devotion…
“To crucify a man was to expose him – naked and battered – for public ridicule and shame. It was to pin him – bleeding and in writhing agony – to beams of wood, suspended by his arms, until the life was slowly drained out of him. It was something so terrible that it was reserved for the vilest of criminals and scoundrels – the scum of the earth…To be forced to bear one’s own cross, then, was to be made to embrace its shame and humiliation. To carry it to the place of execution was to carry the instrument of one’s own dying. To bear the cross was the polar opposite of embracing the right to ‘self.’”
Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.
Don’t miss this: death is to be “daily.” The need for dying to self is never finished in this life. It must be a daily decision of the will because discipleship is a daily discipline where we follow Jesus one step at a time, one day at a time. Each day, every day, today, you and I must decide to die to self and identify with Christ in surrender, suffering and sacrifice. This is not to be an occasional occurrence, only when we feel like it. Rather, it is to be a response of obedience every day.
Why must I do this daily? Because every morning when I get up my flesh wants to be fed, my desires want to dominate, and my will wants what I want. As someone said, “Fallen flesh is still depraved flesh and is not dead.”
The Apostle Paul modeled this in 1 Corinthians 15:31: “I die every day!”
1 Corinthians 15:31
31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Seeing ourselves as crucified with Christ gives us power to live the Christian life according to Galatians 2:20…
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 5:24 says…
24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
In Galatians 6:14, Paul stated his crucifixion with Christ enabled him not to follow the ways of the world…
14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Taking up our cross is quite a condition for discipleship, isn’t it? Do you desire to be a disciple? Are you denying yourself? Have you died by taking up your cross? Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.
“Your mind’s eye can see that procession yonder. Notice it carefully. At the head of it, there walks One whom we rightly call Master and Lord; you may know Him by the prints of the nails in His hands and feet. I observe that He carries a cross, and that it is a very heavy one. Do you see the long line following Him? They are all those of whom the world was not worthy. That line has been continued even to this day and will be continued until the present dispensation shall close. As you watch these different followers of Christ in the procession, one thing will strike you, — that, however much they differ in some respects, they are all alike in one thing, — every one of them, carries a cross. There is no exception to this rule; from the Master down to the last disciple, it is a procession of cross-bearers.”
Discipleship is difficult, but it’s also a delight. Jesus went through a lot of pain but what He did for us is described as joy. Hebrews 12:2…
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Let us pray:
10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. 12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. 14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary. 15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
Chuck Swindoll tells of a seminary student in Chicago who faced a forgiveness test. Although he preferred to work in some kind of ministry, the only job he could find was driving a bus on Chicago's south side. One day a gang of tough teens got on board and refused to pay the fare. After a few days of this, the seminarian spotted a policeman on the corner, stopped the bus, and reported them. The officer made them pay, but then he got off. When the bus rounded a corner, the gang robbed the seminarian and beat him severely. He pressed charges and the gang was rounded up. They were found guilty. But as soon as the jail sentence was given, the young Christian saw their spiritual need and felt pity for them. So he asked the judge if he could serve their sentences for them. The gang members and the judge were dumbfounded. "It's because I forgive you," he explained. His request was denied, but he visited the young men in jail and led several of them to faith in Christ.
What a picture of Christ-like forgiveness. It is one thing to forgive someone of their offenses against you...It is another to be willing to pay their debt. This type of forgiveness is only possible when we live in the Spirit. Human nature desire vengeance. This is not just true for the lost man, even the born again, Christian will face moments in the flesh where we are not concerned with forgiveness...WE WANT TO GET EVEN!! Not only do we desire vengeance, when in the flesh we are likely to hold a grudge.
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was reminded one day of a vicious deed that someone had done to her years before. But she acted as if she had never even heard of the incident. "Don't you remember it?" her friend asked. "No," came Barton's reply, "I distinctly remember forgetting it."
We all know people who claim to be Christians, but they have utter distain for certain individuals. In many cases they don't even remember why they became angry at that person in the first place. When I see this I am very concerned about the spiritual condition of these individuals. For the Bible tells us in - 1 John 4:20…
1 John 4:20
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, [a]how can he love God whom he has not seen?
The Word of God has much to say about forgiveness. Here are some examples…
25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins [a]against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
I could go on and on quoting verses about forgiveness. While there is much evidence to support the act of forgiveness. You will find no scripture to support holding a grudge. There is no verse in the Bible that grants you and I authority to seek vengeance. In fact, the Lord tells us that "vengeance is His" (Romans 12:19)
In Paul's epistle to Philemon, we see a Christian man who has been called to forgive. And if you will go home and look in the mirror, you will see a Christian man (or woman) who has been called to do the same.
Philemon was a citizen of Colosse. He was a man of great influence among the citizens of that area, he was a trusted associate of the Apostle Paul. In Colossians 4:9 Paul calls him "a faithful and beloved brother". Philemon was a faithful follower of Christ. His life was devoted to serving the Lord and encouraging the saints.
4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your love for all His holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
It is likely that Philemon held some office in the church at Colosse, and it is commonly believed that the church met in his home. Philemon is one of those men in the Bible that we don't know much about but what we do know is all good. He had a great testimony among the brethren.
I ask you to take a moment and put yourself in Philemon's shoes. You are a faithful follower of Christ, you live a life devoted to the church and Kingdom work, you are willing to do whatever is necessary to help others and then someone wrongs you. They betray you... they steal from you and then they go on the run. Would you be honest enough to admit that you would be very angry at that person? Would you admit that in the flesh you would desire to see that person apprehended? Most likely (at least for a moment) you want more than justice... you want vengeance!
We don't know how long Onesimus had been away from his master. We are not told of Philemon's reaction when Onesimus returned. It is possible (given Paul's testimony of his character) that he had forgiven Onesimus before he ever returned. One the other hand, there is no record or whether Philemon even forgave Onesimus. But we do know that the letter was not torn up and thrown away. It was preserved and we have it with us today. I would say that it is extremely likely that Philemon did just as Paul asked and welcomed Onesimus as a brother in Christ.
I have no doubt that every person under the sound of my voice has been wronged by someone. Most likely it has happened to you on several occasions. Chances are you have been wronged by multiple offenders. Maybe you are here this evening and you have been holding a grudge against someone for a very long time. They have hurt you and you refuse to forgive them. Some would say "they haven't asked for forgiveness"... Even still, you are to forgive that individual.
Like Philemon, we have been called to forgive. I want to see a few specifics about forgiveness that we can learn from the issues with Philemon and Onesimus. I want to examine:
1. Who We Should Forgive
2. How We Should Forgive
3. Why We Should Forgive
4. When We Should Forgive
Look with me to verses 10-11 as we see:
10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.
Onesimus was called to forgive someone who had wronged him. It is widely speculated that Onesimus stole from Philemon before he went on the run. Given the fact that he was a slave (as controversial as that may be) he was indeed property of Philemon. The estimated cost of a slave in those days was about 500 denarii. The denarii was a days wage for a common laborer. Some slaves were highly skilled, and worked as accountants, teachers, and tutors. So it is possible that Onesimus may have been worth much more. With all of this in mind, Paul asks Philemon to forgive Onesimus.
So, who are we to forgive? Anyone who needs it! We are often required to forgive people who (in our minds) don't deserve to be forgiven. Christian forgiveness is not about forgiving those who offend us up to a certain point. We do not have the luxury of picking and choosing who we forgive. We cannot draw a line and say I will forgive anything up to this point and nothing beyond. Christian forgiveness is forgiveness without limits!
"But Bro Rich…you just don't know what all he/she has done to me! It is impossible for me to forgive such and offense" ...In the flesh, that may very well be true, but if you will walk in the Spirit, Jesus will help you do what seems impossible.
In the past, there have been people who have wronged me in severe ways. And it is ONLY by the grace of God that I was able to forgive them. Did they deserve forgiveness, absolutely not! But ask yourself this question... "did you deserve the forgiveness that God has given you? We have a great example of Christ-like forgiveness in Stephen. Do you remember what he said as he was being stoned to death?
59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
If he could forgive those who were killing him... what is your excuse for holding a grudge? Who should we forgive? THOSE WHO NEED IT! Paul makes it clear that Philemon should forgive Onesimus. What is the reason that we are to forgive our enemies?
Because It Is Commanded - Remember what Jesus said in the Sermon on The Mount…
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
We just took the Lords Supper last Sunday…was it in Remembrance to What Jesus did? Remembering our forgiveness. Or was it bitter going down the throat, because of grudge?
“But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Philemon' main motivation for forgiveness was not a favor to Paul. The reason that he should have forgiven Onesimus is because his Savior commanded him to! When you feel like holding a grudge... when you want vengeance, remember we are commanded to forgive.
Another reason we should forgive is...
B. Because It Is Christ-like - I think this is even more significant than the fact that forgiveness is commanded. Our desire should be to become like Christ. We should model our lives after Him. He was filled with compassion. He came to this earth to secure forgiveness for people who never could have deserved it. Christ's compassion was exemplified on the cross.
34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.
That church is our example!! Think about that person who has wronged you... When you consider getting even ask yourself... What would Jesus do? I can tell you what Jesus would do... HE WOULD FORGIVE!!
Who should we forgive.. those who need it! Why should we forgive? Because it is commanded and it is Christ-like. But lets look to verses 15-16 and see, How We Should Forgive…
15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
Paul requests that Philemon receive the one who has done him wrong. But he asks that he take this forgiveness a step further. Not only should he forgive and receive Onesimus, he should receive him as a brother instead of a slave.
Forgiveness always involves showing mercy, but here we have a picture of forgiveness with grace, Once again this is Christ-like forgiveness. We should forgive the same way. How are we to forgive?
We Must Forgive Completely - When we grant forgiveness it should be without conditions and it must be complete and total forgiveness. This is the kind of forgiveness that God has granted us - Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
You cannot forgive someone completely and then use their past transgressions against them.
There was a couple who had been married for many years. Their marriage faced great difficulty. The husband had been unfaithful to his wife. He got right with God and then confessed his infidelity to his wife. He begged for her forgiveness. And after some time, she agreed to forgive him. But deep inside she held a grudge. As a result of her hurt and bitterness she would often throw his infidelity in his face. Their marriage continued to suffer until she came under conviction and then TRULY forgave him for what he had done.
Nowhere are we told that forgiveness is easy... but it is necessary. And in order to truly forgive, we must forgive completely. Not only are we to forgive completely...
We Must Forgive Continuously - I said it earlier... we cannot put limits on forgiveness. Jesus spoke about this with Simon Peter - Matthew 18:21 Then came Peter to (Jesus), and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
In Peter's day, it was common for the Jews to never to forgive an offense more than three times. Peter thought he was being gracious by submitting the number 7. But Jesus said not 7 times but 7 x 70. We must remember that we are living in an imperfect world, we encounter imperfect people. We will be done wrong, we will continue to be done wrong, and we must be willing to forgive continuously.
When Should We Forgive?
12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. 14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.
When was Philemon to forgive Onesimus... at the moment he read this letter. When should we forgive those who have wronged us? ...IMMDEATELY. Paul asked Philemon to "receive" Onesimus.
Receive - “To take to oneself, To take by the hand, To grant access to one’s heart.” This literally means to totally forgive and be reconciled to another. Onesimus was a runaway slave... now he is a profitable servant. Not only this… he was Philemon's brother in Christ. Understand this, whether Philemon received him as a brother or not they were spiritual brethren!
We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are going to spend eternity in Heaven together so we might as well learn to get along with each other down here. Are you willing to "receive" all? Will you forgive them no matter what the offense? Is there someone who has done you wrong? Have they hurt you, offended you and caused you great heartache? Are you seeking revenge? Are you holding a grudge? If this is the case, you are in for a rude awakening!
You are not hurting them... you are hurting yourself. They may not even know that they have done you wrong and some may know it and they just don't care. But when you observe the guidelines that are laid out in scripture concerning forgiveness, then you can have great victory. And when you love, forgive and have compassion on your enemies, your Heavenly Father will be glorified. And your enemies will be impacted as well. And you will have a testimony that just may lead that person to faith in Christ. May we never forget that we as believers have been called to Forgive!!!
Jesus As The Christ
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Who is Jesus? And to make it even more personal, the Bible asks, “Who do you say Jesus is?” The way you answer that question will shape your entire life. It will shape your entire world view. It will shape the way you think about things. It will shape the way you spend your time, your money, and your energy. It will shape you politically and socially. It will have an effect on the way you talk, your social life, how you spend your free time. The way you answer that question effects everything about you – who you are, what you are, and what you do.
And there’s really only two ways to answer that question. Jesus is either who the Bible says He is, or He’s not. Now the Bible says that Jesus is God. He’s God the Son, and that He came to this world in the flesh. In other words, He is fully and totally God, but He became a man. The Bible tells us that He was born of a virgin and that He lived on this earth for 33 years.
Now for some, they feel that just knowing that is enough… and don’t misunderstand me… if you know that about Jesus, that’s a good thing. It’s a great thing! But if that’s where your knowledge and understanding ends, I have to tell you, it’s incomplete. Because knowing that should actually lead you to ask another question. You see… if you know and believe that Jesus is God… that’s good. And if you know and believe that Jesus is God and that He became a man… That’s even better. But the next thing you should ask yourself is – WHY?
Why did God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity become a man? Again, there’s two ways to answer that second question. We can answer it according to the Bible, or we can answer it in a way contrary to the Bible. Here’s the way the Bible answers that second question. The Bible tells us that the reason Jesus came to this earth – was to die.
Now when Jesus was on this earth, He did a lot of things. He healed the sick, He fed multitudes, He walked on water, He cast out demons. John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus did so many things, that John couldn’t even write them all down. And when He was on this earth, Jesus said a lot of things. He taught a lot of things. He taught about heaven and hell, He taught about the Kingdom of God.
He taught about sin and repentance. He taught about righteousness and holiness, and how we should live our lives. He taught about love – loving God and loving our neighbors. So, Jesus did a lot, He said a lot, and He taught a lot of things, but His main purpose in coming to this world was to die.
And that brings us to a third question…Why did Jesus have to die? Well that’s the question and the answer I want us to spend a little more time on, because that’s a big part of what Easter is all about.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
Now let’s turn over to the New Testament, to the Book of Romans 8:32…
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
So, when we talk about the death of Jesus on the cross, we need to first of all understand that it was all part of God’s plan from the very beginning. God planned, before time ever even began, to send Jesus to die for us. Now it’s true, there were people who were involved in all of that. They were like players, fulfilling their roles… King Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Pharisees, and even Judas. But it was still all part of God’s plan.
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
Now I don’t know about you, but that makes my head spin. To think that God planned the death of His own Son Jesus, before He ever even created Adam and Eve, or the universe. It’s staggering to think about. But it’s also a key to our salvation. Because when we begin to understand that Jesus, coming into this world, and dying on a cross, is part of God’s plan and purpose, it opens up our understanding to everything else the Bible teaches us. Because you see, the cause of Jesus’ death, isn’t an issue for debate… everyone knows Jesus died on the cross. He was beaten, He was tortured, He was nailed to the cross and died there. But when we start to see that there was a purpose behind it, then we see the big picture.
So… the religious leaders didn’t like Jesus and they wanted Him dead. King Herod was paranoid about Jesus and wanted Him dead. Pontius Pilate was indifferent towards Jesus and rather than have to deal with something that made him uncomfortable, He ordered Jesus to be crucified. But none of those individuals or groups of people could have done that, if God hadn’t planned it from the beginning.
In-fact; Jesus says to Pilate in John 19:11…
11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore, the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
Here…let us see/read what Jesus had to say about His plan…
14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
So Jesus had to die, because it was God’s plan and purpose for Him to die… and that brings us to our FOURTH question. Why?
The God who created all things… who created the heavens and earth, who created the universe, and all life… Is Almighty. He’s all-powerful. He’s all-knowing. And He is holy. Our God is holy and just and good. Now what that means is that God cannot just overlook our sin. He can’t just let it slide. His justice demands a punishment for the sins and rebellion of men.
So God’s Law demands that, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and might” (That’s Deut. 6:5). But we have all loved other things more. We love ourselves more than God, we love things more than God. And so the Bible tells us – “That all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. Because the truth is, we give glory to what we love most and it isn’t God. So the thing is… sin isn’t just an insignificant issue. Because it’s committed against a Big God. They’re committed against the Creator, Maker, and Sustainer of the universe. They’re committed against an Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Holy, and Just God. Who is infinite in Himself and in all of His ways.
He is infinitely good, infinitely powerful, infinitely holy, infinite in His being, and so He is infinitely worthy of our love, and respect, and praise, and worship. But we give those things to other things, far lesser things. And the truth is – we’re all guilty of sin. Guilty of putting God in second place! And if God doesn’t punish us for our sin, He would not be good, and He would not be just. So He has to do it. He has to punish sin.
But at the same time… God’s love and mercy is also infinite. And He loves us, and wants to spend eternity with us… So this creates a problem right? God’s justice and goodness demands that our sin be punished, but at the same time His love and mercy demands that we be forgiven. So…what does God do?
He sends His Son Jesus to be the propitiation for our sin. Now that word “propitiation” is not a word that gets a lot of use today. You probably won’t hear it in a casual conversation… but basically it means a “substitute”. And basically-the idea is that God’s wrath and anger against sinners is removed, because Jesus took it for us. And what happens is that we’re all guilty, we’re all sinners, and we all deserve to be punished for sinning against an infinite God… But because God loves us, He sends His son Jesus Christ to take the punishment for us. He provides the substitute Himself, to take our punishment in our place.
And so that’s the answer to that fourth question… that’s why Jesus had to die. Because God loved us, and sent Him to die in our place, as our substitute. There was no other way for us to be right with God, because we’ve sinned against an infinite God, if we’re going to pay for our sins, then we’re going to pay for them infinitely, or for all eternity… but an infinite God, can pay for our sins… and that’s what Jesus is – He is God the Son. And He takes the wrath of God for us, on the cross. And He sheds His blood, which is of infinite worth, and pays for our sin and rebellion.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Jesus dies on the cross. He satisfies both God’s demand for justice, and God’s demand for love and mercy. But how do we know that for sure? That’s our fifth question. How do we know that Jesus really paid the price for my sin? How do we know that He really took all of my punishment for all of my sins? How do we know that He satisfied God’s demands? Because of the Resurrection that’s how! BECAUSE HE HAS RISEN!!!
The Apostle Paul said it like this…
1 Corinthians 15:17
17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
What he meant by that was, the resurrection shows us, and proves to us that Jesus really did pay for our sin. He really did meet God’s demands for justice and mercy. That He paid for our sins, fully, and completely. Because if He hadn’t, He wouldn’t have been raised from the dead. The Resurrection is kind of like… for lack of a better word… God’s receipt to us that our debt has been paid in full. That WE, who are in Christ are forgiven… we’re justified before God… and that we have eternal life.
DO YOU BELIEVE? DO YOU BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU HEARD HERE TODAY?
When Jesus asked Peter who He was? “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Do you believe that Jesus paid it all? Do you believe that His death on the cross paid for all your sin? Do you believe that by giving Himself, He served as your substitute and that He bore the wrath of God for your sake so that you could be forgiven and justified in the sight of God?
The Resurrection proves that He did that… but do you believe it?
The Triumphal Entry
35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. 37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” 41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Today is "Palm Sunday", this is a day where we commemorate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. 7 days before our Lord was crucified, He presented Himself to Israel as the "promised Messiah & King". This was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. But the majority of people who witnessed this event did not understand its significance. However, many who were present worshipped and praised Jesus' name. Matthew tells us that a multitude of people “went before and cried out, saying: "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ " ...Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:9)
Oh how quickly things change! Within a few short days the people who should have welcomed their King rejected Him! Some of the same people who cried Hosanna, on Sunday would cry crucify Him, before the week was over! On Sunday Jesus was being worshipped, and on Friday He was hanging on a cruel cross.
After the horrific events of the crucifixion, Jesus would bow His head and die. They would place His body in a borrowed tomb. And on the next Sunday Jesus would rise from the grave in great power and victory. Because of His victory, we have the opportunity to be victorious as well!
Jesus had walked the earth for some 33 years, He had fulfilled many prophecies, He had preached with great power and authority, He had worked many miracles, and He had changed countless lives. Now the time had come for Him to accomplish God's plan of redemption.
The events of passion week began on a dusty road just outside of Jerusalem. That road would lead to pain, sorrow, anguish and death, but it would end in victory. Today, let us examine the events of Christ's triumphal entry. This word “Triumphal” means to celebrate a victory.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem a great celebration took place. The Savior would soon be victorious over death and Hell. At Calvary, Jesus was victorious in securing our redemption! There are a few facts that I would like to consider. The first truth that I would like to examine is:
THE PROPHECY ON THE ROAD TO VICTORY –
29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’ 32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”
It may not seem very important to you that Jesus borrowed a donkey and rode it into the city. But church, this is a very significant part of this story. This was a direct fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.
God's prophet Zechariah spoke these words in 520 BC. Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians 66 years earlier. In Zechariah’s day, Jerusalem was still in ruins and the process of rebuilding had just begun. But Zechariah spoke of a day when the Messiah would come, and Jerusalem will be filled with His glory.
Many people rejected Jesus from the very beginning. John 1:11 tells us that "He came unto His own and His own received Him not".
Many of the people who would turn on Jesus in the following days came to a place where they did not believe that He was the Promised One. But Jesus would fulfill many prophecies during passion week. One of them being the fact that He rode into the city on a donkey. Each and every prophecy that He fulfilled proves that He was exactly who He said He was!
Scholars says that the probability of 1 man fulfilling just 8 of the prophecies referring to the Messiah is 1 in 100 Trillion, and Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies the first time He came. And He will soon fulfill another prophecy, and that is the prophecy of His return! He said He would rise from the grave and He did. He said He would come in the clouds one day and you can rest assured, HE WILL!
- Prophecy was fulfilled on the road to victory, and as we move further down the story, we will also see:
THE PEOPLE ON THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY:
As Jesus rode into the city, there was a multitude of people present. In that multitude were several different types of people. Some were followers, some were enemies, and some were skeptics.
Many of Christ's followers were in attendance that day. His 12 Disciples were there. These are those men that He had personally chosen and ordained to be with Him. Many of His other followers were present as well.
37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
These followers were not just present... they were "rejoicing and praising God for all the mighty works they had seen!" - These people were thrilled to see the Savior! They were overcome with awe because of His mighty works.
But that was not the case for everyone in that crowd. As you survey the crowd on the victory road you will see that some were followers, but some were enemies.
B. SOME WERE ENEMIES - v39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
It seems that the enemies of Christ are never too far away. The Pharisees were some of the most ardent enemies of the Savior. Throughout His ministry, wherever He went the Pharisees would soon arrive. Time and time again they attempted to trip Him up in theological debates. On this day Some of the Pharisees demanded that He “rebuke His disciples”. Though the Pharisees did not like it, Jesus accepted the praises of the people.
Whether men will praise Christ or not He must be praised. Jesus said that if the multitude had remained silent, God would have given the stones a voice to praise the Messiah. There was never a shortage of those who were enemies of Christ. While on this earth He would deal with accusations, oppression and persecution from the Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests, Scribes and the Elders.
Things are not much different today. Whenever Jesus is present, His enemies won’t be too far away. There was another group present in the crowd that day. Some were followers, some were enemies, and some were skeptics.
C. SOME WERE SKEPTICS
Notice the term “multitude”. There was a great crowd present, and it is a safe assumption that there were some who were skeptical. They were not quite enemies of Christ like the Pharisees, but they were just not convinced that He was who He said He was.
In the world we live in today the same groups of people still exist. There are followers of Christ, there are enemies of Christ and there are some who are skeptical concerning Christ! In fact there are likely some from each category present with us today!
There were many different kinds of people on the road to victory. And we are told that many of them sang the praises of the Lord Jesus. In verses 37-38 we see:
THE PRAISE ON THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY:
“the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
This word "Hosanna" means "help, I pray" or "save, I pray,” Hosanna has become a shout of praise and adoration. What exactly did they praise Him for? Verse 37 shows us that: “the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,” THEY PRAISED HIM FOR WHAT HE HAD DONE.
These people joined together in praise of the Lord for what He has done. Notice again - "the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice"
I would imagine that the atmosphere of worship was amazing on that day! An entire multitude joining together, shouting and praising the Messiah for His mighty works must have been a sight to see!
We could learn a thing or two from this multitude of Christ followers. The fact is, we have even more reasons to rejoice and praise our Savior. We are living on this side of the Cross. We know more than that crowd knew! We know that Jesus was crucified, we know that He rose from the grave, we know that He ascended, we know that one day soon He is coming back for us, we know that we will live with Him throughout eternity! We also know that He has defeated sin Satan, death, Hell and the grave. Knowing all that we know should motivate us to join together with a loud voice and shout praises to our King!
John's Gospel tells us that these people had palms branches in their hand. Palm branches symbolize victory and triumph. Through His death, Jesus would conquer principalities and powers. He would secure our victory, therefore it was fitting that He should have the victor’s palms laid before Him. As this crowd praised Him they referred to Him as: “Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” -- “Son of David” -- “the King of Israel” -- “The King that comes in the name of The Lord”
They praised Him for who He was, and we should do the same. Let’s praise Him for the fact that, He is Emmanuel, He is Lord, He is Master, He is Savior, He is our Comforter, He is our Healer, He is our burden bearer, He is our friend, He is the ultimate conqueror and so much more! Let us praise Him because He is King of Kings and Lord or Lords! May we ever praise Him for who He is!
V. THE PERCEPTION ON THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY:
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
As Jesus came near Jerusalem, He saw the city and began to weep. This was a time of triumph and a time of praise, but Jesus is weeping. He was not weeping because of the pain and death that He would soon face. He wept because He knew what the people would endure because they rejected Him.
In verses 41-44 Jesus shares a prophecy concerning Jerusalem's future. And that prophecy was fulfilled less than 40 years later. The Romans overwhelmed the city, and "laid it even with the ground." Titus commanded his soldiers to dig up the city, and the whole area was leveled. Also the citizens were laid even with the ground. There was barely "one stone left upon another." This was for them crucifying Christ... this was because "they knew not the day of their visitation."
Jesus knew what was coming… He knew what the people would face, and it caused Him to weep. Even knowing of what they would do to Him, Jesus still loved these people! This goes to show us what a loving, compassionate Savior Jesus is!!!
Jesus had compassion on Jerusalem that day, and He has compassion on lost souls today! This means that if you have never surrendered to Him, you have the opportunity to be saved today!
The first time He came the people saw many of "His mighty works". But the truth is, in many ways Jesus was limited the first time He came, but things will be much different the next time He comes!!!
Jesus traveled that road to victory in order to redeem you! Everything that He endured during passion week, He endured for you! On Sunday He made His “Triumphant entry” into Jerusalem He was worshiped and praised by many Sadly, many of the same people would turn on Him a few days later. He would face great agony in The Garden of Gethsemane, He would be betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, abandoned by His disciples, seized and arrested by His enemies, then He would be falsely tried and convicted.
He would hear the crowd cry “Crucify Him” and He would then be scourged, beaten, stripped, mocked and Crucified. They would place His body in a borrowed tomb, but praise God He would come out of that tomb 3 days later to live forever more!! He was then seen by His disciples and many other witnesses, He would then ascend to Heaven to sit down at the right hand of the Father, but He left us with the promise that one day He would return. Soon He will split the sky, with a shout and with the sound of a trumpet. He will call us out of this old world of sorrow and as the scriptures says, "so shall we ever be with the Lord".
Let Us Pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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