CROSS AND FIRE
Canyon Fire II
October 10, 2017
The Story of the Ctoss
The Story of The Cross 03-31-18
This presentation is for Friday night April 2, 1999
For the next few minutes let’s recreate as much of what has happened over the past 24 hours as we possibly can. That day of crucifixion and that day of resurrection are the two most important days in all of history. In our imagination let’s look down from the Mount of Olives on a city that is sleeping, and that night it so desperately needed sleep. The events of that day were so consuming and difficult, and a few quiet hours would be appreciated by all. The Jerusalem of that day and of today have so much in common. That city is always coming from, headed toward, or is right in the middle of a crisis. But, that night and for a few hours, it was quiet in the troubled city, a good time for reflection.
Jesus came into the city at that Passover time by divine appointment. The time in the temple had been time of verbal conflict, interspersed with timely lessons for his disciples. There was also covert activity away from the spotlight, (a subplot was unfolding) Judas met with the religious leaders and planned to betray Jesus and deliver Him into their hands at the best time and in the best way possible.
The last Supper
During last night’s meet several important things happened that impacted the day of crucifixion. Jesus let Judas know that He knew the plan; that evaluation triggered the betrayal. John and Peter may have been in on the knowledge of that betrayal. John seems to say that. Peter was warned of personal danger ahead, but perhaps the most significant activity was the one with which we spend less time. The disciples argued about their presumed importance in their relationship to Jesus and His future. I had the privilege of speaking to a group of pastors in that traditional place for that supper and that was the subject I chose. More for myself than for them. Pride is such a terrible stumbling block for religious leaders, all religious. They argued about greatness right up to the last minute.
The prayer time in the garden, the betrayal, the arrest, Peter’s futile attempt to defend Christ, the trials before Caiaphas, Annas, and the hand-picked Sanhedrin, and finally Peter’s denial of Jesus filled up the remaining hours of that night. Thee morning of crucifixion was a time of feverish activity. Jesus was first taken into the Temple and confronted by the religious leaders to give an appearance of legality to all that had transpired since His arrest. It was at that point that Judas expressed regret for his action and the first death in that day of death was his by his own hand. The real battle was on, it was a political battle
Pilate and Caiaphas
between two corrupt and opposing forces - Pilate, the rule of civil government and Caiaphas, the high priest and religious leader. Caiaphas predicted it would be best for all if one were to die on their behalf. John 18:12-14 “So the band and the chief captain, and the officers of the Jews, seized Jesus and bound him, (13) and led him to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. (14- Now Caiaphas was he that gave counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.” (ASV) The conflict between the two corrupt leaders began at about 6:00 in the morning and was conclude at 9:00 when Jesus was sent to be crucified After the brief stop in the Temple, the mob led by the High Priest brought Jesus to Pilate's palace. The would not go in, there was not enough time for purification after entering a gentile residence before their celebration. Pilate had been the procurator of Judea since 26 A.D. He would remain in that position until 36 A.D. His assignment was not an easy one. The Jews must have had a direct line to Rome and the Emperor; they were forever second-guessing Pilate and getting his orders countermanded. There was no love lost between the Roman leader and the religious leaders of the nation. I am sure that Pilate's heart skipped a beat when he saw the religious leaders coming, pushing Jesus before them - bound, beaten - their prisoner. It is very difficult to follow all that happens in the 6:00 to 9:00 o’clock time. The religious leaders would not enter the palace, so Pilate was forced to deal with them in the courtyard. Pilate took Jesus into the palace so in that split setting there were several exchanges. When Jesus was alone in the palace with Pilate He spoke freely. When He was out before the angry crowd he would not speak. Isaiah told us that, "Like a sheep before its sharers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. In the opening exchange the leaders accused Jesus of three things: (1) perverting the people, (2) seeking to start a tax revolt against Caesar, (3) and claiming to be the Messiah - a king. It was also in that opening encounter that the crowd asked for the death penalty. Pilate listened to their charges, disputed them, and then returned into the palace to talk with Jesus. There Pilate and Jesus had the discussion about Jesus as king and what His kingdom is like. Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom is not an earthly one and that it is based on truth not force. There must have been an ache in the heart of that Roman leader who had for so long tried to be so much to so many that he could no longer identify truth. He sighed, "What is truth." I think that you must feel a bit of sorrow for the man, thrust as he is into that unique eternal spotlight of history. That eternal spotlight does not often focus on one man and one event, but here it did. Pilate struggled with what was right and wrong and how to avoid having to decide. After several exchanges one in the crowd said, "He stirs up the people all the way from here to Galilee. That was Herod's out. Jesus was a Galilean - that was almost like being from another country. Jesus was really a subject of Herod - the puppet king of the extended area of Galilee. Pilate quickly shuttled Jesus off to be tried by Herod. Herod was delighted to see Jesus coming. Herod was the one who had John the Baptizer beheaded. He had heard the rumors, remember! “Who do men say that I am?" And they answered, "Some say that you are John the Baptizer come back to life. Again, Jesus would not open His mouth. Isaiah's prediction is again true, Jesus said nothing. Herod placed a purple robe upon Jesus and sent Him back to Pilate. Additional arguments occurred and additional discussions between Jesus and Pilate were held. The fact that the people said that Jesus pretended to be a king and the fact that Jesus would not deny that claim to royalty was a tremendous problem for Pilate.
Barabbas or Jesus
Pilate tried two things to placate the religious leaders. The first was the Barabbas/Jesus switch. The other was to have Jesus scourged as if for crucifixion but not crucified. In many instances that brutal whipping brought death. To Pilate's amazement the people cried release Barabbas and crucify Jesus. I think that the mob activity reached its highest crescendo at this point. We live in such a violent world that I hardly know how much of the horrible violence of crucifixion to share with you. We must recognize that they too lived in a violent world. Just remember what one biblical scholar from England said, “The cross did not become an object of art until everyone who had ever seen a crucifixion had died.
Pilate sent Jesus to the place of humiliation that preceded the terrible death on the cross. That place identified in John 19:13 as “the Pavement” is one of the few authentic places you can see when in Jerusalem. Jesus was stripped, beaten, given a crown of thorns, a reed as a scepter, robed with the purple robe and then mocked as a pathetic king. The mocking included hitting, spitting and being taunted. There was one last exchange between Jesus and Pilate, after Pilate made one last futile attempt to release the person he had found to be innocent, the religious leaders said that Jesus pretended to be God. Pilate brought Jesus into the palace for one last interview. His question, “Where do you come from” is an interesting one. That time Jesus did not answer. When Jesus refused to answer Pilate said, "Don't you realize your life is in my hands. I can have you killed or I can free you." Jesus answered that Pilate was part of, a victim in, a larger plot and greater plan. That made Pilate seeks more to release Jesus. The release effort failed, Pilate called for a bowl of water, washed his hands and said,
A Bowl of Water
"I am innocent of this blood. You see to it." The angry crowd was willing to accept the responsibility and Jesus was sent out to be crucified. Our cultures concern about and rejection of “cruel and unusual punishment” was not a concern in the Roman world. In fact, the opposite was true, make the punishment as cruel and unusual as possible - especially since the condemned person was never a Roman citizen, the} could not be crucified. The philosophy of crucifixion was simple, the victor sought to publicly humiliate the defeated enemy in every way possible. Kill your enemies and hang them on trees so all can see. Capture your enemies and hang them on trees so all can watch them die. That was the philosophy and the history of crucifixion. The Roman perfected and standardized the very cruel practice. It was not unusual for that kind of death to take three days to be completed.
The Cross The “Tah”
Jesus went to the place of crucifixion at 9:00. The cross was, most likely, much more compact than we have pictured it in our minds, and in our symbols. It only needed to be tall enough to get the victims feet off the ground. There is the possibility that the upright stayed fixed in the ground at the place of death. The cross beam was probably that which Jesus and then Simon carried. In the Roman world, crucifixion was quite common, so stay as prepared as possible. The historian Josephus reported that so much wood was used for
crucifixion that at times there was a shortage of good wood. The process most likely followed this procedure. The person would be nailed to the crossbeam which would then be placed atop the upright; the feet would then be secured on the upright. That configuration made a “Tah” or "T" cross. The reason for the configuration of our cross is perhaps the addition of the three-language sign that said Jesus was the king of the Jews. (Hebrew, Greek, Latin) Pilate's last shot at those who pushed for Jesus' death. Jesus probably made the first of seven statements as He was being nailed to the crossbeam, "Father, forgive them for they do not really know what they are doing."
The first statement from the cross
Between 9:00 and noon these things happened. His clothes were divided between four Roman soldiers and His seamless robe was gambled for. Psalm 22:18 “They part my garments among them, and upon vesture do they cast lots.” (ASV) Both acts fulfilled prophecy. During these three hours, the angry crowd taunted the Christ. “If you are the Christ, come down for the cross.” “He saved others, himself He can’t save. Jesus second expression He spoke to the repentant thief, "Today you will be with me in paradise." Then to His mother and John who were at the foot of the cross He said, "Woman behold thy son. Son beholds your mother. At the noon hour the sun refused to shine, and the darkness lasted until 3:00. Out of that darkness Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me." Then in quick succession as the 3:00 hour approached, the final three statements were made: "I thirst!"
The moment of death
"It is finished!" "Father into thy hands I commit My Spirit." It was at that point, about 3:00 P.M. that Jesus died. At the point of death, Matthew tells us of the earthquake and the groaning of the rocks, the tearing of the temple curtain and the disruption of the normal life and death cycle. The Centurion responded to the request of the religious leaders to speed the process. That was done by breaking the legs of the one so suspended with a heavy iron bar. With broken legs suffocation became the actual cause of death. The two thief’s legs were broken, but when the guard came to Jesus he determined that He was already dead. Isaiah said that He would die but that “no bones would be broken.” Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication? and they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourned for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.” (ASV) Psalm 34:19-20 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but Jehovah delivered him out of them all (20) He kept all his bones: not one of them is broken.” (ASV)
He thrusts the spear into His side, to confirm the death - Isaiah said, "They looked on him who they had pierced." The spear thrust brought blood and water from the Christ’s heart cavity. Jesus had literally died of a broken heart. Even in a death hardened society the excitement can last for only so long. The crowd scattered. The religious leaders satisfied that their plan was completed left. Only a small group of women lingered in the shadows
The burial in the borrowed tomb
of that great tragedy. Two events remain, Joseph and Nicodemus asked Pilate for Jesus' body and after confirmation of His death, permission was given. The burial preparation was accomplished quickly, and the body was placed in the tomb, Joseph's new tomb. Jesus' body was the first placed there. The other event was that small group of women who had lingered by the cross, followed those and determine to return after Sabbath and complete the burial process, so quickly done by the men. The body was placed in the cave tomb and the stone was rolled over the entrance and a marvelous page in history was closed. We, so influenced with the fact of resurrection, can’t grasp the feelings that they who had followed Him experienced with the closing of the mouth of that burial cave. The author of hope was destroyed by death. There may be one way you can get close to the emotions of that night. If you have ever felt that all was totally, completely, desperately, hopelessly lost, you are getting close. What is the use of trying to go on? If The “Peace makers” have no place in the real world. Why “bless those who curse you” it will only get you killed. So much that would have made such a difference in the world was wiped out with that death. That "real world" that cruel world, that ugly world of an “eye for an eye,” don’t turn the other cheek, in fact strike first and hardest. That world has won. But,but.but, “Sunday is a Coming.”
coming soon The Story of the Resuurrection to complete the "Three Days of Easter"
A CHRONOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE PASSION WEEK ACTIVITIES
Get your Bible out and be ready. A composite work on the four Gospels would be nice. We are going to look at those eight days (and a few more) in the Four. We will not understand it all but if is exciting.
Introduction: This is an effort to place the events from Saturday prior to Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem through to the Last Supper in chronological order. The intense emotions, the personal involvement of the sources and the effort of each to include those events most important from his point of view make the orderly placing of the activity a real challenge. The challenge speaks of the validity of the divinely inspired account. The Holy Spirit worked through real people to bring the real record of events to us today. That which is not clear to us is because of our lack of understanding and not a criticism of the validity of scripture.The study is presented to increase your understanding of the week. It is also presented to aid in your preparation for the two of the greatest events in history, the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I. The Day by Day Activities.
1. Scripture References.
a. Matthew 26:6-13.
b. Mark 14:3-9.
c. John 12:2-11.
2. Activity: John records a supper that appears to have been in the house of Lazarus. Mary anointed Jesus' feet and dried them with her hair. Jesus said that the act was in preparation for His death.
3. Difficulty: Matthew and Mark report a similar event by an unnamed woman at a supper in the home of Simon, the leper, on Wednesday evening.
1. Scripture References.
a. Matthew 21:1-11.
b. Mark 11:1-11.
c. Luke 19:29-44.
d. John 12:12-19.
2. Activity: Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem as the triumphant King. The event was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.
3. Difficulty: Matthew and Luke seem to include the cleansing of the Temple in the day's activity.In Luke 19:47, Luke says, "And He taught daily in the Temple." That statement and other similar ones indicate that his purpose was not to stay to a day by day account of the activities.
1. Scripture References.
a. Matthew 21:12-16.
b. Mark 11:12-19.
c. Luke 19:45.
d. John 12:20-36.
2. Activities: The possible events for Monday are the cursing of a fig tree, the cleansing of the Temple and the effort of some people from Greece to visit with Jesus.
3. Difficulty: The difficulty for Monday is the same as for Sunday. Just when did Jesus cleanse the Temple? The cursing of the fig tree is a unique activity for Jesus. The only other event that is similar is Jesus' response to the demon’s request to enter the pigs in Mark 5:11 and Luke 8:32. In that event the pigs drowned themselves.
1. Scripture References.
a. Matthew 21:18-22.
b. Mark 11:20-26.
c. Luke 21:37-38.
2. Activities: On the return to the Temple in Jerusalem from the night in Bethany, the disciples saw that the fig tree, cursed by Jesus, had died. If Matthew 26:6 is a Wednesday event, then all the teaching from Matthew 21:23-26:5 was done on Tuesday. The day was a day of extensive teaching for Jesus in the Temple.
3. Difficulty: The difficulty is found in Matthew 21:19b, "And presently the fig tree withered away." “Parachrema” translated "presently" in the King James Bible has a primary meaning of "at once" or "immediately."
1. Scripture References.
a. Matthew 26:6-13.
b. Mark 14:3-9.
2. Activities: Wednesday is not a clearly defined day. The supper at Simon's may have been on either Tuesday or Wednesday evening. It is also in this period that the plot to and that at Judas became involved. Matthew 26:4,14 and Mark 14:10.
3. Difficulty: The challenge for placing the supper is found in the statement, "after two days," used by both Matthew and Mark, Matt26:2 and Mark 14:1.
1. Scripture References.
a. Matthew 26:17.
b. Mark 14:12.
c. Luke 22:17.
d. John 13:1.
2. Activities: Prior to the Passover Feast, Jesus and the disciples stayed in Bethany. Peter and John went into Jerusalem to prepare for the supper. The supper and all following events occurred after sundown on Thursday. That meant that those events were Friday events in Jewish time. For them, a day was from sundown to sundown.
An Introduction to thr Three Days of Easter for the Internet 03-17-18
This is an experiment for preachercrow.com on the internet
This is an effort to recreate the heart of the annual “Three Days of Easter” that was a large portion of Euclid Street and the Garden Church. It is only an experiment so there are some rules of understanding. The material that I’m sharing is taken from that used for my preaching and teaching as pastor of that church for forty-four years of active ministry, and an additional fifteen years beyond active time. That means that most of the material was first used over fifty years ago. Some of the dates and settings of this material will still be visible. All the material was first shared as Bible study material or in sermon form for a worship service. With that understanding and a bit of a willingness to plow through that which was first written to be heard not read then we are ready for “the Three Days of Easter” on the internet.
We have always called this experience “The Three Days of Easter” but, in reality, it is a study that covers eight days (and a bit more) of Gospel time. Originaly we started the celebration with a focus on the Triumphal Entrance on Palm Sunday and then a review of the total Scripture material on a Wednesday night. We also observed the Lord’s Supper (Communion) in total silence on Saturday night- thus the title Three Days of Easter.
For your information: There is a total of eighty-nine chapters in the Four Gospels and starting from the Triumphal Entry and a few chapters and verses beyond the Resurrection there are Sixty-three covering this week in the earthly life of our Lord. Enjoy.
This has been an interesting trip and the following statement is in no way the final chapter. I’m back from technical problems on “preachercrow. Com.” And I’m back from an escrow effort by the present leadership to sell the property that the Garden Church originally possessed; and where our home has been for eighteen years. There is an important connection between those two realities. Let me start by going back and correcting a mistaken title that was on this page about seven month ago. The mistaken part of that last statement was “The Birth, the Life, and the Death of the Garden Church.” My frustration and lack of faith were responsible for the mistake and for that I apologize. Let me remind you of bit of my philosophy of leadership is contained in that “apology.“ As pastor I often said, “Let’s go together for the biggest that can be possible, and if you will follow me and I am wrong then I will apologize.” Well, in part three of the title I was wrong “The Garden Church” is not dead. Oh, it doesn’t meet every week and it doesn’t have a specific address but the concept is still very much alive. The “Garden Church” ideal existed for over 25 years as the Euclid Street Baptist Church and then it moved and became The Garden Church. Both the ESBC and The Garden Church existed as a Christian community / family. For the first twenty-five years that family/church concept lived on only a bit more than two acres at 1408 South Euclid Street in west Anaheim, California. That location is where we fine tuned the “Family Governance Concept” that I grew up with in a church known as the Sagamore Hill Baptist Church in fort Worth, Texas. We didn’t just attend that church, we actually “belonged to that church.” We didn’t have “Business Meetings” we had “Family Conferences.” And as with any family decision our voting was always 100%. Does that mean that we always agreed? “NO,” but it did mean that we took the time to all get on the same page before we moved forward. Sagamore Hill taught me a lot and the concept worked for forty-five years in Anaheim, California. And, most of all it worked in a massive relocation that transitioned from being the Euclid Street Baptist Church to being the Garden Church.
“The Garden” is definitely not dead. It may be a little troubled because of neglect but it and “the garden church concept are very much alive.
(to be continued)
I have been away from writing for about five months. In that time, I have been involved in serious reflections. I am not sure that I am truly qualified to put words on paper for others to read. My only justification is that through most of my forty-five years of preaching I produced a three or four paged manuscript that I shared with a congregation. I still have most of those and when I first got on the internet I thought of sharing those in some readable form. That is a rather large undertaking and I am uncertain about its future. But also, five months ago, I was faced with a new challenge and I have been in a bit of a cloud about my future and ministry. The conclusion of that soul-searching has produced the beginning of another manuscript. Most of that work is till in outline form and I will write it up and post it in readable (I hope) form for you to read if you desire. The working title of the manuscript is THE BIRTH, LIFE and DEATH of the GARDEN CHURCH. I have the first part well underway and will post it in a week or so. There is a vital part of the story that is involved in the total and that is Wanda. She was and is the ultimate Pastorâ€™s Wife and is part of the story from beginning to end (which hasnâ€™t been written yet).