I invite you to open your Bible to the 18th chapter of the gospel of Luke and verses 31 through 34, which is the section of Scripture to which I want to draw your attention this morning. It was last week that we looked at this text initially, and we'll spend this session on it as well, Luke 18:31 to 34. Let me read it for you.
"And He,” that is Jesus, “took the twelve aside and said to them, 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished, for He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him and the third day He will rise again.' And they understood none of these things. And this saying was hidden from them and they did not comprehend the things that were said."
The anti-Christ critics love to portray Jesus as a well-intentioned victim, a victim of His own ambition, a victim of Jewish hostility, a victim of Roman hostility, someone who made a noble effort at liberating His people politically, morally, ethically, spiritually, religiously. But it all ended in a way that He never really expected.
Well nothing is further from the truth. He came into this world to fulfill His Father's will. He said, "I only do what the Father wills for Me to do. I only do what the Father tells Me to do. I only do what the Father shows Me." He came to die. He knew it and He knew every detail about His own death. He knew because He was God and because as God He knew everything and He knew it from before the foundation of the world for this plan began in the mind of the Trinity before time began. He is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. He knew it because He knew perfectly the Old Testament and he understood perfectly the meaning of every prophetic passage that pointed to His death. He knew every detail that the Father had planned, that they would be carried out by people not trying to fulfill the Old Testament, but by Jews who did not believe such things were even in the Old Testament and by Gentiles who didn't know there was such a thing as an Old Testament. He came to die. He came to die as predicted. He came to fulfill every single detail.
It was very important to our Lord Jesus Christ that He laid these details out before they happened; another unmistakable evidence that this is God with infinite knowledge of things that have not yet happened and complete control over all the people involved. As I said last time, He made three specific references to His arrest and His death. The three are recorded in Matthew and Mark and Luke. In Luke, the first one was in Luke 9:21 and 22, the second in Luke 9:44 and 45, and this is the third one and by far the most detailed one here in chapter 18 verses 31 to 34. His ministry on earth is nearly over. Only days from now He will enter Jerusalem, and a week after that He will die and rise again. This is the end. We have finally come to the great climactic events of the life of the Lord Jesus and of Luke's history. His thoughts and ours from now on will be on His imminent suffering and the glory to follow, the agony, if you will, and the ecstasy that awaits Him in a few days. He is not surprised. He wants all to know that He is not surprised. This is the plan. And so He speaks of His suffering not in vague terms, not in obscure or oblique language but in crystal-clear specifics.
Now, first of all, let me just review the point that we started with last week, the plan for suffering, verse 31. He took the twelve aside, pulling them apart from the large crowd following Him. He had been to Galilee and through Perea and now cross the Jordan headed toward Jericho and then up to Jerusalem in a few days. He is accompanied not only by the twelve but by a large, large crowd, as always, and maybe larger than frequently because this is Passover and they are all headed to Jerusalem for the Passover. He pulls the twelve aside and says, "Behold!" exclamation, stunning, surprising, "we are going up to Jerusalem."
As I pointed out to you last time, they are amazed and afraid because the timing seems so wrong because all they can see everywhere is hostility. They still think He's going to go to Jerusalem to establish His kingdom, and it just doesn't look possible with the level of hostility against Him by the leaders of Judaism. And so they go in amazement and fear. But they go because this is the plan. There's no hesitation in His words. "We are going up to Jerusalem and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished." We go to fulfill the plan. In Acts, you remember, in chapter 2 when Peter is preaching to the people of Jerusalem, he says in verse 22, "Men of Israel, listen to these words." It's the Day of Pentecost and he says, "Jesus, the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know, this man delivered up” same term as “delivered up” in verse 32 to the Gentiles back in Luke 18, “this man delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God." It was all in the divine plan. It is God who is the primary cause of the sufferings of Christ. Peter went on to say, "This man delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men." The Jews are there. You nailed Him. The Romans are there, by the hands of godless men, and put Him to death. Secondary causes are human, primary cause is divine. It is by the predetermined plan of God. Only in a secondary sense or tertiary sense are men involved. This is God's plan. In the fourth chapter of Acts, the same apostolic preaching comes forth again from the apostles Peter and John, "Truly in this city they were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,” they're all the secondary human causes, “to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur." Jesus is not a victim. He's not surprised by anything. Things did not go wrong. It is all planned by God, all prophesied by God, clearly in the Old Testament, unmistakably in the Old Testament down to the fine detail. Psalm 22 provides detail. Isaiah 53 provides detail. Zechariah 12 provides detail. All the pictures of the Old Testament sacrifices provide a very clear path directly to a final, complete, suffering Lamb who once and for all would satisfy God with a sacrifice for sin. It's all in the plan. That's what we looked at last time.
Then we looked at the predictions themselves, the predictions of suffering, verses 32 and 33. "He will be delivered to the Gentiles, will be mocked and mistreated, and spit upon. And after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him and the third day He will rise again." There's nothing vague about any of that, it is specific. This is what the Scripture said would happen and there are details of it that Jesus knows with precision.
Now I told you last time, and I'll repeat it again, that this particular passage, this particular incident is recorded by Matthew and Mark as well. Matthew 20 verses 17 to 19, Mark 10 verses 32 to 34 and Luke 18:31 to 34 all cover the same incident. And if you put them all three together, you get the full indication of what happened there. Matthew and Mark have some elements that they add to what Luke says. Matthew and Mark say He was delivered to the chief priests and the scribes. And the word "delivered" is also translated "betrayed." He was delivered to them by Judas, so betrayal is implied in being delivered to the chief priests and scribes. Matthew and Mark both say that He was placed in the hands of the chief priests and scribes who then condemned Him to death. So He was betrayed. He was handed over to the chief priests and scribes. They carried on a trial in which they condemned Him. Then having condemned Him but without the power to execute Him because they were under Roman law and only the Romans could exact execution, they then handed Him over, delivered Him over, as verse 32 says, to the Gentiles. And now you get into Luke's flow of specifics. Betrayed, handed over to the chief priests and scribes, condemned to death, delivered to the Gentiles, and then once the Gentiles had Him, He was mocked, mistreated, spit on, scourged, killed and raised again the third day. Only the divine mind knows what has not happened. Only God knows the details of things that have not occurred. God is not only aware of these things, He is in control of them because, again I say, the Jews were not trying to fulfill Old Testament prophecy which they didn't even understand in what they did with Jesus and the Romans didn't know anything about Old Testament prophecy. This is all the work of God as the primary cause, providentially moving the hands of godless men in the decisions of the Jews to the execution of His Son. Don't ever think for one split second that Jesus came into the world to offer a kingdom to Israel without a cross and that somehow when the Jews rejected Him as King, He had to go and die on the cross. He never offered a kingdom without a cross. He was the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. He came to offer a kingdom through the cross.
Through the years, the skeptics, and the critics and the satanic pseudo-scholars have loved to assault Jesus. And they want to deny His deity. That's the major enterprise. They want to deny His deity and they want to deny the biblical record as being true and inerrant. The skeptics are relentless. They were at it again this week with the Jesus family tomb, just another way to assault the authority and inerrancy of what the Bible says and to attack the deity of Jesus Christ. It's nothing new, goes back to the German higher critics. I remember as a seminary student having to resurrect the dead Germans and read what they wrote. And I used to say to my professors, "If we didn't keep resurrecting them, no one would know they ever lived. And since all they do is assault the truth, why do we keep taking them out of the grave and letting them speak?" One of the heroes of the German critics and liberal scholarship is Bultmann. Bultmann said, "We simply do not know what Jesus thought about His death." Well we do not know if we don't believe the Bible. He said, "Possibly He broke down completely in His faith. His faith being shattered, He was left to cry out with a loud moan and die." That's the liberal line and it's generated children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren in a liberal scholarship that keeps espousing. Another one of the Germans, Kaspar, said, "He knew He might die. He knew because of the intense opposition He generated that He could end up with the same bloody fate as His friend, John the Baptist, but He certainly wouldn't have known any specifics." Well how did he know this? Well their answer is this passage is a post-Easter gloss. This is a post-resurrection edition. It is not historical, it was never spoken by Jesus because that would confirm His deity and we can't let that happen. And so by their own self-deception, they damn themselves.
Jesus knew every single element about the conspiracy, every element carried out by Jews and Gentiles. He knew every feature of His cross and resurrection. They were all precisely in the plan from eternity past.
So the plan and the predictions. Now, let's come to a third point, the proportions of sufferings. I think it's important for us in just considering the sufferings of Jesus to get some kind of idea of the massive nature of His suffering. He is in Isaiah 53 called, "The Man of Sorrows," plural, the Man of Sorrows. And when referring to the suffering of Christ, it is often plural. Second Corinthians 1:5 mentions the sufferings of Christ, plural. Philippians 3:10, the fellowship of His sufferings, plural. First Peter 1:11, I read it earlier, the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. First Peter 4:13 speaks of Christ's sufferings in the plural as does 1 Peter 5:1. Luke 24:26, Christ suffered these things. Hebrews 2:10, captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings, plural. It just strikes me that there's a breadth of sufferings that needs to be looked at.
Go back to Isaiah 53. There's a chapter that could never be read too much. Isaiah 53, and let me just help you to focus in a little bit on the scope of His sufferings. “Who has believed our message,” it begins, “and to who has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Then it goes on to discuss His sufferings. Then it goes on to discuss His sufferings. "For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty,” no beauty, no attractiveness “that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him." In a word, ugly, repulsive. "He is despised," verse 3, "forsaken of men, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief” and like one so ugly, so despised, so rejected that men hide their face rather than look at Him because it's too embarrassing. He was despised. “We did not esteem Him,” did not show Him any respect. Verse 4 says, "He bore our griefs. He carried our sorrows.” On top of everything else, He was bearing the grief and the sorrow of all who would belong to Him throughout all of history. “We ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted," ugly, despised, rejected, sorrowful, grieved, without respect, and now smitten by God, afflicted by God. Verse 5, "Pierced through for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities," that's the crushing, oppressing weight of guilt. "Chastened for our well-being, scourged for our healing." Verse 6, "The Lord caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him,” oppressed with that iniquity. "Afflicted with that iniquity," verse 7, "He is like a lamb led to slaughter, like a sheep dumb before its shearers who doesn't open his mouth. He is oppressed," verse 8. "He goes to judgment. He is cut off from the land of the living." That means He is killed. And it's for the transgression of My people to whom the stroke was really due. Even His grave is embarrassing and humiliating because it is intended that He would be thrown in the dump with the rest of the criminals to be burned in the fire, though He ended up in a rich man's grave. Verse 10 says, "The Lord was pleased to crush Him, put Him to grief, render Him a guilt offering." Verse 11 speak so the anguish of His soul, of His bearing iniquities. Verse 12 says He poured out Himself to death. He was numbered, associated, with the transgressors, certainly one on each side as a symbol, yet He Himself bore the sins of many. The list is just staggering, the range of suffering at the hands of men and even in the purpose of God.
Let me look a little more deeply at this suffering with you, if I can, for a moment. Let's first of all consider disloyalty. There are lots of ways to suffer in life. Certainly not all of them are physical. Only a few of what I read you in Isaiah 53 were physical. Most of real intense suffering is personal and relational. And the first thing that we could look at in considering the range of His suffering would be disloyalty. He was betrayed. He was betrayed at the most intimate level. He was betrayed by one of His own in whom He had invested His life. It was in that upper room when He was gathered that Passover meal with His disciples that He said one of you will betray Me, referring to Judas. He said the one who dips the sop, dips the bread in the gravy and eats it, the one sitting next to Me, He will betray Me. And He said He will betray Me in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, John 13:18 and 19, the scripture taken from Psalm 41:9 which says, "My own familiar friend in whom I trusted who did eat My bread has lifted up his heal against Me." From a human viewpoint, is there any greater pain than to be betrayed by the person who is closest to you? The one who sits beside you? The one who walks with you day in and day out? He is betrayed, He is handed over to His enemies who want to kill Him. And you know the story. Judas sold Him for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a cheap slave. He handed Him over. And He handed Him over in an unforgettably dramatic way by pointing Him out to the folks who came to get Him in the garden with a kiss. Jesus looked at him, Luke 22:47 to 48 and says, "You going to betray Me with a kiss." Despicable, painful, agonizing, of course; the suffering of betrayal is overwhelming. It is a pain that most of us have experienced, nothing like the way the Lord experienced it; part of what makes Him a faithful and merciful High Priest for our pain in betrayal. It's an ugly sin, maybe the ugliest of all sins. You put someone in an intimate position, you invest them with privilege and honor and affection and responsibility and all you have you give to them and behind the scenes they sell you out.
The second category that we could even consider is the...the suffering of rejection. Certainly betrayal is included in rejection, but it's the more overt kind of thing that I'm talking about. He was, according to Mark 10:33, delivered to the chief priests and scribes. And they constituted the Sanhedrin, the court of Israel, and they basically were the ones who made the decision for the nation and their decision was to reject Jesus. They put Him on trial. They trumped up false charges. I remember when I was working on the book The Murder of Jesus how compelling it was to go through detail by detail of all the trials of Jesus before the Sanhedrin, before Pilate, before Herod, back to Pilate, and all the false accusations, the utter lack of veracity and yet they kept convicting Him and convicting Him and convicting Him because it was the will of the people to reject Him and they were only using whatever legal means they had to, twisting and perverting it to gain the already determined end. Isaiah 53:3, He was despised and rejected by men. He was the stone the builders rejected. He is the one who came to His own and His own received Him not.
Of you look over to verse 41 in Luke 19, you get a bit of a glimpse of this and His reaction to it. He approached the city of Jerusalem. He saw the city, He wept over it, said, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! Now they've been hidden from your eyes." They rejected Him, He then rejected them. And He went on to describe the siege of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. when their enemies would throw a bank against them, surround them, hem them in on every side, level them to the ground because they didn't recognize the time of their salvation.
He came to those who were His own. He came to His own people. They rejected Him outright. Even His own disciples at His trial rejected Him. In the 26th chapter of Matthew, just after the Judas kiss, we read in verse 55, "Jesus said to the multitudes, 'Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you didn't seize me, but all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.'" It's all on schedule. And then this: "Then all the disciples left Him and fled." That too fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 13:7, “Strike the shepherd and the sheep are scattered.”
But there was even a more profound rejection than that of His nation and that of His disciples; that is the rejection of His own Father. Matthew 27:46, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" A direct fulfillment of Psalm 22:1 where the exact same words are written. And when you look at the suffering of Jesus, and you think about these kinds of sufferings, even before the cross and the abandonment of God, and you think about the disloyalty and the rejection, you begin to feel the accumulated weight of agony that is going to show up in the garden in His suffering before He even gets to the cross.
There's a third component, I think, in the agony that bursts out in the garden and that's humiliation, humiliation. It all led to that. I think when He got to the garden it was the disloyalty, the rejection, the humiliation that He was suffering as the exalted second member of the Trinity that was more than His human body could bear, and that's why He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood. That's why He agonized in the garden. And that's why He said, Father, if there's any way that this can pass from Me, please let it. Already the suffering was beyond comprehension. But the humiliation went beyond that and I think you would have to put into the category of humiliation verse 32, that He will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon and scourged. Scourged, maybe we'll leave out. Mocked, mistreated, spit upon, designed purposely to humiliate, purposely to belittle, demean. In fact, the worst possible thing you could do to someone, the most demeaning thing you could do is spit on someone. And they spit on Him. If you read through the rest of Luke and the ending sections of Matthew and Mark, you see all of this unfold. Perhaps a couple of glimpses. Luke 22:63: "And the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him." Another way to refer to mistreating, mocking and beating, and it went on and it went on and it continued even to the cross. Luke 23:11...10 and 11, the chief priests, the scribes were standing there accusing Him vehemently, Herod with his soldiers after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. Verse 36: The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine. Matthew 26, Matthew 27, Mark 14, Mark 15 talk about the same thing; including the fact that they spit on Him.
This kind of humiliation is...is severe pain. The most magnificent, glorious, wondrous, lovely, precious, beautiful, perfect, holy person who ever walked in this world spit on, mocked, ridiculed, belittled, embarrassed, humiliated. John calls it in John 9:28 reviling. And Peter tells us, 1 Peter 2:23, that when He was reviled, He did not retaliate. He just took it all. You talk about a range of suffering, disloyalty, rejection, humiliation. You could add something else, even short of the physical pain, injustice, injustice. I remember when my children were little, they would say things to me like, "Dad, it's not fair. Dad, that's not fair, that's not right." We have a residual sense of fairness built into us by God. It's part of the law written in our hearts. Well just imagine if you are God and you're being accused of sin, sedition, insurrection, blasphemy and it's not true, not true. You're in a legal trial, a sham of a legal trial, all kinds of accusations are being thrown against you; you say absolutely nothing. You're like a sheep dumb before its shearers, a sheep silent led to slaughter in the greatest act of injustice from a human standpoint ever enacted to achieve the greatest act of justice from a divine point ever accomplished. When you study the trials, you see injustice after injustice after injustice and He's without sin and the weight of that accusation one can only imagine on His perfect soul. There He is sentenced to the death penalty who is without guilt, sentenced not only by men, but sentenced by God. These are the kinds of things that crushed Him inwardly before He ever felt the pain of scourging and crucifixion outwardly.
That leads to a fifth feature in the proportion of His sufferings. Let's just call it injury, injury. Scourged and ultimately killed. His scourging we're familiar with because we understand the history of scourging. We know what it was. They made a whip with many thongs, some say three, some say as many as seven, some say more than that. At the end of those thongs were bits of glass, bone, rock, even metal used to lacerate, rip and tear and shred down to the...the veins, the internal organs. Psalm 22 describes this. Isaiah 53 describes this. Even crucifixion is described in Zechariah 12:10, the one who will be pierced. It was a common Jewish punishment. They were to give forty lashes. They gave thirty-nine because they didn't want to overstep the law, so they gave three sets of thirteen moving around the body, the person hanging, suspended at a pole, so that his body was taut. And the lashes were given by two men so that they weren't diminished in ferocity and strength until his entrails and his organs would appear. Many people died. Little wonder that Simon had to carry His cross.
So you go from disloyalty to rejection to humiliation to condemnation, injustice, to bodily injury. And then they nail Him to the cross and that adds more injury, put a crown of thorns on Him, that adds more injury. And death by crucifixion, we all know, was the most horrible way to die. You basically died by asphyxiation when you could no longer push yourself up, being suspended on your great wounds, and catch another breath. One writer says, "Death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of the horrible and the ghastly, dizziness, cramp, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, tetanus, shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of open wounds, breathlessness, all intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all, but stopping short of the point which would give the sufferer the relief of unconsciousness. The unnatural position made every movement painful, the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish. The wounds inflamed by exposure gradually gangrened, the arteries especially at the head and stomach became swollen, compressed with surcharged blood while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing. There was added to them the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst. All these physical complications cause an internal excitement and anxiety and in all this you couldn't catch your breath." Add to that the weight and the burden of the soul tortured by men and by God and the proportions of Christ's sufferings are staggering. And we'll look at them in detail in the weeks ahead. He knew it all and He anticipated it all.
Number four in the outline looking at this text is the power over sufferings, the power over sufferings. Verse 33, "And the third day He will rise again." Just that matter-of-fact, the third day He will rise again. He was dead before the day ended on Friday, before the sun set. On the morning of the Sunday, He rose from the dead, walked out and ever lives fulfilling Psalm 16:10, "You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption but will show Him the path of life." Fulfilling also Isaiah 53: Although He was given a grave with a rich man, that wasn't the end, “He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand," indicating life beyond His death. He predicted this Himself in John 2, He said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again." He said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone. If it die, it brings forth life," John chapter 12 verses 23 and 24. And He did rise from the dead. Luke 24 is the great record in Luke's gospel of His resurrection. He knew He would die and He knew on the third day He would rise again and He did and the evidence is massive for the resurrection.
Now that leads us to a final observation, the perception of sufferings, the perception. How did the disciples to whom He is saying this perceive it? Verse 34, "And they understood none of these things. And this saying was hidden from them and they did not comprehend the things that were said." Now that, folks, is saying the same thing three ways. They understood none of these things. That's all you need to say. “This saying was hidden from them,” says the same thing another way. “And they did not comprehend the things that were said,” says it a third way. Just to make sure you don't miss the point, it is a reiteration of chapter 9, verse 45 where the very same things are stated there; twice there, three times here. They didn't get it. They didn't get it. They didn't get it. They continued not to get it. And the critics say that's why we know that Jesus didn't prophesy this stuff. If He had prophesied it, they wouldn't have been surprised when it happened. So somebody went back and added it and said Jesus said it. If He had actually said it, they would have not been surprised when it happened. Jesus makes sure we know why they didn't understand it when it happened. That's because they had no category for it. They had no category even though He said it. The Bible holds back nothing. This is exactly what He said. They didn't get it, they didn't get it, they didn't get it. Why? They were looking for a messianic King. They were looking for a messianic kingdom. They had a highly developed messianic eschatology. They had a completely full-blown view of what Messiah would be and what He would do and death and crucifixion weren't in it. They expected a coronation, not a crucifixion. They expected a Messiah who killed His enemies, not a Messiah killed by His own people. They expected a Messiah who triumphed, not a Messiah who was tortured. They expected a Messiah who brought life, not a Messiah who was dead. The idea of a crucified Messiah was an absurdity. It was ridiculous to the point where they couldn't even comprehend it.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 1 we receive some help in understanding this. You can look at this text for a moment. We'll just consider a couple of statements briefly. First Corinthians chapter 1 verse 18: "For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness," foolishness, mria, from which we get moron, moronic, idiotic. Verse 22, "For indeed Jews ask for signs,” signs in the heavens, by the way. “And the Greeks search for wisdom,” complex, labyrinth-like esoteric, elevated Gnostic-style, intricate, machinations of the human mind, cleverness. And we come along and “we preach Christ crucified, and it is to Jews a stumbling block,” skandalon, a scandal, blasphemy really, “and to Gentiles, foolishness.
The idea of a crucified Messiah is ridiculous. The idea of a crucified God is ridiculous. It's ridiculous to the Gentiles. They had a plethora of gods and they had a well-crafted and well-concocted sort of scheme of how deities interacted with men. And the idea that a god would come down and be killed by men was absolute folly to them. To the Jews it was even worse than folly; it was blasphemy. It was a stumbling block. It was a scandal. It was a roadblock. It was such a massive barrier they couldn't get past it. So it didn't compute. They were talking different languages. Messiah doesn't come to die, Messiah doesn't come to be killed. He certainly doesn't come to be killed by Gentiles. And He certainly doesn't come to die this worst of all kinds of death. Not even a Roman citizen could be killed by crucifixion. It was that despicable unless the Roman citizen was guilty of insurrection against the emperor. Anything less than that, a Roman citizen couldn't be crucified, it was for the scum of scum non-Romans, the most despicable horrific kind of embarrassing, humiliating death to be up in full view, naked on a cross, a horrible, cruel way to die. Messiah can't be crucified by Gentiles. Besides, anything that hangs on a tree is cursed by God, Deuteronomy 21:23. Blasphemers might be put up for all to see. Messiah can't be a crucified man and certainly Messiah — and there is the possibility in there eschatology that Messiah could be divine — a divine Messiah couldn't be killed let alone killed by God. God killing God? They didn't understand smitten by God and afflicted. They still don't understand it today.
There's a stone in a guard room on the Palatine Hill in Rome that I've seen a number of times. And it's got some graffiti on the stone, been there a long, long time. It's a picture of a crucified man with a head of a jackass. And underneath are scratched the words in Latin, “Alexamenos worships his God.” Who would worship a crucified man? Stupid. Now the Jews had no category for this. Nowhere to put it, couldn't understand it, couldn't comprehend it. They understood none of those things. The saying was hidden from them. They didn't comprehend it. They didn't get it. They couldn't get it. And God sovereignly chose at this moment not to reveal it to them.
And after the crucifixion, they scattered, they ran, they fled in fear and horror. It was over until they met Jesus. Turn to Luke 24 verse 25. This is on the road to Emmaus, you remember. "And He said to them,” to these of His disciples, “'Oh foolish men, slow of heart to believe in all the prophets have spoken,'" and He affirms the veracity of the Old Testament that it was all written there. You're foolish. The cross isn't foolish, you're foolish. "'Oh foolish men, slow of heart to believe in all the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." Verse 31, "And their eyes were opened." Not until then. Now He says, you've got to do the same thing. Verse 44, same chapter, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me and the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." So He had no doubt informed all the rest of the disciples, not just those on the road to Emmaus and He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and said to them, "Thus it is written that Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day.” And now you go and preach that beginning in Jerusalem and take it to the nations.
Admittedly they knew a lot of things. Matthew 13:16 and 17 says that the parables were made known to them. That Jesus had hidden those things from the wise and the prudent and revealed them unto babes. A lot of things were known to them but they just could not understand the Messiah dying, dying this way, rejected by His nation, dying at the hands of Gentiles, no category for that. Didn't...didn't process in their minds and the Lord didn't reveal it to them till after the resurrection and immediately when He taught them they understood it all and their confirmation of His deity was fixed because He had predicted every single detail.
The critics say that if Jesus had told His followers about His death and resurrection, they wouldn't have been surprised now. No, they were shocked, couldn't be possible. It wasn't in their theology. It wasn't in their interpretation of the Old Testament, but it was true and they came to understand it.
How about you? How about you? Do you have a category for the Son of God coming into the world to die on a cross to bear your sins, to take your punishment, to die in your place, to receive the wrath of God instead of you receiving it? Do you have a category for that? Do you believe that Jesus Christ as God came into this world, died as a substitute for sin who was the sinless one, rose again the third day as God affirmed the satisfaction of His own sacrifice by His Son? Do you affirm that? Do you believe that? Do you have a category for that? It's the only way you'll ever have your sins forgiven, and the only way you'll ever go to heaven. The only way you'll ever escape hell is to believe in the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus is no victim. He comes to die because that is the divine plan. He is on schedule, on target. Many times He said, "My hour is not yet come." Finally He said, My hour has come, we are going to Jerusalem, on schedule. Do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, having accepted His sacrifice for sin? And are you willing to confess Jesus Christ as Lord? Only then can you be saved from sin and death and hell. Jesus died and rose again to provide salvation if you will repent and receive Him.
Father, we commit to you the truth of this rich text with thankful hearts that You have given us such a wondrous Scripture that upon the closest, most intense scrutiny stands every test and comes out glorious, pure, clean, true, compelling. We thank You for not just the glory of Scripture but the glory of the truth incarnate, the living Christ. We see again His wondrous majesty in His words, detailing events to come. This is our Redeemer, this is our Christ, this is our Savior whom we love, whom we serve, who has saved us from eternal damnation. Oh God, may You grant that salvation to many here today. May you awaken the heart, open the eyes, give understanding that the gospel in its full glory may be apprehended and believed and fully embraced, that salvation may come to every soul for Your eternal glory, we pray. Amen.