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AUDIO Gamblers At The Cross

by Rev Bill Woods

On Monday, April 12, 2021, both chambers of the Arizona Legislature passed bills that would legalize sports betting in Arizona.

–           On Thursday, April 15, Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill to allow sports betting to become legal in Arizona.

–           During the event, Ducey also signed a new gambling compact agreement with the Tribal Nations which the governor and the tribes called a historic agreement.

The Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals, and Coyotes will all have licenses to operate on-site sports betting at their arenas.

–   The Phoenix Open and NASCAR will also have sports betting available at tribal casinos.

We’re not talking about $10’s of millions.  We’re talking about $100’s of millions according to State Representative, Jeff Weninger, of Chandler District 17.

Arizona joins 25 other states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico in legalizing sports wagering.

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed state lawmakers to decide whether or not it would be legal in their specific states.

The Federal Government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs still need to sign off on the bill, but it’s thought that’s just a formality.

–  The whole process could take as little as 90 days.

The Phoenix Suns announced Thursday, they have partnered with the sports betting app, FanDuel, which will have a luxury sportsbook retail location inside the Suns arena.

Legalizing sports betting will forever change the sports and entertainment landscape in Arizona and, I feel, opens a Pandora’s Box for crime and all kinds of corruption.

– We already have big problems with the Cartel.  This will just open other avenues for them to operate.

Today the State of Arizona and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are pleased with their decision to open sports gambling State-wide.-  It’s going to bring so much more revenue to their coffers! 

–  I think the day will come when they’ll question if that was such a great decision.

Speaking of gambling caused my mind to race back to the biggest gamble to have ever happened in history.

– The gambling that was done at Golgotha over 2000 years ago.

I realize Easter is over and most pastors have moved on to other topics, but I want to explore this topic of the Crucifixion at least one more time before I move on to other things.

The Crucifixion is the darkest moment in the history of the world.

 – This was the day that man nailed God to an old rugged cross.

God sent His Son to save Adam’s descendants from the penalty of sin — man rejected God’s Son and murdered Him on a Cross!

Crucifixion was grizzly enough with all the shame, pain, bloodshed, and terror involved, but man was turning his back on God’s Love!

It’s strange in the gravity of such a gruesome situation that anyone could be so calloused and unfeeling as to sit and gamble at the foot of the Cross.

  – But that’s exactly what happened! — Matthew 27:35–Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”

What a horrible commentary on society!

 – So hardened that there’s little compassion left…………..

   – These men gambled as if nothing else mattered — however, they weren’t the only gamblers at the Cross!

Look through the crowd—many were engrossed in this morbid scene — people with much at stake in this bloody drama of terror.


Annas, Caiaphas — all the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin — they hated Jesus!

– He was destroying their comfortable religious system that served them so well!

The Pharisees and Sadducees had never gotten along.

    – They disputed religion, politics, theology — every issue.

The main difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees was their differing opinions on the supernatural aspects of religion.

    – The Pharisees believed in the supernatural–angels, demons, heaven, hell, the after-life and so on–while the Sadducees did not.  That’s why they were SO-SAD-U-SEE.

      – There was no love-loss between the two factions.

      – Now, they were suddenly united in their common hatred of Jesus! — He had to go!

It’s odd how common hatred can bring former enemies together.

– There were two old ladies in Grand Coulee who couldn’t stand each other and were always at each other’s throat.

– One day they discovered that neither of them could stand me and somehow this common hatred of the young preacher brought them together………..

–  Islam has a teaching: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend!.”

The brains of the “Let’s Murder Jesus Movement” were the priests — they found allies in the Pharisees who eagerly threw their influence with those who wanted to crucify Jesus.

The Pharisees lit the fire under the mob’s emotions causing them to boil forth with the cry, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”

The Pharisees hurled arguments at Jesus while the mob howled for His destruction.

    – There was a herd-mentality.

      – People weren’t interested in right or wrong.

        – People ran on raw emotion with no thought or facts to back their actions.

THEY DIDN’T NEED REASON! — They were controlled by emotions which blazed into fury.

We see it today!

    – People following the herd — not caring what’s right or wrong, just caught up in what everybody else is doing.

    – The “protests,” actually riots, that are being staged over “police brutality.”

Coca Cola used to have the slogan, “Ten million people can’t be wrong!”

– They are if they’re on the wrong path!—the majority of the world’s population’s going to Hell!

Matthew 7:13-14–“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

14  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

The Jewish leaders didn’t want Jesus upsetting their system and gambled they could get rid of Him so they could continue their worship of self and selfish ambition.

People gamble today.

    – They know they need Jesus, but their plans seem more important right now!

      – If they can silence Jesus He won’t bother them so much.

The Jews gambled they could reject and destroy Jesus, but the Jewish Leaders lost their gamble and the stakes were high!

Everyone who gambles on pushing Jesus away and remaining selfish and sinful will lose.

    – The stakes are just as high today. — Mark 8:36–For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 


    – Funny!  Things were more crucial than he’d first thought.

      – Jesus didn’t seem like someone who’d work the crowd into this frenzy.

He seemed quiet, not at all a trouble maker.

He had no money — He was homeless.

    – His followers were fishermen, tax collectors — very simple men.

      – They didn’t seem a threat to anybody — especially Rome.

Why were the Jewish Leaders so bent on killing Jesus?

    – He felt Jesus’ calmness.

      – He heard the mob outside — they were about to riot!

He knew Jesus was innocent.

    – He’d tried to avoid the issue by sending Jesus to Herod — Herod sent Him back!

Pilate’s wife had dreamed about Jesus and sent word to him to have nothing to do with this man!

Pilate compromised and had Jesus flogged — hoping to satisfy the blood lust of the mob — that wasn’t enough! — The mob demanded crucifixion!

Finally, because he didn’t know what to do — and he feared the crowd — Pilate sent for a basin of water.

    – Matthew 27:24–When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

The Jews answered — Matthew 27:25–And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

In one bold stroke they called the wrath of vengeance down on themselves and their children.

That was the cry which wrote the bloody history of the Jews through the centuries.

    – That cry stained the Jewish path through hundreds of years with blood.

      – Destruction of Jerusalem. A.D.  70

        – Spanish Inquisition.  1478-1834  (up to 130,000 people were tortured and executed.)

         – Nazi Germany.  1933-1945 (6 million perished)

The Jews have paid dearly as the result of that horrible cry for Christ’s Blood.

    – I’m not anti-Semitic, but I see these people got what they asked for.

      – Parents and grandparents need to be careful for their children’s sake………

Pilate thought he’d side-stepped Christ.

    – Pilate couldn’t side-step Jesus

      – NEITHER CAN YOU………………………….


   – Judas had been with Jesus from the beginning of His public ministry — 3 years!

      – He had plans and aspirations about who Jesus was and what Jesus could do for him.

        – Judas had gotten greedy and critical.

    – Judas wasn’t serving God — he was serving self.

      – Like people today who whine, “The Church isn’t meeting my needs.”

        – That’s not the Church’s goal — we’re to meet God’s needs………….

          – Judas could’ve met Christ’s needs by being faithful and obedient.

    – Judas never grasped the truth that “God’s ways are best ways.”

      – He betrayed innocent Blood.

        – Couldn’t stand the guilt and hung himself.

        – Judas gambled and lost—“Be sure your sins will find you out!”


2 other men were dying beside Christ on crosses that day — Luke 23:39-43–Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”

40  But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?

41  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

42  Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

43  And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Jesus invited both to join His Kingdom.

      – One thief gambled that Jesus was who He said He was and accepted the invitation.

      – That was the best decision of his life…………

      – Like most dying men this thief prayed.

       – He reached the place where even in his unbelief he called for redemption from the curse of hanging on the cross.

The other thief railed and cursed at Jesus echoing the mocking mob.

    – Like men in tragedies of sea, storms, avalanches or other sudden accidents, he called for  help which could only come from God.

      – But look at his prayer—selfish, packed with doubt — Luke 23:39–Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ,  save Yourself and us.”

        – No repentance, no godly sorrow, no sign of change of attitude.

    – He filled his voice with the railing accusations of the mockeries being hurled at Jesus.

     – God doesn’t listen to prayers like that.

     – He wasn’t sincere about turning to God—just desperate to get relief………….

    – His voice dripped with doubt as he prayed, “If Thou be!”

     – He heard the crowd and gambled they were right — this dying man couldn’t help him.

        – So close! — But he gambled with the majority and missed the “sure thing.”

    – He should’ve listened to the man on the other cross—he’d be in Paradise with Jesus instead of eternally damned in Hell.


    – John and Mary

      – They chanced being arrested — it might have meant their lives.

        – They loved Jesus too much to dessert Him.

          – They were willing to stand and be counted for Christ — US TODAY?

    – Peter was afraid to take a chance.

      – He hid (broken hearted) — Peter lost out — Christ later forgave him.


    – He gave up everything with no guarantee anyone would respond.

      – He left Heaven!

    – He became a man — John 3:16–For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The only convert He knew for certain would be in Paradise was the thief who accepted His invitation.

He suffered, bled and died — not knowing if anybody would pay attention.

    – We’re free-moral agents — He had no guarantee we’d respond.

Jesus died on that old rugged cross because He loved you and me — when we were unlovely!

    – We were lost and on our way to Hell!

He had to offer us a chance at Heaven — forgiveness—Sonship — Eternal Life.



Are you like those calloused soldiers—gambling at the foot of the Cross while the most important event in history was taking place?

Maybe you’re one of those people who know you need the Lord, but you want to wait for a more convenient time to accept Him.





Wretched Man That I Am!

by Jeremiah Johnson June 24, 2015

Every believer understands the frustration, confusion, and doubt caused by our sin after we’re saved. We know we’ve been transformed through the power of God’s redeeming work. He’s changed our nature and set us free from the dominion of sin and Satan. But we don’t always live in the reality of that freedom. In fact, we sometimes get the sense that we’re still wicked sinners, and that nothing has changed at all.

Apostolic Exasperation

That angst over remaining sin is probably best described by the apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25.

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

That passage has puzzled scholars and theologians throughout the history of the church. Is Paul describing himself before Christ, or is he talking about someone else—perhaps someone with very little spiritual maturity, or a believer still caught in sin’s grasp? Or is this passage an indication that Paul was mentally unstable, as he seems to drift between two contradictory mindsets? The mind that has not been illuminated by the Holy Spirit likely cannot make any sense of Paul’s confessional self-description.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

In his book The Gospel According to the Apostles, John MacArthur helps us answer some of those questions and understand the inner conflict Paul describes.

This is no carnal Christian or someone with a low degree of sanctification. Paul’s repeated use of the personal pronoun in this context emphasizes that this was his own personal experience. The verb tenses show that he did not consider himself past this stage. The conflict that he describes here was one he knew well—even as an advanced Christian. God’s sanctifying work in his heart is clearly evident. He says he hates his sin (v. 15). He loves righteousness (vv. 19, 21). He delights in the law of God from his heart (v. 22). He thanks God for the deliverance that is his in Christ (v. 25). Those are all responses of a mature Christian, in this case as seasoned apostle; not someone floundering in the throes of a desperate state of established carnality. In fact, it is the description of a godly man whose occasional sin feels like a constant thing when set against the backdrop of his holy longings.

Romans 7:14-25 thus describes the human side of the sanctifying process. We must not set it against Romans 8, as some do, imagining that these chapters describe two separate stages of Christian growth. They simply give two different perspectives on sanctification. Romans 7 is the human perspective; Romans 8 is the divine perspective. Romans 7 is Paul’s own testimony of how it is to live as a Spirit-controlled, spiritually grounded believer. He loved the holy law of God with his whole heart, yet he found himself wrapped in human flesh and unable to fulfill it the way his heart wanted to. Are there Christians anywhere who are so spiritual that they can testify to a life lived above this level? [1]

For believers, the push and pull the apostle describes is a common, even frequent occurrence. We understand hating sin even while we’re sinning. We recognize the compulsion to return to the very sins the Lord has saved us from. And we can appreciate how the remaining stains of our sinful past cause us to question whether we’ve truly been transformed at all.

An Unlikely Source of Assurance

But in the midst of that frustration, John MacArthur says we ought to find encouragement and assurance.

All true believers should be living at precisely this level, struggling with the tension Paul describes between an ever-increasing hunger for righteousness on the one hand, and a growing sensitivity to sin on the other. Though the degree of sin will vary depending on one’s level of spiritual maturity, sin in the genuine believer should always make him or her feel the conflict Paul describes in these verses. [2]

In a slightly ironic twist, the believer’s frustration over his sin and lack of spiritual growth is a strong indication that he is growing spiritually. In fact, it’s the believer who doesn’t have this inner struggle who needs to be concerned.

Though some have tried to claim they live above Romans 7, they only reveal their own insensitivity to the pervasive effects of sin in the flesh. If they would honestly measure themselves against God’s standards of righteousness, they would realize how far they fall short. The closer we get to God, the more we see our own sin. Only immature, fleshly, and legalistic persons can live under the illusion that they measure up well by God’s standards. The level of spiritual insight, brokenness, contrition, and humility that characterizes the person depicted in Romans 7 are marks of a spiritual and mature believer who before God has no trust in his own goodness and achievements.

So Romans 7 is not the cry of a carnal Christian who cares not of righteousness, but the lament of a godly Christian who, at the height of spiritual maturity, nevertheless finds himself unable to live up to the holy standard. It is also the experience of every genuine believer at every stage of spiritual development. [3]

We need to take great comfort in the fact that the struggle against our flesh is an indication of victory over the flesh. Paul was no ordinary believer—he encountered Christ face-to-face; he was whisked away to see the glories of heaven; he witnessed and performed miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. In spite of all that, he still struggled with sin, and longed to be free of the fleshly shackles of his former nature, crying out, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).

That was not a helpless exclamation—he already knew the answer, as he immediately identifies His Savior: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Romans 7:25). Paul’s confidence was not in himself or his righteousness, but in God’s triumph over sin, producing a settled hope of heaven’s glory. He made that clear just few paragraphs later in Romans 8:18-19.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

His assurance was rooted in the character and promises of God, and he knew that the Lord would not abandon His transforming work in His people before it was completed. “These whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:30).

He made the same reassuring point in his epistles to the church at Corinth. He wrote, “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. . . . But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:5357). “While we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4).

The struggle against sin is a good thing, so long as you continue to struggle. It’s a lifelong battle, but as John MacArthur points out, one that bears significant fruit.

Yet for now the battle goes on. Full deliverance awaits glorification. Victory here and now is only possible bit by bit as we mortify the deeds of the body through the power of the Holy Spirit: “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). “For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).

We are bound to be frustrated by our inability to experience holiness to the degree we desire. That is the inevitable experience of every true saint of God. Because of our flesh we can never in this life achieve the level of holiness to which we aspire. “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). But that hope further inflames our aspirations to holiness. [4]

In The Gospel According to the Apostles, John closes his chapter on Romans 7 by quoting 1 John 3:2-3. It’s a good reminder that while the holiness we long for sometimes feels a long way off, it is never in doubt.

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Next time we’ll bring our discussion of sin, grace, and righteousness full circle, as we consider the believer’s adoption into the family of God.

VIDEO I Am the Resurrection and the Life, Part 3

John MacArthur Sep 28, 2014

For now, we open our Bibles to John 11.  The whole chapter is about one event, and that is the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  Lazarus was a member of a little family.  We only know three members of the family; Lazarus and his two sisters.  We don’t know anything else.  We don’t know a lot about them except that they were a host family to Jesus and that He had come to know them very well to the degree that He not only loved them with a spiritual and divine love, but He loved them with a personal affection because the Greek verb, phile is used to describe His affections for that family, and in particular, for Lazarus.

So He had gotten to know them.  They were a group of believers who believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.  They believed He was the one who had come down from heaven.  Martha gives testimony to that in the chapter verses 25 and following.  So this is a family that He had come to know and for whom He not only had divine love, the love that He has for His children, but for whom He had personal affection.  That drew out of Him, a very painful experience when He came to the tomb and stepped into the situation of all these people who had come around to mourn and weep and wail over the loss of this family.  Mary and Martha were weeping and sorrowful over the loss of their dear brother. 

Jesus stepped into that situation, and it wasn’t just them weeping; it was a huge crowd, chapter 11 tells us, of mourners there.  There would always be professional wailers, people who did that very well and sort of ignited the wailing.  Then there would be the legitimate weepers and wailers and mourners who were sorrowful.  They apparently came from many, many places.  In verse 19 it says, “Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.” 

This particular initial sadness lasted seven days in the Jewish tradition, and then they would kind of go back to their own homes, but sort of commit themselves to being available for comfort and consolation for a period of at least 30 days.  This is a community event that is going on, and Jesus steps into it.  Lazarus has been in the ground four days, and by 72 hours complete decomposition has set in, as I laid out for you in our last discussion about it. 

Jesus arrives, and He comes to the tomb.  He is sorrowful.  He is sad.  There are verbs here that describe a kind of sorrow that’s really almost abnormal.  It isn’t just that He’s weeping because He lost a friend.  It isn’t just that He’s weeping because He sees the pain of these two ladies over the loss of their brother.  He’s not weeping because the community feels bad about it.  It is a kind of agony.  It is a kind of wrenching experience for Jesus that comes because He collects all the data that is visible in this event. 

He not only loses a friend in this; He not only sees that sorrow, but He’s able to process immediately the sorrow of every death in every human relationship in every human family.  He can project His omniscience to grasp all of human sorrow and suffering in the face of death.  Not only that, He’s surrounded by unbelief, a whole nation of unbelievers and even by the tomb and in the home there, a group of unbelievers.  So He’s literally engulfed in unbelief.  He also grasps the reality of death and eternal punishment and eternal judgment.

So this is an agonizing moment for Jesus, matched only by His agony in the garden where He comes into a face to face confrontation with sin, which He Himself will bear.  This takes His horror to another level, but here I think is the greatest agony in the life of Jesus up to this point as He faces the deadly reality and the eternal consequence of death and how far-reaching it is.  In the agony, He comes to the tomb and in verse 43 He says, “‘Lazarus, come forth.’  The man who died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him and let him go.’”  And the curtain falls.  We don’t know anything more about that scene.  We have no further information.

Tradition says he lived another 30 years.  Maybe that’s true.  Certainly, he lived for a while.  This was not a temporary resurrection in that sense, in a human sense.  We don’t know anything about the reunion of Mary and Martha.  We don’t know anything about the shock and awe that must have just literally roared through the mourners.  We don’t know anything about that.  We don’t know anything about the conversations that Lazarus had after this.  You can imagine the questions. “Lazarus, where were you?  Can you tell us where you were and what was it like?”  Maybe, maybe he had the same response that the apostle Paul had when he had his trip to heaven in 2 Corinthians 12.  He was caught up into the third heaven, you remember, but he said, “I saw things too wonderful to speak of, and it’s not profitable to speak of them anyway.”

Paul had been to heaven, and nobody could get out of him what that was like.  We have no information.  Why not?  Because this isn’t about the psychology of reunion.  This isn’t about the rest of Lazarus’s life.  This isn’t about our curiosity of heaven.  What is this about?  Verse 4 says, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

All we’re interested in is the glory of the Son, and when He said, “Lazarus, come out,” and in a moment Lazarus was standing there, that’s the point of the story.  The rest is irrelevant.  In fact, in verse 40, Jesus says to Martha, “Didn’t I say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” and they did.  The purpose of this was to bring glory to God, and glory to God incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

So when the curtain fell last Sunday for us at the end of verse 44 and the scene ends.  So we pick it up in verse 45.  This is an important final section, final scene in this incredible drama.  But before we look at it, I’m going to tell you, this is the aftermath.  This is the effect.  Here come the responses, and they are predictable.  They are predictable because we’ve seen them all through the gospel of John and we see them all through the other gospels. 

But before we look at that, I want to remind you about a statement made by Peter.  Peter was preaching in Jerusalem in the temple, in the temple courtyard with the masses of Jewish people there.  It was his second sermon after the ascension of Christ, after the Day of Pentecost, after the birth of the church, the second great apostolic sermon.  He indicts the Jews with an astonishing accusation, paradoxical, ironic.  He says to them, “You killed the Author of life.  You killed the Author of life,” Acts 3:15.  Some translations say the Prince of life.  That’s the old traditional one, but it’s the word archgon and that means, “the author.”  That means, “The founder.”  That means, “The source.”

How ironic.  You killed the life giver.  We learned that from John 1, “In Him was life.”  John 1, “Nothing was made without Him because He made everything that was made.”  He says, “I am the resurrection and the life.  I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  He doesn’t give life.  He is life.  You killed the Author of life.  More ironically, Peter said, “And you desired a killer to be released to you.  You killed the Author of life, and you gave life to a killer.”  How bizarre.  That’s the nature of unbelief, and the crime has no parallel really.  It is without equal in its heinousness.

It had been the desire of the religious leaders in Israel and all who followed their lead to kill Jesus for a long time.  They’d been wanting to do that for years, a couple of years.  It now reaches a point where they cannot let Him live any longer.  This miracle is the final boiling point.  They can’t let it go any further, and so this raising of Lazarus, perhaps the week before the Passover, that close, triggers their desire to kill Him now and not wait, which is in perfect accord with God’s plan; because God wants Him to be the sacrificial Lamb the next week on Friday at the Passover.  They don’t know that, of course, but they’re not operating on their schedule.  They’re operating on God’s.  They had tried to kill Him many times before that unsuccessfully, but now after this miracle, which is the seventh great miracle that John chronicles in his gospel, after this, they can’t wait any longer.

In fact, it’s all sort of summed up as you note down into verse 47 when they call a counsel and they say, “What are we doing?  We’ve got to act.  We cannot let this man – ” verse 48, “ – go on like this.”  Completely oblivious to the fact that He raised a dead man on top of everything else.  Now remember, it is a radical claim for someone to say He is God and is to be summarily rejected no matter who says it with one exception – that’s Jesus. 

He said He was God, and then He demonstrated the truth of that claim.  Now, you have two choices.  You can believe or not believe.  When He said He was God, He was either telling the truth or lying.  You can look at the evidence and there’s plenty of it in the four gospels and the testimony of the rest of the New Testament and the testimony of the Old Testament leading up to it, and the testimony of the living church ever since.  There’s plenty of evidence that what He claimed is true, and there is no indication that what He said is false.  You can look at the evidence, but you only have two options.  You believe or you don’t believe.  There’s no third possibility.  There’s no safe middle ground. 

Luke 11:23 Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is – ” what? “ – against Me.”  And all the evidence demands belief, belief; all the evidence of Scripture.  Still, no matter what He did, no matter what He said, no matter how the evidence made the case clear, unmistakable, undeniable, they hated Him, the leaders did.  It was an aggressive kind of unbelief.  It was a hostile kind of unbelief.  It was a violent kind of unbelief.  They tried to stone Him to death in Nazareth after one sermon in His own hometown. 

They accused Him over and again of being demon-possessed, of being under the power of Satan.  They said He was a violator of the Law of God and a violator of their religious law and tradition.  They said He was a blasphemer.  They said He was a drunkard.  They said He was a friend of sinners, the low-life crowd who were outcasts.  They said His teaching was unacceptable, His authority was self-invented.  Everything that they viewed Him as being led them to the need to kill Him.  That’s the hostile unbelief.

There’s another kind of unbelief.  There were a lot of people who followed Him because of His miracles and they were curious and they were fascinated, and they were interested, and they even were healed and fed, but it was superficial.  They’re like the ones in John 6, who when He started speaking very clearly and very demandingly, it says that, “Many of His disciples walked no more with Him.”  There was that kind of unbelief that isn’t hostile.  It isn’t violent.  It isn’t angry.  It isn’t murderous.  It’s just indifferent.  It was that kind of attitude to which our Lord spoke in Matthew 11:20-24 when He said, “You’re in some serious trouble, you folks around Galilee because if what had been done in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and the cities around Galilee had been done in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would have repented.  You’ve seen enough to have a very high level of accountability to God.  You are in serious trouble.”

It’s not a safe place to be curious.  It’s not a safe place to be a nominal believer in Jesus, to feel sentimental about Him.  That’s a very dangerous place.  You might as well be hostile.  But there are those who were hostile, and those who were just curious or indifferent. 

Thirdly, there were those always who believed, who believed.  They were the few who found the narrow way.  They were the ones Jesus called, “the little flock.”  They were the 12 minus Judas, who left everything to follow Him.  They were those like Martha, Mary, and Lazarus who confessed that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, the one who came down from heaven. 

There were those who repented like Zacchaeus, like the Samaritans in the village of Sychar, like the royal official and his household in John chapter 4.  They were like the blind man in John 9 who believed, and then many in chapter 10, across the Jordan where Jesus went with His disciples and proclaimed His messiahship and many believed.  There were others. 

There definitely was a little flock of believers.  So these were the responses that we’ve seen in the gospel of John and they’re in Matthew, Mark, and Luke as well.  There is belief and unbelief, and two kinds of unbelief.  I guess maybe unbelief on a spectrum all the way from being extremely hostile to being only marginally curious, but it’s still unbelief.  As we come to verse 45 then, we leave the scene behind us.  The curtain falls, as I said, and we now meet these three groups.  We meet the believers.  We meet the violent haters, and then we meet the indifferent people. 

So we have here at the end of this chapter, a microcosm of what you see through the whole ministry of Jesus and actually what you see even today.  There are people, of course, now and you’re among them who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, there are people who are violently hostile to Him, violently aggressively hateful toward Him.  Then there is that massive people who have some sort of marginal, sentimental attitude; equally damning.

Let’s meet group one, verse 45.  “Therefore, many of the Jews who came to Mary and saw what He had done, believed in Him.”  Here is the “many.”  Let’s just call them the “many.”  They believed in Him.  Who are these “many”?  Back to verse 19, which I read earlier.  “Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.”  Now, I told you this is a fairly substantial family.  They live in a town called Bethany two miles east near the Mount of Olives, around the side of the Mount of Olives.  Folks from Jerusalem can easily come.  They are sort of on a highway from Jericho to the city, which is traversed a lot, so they’re easy access.  People knew them.  They knew who they were. 

You’ve got not only villagers in Bethany, but you’ve got people coming out of Jerusalem to visit with them.  The indication is they were a relatively substantial family.  They show up later and show that they have some means.  I don’t know what the number is.  Maybe it’s dozens.  Maybe it’s multiple of 20.  Maybe it’s 100 or more.  I don’t know what the “many” is, but many mourners came, and they have been there now four days already, filling up the first seven days when everybody would be there.  Now the resurrection has happened, and the mourners are still there.  They have known the family.  They have known Lazarus.  They know he was dead.  They know he’s been in the grave four days.  They know what that means because Jews don’t embalm.  They get it. 

He comes out of the grave.  The miracle is so clear, unmistakable, undeniable.  Their hearts open to the reality that this is truly who Martha said it is.  He is the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who came down from heaven, God incarnate.  They also believe the way she believed.  We have to assume that theirs is a genuine belief because that’s what’s indicated in verse 26.  “Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  Martha says, “Yes, I believe,” and here we find in verse 45, “Many of the Jews believed.” 

We assume that the verb in the same context has the same significance and the same meaning.  They believed.  They believed, and rightly they should believe.  What would you believe if you saw that?  Clearly, they believed.  They had seen the glory of God.  They had seen the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ, if you will, to borrow Paul’s language.  They’re convinced.  Now, not all believing is legitimate, but genuine belief is mentioned in chapter 1, verse 12, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even those who believed in His name.” 

They believed and they were given the right to become children of God.  Their sins were forgiven.  They were redeemed.  They became the children of God.  They ceased being the children of the devil.  They are the believing many, many in a relative sense.  Many of the number that were there; not many of the nation.  Many of the number that were there.  They believed. 

There is a kind of believing that doesn’t save.  If you go back to chapter 2 of John, you will remember this.  In John 2:23, He was in Jerusalem at the Passover.  This is the beginning of His ministry, and many believed in His name.  Many believed in His name, “Observing His signs, His miracles He was doing.  But Jesus on His part was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men and because He didn’t need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” 

He knew that the kind of believing that was in them was not sufficient to save them.  It wasn’t sufficient to make a genuine connection, and it’s illustrated in the next two verses.  “One of those who believed was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night,” and he tells Him what they believed.  “Rabbi, we know you’ve come from God as a Teacher, for no one could do the signs unless God is with Him.”  They believed He was a Teacher.  That’s true.  That’s not sufficient.  That’s true.  That’s not enough.  He didn’t say, “You’re the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who came down from heaven,” like Martha did.

So there’s a kind of faith that is superficial.  It’s not enough.  It’s not sufficient.  We see it again in chapter 6.  Disciples following Him, listening to Him, who turn and go the other way and walk no more with Him, a superficial, temporary kind of belief, like the seed sown in the rocky soil and the weedy soil.  It never produces fruit and it dies.  In chapter 8, you see this same kind of thing again.  This may be more characteristic of the superficial indifferent group that we’ll see in a minute than anything. 

John 8:30, “Many came to believe in Him.”  Many.  Well, what kind of faith is it?  What does it mean to believe?  Jesus said to them, the Jews who believed Him, “If you continue in My Word, then you’re truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  You’re not free from sin.  You’re not free from judgment.  You’re not free from everlasting punishment yet, but if you continue down this path, you will come to the knowledge of the truth that saves.  So there is a kind of faith that can be only initial, only a kind of beginning faith that isn’t sufficient to save. 

But in the case we have here, I think we have to interpret the believing here in the context of the believing that our Lord spoke of and saw illustrated in Martha early in the chapter.  There is here a wonderful thing going on.  Now, mark this.  We’re maybe the week before the death of Christ, and there’s a flurry of things happening to the souls of people.  Before Jesus came, a week before that, He had been beyond the Jordan and many were believing in Him there.  That’s what we saw at the end of chapter 10. 

So in the last weeks of His life, as He preaches the gospel and puts on display His sovereign power, many are believing.  Here, there’s actually a great encouragement of conversion and regeneration at the funeral of Lazarus.  That’s group one.  Throughout all of the history of the gospel and the proclamation of Scripture and the reading of Scripture, there will be those who believe.  The Lord has His people everywhere in the world.  He’ll draw them out of every tongue and tribe and people and nation.

Group two is the murderers.  Group one is the “many.”  Group two is the murderers.  They take up the bulk of the rest of this section, verse 46.  The Pharisees were very powerful.  They basically were the architects of Judaistic synagogue religion.  They had the power over the populous.  They had the control over the people.  They dominated the people with their laws and rules and Sabbath restrictions and restraints.  The people pretty much knuckled under the Pharisees.  If you didn’t do that, you got thrown out of the synagogue, and if you got thrown out of the synagogue you were a pariah.  You were cut off from all social contact.  You might as well be a leper. 

So everybody sort of took whatever abuse the Pharisees laid out in order to stay in the system.  Some of those people, some of those Pharisaical sycophants are there mourning at this event.  When they see what’s going on, they decide to report to the Pharisees.  So, verse 46, “Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.”  What did they tell them?  He raised the dead.  It’s what He did.  He went to the tomb.  Gave them the story, He raised this guy who had been dead.  He was really dead.  We know he was dead.  He raised him from the dead.  They gave the report.

They are concerned more about the Pharisees than they are about their own souls.  This is what false religion does.  False religion allows you to give up your own soul to please somebody who is the destroyer of your soul.  That’s what false religion does.  So they report.  They saw the miracle.  They described the miracle.  With a sinister intention, they tell the Pharisees.  Knowing how much the Pharisees hate Jesus already, and knowing that this is going to enrage them even further, but they’re complicit with the Pharisees because they’ve sold their souls to the devil. 

This is the hardness of the human heart in the face of literally overwhelming evidence.  Evidence means nothing.  Evidence means nothing.  Why do they hate Jesus so much?  Jesus said that in John 7, “The world hates Me because I testify to it that its deeds are evil.”  They hated Him because He told them they were evil, not evil in their sin, but evil in their religion.  Sure, evil in their sin.  Sinners can usually take that.  If you tell them they’re evil in their sin, they can handle it, but you tell them they’re evil in their righteousness, and they’ll hate you for it.

You see the depths of unbelief, the profound fortress of anti-God ideology and ideas in religion.  God had put His glory on display through His Son.  They didn’t see it.  So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, verse 47.  They called together either a sort of a quorum of the Sanhedrin or the Sanhedrin itself, which was the religious tribunal, the ultimate supreme court of Israel.  They called together a meeting of the chief priests.  They would be the Sadducees and the Pharisees.  This is made up of the religious elite, people with money and power and influence convening a council, and this is where they say, “What are we doing?  We have to stop talking.  Why – ” as they say in verse 48 “ – are we letting this man go on like this?  We’ve got to stop Him.” 

Do they fear the political implications?  Not in reality.  They just hate what He says.  They just hate what He says.  “What are we doing?  We have to stop talking.  We have to act.”  So, as John Calvin puts it, they come up with a plausible disguise.  They create a theoretical, imaginary disaster because they want Jesus dead.  They don’t believe this, but they invent it.  This is it: “For this man is performing many signs.”  Now, there you have it folks.  The testimony of the people who hated Jesus, that what He was doing was miraculous. 

Why are there liberals living now who deny the miracles when the enemies of Jesus who were there don’t even deny them?  Nobody denied them.  He’s performing many miraculous feats.  “If we let Him go on like this – ” here’s their thing “ – all men will believe in Him.”  That is political hyperbole.  That sounds like a politician to me.  Everybody will believe, and the Romans will come and take away both our place, and our nation will lose our position, will lose our power, will lose our nation.  Talk about a doomsday scenario.  This is the end of everything.  We can’t allow this to go on.  We’ve got to stop.  We’ve got to act or we’re going to lose it all.  This is an idea concocted as a pretense to kill Jesus for His teaching, which tore at the fabric of their system. 

By the way, this is the same exact thing they say to Pilot later.  “Well, if you don’t crucify Jesus, you’re no friend of –” who?  “ – Caesar,” because Jesus is going to lead a revolution, and it’s not going to make Caesar happy.  The apostles went to Thessalonica in Acts 17, and Paul and Silas are preaching in the synagogues, and Jews are believing and believing.  But some of the Jews didn’t believe, and they’re furious about what’s going on.  This happened in the synagogue with the Jews in Thessalonica.  They’re furious, so they start to go after the Christians.  They go to the house of Jason, and they drag him out of the house, and they’re starting this persecution, and how do they defend this bizarre behavior?  They defend it with these words: “They all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there’s another king.”  They stirred up the crowd.

The Jews doing the same thing long after this in the book of Acts saying the Christians are going to start a revolution and the Romans are going to come, and there’s going to be a huge conflict, and we’re going to lose our freedom.  They knew Jesus wasn’t a revolutionary.  What did Jesus say?  “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  Give to God what is God’s.”  Jesus never picked up a sword.  Jesus never started a revolution.  Jesus wasn’t anti-Roman.  Jesus didn’t try to free the slaves.  Jesus didn’t try to balance economics.  Jesus didn’t get caught up in social justice.  Jesus didn’t start an army.  He didn’t call people to defend Him.  He was meek.  He was gentle.  He was compassionate.  He didn’t go around killing people.  He went around making dead people live. 

They knew.  They knew, but this was a ploy.  We’ve got to create a massive potential scenario here so that we can justify killing Jesus, or else everybody is going to believe in Him, which again is another testimony to the validity of His miracles.  His worse enemies, the very people who really crucified Him using the hands of the Romans, believed in His miracles.  They had no other choice. 

So, Caiaphas steps up.  Caiaphas, despicable guy, who was the son-in-law of Annas.  Annas had previously been the high priest.  Caiaphas is in that office because Rome allowed him to be there.  He knows that.  Rome has the power to depose any high priest.  Now, if you go to the Old Testament, you can go back into instruction in the Old Testament Mosaic Law about the high priest.  It was an office for life essentially.  There are comments made in the Old Testament about what happens, certain things happened when a high priest died.  It signaled a significant event.  So the office of high priest in its primal sense was to be for life.  It didn’t always work out that way, but that was the ideal. 

Contrast that with the fact that Josephus tell us from the time of Herod the Great, just around the time we move from B.C. to A.D., Herod the Great comes in.  Between Herod the Great and 70 A.D. when Jerusalem is destroyed, less than 100 years, there are 28 high priests, 28 high priests.  This is a revolving door.  This is a power position.  This is a political position.  People are vying and buying and selling this position.  You even have references in the New Testament to Annas and Caiaphas both being high priest at the same time. 

It was supposed to be much more strict than that.  Caiaphas, as I said, was Annas’s son-in-law.  It sort of stayed in the family at this particular point.  But Caiaphas, this guy who was there because he’s not a threat to Rome, knows his position is only his as long as he pleases Rome, uses that as a ploy.  By the way, I think it’s interesting that it mentions a little later – I’ll comment more on that – but in verse 51, being high priest “that year.”  It’s just something about that “that year” that grabbed because “that year” was the final year of any legitimate high priest or any illegitimate high priest.  Why?  Because it was a week later or so that the veil was shredded and the priestly system was null and void.  He is the last of, I guess you could say, somewhat official high priest.

Now, this shows up as we follow the history that the office sort of declined and continued to drift and be bought and sold.  By the time you get to the 23rd chapter of Acts, the apostle Paul is called before the Sanhedrin.  It was many years later and he is confronted in this council.  It’s worth reading this.  “Paul looked at the council – ” Acts 23, “ – and said, ‘Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God to this day.’  The high priest Ananias commanded those standing by to smack him on the mouth.”  Wow, whack him on the mouth.  For what?  For saying, “I’ve lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God until this day.”

So this guy whacks Paul in the mouth.  Paul responds.  “God’s going to strike you, you whitewashed wall!”  You know, honestly, there’s something about that I like.  I just have to confess that.  “‘God smite you, you whitewashed wall!  Do you sit to try me according to the law and in violation of the law order me to be struck?’  But the bystanders said, ‘Do you revile God’s high priest?’  Paul says, ‘I wasn’t even aware he was the high priest.’”  Now that will tell you what the high priesthood had descended to.  He didn’t even know who it was.  He didn’t even know who the high priest was.  There shouldn’t even have been a high priest.  So whatever this thing was, it was high priest with lower case “h” and a lower case “p” and high only in the mind of whoever bought the office. 

So that kind of corruption starts with Herod, who appoints three or four of the early ones, and then the Romans appoint the rest.  One of them Caiaphas says, “You know nothing at all.”  That’s autocratic speech at its best.  You’re all ignorant.  Aren’t you glad I’m here?  “You know nothing at all.”  I’ve got the answer to everything.  “Nor do you take into account that it is expedient.”  He’s talking to the Sanhedrin, the elite.  “It is expedient – ” not just, not righteous, not correct, not right, but expedient, beneficial “ – for you that one man die for the people and that the whole nation not perish.”

“Don’t you get it?” he says.  It’s beneficial.  Under the guise of being a noble politician, under the guise of Jewish nationalism and patriotism, this unscrupulous man is trying to get rid of the biggest obstacle to his own power, popularity, and theology, and that is this Jesus Christ.  He wants him dead, and he says, “Don’t you get it?  If we don’t kill Him, we all die.”  Again, more political nonsense and hyperbole.  Either one man, Jesus, perishes or the whole nation perishes. 

So, the conclusion of the council is follow the wishes of the high priest.  Follow the wishes of the high priest.  That’s going to be the plan.  We’ve got to kill Jesus to save the nation or we’re going to have a revolution, and the Romans are going to come.  We’re going to lose our power.  We’re going to lose our nation.  They’re going to massacre us. 

So, look at the words again.  Verse 50, “It is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.”  Jesus must die to save the nation.  Jesus must die to save the nation.  If we kill Jesus, we save the nation.  How strangely true is that statement?  But not in the way that he thought.  The words of Caiaphas have a deep resonating reality of truth that he never even understood.  But notice the next verse, verse 51, “Now, he didn’t say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”

Do you know what this man did, this autocratic, self-exalting, dictatorial, brutal, sly, corrupt man?  He gave a clear statement on the substitutionary atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  He talks about substitutionary atonement.  He has no idea what he’s saying.  Not surprising.  God used the mouth of Cyrus to give a prophecy.  God used the mouth of a false prophet Balaam.  God used the mouth of Balaam’s jackass to speak for Him.  There are no limits to what God can do.  He had no idea what he was talking about.  He meant one thing, but God meant something different.

“There are many devices,” says Proverbs, “in a man’s heart, nevertheless, the council of the Lord shall stand.”  Or Joseph’s word in Genesis 50, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”  This is a divine irony.  By the way, nothing in Scripture says that the high priest had any prophetic gift.  Nowhere, no.  This isn’t an actual prophecy that he gave.  This is not that at all.  This is not a power that belongs to the high priest.  He said what he said.  It just so happened that God ordered every word and gave it a completely different meaning, but every word was correct.  This is a backdoor into understanding verbal inspiration, verbal inspiration.

An illustration, by the way, of how Scripture is given.  When the Bible writers write, they write their own words, but God controls their own words just as in this bizarre sort of almost anti-illustration.  He says his own words, but God orders every word.  So Caiaphas’s ignorant words, God declares the true impact of the death of Christ.  He will die to save the nation, but not physically, not physically.  Why?  In 70 A.D., they’re all going to perish in the Roman holocaust.  But spiritually, He will die for the salvation of that nation, and not that nation only, “But that He might father together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad in every nation.”  He died for the sins of His children all over the globe. 

Caiaphas’s ignorant, hateful, vengeful, trumped up words are absolutely true.  This gives us a foretaste of what it’s going to be like when we go through the rest of the Passion Week, how every single detail no matter who is doing what for what reason fits into God’s purpose.  He’s just a link in the chain begun by divine decrees until God fulfills His purpose. 

So, verse 53. “From that day forward, that day on, they planned to kill Him.”  Apparently, unanimous vote.  We have to kill Him, save the nation.  Caiaphas’s speech worked.  They decided to kill Him from then on.  Didn’t take them long.  Really didn’t.  They were amped up to put it mildly, and at the end of the next week, they were able to accomplish it in the purpose of God.

There’s a final group to add to these murderers.  The end of the meeting, what’s the final minutes?  What do they write?  Death to the life-giver.  Death to the life-giver.  What a climax.  “Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews.”  He becomes an outlaw, has to escape at least for a few days until He comes back in the next week.  Went away from there to the country near the wilderness into a city called Ephraim.  It’s probably Ephron, which is a town mentioned in 2 Chronicles 13, about 12 miles north of Jerusalem.  So He got about 12 miles walk away, and He went there with His disciples for the days between that day, the raising of Lazarus and the day He came back to the house of Simon and met back with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and came into the city.

That brings us to 55, which is the final group, the multitudes.  They were stirred by Him, but indifferent.  Verse 55, “Now the Passover of the Jews was near.  Many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves.”  The Levitical law laid out in the book of Leviticus, laid out in 2 Chronicles 30 requires all kinds of ceremonial cleanings before you can do Passover.  So they all come pouring in to do this prior to the actual Passover itself.  So they’re pouring into the city.   

They’re gathering in 56 as they were seeking for Jesus.  Why?  Because He was the focal point of the previous two Passovers.  He as the focal point of the previous Passovers?  Where is He?  He was the topic of conversation through the whole nation.  They were saying to each other as they stood in the temple, “What do you think?  That He will not come to the feast at all?”  They know how the leaders feel.  They are very clear about that.  They know He’s hated.  Of course, verse 57, “The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he was to report it so that they might seize Him,” arrest Him.

What can I say about the crowd?  Curious?  Sure.  They knew about Jesus?  Yeah.  Fascinated with Jesus?  Right.  Where is He?  They want to see Him.  They want to see His miracles.  Do you think He’ll show?  He did show.  What happened when He came?  What happened?  Chapter 12 tells us what happened.  They shouted at Him in verse 13, “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.  Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”  Wow, triumphal entry Monday.  By Friday, what were they crying?  “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”  We’re going to live through all of that.

Those are the only options really when it comes to Christ.  You believe and all the evidence supports that you believe or you reject.  You reject with hostility and animosity and anger; or you reject with superficiality and indifference.  But there’s only heaven and there’s only hell.  Whether you reject Jesus with hatred or reject Him with sentimental good feelings, you end up in the same hell.  “You will die in your sins,” Jesus said, “And where I go, you will never come because you believe not on Me.”  Either you believing savingly on Christ or you will perish.  The question is the same question that Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe?”  That’s the question. 

Father, we thank you for the time that we’ve been able to look at this really amazing chapter, and again end up where we always end up in the gospel accounts, facing the decision of all decisions, the choice of all choices; to believe or not believe.  I pray, Lord, that you will produce faith.  We know that faith is a gift of God.  It comes from heaven.  Lord, would you be gracious and grant life and belief to those who are dead in trespasses and sin?  May the realities of the claims of Christ and the evidence come to life so vividly and with such compulsion, and may the reality of heaven and all its joys and hells and all its horrors become real as well. 

May you open minds and hearts to go from either animosity toward Christ or indifference toward Christ to full faith in Him as the only Savior, the only hope of heaven. 

Thank you for the power of your Word.  We are told in the Scripture that the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit convinces us of the truth of Scripture, that the Holy Spirit testifies that we are yours.  And He testifies not above the Scripture, beside the Scripture, but through the Scripture.  We thank you again that the Holy Spirit testifies to the veracity of Scripture through the Scripture itself, through its self-evident truthfulness.  Again, we have seen that today.  Take your truth and pour it into us, and then out from us and use us for your glory.  We pray in Christ’s name.  Amen.

VIDEO I Am the Resurrection and the Life, Part 1

John MacArthur Sep 14, 2014

We return to the story of Lazarus in the eleventh chapter of John, the eleventh chapter of John.  As I told you, this is the final public miracle that Jesus did, and it is the capstone of all His miracles because of the nature of the situation.  This is a remarkable miracle done at a very strategic time just prior to the Passover done in a place called Bethany, which is two miles east of Jerusalem on the road from Jericho that was literally filled with pilgrims heading to the Passover.  So everybody coming that way would have heard the story about Lazarus.  It circulated through the whole city. 

The raising of Lazarus strengthened, in a measure, the faith of the disciples.  It was not enough to cause them to fully believe in our Lord’s resurrection, but I hate to think of what they’d have been without this resurrection because it moved the needle a little bit.  The resurrection of Lazarus gave a preview of the resurrection of Christ, which helped them to believe that it could happen because they had seen His resurrection power in the case of Lazarus. 

The resurrection of Lazarus also was a monumental widespread evidence of His deity.  And the resurrection of Lazarus was so monumental, so widespread, so well-known that it forced the powers in the temple and the leaders of Judaism to press the issue of the execution of Jesus because He was just having way too much influence.  So that’s kind of behind the scene as we arrive at chapter 11.  The whole chapter basically is about this miracle and its results.  So we’ll be looking at that for another couple of weeks. 

I want you to focus in the beginning of our message this morning on two verses in the chapter, verses 25 and 26.  This is really kind of the high point.  This is the essence of what is being conveyed in this miracle.  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?” 

Believing that Jesus is the resurrection and the life is aided by this immense miracle, and that’s why there’s so much detail here and all of the detail is vitally important.  There are a lot of other elements to it as we have been learning and will continue to learn.  But the main focus is to demonstrate that He who is the resurrection and the life is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing in His name brings everlasting joy in heaven.

That’s the whole point of the gospel of John.  “It is written that you might believe and that you might receive eternal life.”  This past week we were again focusing on 9/11 back in the year 2001, something we will not forget in our country.  And as people were talking about 9/11, I was thinking about the first time that I went to visit with Larry King on The Larry King Show immediately after 9/11.  I will never forget out of nowhere the question that he asked me.  There’s no preparation.  There are no preliminary questions that are sent to a person being interviewed, at least they never sent any to me.  I sat down with that camera about 18 inches from my face and looking off the side at Larry, and he fired this question at me.  “What does this mean?  What does this mean?”  All of the holocausts perpetrated by the Islamists on that day, “What does this mean?”  And with no preparation or forethought to this, I immediately blurted out a line that has continued to be repeated.  I said this: “You’re going to die and you’re not in charge of when.” 

This doesn’t have anything to do really with international politics.  This doesn’t have to do with nations coming and going.  It really doesn’t have to do so much with religion.  It doesn’t have to do so much with terrorism.  The message that you need to get here – there are messages about all of that, but the primary message that you need to get is you’re going to die and you’re not in charge of when.  You’re not in charge of where, and you’re not in charge of how.  Even if you decide to kill yourself, you’re not in charge of the circumstances and exigencies that led you to that bad decision in a moment of time, which is irrevocable.  You’re not in charge of your death, and you better be ready when it happens.

Ecclesiastes 8:8 puts it this way, “No man has authority to restrain the wind, so also no man has authority over the day of death.”  Job 18:14 says, “When that day comes, man is torn from the security of his tent, and they march him off before the king of terrors.”  King of terrors is death.  “Job 14:1-2, “Man who is born of woman is short-lived and full of turmoil.  Like a flower he comes forth and withers.  He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.”  Moses says in Psalm 90, “As for the days of our life, they contain 70 years or if due to strength 80 years, and yet their pride is but labor and sorrow for soon it is gone and we fly away.”  1 Timothy 6, “We brought nothing into the world so we cannot take anything out of it either.”          

So is that it?  Is that where evolution has brought us after supposedly billions of years, to this kind of non-existence called death, memory-less non-existence?  If that’s all there is, then all of us are stupid for not being hedonists literally sucking everything out of this world that our lust and pleasure desires.  The problem is that’s a lie.  You are more than protoplasm waiting to become manure.  Every human being will live forever.  Every human being will live forever.  That is the word from the Creator.  That is the word from God.  And not only will you live forever in spirit, but you will live forever in a resurrected bodily form, both in heaven and in hell.  In one place, a body to absorb eternal punishment.  In another place, a body to enjoy eternal bliss.  You will live forever.  You will be raised from the dead.  Every human being will.  In fact, Jesus is the one who will raise everyone. 

You remember earlier in the gospel of John in the fifth chapter, our Lord made it explicitly clear when He said this, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and will come forth; those who did the good to a resurrection of life and those who committed the evil to a resurrection of damnation or judgment.”  Everybody will be raised from the dead.  There will be a resurrection body for hell and a resurrection body for heaven.  Death is not the end of anyone. 

There are only two possible places, two possible existences after this life; one without God and the horrors of remorse and punishment, and one with God and the joys of blessing and reward.  So how does one come to heaven?  Only one way, by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s why John wrote this gospel, “That you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing have life in His name, eternal life.”

Here our Lord not only says He will be the judge and the one who raises the dead, but He is, in fact, the resurrection and the life.  It’s not just something He does to give life.  It is who He is, and that’s how the gospel of John began.  “In the beginning was the Word – ” meaning the Lord Jesus Christ, ” – and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life.” 

He is the source of everything that lives.  He is the resurrection and the life because He is life.  He has the power to create out of nothing, and He has the power to raise the dead because He is life.  He doesn’t draw His life from anyone else or anywhere else.  Life itself exists in Him.  He is life.  This is His nature, and He is eternal life, who has been alive eternally and that life He granted to His creation.  Everything that exists, everything that exists in the spiritual and physical world, He made.  The inanimate things He made and the animate things that live, He made.  From the smallest cell to the most complex human being, He gave life to everything that lives. 

He is the Creator of life, and because He is the life, He will raise all the dead and give them a body suited for their eternal dwelling.  Death is not the end.  Death is a split second transition. 

Here in the resurrection of Lazarus, our Lord Jesus puts on a display of the power of life that He possesses.  Now, when I told you we have a record already in the gospels that He raised two people, one was the daughter of Jairus, a young girl who was sick at home.  By the time Jesus got there, she was dead.  It might be argued since there were no clinical ways to determine actual death; nobody was doing an EKG or an EEG to read the brain or the heart or whatever, some might have said, “Well, maybe she was only in some kind of swoon,” as they used to call it, because the miracle happened at the very moment that she died or a little bit after that.

And then there the case of the widow who was taking her son to be buried with the procession of people who were mourning, and Jesus stopped the procession, raised the dead young man.  Some might argue that since there was no way to be certain someone was dead, perhaps this was just a resuscitation of someone who was temporarily in that condition.  But in the case of Lazarus, that’s not possible because this is someone who’s been dead four days, four days.  Now, that really does matter.  I mean it matters a lot.   

And just to help you know how much that matters, I did a little research this week to find out what happens to a body in four days.  Very interesting.  This was not a theological resource, but as I opened up some research material, I was amazed to find out that all of the bad stuff happens by 72 hours.What happens in four days? 

The Jews did not embalm.  The Jews did nothing to stop the decay.  They wrapped the body and sprinkled spices on it to mitigate the smell.  That’s it.  Here’s what happens in four days, pretty grisly stuff.  The heart has stopped beating.  The body cells are then deprived of oxygen, and they begin to die.  Blood drains from throughout the circulatory system and pools in the low places.  Muscles begin to stiffen in what is known commonly by the Latin, rigor mortis.  That sets in after three hours.

By 24 hours, the body has lost all its heat.  The muscles then lose their rigor mortis in 36 hours, and by 72 hours rigor mortis has vanished.  All stiffness is gone and the body is soft.  Looking a little bit deeper, as cells begin to die, bacteria go to work.  Your body is filled with bacteria, but that’s another subject.  The bacteria in the body of a dead person begin to attack, breaking the cells down.  The decomposing tissue takes on a horrific look and smell and emits green liquids by the 72nd hour.  The tissue releases hydrogen sulfide and methane as well as other gases.  A horrible smell is emitted.  Insects and animals will consume parts of the body if they can get at it. 

Meet Lazarus.  That’s the condition he’s in when Jesus arrives.  That’s important.  Everyone knows he is dead.  As Martha says in verse 39, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench,” or as the King James said, “He stinketh,” because he’s been dead four days. 

Look, they lived in a world of death.  They didn’t live in a sterile world of mortuaries and undertakers and embalming fluids and all of that where the body disappears and you never see anything but somebody in a casket who looks like the horizontal member of a cocktail party with a suit and tie and dressed up and make up. 

People lived with death.  They lived with the realities of death.  They lived with the horrors of death.  That’s very important.  It’s also very important to understand that there was a certain expectation, and it became a reality in this case of what a funeral was like.  When someone died, family, friends, neighbors, even connected strangers poured into their life.  Everybody showed up.  In the case of Mary and Martha and Lazarus, they must have been a very prominent family.  They must have been well-known because we read, as the story begins – let’s pick it up in verse 17.

“So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.  Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.”  There is a huge crowd there, which again speaks to the prominence of this family.  So we’re going to come to verse 17 today, to the arrival of Jesus, but let me back up a little bit and kind of work our way to this point.

In chapter 10, Jesus concluded His public ministry.  He was in Jerusalem and they wanted to kill Him.  In fact, as chapter 10 closes, two times in the conflict, they wanted to just let violence take over and execute Him on the spot.  And He escapes to protect His life because it’s not the time to die.  They have rejected Him as a nation.  They have rejected Him as leaders.  The Son of God, the Savior of the world, the promised Messiah, they have turned on.  And in order to save His life until the appointed time, chapter 10 ends with Him leaving Jerusalem, leaving the surrounding area and the heart of it all, the temple.  And He goes away across the Jordan to a place called Bethany, interestingly enough, because the place right next to Jerusalem where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived was also called Bethany, meaning “house of the poor.”

So He takes His disciples, and He goes to a place across the Jordan where John the Baptist kind of launched his ministry.  John the Baptist’s influence is still there and Jesus shows up.  What John said is proven to be true, and He is exactly who John says He was and many people believed.  Chapter 10 ends with, “There were many who believed in Him there.”

So the disciples and Jesus are in this place called Bethany, and they’re having great effective ministry.  People are believing.  Now, remember in the opening 16 verses, it’s in this environment that Jesus says, “I just got word.”  A messenger comes, “Lazarus is sick,” and Jesus says, “He’s not just sick, he’s dead.  We’re going back.  We’re going back.  We’re going back to Judea.”  And, of course, they all say, “That’s suicide.  They want to kill you there.  You don’t want to go back.  Look at the success we’re having.  Look at the response we’re having.  They’re loving everything.  John the Baptist laid the groundwork.  You can come right in and there’s a harvest to be had here.  Let’s stay.”  Jesus says, “We’re going.” 

Thomas resigns himself to the inevitable in verse 16.  Thomas says, “Let us go that we may die with Him.”  They actually believed this was going to be it, but they had watched Him get them out of those kind of brink of death experiences, but to walk right back into it seems certainly to be fatal.  That’s not what Jesus had in mind immediately, but it is what He had in mind ultimately because He was going back soon to die. 

Then this miracle takes place when He returns.  It’s juxtaposed against His own death.  He gives life to a dead man and gives up His life in the same place.  It’s an amazing story.  We’ve looked at some of the detail.  I want you to see even more of the detail.  So let’s just begin where it begins with the coming of our Lord in verse 17. 

Never preoccupied with His own agenda, He comes because He’s sympathetic.  He humbles Himself.  He comes.  He walks away from this ministry.  It’s not just that.  It’s not just sympathy.  It’s not just this compassion for them.  It is the purpose of God that He would raise this man from the dead in a public place, as it were, on the very road from Jericho.  You go right by the village of Bethany when you take the road from Jericho to Jerusalem where the pilgrims would come.

In a very public place, this miracle will take place with a massive number of eye witnesses because the funeral has attracted this huge crowd of Jews.  Everybody there is going to become an eye witness to a resurrection, and they’re going to tell their story far and wide.  There are literally going to be dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of eye witnesses to this miracle.  This is very important to strengthen the faith of the disciples, very important to put the capstone on miracles that demonstrated His deity, and more important to force the Jews to kill Him because He’s having way too much impact.  So that’s the scene as He arrives.

Now, we can just go back quickly to note that He comes to Bethany near Jerusalem, two miles to the east, over around the Mount of Olives.  Many of the Jews had come to console them concerning their brother.  This is what was the custom.  This is the tradition.  People came to console.  Let me give you kind of a picture.  When someone died, as I said, they put them in the ground right away.  Burial followed death immediately.  As a result of the death, people would be notified.  They would come to the house.  There would be a procession, a procession to wherever they were going to place the body.  They’re not necessarily digging a hole, but like Jesus who was buried in a cave.  There were many caves in the Bethany area as well as around Jerusalem.  Many believers were buried this way all over the ancient world around the Mediterranean.

So it’s very likely they put Him in some kind of cave on some kind of shelf, which is typically what they did in catacombs kind of places.  He would be placed there.  The procession would then go back to the house and mourners would stay for seven days, seven days.  This is how long the initial part of the funeral lasted.  For seven days, people would be sitting in the house.  Now, they couldn’t eat until the body was taken to be buried.  They didn’t want any kind of levity.  They didn’t want any kind of joy being expressed.  They didn’t want any kind of normalcy until the body had been buried, and then they would serve a meal.  They actually had designed a meal of bread, hard-boiled eggs and lentils, kind of a traditional meal to feed the people who were going to stay. 

Then they would continue to have to care for those people or others would bring food as the mourners stayed for seven days.  What they did was not just sit quietly like Job’s friends and say nothing.  They wailed out loud.  They mourned.  They wailed loudly.  Women led this, so it was kind of a screaming, wailing situation.  They saw this as comfort because of the sympathy behind it.  It was traditional.  They expected it.  For seven days, this wailing went on. 

So when Jesus comes and Lazarus has been dead four days, this is still in full bloom.  Sympathy was everybody’s duty.  It was really a beautiful custom.  By the way, at the end of the seven days, the wailing, sort of the formal wailing – and by the way, they were hired mourners as well, people who were professional wailers who sort of led the rest.  They embraced that family for seven days, and then after the seven days of really intense wailing, they would also carry on mourning for 30 days.  There would be some expressions openly, publicly of mourning for 30 days as those friends and those people came around.  During the time of wailing and mourning, there would be reminiscences and eulogies and remembrances.  There would be the sharing of stories and whatever was necessary to comfort.  It really was a beautiful custom. 

I think so often of how we do funerals.  First of all, we don’t know much about death because the body disappears and that’s the last we know.  Then we go to a funeral and it lasts an hour or maybe two hours, and we’re gone, and there’s a little bit of comfort of that event, but it’s mostly an event rather than an interaction.  It’s all over, and we kind of go on with life.  They didn’t do that. 

By the way, I might say as a footnote, we’ve had a funeral here at Grace Church every weekend for the last three weekends. But I was thinking so much yesterday that the measure of a church, the character of a church is not made known by how well it entertains young people.  The character of a church is made known by how well it embraces old people.  The character of a church is not how well it can capture the lighthearted who are alive and young; it’s how well it can capture and hold the heartbroken, the grieving.  How does it deal with the suffering?  How does it deal with old age?  How does it deal with cancer?  How does it deal with love, loving people at the worst times of life?  That’s the measure of a church. 

Anybody can draw a crowd.  Anybody can put on an event.  Anybody can do a rock concert and attract young people who are just looking for the next gig.  The measure of a church is how does it sustain relationships with people all the way to the grave, fully embrace them, love them right unto death?  That’s the measure of a church.  There may be churches that do it with more love and affection than this, but I’ve never seen one.  The measure of this church cannot be known by sitting here on a Sunday and listening to this that’s going on up here. 

The measure of this church is seen in the hardest time of life, the most grievous times of life, the agonies of life, long drawn-out slow deaths or terrible, accidental deaths and how this church embraces people at the low points, the hard points in life.  That’s the measure of a church.

There’s a lot of superficial things going on, but how well do we do genuinely under the power of the Holy Spirit these kinds of things, which they did traditionally?  That’s so absent from the contemporary approach to the church, which is to sit in the dark and watch a show. 

So Jesus was coming to a very crowded scene and there were all these people there, dozens if not hundreds who are all being set up.  They don’t know it, but they’re being set up to be eye witnesses of a resurrection.  Amazing.  There is here a kind of microcosm, a kind of analogy to the incarnation.  He is away with His own.  He humbles Himself, condescends, comes back to a scene of death.  That’s essentially what the incarnation is.  He comes back to a scene of death, announces that He is the life, and gives life.  That’s like an analogy of the incarnation. 

So Jesus comes and makes His great claim.  The first thing we saw was His coming; then His claim, verse 20.  “Martha, therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming,” and maybe the messenger who came with them ran ahead.  Do you remember the messenger who went to tell Jesus that Lazarus was sick?  He must have come back with them.  Maybe he waited the two days they waited, and then came back with them and maybe ran ahead a little bit.  We can’t be certain about that, but somebody informed her that Jesus was near, but not quite at the village.

She heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house.  Now, here we come to these two sisters again, and they perform kind of according to their personality and their temperament.  If you go back to Luke 10 for a minute, this is where we meet them earlier in the ministry of Jesus, quite a bit earlier in the ministry of Jesus.  Jesus and His disciples are traveling along and He enters a village.  By the way, it’s Bethany, that same village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She knew about Him, must have known about Him.  We don’t know at this point how much.  She welcomed Him into her home.  “She had a sister called Mary who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.”    

He comes into the home.  He starts doing what He always did: teaching divine truth.  She’s listening, but Martha was distracted with all her preparations.  And she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister had left me to do all the serving alone?”  I mean that’s a pretty bold lady.  “Then tell her to help me.”  Whoa.  “But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha.” 

You know, when anybody repeats your name twice, you know you’re in trouble?  My mother was just, “Johnny, Johnny.”  “Martha, Martha, you’re worried and bothered about so many things.”  They don’t matter.  “Only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”  No way I’m going to tell her to go to the kitchen and fuss around.  She’s chosen the right thing.  So there’s the initial characterization.  Mary is the pensive, thoughtful, inward, melancholy kind of personality and Martha is the busy one, the active one, the aggressive one.  So we see that again. 

Go back to John 11.  The word comes.  She gets the word that the Savior is on the way, and as soon as she gets the word that He’s on the way, she charges in that direction.  Verse 20, Mary stays back.  She’s melancholy.  She’s broken hearted.  She’s sad.  She’s pensive, in deep sorrow.  She doesn’t even know Jesus is coming.  She doesn’t even know that because she doesn’t find it out until verse 28 when Martha comes back and tells her.  She’s just caught up in the loss of her brother, the agonizing loss of this brother that she loved.

But as Martha reached Jesus, the thought that had no doubt plagued her brain and she had shared it with Mary for the four days, was that Jesus should have been there; and if Jesus hadn’t left, this wouldn’t have happened.  So Martha says to Jesus, “Lord.”  Now, that’s a great confession, “Lord.”  Then what follows is a little incongruous.  “If you had been here my brother would not have died.”  Here she is telling Him what to do again.  This is definitely her.  This is her.  The first time she said anything to Him, she told Him what to do.  The second time, she scolds Him again and tells Him if He’d had done what He should have been doing, He would have been there, and this never would have happened.

“If you had only been here, my brother would not have died.”  Did she know He had healing power?  Sure.  But what about the healing of Jairus’ daughter, the raising of her from the dead?  What about the raising of the young man in the funeral procession?  Again, maybe the speculation was that they weren’t really dead because for whatever reason, she has no confidence that He can deal with dead people.  She has no question about His ability to heal the sick because He did that virtually His entire ministry.  She did believe that not only could He heal the sick, but He would definitely have healed Lazarus from His sickness because He loved Lazarus.  That’s what she said in verse 3, “Him whom you love.”   

But Jesus healed strangers, strangers to whom He had no connection, no relationship.  Surely, His love would have compelled Him to heal Lazarus, but instead of being there and being able to do that, He had left.  So she knew He loved him.  She knew He was capable of healing his illness, but her faith comes short of believing that He could raise him from the dead.  That was because, if nothing else, as she declares in verse 39, “He’s been dead four days.”  Clearly, this is death, and this is death verified physically. 

If Jesus had only been there.  She and Mary talked about that.  In a sense, they are sitting in judgment on Jesus.  There’s doubt, questions about His wisdom and even about His power, but then there’s kind of a little window of hope in verse 22.  “Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  What’s that?  Listen, Martha knows who she is talking to.  She says, “Lord,” in verse 21.  Go down to verse 27, “Yes, Lord,” she says again, “I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

Well, she has a pretty full Christology.  She’s got some sound theology.  She understands the lordship of Christ.  She understands that He is Messiah.  She understands that He possesses the nature of God, He is the Son of God.  She understands that He came from heaven into the world.  That’s the incarnation.  She also understands by the testimony that she gives in verse 22 that He in His incarnation has submitted Himself to the will of the Father, and only does what the Father shows Him to do, and what the Father wills Him to do; but what He asks the Father consistent with His will, the Father would give Him the power to do.

This lady got a solid Christology while she was in the kitchen overhearing what He was saying to Mary.  She got it.  By the way, Jesus no doubt stayed at their home Many times, but somehow with all that she knew, there was this pain that testifies to a faith that comes short of believing His power to raise the dead.  She says, “I know you can ask the Father and you can do that now, and God will give you if it’s His will.”

Verse 23, Jesus responds.  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  She shows off a little more of her theology.  Verse 24, Martha said, “And I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  She’s not only got a full orb Christology.  She’s pretty good eschatologically.  She’s got a fairly good eschatology.  She’s got the resurrection in her panoplie of doctrine.  She knows there’s a future resurrection.  How does she know that?  She knows the book of Job.  What did Job say in chapter 19:25-27, “Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh will I see God, whom I shall see for myself and not another.”  Job was confident of a resurrection.

She knew Daniel 12:2.  Daniel 12:2 is the promise that the saints will rise, that not only will the saints rise to everlasting life, but others will rise to everlasting contempt.  She had a doctrine of last things, resurrection in the future.  This is in a real sense, a very discipled woman because all of this had to come from Jesus.  She understood her Old Testament promises of resurrection.  She had no doubt heard the Lord say that He would raise the dead as He says in John 5:27-29, “And He would raise some to everlasting life and some to everlasting condemnation.”  She knew what He said in John 6, “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me.  I will lose none, but raise him at the last day.”  From John 6:37-44, He talks about raising people the last day, verse 54. 

So she had heard Jesus teach this, but she says, “That’s not good enough.  I know there will be a resurrection in the last days.”  I just want to affirm to you, folks, there will be a resurrection. This is not a misinterpretation of Scripture because Martha got the same thing from Jesus.  It is the truth.  You will rise to life or damnation.  You will receive a body for eternity.  Then our Lord says, “Martha, look, I am the resurrection and the life.”  Listen, not, “I will be.”  I – what?  “I am.”  This is the fifth of seven I ams in the gospel of John. 

I AM\\\am.  That’s the Tetragrammaton, the name of God.  I am the resurrection and the life.  He doesn’t say, “I can raise the dead.”  I am the resurrection.  I can pray the Father to give life.  I am life.  “He who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  So here is this great claim, this claim to be the I am, to be the one who is the source of life.  I am the embodiment of life.  I am the life.

Just as in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  Not in the future, “I will be.”  In the present, “I am.”  Here is the I am.  Jesus is the life itself.  He is everlasting life.  That everlasting life, by the way, that resurrected life in heaven is for anyone who believes.  Do you believe?  That’s the compelling question.  Do you believe?  If you do not believe, you are without excuse.  If you do not believe that He is the resurrection and the life, you are without excuse.  Why?  You must believe He is the life.  He created everything that lives.  You must believe He is the resurrection because He not only raised the dead, but He himself was raised from the dead; and because He lives, we live also.

He is the first fruits of all who slept.  He is the primary one who has come through the grave and out the other side and won the triumphant, glorious resurrection to eternal life for all who believe in Him.  Do you believe?  Do you believe?  There’s plenty of evidence to believe.  You have Him as the Creator, and if He can create out of nothing everything that lives, then raising bodies out of nothing is just what He does, just who He is. 

Do you believe?  That is the question, friends, that I ask you.  Do you believe that He is the resurrection and the life?  Do you believe that He is the Messiah who came down from heaven, the Son of God, the Savior of the world?  Do you believe He is Lord?  Do you believe?  She believed all of that.  She believed all of that.  Do you believe?  And she gave testimony, yes.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  He said, “Do you believe this?”  Verse 27, she said to Him, “Yes Lord, I have believed – ” I’ve already believed ” – that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”  I do believe.  That’s the path to salvation.  She didn’t even know about the cross yet because He hadn’t died.  She didn’t know about His resurrection yet because it hadn’t happened, but she believed everything that had been revealed up to that point.  She is an Old Testament saint.  She is an Old Testament believer.  I do believe.  I do believe. 

That’s the question for everyone here.  Do you believe?  If you don’t believe it’s not because there’s no evidence.  The evidence is massive.  The testimony of His power about to be displayed before these myriad eyewitnesses in the case of Lazarus as well as the testimony to His resurrection.  After His resurrection, He appeared to the apostles.  He appeared to 500 brethren at once in one place.  There’s so much evidence.  Do you believe?  If you do not believe, it is not because there is not evidence.  This entire gospel is written, “That you might believe that Jesus is the Christ and that believing you might have eternal life in His name.”

If you do not believe, then you’re like the Jews.  You do not believe because you hate righteousness and love sin.  You do not believe because you love your evil deeds.  The evidence is in.  She believed.  “So when she had said this she went away – ” after her confession, ” – and called Mary her sister, whispering to her, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’  And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.  Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him.”

So Martha goes back, whispers a secret in Mary’s ear that Jesus is there, and they rush to the place where He would be waiting.  Here we get a little picture again of this kind of comfort that was provided by friends.  Verse 31, “Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly an went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.”

She’s inconsolable.  This is four days in, and they’re still there around her consoling this sad, weeping Mary, but she jumps up and goes.  They just think she’s transferring her sadness to the tomb, like people visiting a grave.  This is more eyewitnesses.  Get them out of the house.  Get them all to the grave.  Get everybody to the grave.  Don’t leave anybody behind.  Let’s get everybody there to see this miracle.

“Therefore, when Mary came to where Jesus was – ” in verse 32, ” – she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'”  Where’d she hear that?  Oh Martha, Martha.  Martha passes on her discontent to her poor, melancholy, quiet sister.  She drinks the Kool-Aid that Martha is preparing.  She just parrots the line of her sister.  This is beautiful.  “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  You could have stopped it all.  This didn’t even need to happen.  I didn’t need to be in this condition.  This whole event needed not to happen. 

“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping.”  This is quite a scene.  This is kind of a strong weeping, wailing.  “He was deeply moved,” deeply moved.  Literally weeping is klaiō in the Greek.  It means to sob.  And when He sees all this sobbing, He was deeply moved.  That is a very interesting word, deeply moved.  It can mean being emotional.  It can mean being angry.  It can mean being indignant.  It can mean groaning, feeling inner pain and turmoil.  This is deep emotion.  This is a word that sort of grabs everything.  There is sorrow, sadness, indigence, anger, suffering.  It’s just every emotion grips Him in His spirit, in His inner person, His person, and He was troubled, reflexive verb, troubled in Himself or He allowed Himself to feel the trouble.  He let Himself feel everything.

This is like what Hebrews says, “He is in all points tempted like as we are.”  He’s been touched with the feelings of our infirmities as our great High Priest. He’s sad because He’s lost His friends.  Now, He loved Lazarus.  It says that back in verse 3, and it’s phileō.  It’s, He had an affection for him, human.  He lost His friend.

He loved Mary and Martha.  There’s no question that He loved them.  Everybody recognized how much He loved them.  But there’s more there than that.  It’s not just the pain that He feels in the loss of a friend.  It’s not just the pain that He feels as He identifies with these two sisters.  He feels a far more transcendent pain.  He feels a cosmic pain.  He understands that He is surrounded by unbelievers, who are representative of a nation of unbelievers who are all being catapulted into eternal judgment because they will not receive Him.  He understands that looking down through human history.  He understands the pain and suffering of all humanity that faces the same inevitable hour of human loss.  He understands that how severe this loss is when you know you’re losing one to hell forever. 

I mean this is a massive moment of agony.  Maybe a little bit like His agony in the garden as He anticipates the sin-bearing.  He deeply enters in, not only to the wounded hearts and sorrows of people who are broken because they’ve lost the one they love; but He sees way more than that.  He understands what sin has done to the world and what unbelief has done to these people who are gathered around Him. 

By the way, the Greeks described their Gods by one word, apatheiaapatheia. We transliterate that into English into the word “apathetic.”  Pathos with an alpha privative means to have no feeling, no feeling.  The deities were apatheia.  That meant they had no ability to feel pain, no ability to feel emotion, no ability to care.  Well, that might be pagan deities invented by Satan, but that’s not our God. 

He felt every pain, not only the pain of the loss of His own dear friend, His own pain; not only the pain of Mary and Martha, not only the pain of all the rest of the people who had lost their friend, but the pain that will literally be imposed on every human family yet to live on this planet that faces the same reality.  And worse, the pain of unbelief and its horrendous result.  Feels it all. 

So He said, “Where have you laid him?”  Where did you place him?  “They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’  Jesus wept.”  Shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.”  Different word here than klaiō.  Not that word, not the word for weeping and sobbing.  This is another word.  These are not the mourners tears, the sustained kind of sobbing tears.  This is a verb in its form here that means a sudden outburst into open tears, open crying.  He literally can’t hold it in.  This is the “man of sorrows acquainted with grief,” as Isaiah said, and He can’t contain it because He sees what’s going on and His own loss and the loss of the sisters, and in the unbelief of the crowd, and in the coming generations of people who will feel the same agonizing separations that sin has produced.

These are not sentimental tears.  These are not professional tears.  These are not prolonged mourners tears.  This is literally a shocking outburst of our sympathetic High Priest, and the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!”  They were right.  They were right.  His tears stood out from everybody else’s.  “See how He loved him!”  That was true.  They used phileō.  “See how much affection He had for him,” but they didn’t see the whole picture.  They didn’t know that what led to that outburst was far more than His affection for Lazarus.  It was all the reality of sin and death and unbelief and judgment in hell that was behind that scene, and there He stands at the edge of the tomb, sobbing.  What happens next is astounding.  Let’s pray.

What an adventure for us today.  What a privilege to be in Bethany and experience all of this.  Lord, thank you for the richness of your Word.  What an incalculable gift it is.  How our Christ lives through it, and we through Him.  Thank you for making Christ real to us.  We believe and we are sure that He is the Christ, the Son of God, He who comes into the world.  We call Him Lord, and we believe that He is the resurrection and the life, and that He will one day raise all the dead.  But even now, as the resurrection and the life, He can give life to dead sinners who believe. 

Open hearts and minds to respond positively to the question, do you believe this?  Do you believe?  Do you believe?  Do you believe that He Himself not only raised Lazarus, but having died was Himself raised from the dead to become the first fruits of all who slept.  And because He lives in eternal glory, we shall live there as well.  Lord, open hearts to that faith. 

Father, we thank you for what you have accomplished today.  We know that your Word never returns void, but always accomplishes the purpose to which you send it.  Therefore, we know that it did that even today.  Send us on our way with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

VIDEO Easter 2021: An Opportunity for the Gospel – What the Resurrection of Jesus Means to You

by Greg Laurie on Mar 23, 2021

We’re quickly approaching another Easter, and this is an opportunity to bring the gospel to the people in our lives—probably a bigger opportunity than ever before.

Only a short year ago, we had to close the doors of our church and, temporarily, stream services exclusively online. (I wrote about that experience here.)

Yet because of what our nation was facing at the time, we found a ready audience for the gospel message that season as millions tuned in to Harvest at Home—even the president had announced he was tuning in to our Palm Sunday service. And we saw thousands of people make professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

Here’s just one testimony from our outreach during that time:

Thank you, Pastor Greg. I have been an atheist for 15 years and lately I’ve been questioning everything. I saw on FB that the President Trump said he was tuning into Greg Laurie so I decided to tune in and right when Greg said, “Someone is watching who is scared of death and doesn’t know if they’re right with God.” I started to cry. I accepted Jesus into my heart. Thank you.

Easter changes everything

There’s life-changing power in the message of Easter.

Easter is, of course, the celebration of Jesus rising from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead changed everything. His followers went from being a group of ragtag fisherman, tax collectors, and zealots to being courageous preachers who literally turned their world upside down.

All the apostles, with the exception of John, also died the death of a martyr. Surely, if the resurrection were not true, as some would claim, you would think that at least one of them would have broken ranks and said, “It was all a hoax. We made it up!”

But not one of them did, because they could not deny what had transformed their lives.

The fact of the historical resurrection of Jesus transforms lives today.

So wherever you are, I hope you’ll worship with us this Easter season as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Harvest at Home. We’re preparing a brand-new cinematic experience with music and a clear, straightforward gospel presentation.

But don’t just join in! Invite a “CEO” with you if you can. You know, CEO: one of those people who typically only go to church on Christmas and Easter only. Let’s use Easter 2021 as an open door to share the hope of Christ!

What the Resurrection of Jesus Means to You (With Greg Laurie)

The cross was Jesus’ goal and destination from the very beginning; and it happened exactly as Jesus had predicted. The crucifixion and resurrection were God’s well thought out plan. God takes our endings and turns them into new beginnings.

VIDEO The Crucifixion of Jesus – 15 Powerful Easter Quotes

15 Powerful Easter Quotes to Use in Your Church or Home

By Toni Ridgaway -March 20, 2021

15 Powerful Easter Quotes to Use in Your Church or Home

Maybe your church is looking for Christian Easter quotes or Easter sayings for church signs this time of year? We’ve got you covered! Or use these Easter quotes for a sermon to add a dash of spice. Try any of these 15 spiritual Easter quotes.

Christian Easter Quotes

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.
Clarence W. Hall

We live and die; Christ died and lived!
John Stott

Do not abandon yourselves to despair: We are the Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song.
Pope John Paul II

Christ has not only spoken to us by his life, but has also spoken for us by his death.
Soren Kierkegaard

Easter quotes

If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
1 Corinthians 15:14

Jesus did not die on the cross just so we could live comfortable, well-adjusted lives. His purpose is far deeper: He wants to make us like himself before he takes us to heaven. This is our greatest privilege, our immediate responsibility and our ultimate destiny.
Rick Warren

Easter quotes

Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.
Watchman Nee

Easter is always the answer to “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!”
Madeleine L’Engle

We must not forget that it wasn’t the Jews that put him on the cross, and it wasn’t the Romans. It was my sins, it was your sins, the sins of this world.
Franklin Graham

A dead Christ I must do everything for; a living Christ does everything for me.
Andrew Murray

Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, “Christ is risen,” but, “I shall rise.”
Phillips Brooks

Easter quotes

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus Christ – John 11:25, 26

Anonymous but Powerful Spiritual Easter Quotes

It wasn’t nails that held him to the cross but his love for you and me.

Easter is the time to rejoice and be thankful for the gift of life, love, and joy.

Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day were just three days apart.

1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, and by his wounds we are healed.

It’s not about the bunny, it’s about the Lamb.

Jesus didn’t say “I am finished.” He said, “It is finished.” He was just getting started.

I hope you enjoyed these Easter quotes.

Drive Thru History with Dave Stotts: The Crucifixion of Jesus (Full Episode)

The Crucifixion of Jesus (Full Episode): Drive Thru History host, Dave Stotts, visits Israel as He explores Jesus’ agonizing crucifixion and investigates the locations for Golgotha and the tomb of Jesus. Watch full episodes of Drive Thru History:

The Gospels for free:…

How To Handle The Gore Of Good Friday

By Peter Mead on Mar 22, 2021

The crucifixion is bloody. Should we shock people out of a religious view of crucifixion, or is it better not to overwhelm people with the gore?

If you are preaching in the next few days then I would hope Easter is in the mix.  Of course, the cross of Christ is at the very center of global history and God’s salvation plan.  A question we face as preachers is just how gory does the presentation need to be?

Crucifixion was incredibly graphic and deliberately so.  In a culture where people killed their dinner, and where blood flowed freely in the temple courts, in a culture so far removed from the clean and sanitized version of life that we enjoy today, crucifixion was still a massive visual deterrent.  While some today might not fear a few months in prison for committing a crime, the Roman cross was massively feared.

So should we seek to paint the power of the deterrent by the words we use to describe what Christ went through?  Different preachers might lean in different directions.  Some seem to delight in the opportunity to make people squirm, describing in graphic detail just what the nails did to the wrists and feet, the agony of every breath, the ultimate cause of death, etc.  Others go to the other extreme and paint a picture as beautiful as the stained glass windows where Jesus seems barely marked by the whole process.

The truth is that if we saw what Christ went through at the hands of the mocking soldiers and then at Calvary, I suspect we would all feel sick to the core.  But is that the point of our preaching?

Perhaps it is a good idea to stun and shock people out of a religious view of the crucifixion.  Or perhaps it is better not to overwhelm people with gore so that they miss the real issue.  A few brief thoughts:

1. Who are your listeners?  

What do they need?  What would be most effective for them?  Might they feel like they experienced something unexpected and before any watershed times that may still exist on TV?  It is possible to be deeply moved by the cross without being made to feel ill.

2. What is the text? 

Remember you are preaching the text or texts, so what is emphasized there?  It is too easy in “familiar” bits of Bible history to leap from the text to preaching the event itself.  Maybe in this case that is legitimate, but don’t give up the distinctive value of each inspired text too easily.

3. What is your purpose?  

Remember that there is more to preaching the cross than stirring a gut reaction to the brutality of what Christ went through for us.  At the same time, perhaps you prayerfully decide that the offense of the cross is needed by those to whom you will be preaching.  No hard and fast rules here, just a plea for prayerful sensitivity to God and those present.

Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter.

VIDEO Story of Holy Week for Kids as Told by Two Children

By Megan Briggs -March 27, 2021

story of holy week for kids

Between all the hustle and bustle of Holy Week services, we are in danger of losing sight of the essence of Christ’s death and resurrection. While we should be worshipping in simple wonder, we can make things complicated with all the planning and details that go into services.

It’s right and good that we spend extra effort during this time making sure guests feel welcome and the service is just right, but take some time this week to slow down and reflect on the message of Easter.

We found this gem of a video on YouTube and can’t stop watching it. From Palm Sunday to the Resurrection, two children tell the story of Holy Week in a way only children can.

Even though their video is only 3 minutes long, these two kids manage to articulate the message of the Gospel in a clear and winsome way.

“He died because he wanted to forgive our sins,” the children explain.

After Jesus rose from the dead, the children explain he told his disciples “While I’m gone, tell everyone about me.”

Although there are a few anachronistic gaffs in the video (the disciples start telling people about Jesus via cell phone after his resurrection from the dead), the kids do an excellent job of conveying the spirit and the simplicity of Jesus’s message of forgiveness.

Everyone in your church (and especially outside your church) needs to see this beautifully illustrated version of the Holy Week events. After all, Jesus himself told us to receive the kingdom like little children.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-3)

Just try not smiling as you watch it…just you try.

Story of Holy Week for Kids

21 Palm Sunday Quotes That Will Preach

By Megan Briggs -March 20, 2018

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is quickly approaching and with it, the Palm Sunday service. We often view this time as Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem (and it was!) but it was also something so much more than a surface-level victory march. The palm fronds, the massive crowd, the fact that Jesus wept, all pointed to a more complex meaning than we often realize. Considering that a few short days later what we assume would be the same general crowd that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with a hero’s welcome would cry out for his crucifixion tells us something more complicated was going on in their Palm Sunday praise.

We will never know, this side of heaven, what terrible struggles took place in the spiritual world between Palm Sunday and Easter morning. Rodney Buchanan in The Lion Is A Lamb: The Humility Of God.

Corrie ten Boom was once asked if it were difficult for her to remain humble. Her reply was simple. “When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey, and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments onto the road, and singing praises, do you think that for one moment it ever entered the head of that donkey that any of that was for him?” She continued, “If I can be the donkey on which Jesus Christ rides in his glory, I give him all the praise and all the honor.” Mark Schaeufele in A Messiah Who Serves.

For much of Jesus’ ministry He urged people to be quiet about who He was. When He healed he told people not to say anything, when He confronted demons who recognized Him as the Son of God He told them to shut up. That’s because it wasn’t time for Him to declare Himself as the Messiah. On Palm Sunday the time had come. Tom Fuller in The Significance Of Palm Sunday.

Billboards were not around. Telephones were not invented. The only way that they could have known that Jesus was coming was by word of mouth. That is impressive if you had all those people coming without our modern day advertisement ideas. Dan Borchert in Palm Sunday.

He came in peace to give the people peace. They preferred salvation from taxation to salvation of their souls – and so in a few days they would prefer Barabbas to be freed instead of Jesus. Jesus could see that this was their mindset, and so in the midst of this praise, with people waving the palm branches like a national flag, Jesus wept. Paul Wallace in Palm Sunday.

If Jesus knew that a donkey was waiting for him in the next town, he certainly knows what’s down the road for you. You may not know how that medical test is going to turn out but Jesus does. Nor may you know whether or not there will be any decent jobs for you when you get done with your education but Jesus already has in mind how he plans to provide for you. Understanding that Jesus knows all things gives us confidence to follow his directions. Though Satan would have us believe otherwise, living by Jesus’ words will never send you on a fool’s errand. Daniel Habban in Ponder The Palm Sunday Paradox.

Our lives, the roads we walk lead us to either follow behind Christ, singing his praises, or going before him, laying palm branches and cloaks. Missionaries go ahead, paving the way as Jesus rides in to hearts by His gospel. Then pastors, teachers, and congregations follow behind, praising God for his kingdom that has come. Edward Frey in The Pathway of Palm Sunday.

We like control; God, it seems, loves vulnerability. If we haven’t touched and united with the vulnerable place within us, we’re normally projecting seeming invulnerability outside and judging others for their weakness. Paul Andrew in Palm Sunday And Good Friday.

He is at once, a righteous God and a Savior. He is full of grace and truth. God is the just one, who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Do you see the holy love of God? Were God merely holy, we would have been destroyed. Were God merely love, the lack of discipline would destroy us. A holy God cannot disregard wanton rebellion and a loving God cannot disregard His children. But a God of holy love will do what no one can imagine. Michael Deutsch in The Road To The Cross!  

At the heart of Palm Sunday is Jesus’ desire to bring peace into our lives and to be willing to carry whatever burdens in life that are weighing us down. But the only way Jesus can complete his desire, is for us to allow him to march in and take over without having to fight us all along the way. Have you ever told God, ”you can march over there, but don’t come this way because I’m not yet ready to surrender.” Where ever Jesus is not fully welcome in our lives, is where the real battle is taking place for our attitudes. We’re doing all kinds of things hoping to find some peace, but God is saying, until you get your attitude together right here, you shall not have peace as you seek for it.  Rick Gillespie-Mobley in Choose Your Attitude.

Jesus knew that the religious leaders were out to get him and yet instead of slinking into the city under the cover of darkness he rides triumphantly in a manner that is bound to reveal him as messiah. Denn Guptill in Making A Messiah, Palm Sunday.

In times of war conquerors would ride in chariots or upon prancing stallions. But in times of peace, the king would ride a colt to symbolize that peace prevailed. So, for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem upon a colt is to declare that He is a King proclaiming peace. Melvin Newland in Palm Sunday – Jesus Was Weeping!

The Christian church was born in the very city where Jesus was publicly killed and buried. The belief in a resurrected Jesus had to be authentic to take root in Jerusalem and grow to encompass the whole world. The Christian church is now the largest institution that exists or has ever existed in the history of humanity. Clearly, this would have been impossible if the resurrection was a story.  Don Hawks in Who Is Jesus? — A Palm Sunday Lesson.

Their cry of “Hosanna” is a transliteration from Hebrew into Greek (into English). It comes from Psalm 118:25, and seems to mean, “Save now, please.” Although the people might not understand it yet, this is what Jesus had come to do (cf. Luke 19:10). Christopher Holdsworth in The First Palm Sunday

Palm branches were to the Jews of that day what the stars and stripes of our flag means to us today. Don Hawks in Who Is Jesus? — A Palm Sunday Lesson

The tragedy of this event was the fickleness of the people. At this point they are acclaiming the Lord Jesus as the long expected Messiah – within a few days they were crying for His death! Colin Coombs in Palm Sunday – What Is It All About?

Now when Jesus approached and saw the city, he wept over it…Clearly, there is this sense of purpose that drives Jesus toward Jerusalem. But don’t misunderstand this clear, resolute purpose for being defeated. Joey Nelson inPalm Sunday – Luke’s Journey Notes.

One of the scariest questions in the Palm Sunday story…. How will I respond when Jesus comes riding humbly into my life? Will I recognize the time of God’s coming to me?  Will I recognize and welcome God’s personal visit?  Marty Boller in Palm Sunday: How Will You Respond?

But Jesus didn’t even make it through the gates of Jerusalem unscathed. In that holy city he was beaten and then taken outside to be crucified as if he was some kind of criminal. But this wasn’t a tragic mistake. This had been God’s plan. Just as squeezing a tube of whitening gel will produce the thing your teeth needs to get rid of the yellow stains, squeezing blood from Jesus was the one thing we sinners needed to whiten our sin-blackened record! Daniel Habban in Psalm 118: A Palm Sunday Preview.

The people were throwing their coats on the ground before Him. Maybe in the crowd there were some of the people Jesus had healed. Maybe in the crowd were some of the thousands He had fed with just 5 loaves of bread and a couple of fish. Maybe in the crowd were some who had seen some of the many other miracles Jesus had performed. Perhaps many in the crowd that day would have heard Jesus preach and teach before. Perhaps they had listened to Jesus and their lives had been changed. But, some people were not feeling the same way, some it seems, thought that the crowds were taking it a little too far.Dean Courtier in Palm Sunday: Jesus Began To Weep.

Have you heard that crowd of noise in your life? What has your answer been? Do we join the crowd, or step out of the crowd and take a stand for what we know is true?  Because a day will come when we aren’t part of any crowd anymore. A day will come when we are one on one with the Creator of us all, God the Father. And we will be judged, not on what we did as a crowd, but what we did as individuals with His Son, Jesus Christ.  Stephen Buhr in Who Is This? A Message For Palm Sunday.

Ancient Crucifixion

Ancient Manners and Customs, Daily Life, Cultures, Bible Lands

Ancient Cistern
Crucifixion was commonly practiced among the ancient Romans

Crucifixion was not a punishment that originated with the Jews or their judicial laws. Crucifixion was a brutal form of punishment that was common among the Romans. The Romans chose this mode of capital punishment to put fear in everyone who would stand against Rome and Roman laws. Crucifixion was common in first century Israel and this fact is well documented in the writings of Josephus. The Romans would choose a popular place in clear view, lest anyone else violate Roman law.

What was abstract horror was the fact that scourging almost always preceded crucifixion,  where the Centurion would order his Lictors to scourge the prisoner to the point of “near death” using the brutal flagrum which was designed to speedily remove flesh, even with a single lash across bare flesh.

Crucifixion in Biblical Times

Once the condemned prisoner was scourged he was brought naked to his cross beam, which he would carry publicly to the place of execution. Nails would then be pounded into his hands and feet and he would be raised up to an upright position, usually around 10 feet above ground.

Jesus was brought outside the city gate and crucified at a place known in first century Israel as Golgotha (Calvary).

Hebrews 13:12 – Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

Crucified Victim on Ancient Amulet

History of Crucifixion

Crucifixion did not begin with the Romans, but it was a method of execution that had developed centuries earlier in the ancient near East. The Medes and the Persians practiced this gruesome torture method as well as the Carthaginians and the Egyptians, and later it was adopted among the Greeks and finally the Romans in the first century. Crucifixion was mentioned in history from about the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD.

In 519 BC Darius I, king of Persia, crucified 3,000 political opponents in Babylon;

The Roman Cross

The Romans called it by its Latin word crucifixus which means to “fix on a cross”. The first century Roman cross consisted of two large wooden beams, a stake and a crossbeam (patibulum). The crossbeam was locked into place at the very top of the perpendicular stake, or near the top.

Extreme Torture

Since the body needed air in the lungs, and blood circulating in the heart the victim would have to push himself up with his nailed feet, and pulled himself up with his nailed hands.

Breaking the Legs

To hasten a prisoner’s death the Roman soldier would break the prisoner’s legs with an iron club (crurifragium). This would also assure that the prisoner was indeed dead.

The Place of Execution

The place of crucifixion was usually in a very public place where the bodies were left to rot. In Israel crucified prisoners were taken down in observance of the Sabbath.

Announcement of the Crime

As the condemned prisoner was led bearing a crossbeam to his place of execution, he would be preceded by a public crier who would announce his crime. His primary charge was written on a tablet (titulus) which also preceded him and finally fixed to the cross that he was crucified on.

Roman Crucifixion

It was indeed the Romans who practiced crucifixion as a common method of execution. According to Roman law a Roman citizen could not be crucified, crucifixion was for slaves and extreme criminals, political or religious agitators, pirates, or those who had no civil rights.

Julius Caesar and Crucifixion

Julius Caesar in his youth was captured by pirates, being held for ransom. He later found them and crucified them all, but he also slit their throats first to hasten their deaths.

Augustus Caesar and Crucifixion

The Emperor Augustus once made a boast that he had captured 30,000 runaway slaves and crucified them, or at least the ones who were not vouched for by their master. Their are many accounts of the Romans crucifying their victims, mass public crucifixions. When Spartacus led his rebellion against Rome, once they were captured over 6,000 slaves were captured by crucified on the main road to Capua (Appian Way) by the order of Crassus. Their bodies remained there is a token of Roman justice to all who would attempt to rebel.

Crucifixion in the Colosseum

It was a common sight in the Flavian Amphitheatre to crucify deserters, prisoners-of-war, and criminals from the lower classes.

Martial records one crucifixion, a version of the mime Laureolus by Catullus, in which a notorious bandit was executed by crucifixion and filleted by a wild bear for the amusement of the crowd:

“As Prometheus, bound on a Scythian crag, fed the tireless bird with his too abundant breast, so did Laureolus, hanging on no sham cross, give his naked flesh to a Caledonian bear. His lacerated limbs lived on, dripping gore, and in all his body, body there was none. Finally he met with the punishment he deserved; the guilty wretch had plunged a sword into his father’s throat or his master’s, or in his madness had robbed a temple of its secret gold, or laid a cruel torch to Rome. The criminal had outdone the misdeeds of ancient story; in him, what had been a play became an execution.”

Crucifixion and the Jews

In Israel a man named Judas rebelled against Rome and he captured the city of Sepphoris and made it his headquarters. The legions of Rome finally defeated them under Varus, and the Romans crucified 2,000 Jews.

In 88 BC Alexander Jannaeus, the king and high priest of Judaea, crucified 800 Pharisees.

Crucifixion and Jesus

In Judaea on Passover at about 31 AD Pontius Pilate* (Rom. Gov. of Judaea 26-36 AD) had Jesus of Nazareth crucified as a criminal of Rome. Although the death of Jesus is mentioned in ancient sources outside of the Bible, the details of the crucifixion and the events surrounding his death and resurrection are mentioned only in the Bible. The Bible reveals that Jesus ‘ death was planned by the Jewish authorities, and because they did not have power to put to death a condemned criminal they turned him over to the Romans for execution. Pontius Pilate the Roman governor of Judea made the final decision to have Jesus crucified. The Romans first scourged Jesus, then the Romans mocked him by placing a purple robe on his body and hailed him as the “King of the Jews”, then the Roman soldiers made a crown of thorns and placed it on his head. Next the Romans led Jesus to his place of execution, he was made to bear his own cross but when he could not carry it any longer he was assisted by a man named Simon of Cyrene. When Jesus arrived to a place outside the city walls called Golgotha his place of execution, the Roman soldiers nailed his hands and his feet to the cross and a tablet was placed above his head announcing his crime of proclaiming himself King of the Jews, the tablet recorded this in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Jesus was crucified with two other criminals and he hung there for three hours. The Roman soldiers divided his garments and cast lots for his robe, and people who passed by wagged their heads in disgust, and mocking him they stated “he saved others but he cannot save himself”. When the Roman soldiers were ordered to break the prisoner’s legs Jesus was already dead and his bones were never broken, but instead the soldier pierced him in the side with a spear. Jesus’ body was removed and he was buried in a tomb nearby. After three days and three nights he rose from the dead.

* Pontius Pilate was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, serving under the Emperor Tiberius from 26–36 AD

For External Sources of Jesus’ Crucifixion See: Josephus on Jesus and Tacitus on Christ

Painting of Jesus Crucified

Painting of Jesus Crucified Champaigne La Crucifixion
Painting Champaigne La Crucifixion

Crucifixion and the Christians

The Emperor Nero who was much younger than many people imagine, crucified an immense number of Christians for his own insane pleasure. He had actually blamed the Christians for the great fire of Rome. According to tradition (Origen) the apostle Peter was crucified upside down. Throughout the history of the Roman Empire Christians were martyred and crucified.

Constantine Abolishes Crucifixion

Crucifixion came to an end under the Emperor Constantine in 337 AD who had a supposed vision of the sign of the cross. He abolished crucifixion throughout the Roman Empire as a means of punishment.

The Symbol of the Cross

The empty cross became a symbol for Christians of Jesus conquering death once and for all.

Crucifixion in Smith’s Bible Dictionary
Crucifixion was used among the Egyptians, Ge 40:19 the Carthaginians, the Persians, Es 7:10 the Assyrians, Scythains, Indians, Germans, and from the earliest times among the Greeks and Romans. Whether this mode of execution was known to the ancient Jews is a matter of dispute. Probably the Jews borrowed it from the Romans. It was unanimously considered the most horrible form of death. Among the Romans the degradation was also a part of the infliction, and the punishment if applied to freemen was only used in the case of the vilest criminals. The one to be crucified was stripped naked of all his clothes, and then followed the most awful moment of all. He was laid down upon the implement of torture. His arms were stretched along the cross-beams, and at the centre of the open palms the point of a huge iron nail was placed, which, by the blow of a mallet, was driven home into the wood. Then through either foot separately, or possibly through both together, as they were placed one over the other, another huge nail tore its way through the quivering flesh. Whether the sufferer was also bound to the cross we do not know; but, to prevent the hands and feet being torn away by the weight of the body, which could not “rest upon nothing but four great wounds,” there was, about the centre of the cross, a wooden projection strong enough to support, at least in part, a human body, which soon became a weight of agony. Then the “accursed tree” with its living human burden was slowly heaved up and the end fixed firmly in a hole in the ground. The feet were but a little raised above the earth. The victim was in full reach of every hand that might choose to strike. A death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of the horrible and ghastly, –dizziness, cramp, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, tetanus, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of untended wounds, all intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all, but all stopping just short of the point which would give to 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 of the head and stomach, became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood; and, while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing, there was added to them the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst. Such was the death to which Christ was doomed. –Farrar’s “Life of Christ.” The crucified was watched, according to custom, by a party of four soldiers, Joh 19:23 with their centurion, Mt 27:66 whose express office was to prevent the stealing of the body. This was necessary from the lingering character of the death, which sometimes did not supervene even for three days, and was at last the result of gradual benumbing and starvation. But for this guard, the persons might have been taken down and recovered, as was actually done in the case of a friend of Josephus. Fracture of the legs was especially adopted by the Jews to hasten death. Joh 19:31 In most cases the body was suffered to rot on the cross by the action of sun and rain, or to be devoured by birds and beasts. Sepulture was generally therefore forbidden; but in consequence of De 21:22,23 an express national exception was made in favor of the Jews. Mt 27:58 This accursed and awful mode of punishment was happily abolished by Constantine. Read Full Article

Roman Crucifixion in Wikipedia
Crucifixion was used for slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state. It was considered a most shameful and disgraceful way to die. Condemned Roman citizens were usually exempt from crucifixion (like feudal nobles from hanging, dying more honorably by decapitation) except for major crimes against the state, such as high treason.Notorious mass crucifixions followed the Third Servile War in 73–71 BC (the slave rebellion under Spartacus), other Roman civil wars in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, and the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. To frighten other slaves from revolting, Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus’ men along the Appian Way from Capua to Rome.[citation needed] Josephus tells a story of the Romans crucifying people along the walls of Jerusalem. He also says that the Roman soldiers would amuse themselves by crucifying criminals in different positions. In Roman-style crucifixion, the condemned could take up to a few days to die. The dead body was left up for vultures and other birds to consume.Under ancient Roman penal practice, crucifixion was also a means of exhibiting the criminal’s low social status. It was the most dishonourable death imaginable, originally reserved for slaves, hence still called “supplicium servile” by Seneca, later extended to provincial freedmen of obscure station (‘humiles’).[citation needed] The citizen class of Roman society were almost never subject to capital punishments; instead, they were fined or exiled. Josephus mentions Jews of high rank who were crucified, but this was to point out that their status had been taken away from them. The Romans often broke the prisoner’s legs to hasten death and usually forbade burial. A cruel prelude was occasionally scourging, which would cause the condemned to lose a large amount of blood, and approach a state of shock. The convict then usually had to carry the horizontal beam (patibulum in Latin) to the place of execution, but not necessarily the whole cross.[citation needed] Crucifixion was typically carried out by specialized teams, consisting of a commanding centurion and four soldiers.[citation needed] When it was done in an established place of execution, the vertical beam (stipes) could even be permanently embedded in the ground.[citation needed] The condemned was usually stripped naked—all the New Testament gospels describe soldiers gambling for the robes of Jesus. The ‘nails’ were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 cm) long, with a square shaft 3/8 inches (10 mm) across. In some cases, the nails were gathered afterward and used as healing amulets. Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, abolished crucifixion in the Roman Empire in 337 out of veneration for Jesus Christ, its most famous victim. Read Full Article Also see: The Crucifixion of Jesus

Crucifixion in the ISBE Bible Encyclopedia
Crucifixion: As an instrument of death the cross was detested by the Jews. “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree” (Gal 3:13; compare Dt 21:23), hence, it became a stumbling-block to them, for how could one accursed of God be their Messiah? Nor was the cross differently considered by the Romans. “Let the very name of the cross be far away not only from the body of a Roman citizen, but even from his thoughts, his eyes, his ears” (Cicero Pro Rabirio 5). The earliest mode of crucifixion seems to have been by impalation, the transfixion of the body lengthwise and crosswise by sharpened stakes, a mode of death-punishment still well known among the Mongol race. The usual mode of crucifixion was familiar to the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, Persians and Babylonians (Thuc. 1, 110; Herod. iii.125, 159). Alexander the Great executed two thousand Tyrian captives in this way, after the fall of the city. The Jews received this form of punishment from the Syrians and Romans (Ant., XII, v, 4; XX, vi, 2; BJ, I, iv, 6). The Roman citizen was exempt from this form of death, it being considered the death of a slave (Cicero In Verrem i. 5, 66; Quint. viii.4). The punishment was meted out for such crimes as treason, desertion in the face of the enemy, robbery, piracy, assassination, sedition, etc. It continued in vogue in the Roman empire till the day of Constantine, when it was abolished as an insult to Christianity. Among the Romans crucifixion was preceded by scourging, undoubtedly to hasten impending death. The victim then bore his own cross, or at least the upright beam, to the place of execution. This in itself proves that the structure was less ponderous than is commonly supposed. When he was tied to the cross nothing further was done and he was left to die from starvation. If he was nailed to the cross, at least in Judea, a stupefying drink was given him to deaden the agony. The number of nails used seems to have been indeterminate. A tablet, on which the feet rested or on which the body was partly supported, seems to have been a part of the cross to keep the wounds from tearing through the transfixed members (Iren., Adv. haer., ii.42). The suffering of death by crucifixion was intense, especially in hot climates. Severe local inflammation, coupled with an insignificant bleeding of the jagged wounds, produced traumatic fever, which was aggravated the exposure to the heat of the sun, the strained of the body and insufferable thirst. The swelled about the rough nails and the torn lacerated tendons and nerves caused excruciating agony. The arteries of the head and stomach were surcharged with blood and a terrific throbbing headache ensued. The mind was confused and filled with anxiety and dread foreboding. The victim of crucifixion literally died a thousand deaths. Tetanus not rarely supervened and the rigors of the attending convulsions would tear at the wounds and add to the burden of pain, till at last the bodily forces were exhausted and the victim sank to unconsciousness and death. The sufferings were so frightful that “even among the raging passions of war pity was sometimes excited” (BJ, V, xi, 1). The length of this agony was wholly determined by the constitution of the victim, but death rarely ensued before thirty-six hours had elapsed. Instances are on record of victims of the cross who survived their terrible injuries when taken down from the cross after many hours of suspension (Josephus, Vita, 75). Death was sometimes hastened by breaking the legs of the victims and by a hard blow delivered under the armpit before crucifixion. Crura fracta was a well-known Roman term (Cicero Phil. xiii.12). The sudden death of Christ evidently was a matter of astonishment (Mk 15:44). The peculiar symptoms mentioned by John (19:34) would seem to point to a rupture of the heart, of which the Saviour died, independent of the cross itself, or perhaps hastened by its agony.  Read Full Article

Crucifixion in Easton’s Bible Dictionary
Crucifixion was a common mode of punishment among heathen nations in early times. It is not certain whether it was known among the ancient Jews; probably it was not. The modes of capital punishment according to the Mosaic law were, by the sword (Ex. 21), strangling, fire (Lev. 20), and stoning (Deut. 21). This was regarded as the most horrible form of death, and to a Jew it would acquire greater horror from the curse in Deut. 21:23. This punishment began by subjecting the sufferer to scourging. In the case of our Lord, however, his scourging was rather before the sentence was passed upon him, and was inflicted by Pilate for the purpose, probably, of exciting pity and procuring his escape from further punishment (Luke 23:22; John 19:1). The condemned one carried his own cross to the place of execution, which was outside the city, in some conspicuous place set apart for the purpose. Before the nailing to the cross took place, a medicated cup of vinegar mixed with gall and myrrh (the sopor) was given, for the purpose of deadening the pangs of the sufferer. Our Lord refused this cup, that his senses might be clear (Matt. 27:34). The spongeful of vinegar, sour wine, posca, the common drink of the Roman soldiers, which was put on a hyssop stalk and offered to our Lord in contemptuous pity (Matt. 27:48; Luke 23:36), he tasted to allay the agonies of his thirst (John 19:29). The accounts given of the crucifixion of our Lord are in entire agreement with the customs and practices of the Roman in such cases. He was crucified between two “malefactors” (Isa. 53:12; Luke 23:32), and was watched by a party of four soldiers (John 19:23; Matt. 27:36, 54), with their centurion. The “breaking of the legs” of the malefactors was intended to hasten death, and put them out of misery (John 19:31); but the unusual rapidity of our Lord’s death (19:33) was due to his previous sufferings and his great mental anguish. The omission of the breaking of his legs was the fulfilment of a type (Ex. 12:46). He literally died of a broken heart, a ruptured heart, and hence the flowing of blood and water from the wound made by the soldier’s spear (John 19:34). Our Lord uttered seven memorable words from the cross, namely, (1) Luke 23:34; (2) 23:43; (3) John 19:26; (4) Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34; (5) John 19:28; (6) 19:30; (7) Luke 23:46.   Read Full Article

The Cross in Fausset’s Bible Dictionary
The Cross was the instrument of a slave’s death, associated with the ideas of pain, guilt, and ignominy. “The very name,” writes Cicero (Pro Rab., 5), “ought to be excluded not merely from the body, but from the thought, eyes, and ears of Roman citizens.” The Hebrew, having no term for it as not being a punishment in their nation, called it “warp and woof.” Scourging generally preceded crucifixion: so Jesus (Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; foretold in Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 53:5). Pilate had probably hoped the Jews would be content with this scourging, and still let Him escape crucifixion (Luke 23:22; John 19:1). Jesus bore His own cross toward Golgotha outside the city (Hebrews 13:12; so Stephen, Acts 7:58), but sinking exhausted probably He was relieved, and it was transferred to Simon of Cyrene; prefigured in Isaac carrying the wood (Genesis 22:6; contrast Isaiah 9:6, “the government shall be upon His shoulder”.)
Jesus’ sacred and lacerated body was raised aloft, the hands nailed to the transverse beam, the feet separately nailed to the lower part of the upright beam so as to be a foot or two above the ground (others think the two feet were pierced by one and the same nail). Stupefying drink, vinegar mixed with gall and myrrh, was first offered to Him and refused (Matthew 27:34), for He would meet suffering consciously. Near death, to fulfill Psalm 69:21, He drank of the sour wine or vinegar kindly offered Him on a sponge. His death was hastened by rupture of the heart (See BLOOD; also Mark 15:23; compare John 19:28; Matthew 27:48.)
The sour wine called posca was the common drink of the Roman soldiers. Pilate marveled at His speedy death, crucifixion often not terminating in death for days. The approach of the Passover sabbath, one of peculiar solemnity, led to his permitting the Jewish law to be carried out which forbids bodies to hang after sunset (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). His legs could not be broken, because the Passover type must be fulfilled (Exodus 12:46). Constantine when converted abolished crucifixion. The agony consisted in:
(1) the unnatural position of the body, causing pain at the least motion;
(2) the nails being driven through the hands and feet, which are full of nerves and tendons, yet without a vital part being directly injured;
(3) the wounds so long exposed bringing on acute inflammation and gangrene;
(4) the distended parts causing more blood to flow through the arteries than can be carried back through the veins;
(5) the lingering anguish and burning thirst.
After Constantine’s vision of the cross in the air and the inscription, “Under this standard thou shalt conquer,” a new standard was adopted, the Labarum, with a pendent cross and embroidered monogram of Christ, the first two Greek letters of His name, and Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8). The Andrew’s cross is shaped like an X, through Hippolytus says he was crucified upright. The Anthony cross (embroidered on his cope) was shaped as a T. The pagan Egyptians, Copts, Indians, and Persians, all have the same sacred emblem. Tradition, and the inscription over our Lord’s head, make it likely that the form of His cross was +. The pole on which the brazen serpent was lifted by Moses was the type (John 3:14; Numbers 21:8-9).
The fathers regarded its four limbs pointing above, below, and to both sides, as typifying” the height, depth, length, and breadth” of the love of Christ, extending salvation to all (Ephesians 3:18). The harmlessness of cruciform flowers is another suggested type in nature. Christ’s cross transforms the curse into a blessing (Galatians 3:13-14); the inscription was written with letters of black on a white gypsum ground. By a striking retribution in kind, the Jewish people, whose cry was “crucify Him,” were crucified in such numbers by Titus “that there was not room enough for the crosses, nor crosses enough for their bodies” (Joseptius, B. J., 6:28). The piercing of Jesus’ hands was foretold in Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10.
The story of “the invention of the cross,” A.D. 326, is: Helena the empress, mother of Constantine, then nearly 80 years old, made a pilgrimage to the holy places, and there, by help of a Jew who understood her superstitious tastes, found three crosses, among which Christ’s cross was recognized by its power of working miracles, at the suggestion of Macarius, bishop of Jerusalem. Bits of this real cross were distributed as relics throughout Christendom. To supply the enormous demand, they were alleged to have been miraculously multiplied! In the church of the Holy Jerusalem Cross at Rome, relics of the top of the cross with the inscription are annually exhibited to the people for veneration. The falsity of the whole story appears from the fact that the Jews’ law required the cross to be burnt; Eusebius is silent as to the alleged discovery of it.
A symbol or emblem merely at first, it soon began to have the notion of spiritual and supernatural efficacy attached to it. In the 6th century the crucifix image was introduced, and worship (latria) to it was sanctioned by the Church of Rome. Figuratively, the cross and crucifixion are used for spiritually mortifying the flesh, in union spiritually by faith with Christ crucified, not self-imposed austerities (Matthew 16:24; Philemon 3:18; Galatians 6:14; Colossians 2:20-23). Our will and God’s will are as two separate pieces of wood; so long as both lie side by side there is no cross; but put them across one another, then there is a cross. We must take up the cross Christ lays on us if we would be His disciples.  Read Full Article


The Bible Mentions Crucifixion:

John 19:10 – Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?

Matthew 23:34 – Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and [some] of them ye shall kill and crucify; and [some] of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute [them] from city to city:

Hebrews 6:6 – If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame.

Matthew 20:19 – And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify [him]: and the third day he shall rise again.

Mark 15:14 – Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.

Matthew 27:31 – And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify [him].

Mark 15:20 – And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.

Mark 15:27 – And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.

Mark 15:13 – And they cried out again, Crucify him.

Luke 23:21 – But they cried, saying, Crucify [him], crucify him.

John 19:15 – But they cried out, Away with [him], away with [him], crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

John 19:6 – When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify [him], crucify [him]. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify [him]: for I find no fault in him.

Matthew 27:35 – And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

John 19:41 – Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.

1 Corinthians 1:13 – Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

John 19:23 – Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also [his] coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.

Galatians 3:1 – O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

2 Corinthians 13:4 – For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

Galatians 6:14 – But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Luke 23:23 – And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.

John 19:20 – This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, [and] Greek, [and] Latin.

Revelation 11:8 – And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

Mark 16:6 – And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

Acts 4:10 – Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Mark 15:15 – And [so] Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged [him], to be crucified.

Acts 2:36 – Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Acts 2:23 – Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Matthew 28:5 – And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

Mark 15:32 – Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

Luke 23:33 – And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

Luke 24:20 – And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

1 Corinthians 1:23 – But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

Matthew 27:22 – Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? [They] all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

Matthew 27:26 – Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered [him] to be crucified.

Romans 6:6 – Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

1 Corinthians 2:2 – For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

1 Corinthians 2:8 – Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known [it], they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Matthew 26:2 – Ye know that after two days is [the feast of] the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

Matthew 27:23 – And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

Mark 15:24 – And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.

Luke 24:7 – Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
The Bible Mentions The Cross:

John 19:17 – And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called [the place] of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

Mark 10:21 – Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

Colossians 1:20 – And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.

John 19:31 – The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and [that] they might be taken away.

Philippians 2:8 – And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

John 19:25 – Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the [wife] of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

Luke 23:26 – And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear [it] after Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:17 – For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

Galatians 6:14 – But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Matthew 27:40 – And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest [it] in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

Mark 15:21 – And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

Galatians 6:12 – As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Hebrews 12:2 – 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

John 19:19 – And Pilate wrote a title, and put [it] on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Galatians 5:11 – And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

Mark 8:34 – And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mark 15:32 – Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

Matthew 27:32 – And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Philippians 3:18 – (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, [that they are] the enemies of the cross of Christ:

Colossians 2:14 – Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Matthew 16:24 – Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Matthew 27:42 – He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

Luke 14:27 – And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Ephesians 2:16 – And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Matthew 10:38 – And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Luke 9:23 – And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Mark 15:30 – Save thyself, and come down from the cross.

Bible Study and Faith

“The Bible is the most priceless possession of the human race.” – Henry H. Halley

“This handbook is dedicated to the proposition that every Christian should be a constant and devoted reader of the Bible, and that the primary business of the church and ministry is to lead, foster, and encourage their people in the habit.”

“The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts.”

“Great has been the blessing from consecutive, diligent, daily study. I look upon it as a lost day when I have not had a good time over the word of God.” – George Muller

“I prayed for faith, and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the 10th chapter of Romans, ‘Now faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ I had closed my Bible, and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible, and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since.” – D. L. Moody

-H. H. Halley “Halley’s Bible Handbook” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1960) p. 4, 6


Archaeological Study of the Bible

“A substantial proof for the accuracy of the Old Testament text has come from archaeology. Numerous discoveries have confirmed the historical accuracy of the biblical documents, even down to the obsolete names of foreign kings… Rather than a manifestation of complete ignorance of the facts of its day, the biblical record thus reflects a great knowledge by the writer of his day, as well as precision in textual transmission.”

-Norman L. Geisler, William Nix “A General Introduction to the Bible” 5th Edition (Chicago: Moody Press 1983) p. 253

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