CALVARY!

Lesson 5

by Jackie Alston

Calvary is a very important subject. We've often portrayed Calvary in our Easter skits. We've heard numerous sermons concerning Calvary. One of my favorite sermons from the Pastor happened on Calvary- "The Seven Last Sayings of Jesus Christ from the Cross." In my story, you're going to hear a few of the things said in that sermon because so many things happened on Calvary.

Our Lord was crucified, mocked, and humiliated on Calvary. We saw Jesus in human and divine form on Calvary, heard His last seven sayings. Prophecies were fulfilled, miracles were performed, but most of all, Salvation and Eternal Life was rendered on Calvary!!

Before we get on that road to Calvary, I'd like to take a few seconds to tell you about the events just before Jesus began His walk to Calvary. Pontius Pilate, in his quest to spare Jesus' life, whom he believed was innocent, had Him severely beaten. He hoped this punishment would be enough to satisfy the Sanhedrin. This type of punishment was so severe that sometimes men would die from it alone.

Jesus was brought out, stripped to the waist, placed over a pillar, and bound. A soldier stood on each side of Him with a whip with three long straps. At the end of each strap were pieces of metal or bone. They used these straps to beat Jesus unmercifully. When one whip would come up; the other would go down. It was a continual beating - thirty-nine lashes. When they were done, they had beaten through flesh, nerve, muscle, and in some places; they had beaten the flesh completely away from the bone. As Jesus stood there dripping blood and shivering from shock, the Sanhedrin were not satisfied. They shouted, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" They knew that crucifixion was the cruelest form of death there was.

After a person had been sentenced and beaten, that person usually had to wear a sign around his neck stating the crime he was convicted of. Of course, Jesus' sign read, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." The person also had to carry his own crossbeam to the crucifixion site. The upright beams were usually already in the ground. So Jesus tried to carry His own cross. But really it wasn't Jesus' cross because Jesus had no sin. It was my cross and your cross, but Jesus carried it. At one point, He fell beneath the heavy load of that cross and a soldier witnessing this shouted, "Hey you, Simon, come take this cross." The soldier wasn't showing compassion, he just didn't want Jesus to die before he was humiliated and crucified.

When they reached the crucifixion site, Jesus was pushed roughly to the ground. The crossbeam was shoved under His shoulders with no consideration whatsoever for his bruised back. Two soldiers held one arm while another knelt on the other arm and drove a long iron nail in the palms of His hands. Can you imagine that happening to you? What would you do? You would cry out! Jesus, in human form cried out! But He divinely cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"!

As our Pastor has explained to us, they knew what they were doing, they just didn't know whom they were doing it to. They didn't know Jesus as their Savior. That's why they fulfilled a seven-hundred year old prophecy by hanging Jesus in the middle of two thieves, as if to say, "This here is our biggest criminal, calling himself the "King of the Jews." They didn't realize that Jesus was not only the "King of the Jews", but the "King of Kings". They just didn't know. So they stood there and mocked Him, shouting, "Alright, King of the Jews, if you're the Son of God, come down from the cross. Save yourself. You saved others, save yourself."

Those shouts were the voices of the Sanhedrin, but the words of one who hated Jesus a lot more than the Sanhedrin. Satan had followed Jesus to the crucifixion site in a final attempt to get Him to be disobedient to His Father's will. ( I told you, Satan never gives up!) "Come down from the cross!" Can you imagine if He had? I don't even want to think about that!. But I can imagine Jesus looking out over that crowd thinking, "Yes, I saved others. I saved Mary Magdalene from seven demons, I saved a woman with a bad issue of blood, I saved Jairus' daughter, the widow's son, and Lazarus. But, I'm not done yet!" I've come to give my life a ransom for many. Just because I'm hanging on this cross doesn't mean I'm not in the saving business anymore. I've got to save you and others, and the only way I can do that is by not saving myself from this cross. Don't you understand?" Those people couldn't understand.

The two thieves hanging on the other crosses along with Jesus didn't understand. They were mocking Jesus right along with the crowd. Two dumb thieves! I call them dumb because they couldn't have been too smart, they got caught. But as the time passed on, one of those thieves came to his senses. Perhaps he had been in a crowd before and heard Jesus speak of His Kingdom. Perhaps it was God's amazing grace, but this thief spoke words that should have put any one of the disciples to shame. They had walked with Jesus a few years and didn't realize Jesus' Kingdom wasn't an earthly kingdom. This thief realized Jesus had a kingdom beyond the grave. He looked over at Jesus, saw Jesus in His weakest state, dying on a cross; yet he believed. "I've lived my life a thief. I don't want to die a thief, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And to Jesus, enough was said. He responded, "Today, thou shall be with me in Paradise."....Dumb thief? No, no, my mistake. That thief was anything but dumb. He became Jesus' first trophy of Salvation.

Next, Jesus looks over at His mother and His disciple and says, "Woman, behold thy son." And to John He says, "Behold thy Mother." Woman was a title of respect. But, why didn't Jesus say, "Mother, behold thy son", and to John, "Behold My Mother?" As it was stated last week, Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And at that moment, Mary had to have realized the truth: before the world was, Jesus was! He who hung dying on that cross was not her child. She was HIS! "Woman, I'm not your son, I'm your SAVIOR!...

You might wonder, "Why didn't Jesus entrust Mary to His brothers? After all, "blood is thicker than water." Blood is thicker than water, but in this case, Spirit was thicker than blood. Jesus knew His brothers didn't believe in Him. He knew in John's home, His mother would find a spiritual atmosphere, one with a love and thirst for God that would match her own. In other words, "You two take care of each other is this life, and I'll take care of you in the next."

So ends the first three hours on Calvary. We've heard Jesus' first three sayings and those sayings were marked by words of mercy and kindness. One author called those sayings the "PR" sayings because He:

  1. PRayed for His killers.
  2. PRomised Paradise to a thief, and
  3. PRovided a home for His mother.

Now Jesus begins His final three hours of atonement for a world of lost sinners, and God chooses to perform a miracle as He covers the earth in darkness. From 12:00-3:00 p.m., there was total darkness on Calvary. Some say the darkness was God's withdrawal so that the act would be a complete act of atonement. Others say the darkness was an inanimate nature's way of hiding her face in shame at the wickedness of men; while others say the darkness was God's symbolic way of letting creation mourn the death of Jesus, "The Light of the World".

Whatever the darkness symbolized, it hushed that crowd. There was no more mocking, jeering, or taunting of Jesus at the foot of the cross. There was total silence. Sometimes I wish it wouldn't have been so silent because maybe, just maybe, no one would have heard and recorded those heartbreaking words that Jesus cried out as the darkness was passing away. The first time He speaks words concerning Himself, they are words that are so strong, it breaks my heart.

I know we can't even begin to imagine what Jesus was going through, but to give you some idea, just look at the last twenty hours of His life. He was:

                  How much could one man bear, human or divine?

But all of this was nothing until Jesus looked up and saw a closed Heaven. Then it became too much for even our Divine Master to bear, and He cried out,"My God, My God, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?" I imagine He thought, "Anybody else but not you Father, oh no, not you!" Poor Jesus! Not only was He experiencing a physical death, but a spiritual death, an alienation from His Father that inevitably comes with sin. God just could not handle sin!

But in Jesus deepest sense of abandonment, He still cried out,"My God." He still trusted and believed in God for salvation and deliverance. And soon it was all His. Our Lord finished the job God sent Him to do. He laid down His life and placed His spirit beside the Father."Father, INTO THY HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT."

The onlookers on Calvary were thinking, "Alright, that's the end." But to their surprise it was only the beginning. Although God hated sin, he wouldn't forsake His Son. As a matter of fact, He was well pleased in Jesus. So pleased that He saluted the conquering Savior with an earthquake that rocked the world, knocked down trees, split rocks, and opened graves. All the dead in Christ were awakened. In a few days they were going to walk the streets with the Master. A centurion who was spiritually dead was awakened, and it made him shout out, "Surely this man was the Son of God." The veil of the temple was split in two. Split in such a way that only God could have done it, from top to bottom, a sixty-foot high curtain that once separated God from man. Before the death of Jesus, only the high priest was allowed behind this curtain. But in Jesus' death, that barrier between God and man was broken. No longer did one have to be a high priest, but one could be a common thief....."Whosoever will let him come!"

The Sanhedrin were baffled. They were thinking, "What in the world is going on here? Is this some type of magic? Make sure that man is dead!" And a soldier took a spear and pierced Jesus in the side. Out gushed blood and water which medical experts say could have only happened if Jesus had died of a ruptured heart. This leads scholars and theologians to believe that Jesus literally died of a broken heart over all the sin of the world; leaving us a double cure..Blood for atonement, which was the price He paid for our redemption, and water to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness. My, My, what a Savior!

At this time, someone must have run and told Pilate that Jesus was dead. He couldn't believe it. He thought, "Thirty-three years old, in the prime of His life. He had to be in good shape with all that walking He did, yet you're telling me He's dead after only six hours. Pilate knew how it was on Calvary. He knew that the crosses had pegs down by the feet. The men could use their legs to press their feet against these pegs which would lift up their chests so they could breathe easier, thereby living longer. Pilate knew that men could live three to six days hanging on the cross. He also knew that sometimes soldiers would have to come with big hammers and break the legs of some men to speed up death. This is what happened to the two thieves hanging with Jesus. Pilate just couldn't believe that Jesus Christ who was supposed to know everything, didn't know to use that peg so He could live longer.

But what Pilate evidently didn't know is what was prophesized about Jesus seven hundred to one thousand years before He was born. What Pilate didn't know is what Jesus said in Luke 18:32-33, "The Son of Man shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on; And they shall scourge him, and put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again." Jesus couldn't hang on that cross. He had to die, be buried, and resurrect so we could all have a Glorious Easter Sunday. Jesus gave His life in order that we may have a right to an everlasting life. And as long as we accept that right, Jesus could live in a better place. He could live within our hearts.

Every Easter Sunday morning, many people awaken singing, "Ask Me How I Know He Lives, He Lives Within My Heart." But I must tell you right now, Jesus will not live in a lying heart. You're lying when you sing that. Jesus will not live in an adulterous heart. Let me put it like today's young folk would say it. "Jesus wouldn't even go there!"...But I'll tell you a place He did go. He went to Calvary instead of us. Jesus knew we all have crosses that are too heavy for us to bear. He knew Satan would put "sin" signs around our necks and lead us straight to hell while making us believe we were wearing a 10-carat diamond necklace. But thank God for a love so strong that He sent His only Son who said, "Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." No matter what the sign is around your neck, whether it be liar, adulterer, hater, backbiter, gossiper, gambler, alcoholic, or fornicator; whatever it reads, take it to Calvary. There's a sign on Calvary that's bigger than any sign any of us can wear. A sign written in the blood of Jesus that reads: "ALL YOUR DEBTS WERE PAID IN FULL."

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

And Calvary Covers It All!






Providence Family Ministries



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