CALVARY SPEAKS TODAY

"And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left."  Luke 23:33.  By the close of Easter Sunday, 2004, the movie "The Passion of Christ" was predicted to gross some three hundred and fifty million dollars in ticket sales.  During the first weeks of it showings the film has sparked world wide interest and discussion:
          Is it anti-Semitic or not?
          Is it the story of just one of many travesties of justice?
          Is it just the sad tale of a martyr that plays on our emotions?
                                                      Or:
          Does Calvary have a message for every man, woman, boy and girl in every generation:  Most assuredly it does.

CALVARY SPEAKS OF THE SINFULNESS OF MAN

GOOD MEN WOULD NOT HAVE CRUCIFIED JESUS

  1.  Over 1400 years of Scripture gave testimony that Jesus was God's promised Savior.  There are over 300 Old Testament prophecies of Christ of which we have the fulfillment recorded in the New Testament.  These prophecies give explicit details about His birth; His eternal pre-existence; His ministries of being Prophet, Priest and King; His miracles;  His teaching in parables; His presentation to Israel; His rejection, crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension back to heaven.  For specific references we refer our readers to "Evidence That Demands A Verdict" by Joshua McDowell; pages 147-183.

What did these prophecies reveal about Jesus?  They revealed Him to be the virgin born Son of God.  (See Isaiah 7:14; 9:6, and Psalm 2:7, 11.)  He would be righteous (Psalm 45:6, 7); endowed by "the Spirit of the LORD" with all spiritual graces (Isaiah 11:1-5; 42:1-4); the Redeemer of lost mankind (Isaiah 53); and the Preacher of good tidings (Isaiah 61:1-3).  If the "Bible scholars" of that day had been "good men" they would have taken heed to His warning, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these (the Scriptures) are they which testify of Me.  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."  (John 5:39, 40.)

2.  The works of Jesus bore testimony that He came from God.
Jesus informed His detractors, "But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given me to finish - the very works that I do - bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me."  (John 5:36).  The gospels give us a sufficient record of His works.  He healed the lame; gave sight to the blind; cleansed the lepers; set demon possessed people free and raised the dead.  He embraced little children; forgave the worse of sinners their sins; exposed the hypocrites and in His teaching, "He spoke as no man spoke".  In the early days of His ministry Nicodemus gave this appraisal help at that point by leaders of the largest religious party, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."  (John 3:2).  If these religious leaders had been "good men" they would have embraced Jesus instead of rejecting Him and leading the people to cry out for His crucifixion.

3.  The heavenly Father gave testimony that Jesus was His beloved Son. 
At the baptism of Jesus and one the Mount where Jesus was transfigured the heavenly Father spoke from heaven.  On both occasions the heavenly Father said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  On the mount of Transfiguration the Father added, "Hear Him!"

In spite of this testimony let us consider what these supposedly "good men" did.  Doctors of Divinity conspired to bring false charges and danced like demons of darkness when they believed they had achieved their goal.  Soldiers mocked Him and brutally abused Him.  A mob that had shouted His praises four days earlier now cried out, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him!"  Calvary vividly informs us of what supposedly "good men" will do to God when they find the power in their hands to do so.

JESUS WOULD NOT HAVE NEEDED TO BE CRUCIFIED FOR GOOD MEN. 
Many voices proclaim the goodness of men.  It is fitting that we acknowledge that man has done good things and continues to do so.  However, let us also acknowledge that these are good things measured by the standard of man.  We must become aware that goodness measured by God requires absolute perfection.  God is perfect and His revealed law requires perfection in His eyes.  James makes it clear that if we hope to attain a goodness that enables us to be accepted by God we must be flawless.  "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all."  (James 2:10.  See also Galatians 3:10).

What really matters is what God says about the moral and spiritual condition of mankind.  Psalm 14 tells us, "The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.  They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt;  There is none who does good, No, not one."  (Psalm 14:2, 3.  See also Romans 3:13-23).  The apostle Paul states what a foolish thing it would have been for Jesus to die for sins if men were already good.  "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law then Christ died in vain."  (Galatians 2:21.)

CALVARY SPEAKS OF SACRIFICE FOR SIN

GOD'S PERFECT JUSTICE MUST BE SATISFIED.
The Bible clearly reveals the qualities of God's nature.  Even so, many have pondered and even debated as to which of God's qualities are pre-eminent...His holiness, righteousness, justice or His love, mercy and grace.
The fact is that we cannot diminish the importance of any of God's qualities.  They function in perfect balance.  God's holiness, righteousness, and justice are outraged by sin and demand that sin be punished.  God's love, mercy and grace long for man's restoration.  What God's holiness, justice and righteousness demanded God's love, mercy, and grace provided through the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.

God gave many pictures of the sacrifice of Christ:
     Adam and Even given a covering of skins to allow them to be restored to fellowship with God.
     Abel being accepted by God through his offering of a lamb.
     Abraham offering a ram instead of his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah.
     The Passover Lamb sparing the firstborn in Egypt.
     The two goats covering and removing sin on the Day of Atonement.
     The Sin and Trespass offerings for sins by Israel's priests.
Though all of these sacrifices we see the principle of an innocent substitute receiving the laws penalty of death for the guilty sinner.  We also have clear teaching by:
     By Moses:  "For the life of the flesh is in the blood and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul."  (Leviticus 17:11). 
     By Isaiah:  "All we like sheep have gone astray;  We have turned, every one to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."  (Isaiah 53:6).
     By Jesus:   "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."  (Matthew 20:28).
     By Paul:  "For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."  (2nd Corinthians 5:21).
     By Peter:  "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit."  (1st Peter 3:18).
Through the sacrifice of Christ for our sins on Calvary we who committed the sins can be sanctified once for all and perfected forever.  (See Hebrews 10:10-14).

CALVARY SPEAKS OF SALVATION FOR SINNERS.

TWO SINNERS DIED WITH JESUS
They were united in having committed crime; receiving condemnation and suffering the consequences.  They were united in having a desire for salvation.  One wanted physical salvation of deliverance from his cross so he could return to his former physical life.  "If you are the Christ, save Yourself and us."    (Luke 23:39).  The other wanted spiritual salvation so that he could live with Christ eternally.  "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."  (Luke 23:42).

One Sinner Placed Saving Faith in Jesus.
He recognized his accountability for crime.  He rebuked the other criminal for his mocking words.  "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?"  (Luke 23:40). 
He admitted that he deserved the punishment he was receiving for his sin.  "...And we indeed justly for we receive the due reward for our deed."  (Luke 23:41a).
He proclaimed the sinless ness of Jesus.  "...This Man has done nothing wrong."  (Luke 23:41b) 
He confessed Jesus as his Lord.   "...Lord..."  (Luke 23:42a).
He believed Jesus would rise from the dead, got to Heaven and someday return.  "...Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom."  (Luke 23:42b).
He accepted Jesus as God's promised Messiah (Christ)  "...into Your kingdom."  (Luke 23:42c).
He asked to be included in Christ's eternal kingdom. "...Remember me...".

Jesus gave to this sinner His salvation:
     It was a certainty.  "Assuredly..."
    
It began immediately.  "...Today..."
    
It involved being in fellowship with Christ after physical death.  "...You will be with Me in Paradise."  (Luke 23:43).

The Other Sinner Died Lost.
The honorable church father, Augustine said, "One dying thief was saved that none might despair---but only one that none might presume."

The sacrifice of Christ for sin on Calvary has satisfied the justice of God.  He now freely offers salvation to all sinners who will sincerely repent of their sin and receive Him by faith as their Savior. 

Ebenezer Wooten was considered by some to be an eccentric evangelist.  The story is recorded that he had just closed a tent meeting on the village green at Ledford Brook, England.  As he and some volunteers were taking down the tent in which the meeting had been conducted a man rushed up to Wooten and asked, "What must I do to be saved""  Wooten continued on about his business and answered, "You are too late, my friend."  "---Too late? the man sputtered.  "Surely I'm not too late just because the meeting is over."  Wooten looked him straight in the eye and said, "You asked, 'What must I do to be saved?'  It's too late for you to do anything.  It's already been done at Calvary!'"

Everything that needed to be done for the worst sinners on earth to be saved was done in the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.  What remains for us is to accept what Jesus did as the atonement for our sin and sincerely trust Him as our Savior. 

Copyright 2002 Thomas E Berry
Scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.

     

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