- Sermon Notes
No Greater Love
ILLUS – “I love you more!”
1 John 3:1, See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God
- If God’s love is so great, then why is there so much evil and hate in the world?
- When we look at all the evil and hate, it is easy to wonder if God cares for us; to doubt God’s love for us.
- The problem of evil is often cited as a key reason for why some doubt God’s existence.
- Tonight, we will see that when the Bible says, “God loves us”, it is more than just ink on a page.
- In fact, we will discover that there is no greater love than God’s love when we look at the suffering and death of His Son, Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary.
- It will become clear that Jesus Christ is God’s loving remedy for the evil and hate that saturates our world.
- During our last study in Matthew’s Gospel, we noted that Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate to stand trial.
- Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent and that the Jewish leaders were accusing Him because of envy.
- At one point, Pilate tried to release Jesus, but the pressure from the Jewish leaders and crowd was too great so he eventually buckled.
a. A riot was about to break out and Pilate did not want that happening on his watch. (24)
b. The Jews also threatened to accuse Pilate of not being a “friend of Caesar” if they did not get their way; an accusation he had been accused of before and wished to avoid again at any cost. (John 19:12)
4. So, taking a basin of water, he washed his hands in front of the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood”. (24)
5. Pilate had Jesus scourged and then delivered Him over to be crucified. (26)
6. After our Savior was scourged, it’s hard to fathom how the abuse and cruelty could get any worse, but it did.
a. The soldiers stripped our Lord of His clothing and placed a scarlet/purple robe on the open wounds of His flesh.
b. A crown of thorns was fashioned and thrust upon His head.
c. Then He was struck in the head with the staff the soldiers had placed in His right hand earlier.
d. The soldiers mocked Jesus as they pretended to bow down in worship before Him, only to stand up and spit in His face, a face that was so marred that He was no longer recognizable.
e. At this point we must remember that our Savior had been up all night and had endured earlier trials, beatings, and mocking before this; before He was led away to Golgotha to be crucified. (27-31)
7. Matthew’s account of the crucifixion and the depictions that we read in the other Gospel accounts tell us of the great suffering that our Lord endured.
8. Jesus had begun to drink from the cup of God’s wrath, the cup that He spoke of in the Garden of Gethsemane.
APPL – We must also see that this was the cup that each of us deserve to drink because of our sins.
- Each person is faced with a great dilemma; what do we do with our sin?
- Yet each of us must understand God’s remedy for our broken lives; that He is the One who actually paid the penalty for our sin through His Son, Jesus Christ.
- This is the Christian Gospel; the Good News that Jesus Christ suffered and died in our place.
Transition – While on the cross, the Gospels record that Jesus spoke seven times. Each statement is a revelation of great God’s love for us so it’s important for us to understand their meaning and application to our lives.
I. By Jesus’ Great Love He Gave Us His Life
- After the soldiers had scourged Jesus, they placed the cross on His shoulders and led Him down the Via Dolorosa, which means The Way of Suffering.
- Along the way, the soldiers took a man from Cyrene named Simon and pressed him into service; to carry Jesus’ cross.
- Simon was from a town with a large Jewish population located in North Africa; known today as Tripoli, Libya.
- He had come to observe the Passover in Jerusalem but suddenly found himself carrying the cross of a man sentenced to death by crucifixion; the cruelest form of capital punishment used by Rome.
- At first, I am sure he must have wondered why he of all people was asked to do such a thing.
- Only later, when the eyes of his heart were opened, would he realize the privilege thrust upon him; that he carried the cross of God’s Son to Calvary and had the Savior’s blood saturate his garments along the way. (32)
- In fact, Mark’s Gospel refers to Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus, so it appears they eventually became leaders in the early church; the fruit of their father’s conversion and faith in Jesus Christ. (Mark 15:21)
- Once Jesus arrived at Golgotha, which means The Place of the Skull, He was offered wine mixed with gall to dull His senses. But after He tasted it, Jesus refused to drink it because He wanted to be fully alert as He died for our sin.
- Then the soldiers hammered nails into Jesus’ hands and feet. Once secured, Jesus was elevated off the ground to hang on the cross along with two criminals, one on His left and the other on His right.
- Here, Luke records the first statement of Jesus.
Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
A. “Father, forgive them”
- These were the first words that Jesus spoke from the cross at Calvary and they give us great insight into God’s heart about forgiveness.
- At first, it’s hard to imagine how Jesus could say this after all that He had been through.
- Yet, Jesus’ words not only reveal God’s heart for us but how He wants us to be toward others.
Matthew 5:44-45, But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven
- Now, why did Jesus add, “for they do not know what they are doing?” The Apostle Paul gives us some important insight.
1 Corinthians 2:8, … the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory
- But the heart of the Lord in forgiving us is the same heart that He desires in us because He knows that if we do not forgive, we are allowing a root of bitterness to poison our lives.
Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled
B. “You will be with Me in paradise”
- Matthew records that while Jesus was on the cross, the two robbers on either side of Him joined the crowd and hurled insults at Jesus. (44)
- But Luke adds that one of them began to have a change of heart. He recognized his guilt but also noticed something vastly different about Jesus.
- He rebuked the other criminal, owned his sin, and asked Jesus to remember him when He entered into His kingdom; confessing Jesus as Messiah.
Luke 23:40-42, But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”
- There on the cross, Jesus gave the criminal hope when He said, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
APPL – Many people seem to be confused about what makes heaven paradise.
- They imagine heaven to be what they think life on Earth should be, but only better.
- A place with pristine lakes or beautiful golf courses along with “All-You-Can-Eat” gourmet meals.
- But Jesus said, “You will be with Me…”
- Heaven is paradise because Jesus is with us!
John 14:3, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
- Jesus’ third statement is a touching demonstration of the value He placed on relationships.
a. Jesus honored His mother, Mary.
b. It appears that her husband, Joseph, had died.
c. As her firstborn Son, Jesus made sure His mom would be cared for after His departure.
John 19:26-27, When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.
II. By Jesus’ Great Love He Gave Us His Death
- It may seem odd to hear those words. Why would God want to give us Jesus’ death?
- But there are verses in the Bible which confirm the statement is true.
- For example, one of the most popular verses in the Bible makes the same point.
John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave His
only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
- We stand condemned because of our sins, destined to perish, excluded from eternal life with God.
- But Jesus was forsaken for us, instead of us.
A. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
- Darkness fell upon the land from the sixth hour until the ninth hour; from noon to 3pm.
- The darkness was not due to a solar eclipse since the full moon of the Passover would have put the moon out of place for an eclipse.
- Rather, this was the reality of Jesus Christ taking our place of suffering instead of us. Darkness would have been the consequence that we would have suffered for our own sins.
Matthew 25:30, Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- After that, Jesus cried out the famous words in verse 46, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
- Immediately, the Jewish leaders would have recognized those words from Psalm 22, a prophetic Psalm written by King David which predicts the way the Messiah, the Son of David, would be killed.
Psalm 22:1, 16-18, My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?… For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
APPL – By Jesus Christ being forsaken in our place, He made a way so that we might be brought into a living relationship with God.
- In fact, in verse 51, Matthew records, “And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”.
- The veil in the Temple is what kept everyone separated from the holiest place in the Temple, the place where the glory of God dwelt.
- Through Jesus’ death, God made a way for us to have relationship with Him; a relationship that makes all the difference in our lives.
Ephesians 2:13, But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Hebrews 10:19-22, Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled
clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
APPL – Imagine how our lives would be changed if we truly understood what it means to live in the presence of God.
- The way of the transgressor is hard.
- But the way of the Lord is life and peace!
B. “It is finished.”
- The last three statements spoken by Jesus on the cross are extremely significant for us.
- At one point, Jesus said, “I thirst.” (John 19:28)
- Here we see Christ’s humanity; dehydration would have caused His tongue to stick to the roof of His mouth; even that was prophesied in Psalm 22.
Psalm 22:14-15, I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint… My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws
APPL – But in that we also see a picture of what sin does to the soul.
John 7:37-38, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”
- And then Jesus declared in a loud voice, “Tetelestai,” meaning, “It is finished” or “Paid in full”.
APPL – This is a declaration of victory!
- It is over! It is finished!
- The debt for our sin has been paid!
- Now there is reason to rejoice.
- Now there is reason to shout!
- Now there is reason to respond in loving God with all of our hearts because Jesus has canceled out the certificate of debt and defeated the enemy of our souls!
Colossians 2:13-15, When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
APPL – Only after the debt was paid in full, did Jesus yield up His spirit into the hands of the Father when He said, “Father, into Your hands, I commit My spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
- No one took Jesus’ life away.
- He willingly offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin.
- And He also took it up again so that He may give us His resurrection life so that we may have life to the full!
John 10:17-18, For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.
- Through Jesus, sin is defeated, and death is swallowed up in victory!
1 Corinthians 15:54, Death is swallowed up in victory.
- Oh, how great the love of God is for us!
Matthew 27:27-50 NASB
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the [a]Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman [b]cohort around Him. 28 They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a [c]reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31 After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.
32 As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, [d]whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.
33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.
35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting [e]lots. 36 And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. 37 And above His head they put up the charge against Him [f]which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
38 At that time two robbers *were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those passing by were [g]hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42 “He saved others; [h]He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43 He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He [i]delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.
45 Now from the [j]sixth hour darkness [k]fell upon all the land until the [l]ninth hour. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 47 And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49 But the rest of them said, “[m]Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him[n].” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.