We thank the Lord that once again we are able to meet this evening. We also thank the Lord for the services we have received this weekend. We are grateful for His love and care towards us. God’s ways are so much higher than our ways. What we cannot fathom with our minds, is crystal clear to the Lord.
I trust that each person is using this time to spend time alone with God. Do not stew in your own juice, do not be depressed at a time like this but allow this time of suffering and hardship to become a time of victory where you are drawn closer to the Lord and He is able to teach you new things daily. It will be wonderful if you can look back on this time as a precious time where you could experience victory in God and the sweetness of following Him. It is a wonderful to know that we were first loved by Christ even while we were His enemies. We all like sheep have gone astray but He gathered us from where we were scattered that we may know Him as our Saviour and Shepherd.
This is a challenging time but God’s Word is not bound and we can hear it wherever we are. Times like these teach us to be on our knees and in prayer before God and say, “God save us, we need you for we are in this difficult situation and we don’t know how or when we will emerge from it.”
16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 Through His death on the cross Jesus demonstrated that He loved us to the end. His love is believable because He put it into practise. Easter is the time when we remember the great things Jesus did for us. We remember how much the Lord loved us and suffered alone with one goal: to fulfil the task He was given which was the salvation of mankind from his sin. The cross of Jesus is so precious. The work that He did on the Cross is so precious. It cannot be described in words because of your sin and wickedness. The Son of man experienced that agony and suffering for you and me.
24 “Seventy weeks[c] are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.[d] 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its[f] end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. Daniel 9:24, 26
Each of the authors of the four Gospels wrote about the events of the cross. Each author portrayed it from his perspective. Each of them were amazed by what the Son of Man did for them on the cross. The hour came when that which had been ordained was accomplished on the cross by Jesus.
Certain events led up to the crucifixion. Jesus spoke to His disciples at the last supper when He ate the Passover with them. It was there where He told them what kind of people they had to be and how they should conduct themselves. He hid nothing from them and explained what would happen to some of them in the future.
No matter how much you speak to some people, they remain hard-headed, stubborn and blunt. They refuse to change their ideas and decisions. Jesus spoke directly to certain people but their hearts were hardened. Christ’s enemies were not heathens, they were from the household of faith and yet they failed to believe His words. They could not accept that He was sent from heaven to save people from their sin. They could not believe that He had the power and authority to forgive sin. This was the main accusation: Jesus blasphemed because He claimed to come from heaven and He also claimed that He would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. This was a bitter pill for them to swallow. They could not accept what He said and opposed Him. At this stage of the weekend (Saturday evening) Jesus was in the tomb and the disciples were behind locked doors. Jerusalem was in chaos. Things had changed completely.
Let us take a look at the many people who were involved, the enemies of Christ. Those who were the cause of the crucifixion were the priests. They plotted Jesus’s arrest but they had to find a way to identify Him. The major role player who worked together with the enemy was from Jesus’ inner circle, a disciple who broke bread with Him, Judas Iscariot. Although he was a member of the disciples, he communicated with the enemy behind His Master’s back. He piously ate with Jesus and the disciples but he was Jesus’s greatest enemy.
It is still the same today. The greatest enemies of the cross are not the heathen but those who say, “Lord, Lord,” and yet they do not serve Him as Lord. They say, “Hosanna, hosanna!” They lay their garments and palm leaves down for Him but a few days later they call for His crucifixion. Friend, in which group do you find yourself in? Are you on Jesus’ side or on the side of those who demand His crucifixion? Are you one who says, “We will go through thick and think with you, Lord, we will die with You if necessary for we love You”?
Judas was busy with a sinister, evil plot of identifying and arresting Jesus. What happened in your life, Judas that you changed so much? You walked with the Lord Jesus and had His trust and then you betray Him? What demon entered you, Judas? What came in? You were so close to the Lord and loved by Him but what entered and changed all of that? How, why and when did you give the devil room in your life, Judas? Give the devil a small foothold in your life and see what he will do! Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss and Jesus said, “Judas, do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Judas, I have been with you for so long, how can you turn against Me? How did you give the devil room so that he could use you as a tool? Judas paved the way for the enemy to arrest Jesus. Child of God, are you not perhaps a Judas? Have you betrayed the Lord though your actions?
Jesus was invited for a meal where a woman, who was uninvited, entered with a jar of precious perfume. Some say it was Mary Magdalene, others say it was another Mary who received grace when she was healed and forgiven. This woman did something different which surpassed the men because of her love for Jesus. She poured this perfume on Jesus’ head and feet. Some disciples complained about this saying that the precious perfume should rather have been sold and the money given to the poor. They saw it as a waste, however, Jesus did not find fault with her. What she did was precious to Him. Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Don’t you know she is anointing me for my death? Don’t trouble her. She is preparing Me for what lies ahead.” Through this precious perfume of great value, she demonstrated how much Jesus meant to her. She did it with all her heart, with all her love, showing Him how much she appreciated what He had done for her.
Through this incident it is clear how a Christian, a disciple of the Lord, can fail to have discernment. A number of them grumbled about her deed but it was precious to the Lord. There are so many believers who criticise. It is part of their daily lives. They find fault with everything. “Why are they wasting money? The money should have been used for that.” In reality they are not concerned about the money waste but that they should get the money.
All these events happened with one purpose in mind – salvation. Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus. He failed to remained faithful and stand with Jesus but turned his back on Him and betrayed Him. Imagine how ashamed Jesus must have been about Judas who was one of His inner circle. The enemies of Jesus had plotted to harm Jesus for a long time and failed, however, through Judas they could accomplish their plan. There are many people who are sell-outs, who betray others – you too, the one who was so close, who was such a great help? You, whom I trusted so much? You stab me in the back and betray me to the enemy. You no longer assist me but take the side of the enemy. Brother and sister who are close to the Lord Jesus, be careful of becoming a Judas! You walk with the enemy, you meet with the enemy, you communicate with the enemy, you are involved in the plot to arrest Jesus and betray Him with a kiss. Your kiss is worse than the bite of an adder! Jesus was aware of the one in the group who would betray Him so that Scriptures might be fulfilled.
Brethren, we need to understand that everything we do under the face of the sun is open to God. Our thoughts are an open book before God. There is nothing we can hide from Him. You cannot hide your sin from God.
When Jesus entered the Garden to pray during the time of His distress, He took some disciples with Him. He went a stone’s throw away and prayed. When He returned to the disciples, they were drowsy and asleep. When He tried to wake them up they seemed heavy and dull, they did not understand. The crowd arrived led by Judas. There were soldiers, leaders, lawyers, everybody who wanted to get back at Jesus. All of them were His enemies. Nobody stood on His side. The disciples who were with Him were afraid and ran away. All of this took place because of the great mercy and love of God which was part of His plan to reconcile man to Him. He stood before Pilate and His accusers. Pilate’s wife was troubled because of her dream. Pilate had to judge this case and because of the pressure of the people, his popularity, he did what the people wanted rather than what was right. There are people who do what is evil because they want the vote and after the vote they do not care about what is right. Others chase after position and are willing to assassinate and kill for position. Others do not care what lengths they go to as long as they get money. They forget that there is the Ancient of Days, He who was and will be.
What kind of life you are leading? Have you been bought? Have you sold the Lord Jesus for something? You may have the blood of the Lord Jesus on your hands, woe to you!
Peter said, “Lord, I am prepared to go with you to the end. I am prepared to die with You.” However, when he reached that crisis, he denied Jesus and said, “I don’t know the man!” Where are the people who will stand with Jesus? Where are the people who will stand with the truth? What Jesus foretold about Peter happened. He denied the Lord. How many people say I will go with the Lord wherever you go? Where are they today? Jesus does not forget what you have said. How many people testified of the power of the Lord Jesus but where are they today? Where are the young people who said they would follow the Lord through thick and thin? Have they been faithful to Him even if they see the way the world lives and dresses? Today they are living in the mire of sin, they have children out of wedlock but they made promises to Jesus and said they would serve Him. Jesus has not forgotten your promises. He has not forgotten what you said. Your words are written in the Book. He holds you accountable. On Judgement Day the books will be opened. Some will be ashamed when Jesus appears because they know they cannot face Him. They will remember what they said about Jesus and the promises they made.
The work of salvation that took place on the cross was aimed at you and me and it was completed. When Jesus died, He said, “It is finished.” 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 The work was of salvation completed. It is now available to each one who comes to God for salvation. No one has an excuse. Everyone can come for salvation and the forgiveness of sin. Each one should be overjoyed and accept it. Each one should realise that there is salvation, there is forgiveness, there is love and it can be mine. Your guilt has been paid for, there is mercy, there is forgiveness with repentance. Your sin can be removed.
My friend, what are you going do with this perfect salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ who descended into the depths of hell to rescue you out of it and out of a life of hell? He ascended into the highest heaven and is victorious at the right hand of God where He intercedes for us at the Father.
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?[a] Ephesians 4:9
He has come to rescue us out of hell and our sin and we ought to come to Him and say, “Here I am Lord, have mercy on me. I cannot live without Your grace. I need You.”
The price has been paid. Jesus has completed the work. Why are you waiting in your sin? Why do you remain in the miry clay of sin? Our Passover Lamb has been slain, Jesus has conquered. Those who come to Him will never be cast out but he will embrace you and says, “I loved you all along. I will love you to the end.”