Symbols of Rejection
J.C. Thompson |
This week we will discuss the symbols of Jesus' rejection and the ways we resist the truth of the crucifixion and commands of Jesus.
Symbols of Royalty
Easter Artifacts – Message 2
March 21, 2021
I. Introduction: We are continuing our Easter series entitled Easter Artifacts.
As Perry mentioned last week, an artifact is an object, made by hand. Tools, ornaments, cloth and other things that give us information about a particular event or time, especially from the distant past.
- We look at these artifacts because they are mentioned in Scripture and can give us clues into the meaning of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
- Today’s theme verse is Matthew 16:24 (NLT) - Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me.”
- We’ll be talking about the sign posted over Christ’s head, the nails and the cross today. These symbols show the rejection of Christ.
- Today we will examine ways in which we can reject Christ as we look at ways the ancient world rejected Him during his life on earth.
II. When I reject Christ, I reject His...
A. #1 - DIVINITY (Matthew 27:32-37. C/R: Acts 2:36; Romans 10:9)
- After Jesus’ trial before Pilate, He was sentenced to death via crucifixion.
- Matthew 27:32-34 (NLT) - 32 Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. 33 And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 34 The soldiers gave Him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when He had tasted it, He refused to drink it. [fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 69:21; Jesus did not refuse their offer showing respect, but did not want to dull His mind or His body for His impending suffering]
- Matthew 27:35 (NLT) - After they had nailed Him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for His clothes by throwing dice.
- I would like to mention here that the nails in this story are not actually mentioned in the Greek. The Greek here is more literally, “They crucified Him”
- The Romans may have used fence posts, sections of walls or roofs in order to crucify men in addition to things like a cross.
- While it would have been common to use nails to hang men, it might not have been nails, but could have been throngs…
- But we do have mention of nails somewhere else in the Scriptures to show us that Christ was hung via his wrists…where?
- Thomas, asked to see his nail scarred hands. This mention lets us know that Christ would have been hung on a horizontal cross bar via nails through His wrists in order to hold them there until He suffocated and died.
- Matthew 27:36-37 (NLT) - 36 Then they sat around and kept guard as He hung there. 37 A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against Him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
- Here we see the sign. In John, we know that this sign was written in 3 languages: Hebrew, Latin and Greek.
- When Romans crucified criminals, they would place their charge on a sign above their head. Ironically, the sign above Jesus’ head describes His identity not a behavior.
- The soldiers, Pilate, onlookers would have denied that this man, who was hanging on the cross could be God Himself.
- In order to be a Christian, we must not reject that Christ is the Son of God, crucified. He is truly God and Man.
- If Christ truly is divine, if He is God the Son, then He must receive the “worship, devotion, confidence, and trust that God alone demands and deserves.”
- Jesus did not just come to perform signs and wonders like Moses, heal like Elisha, or prophesy like Isaiah. These men were not good enough.
- Only Jesus could fulfill the Law. Only Jesus could come in our place and die. As one of my favorite children’s worship songs says: “There’s only one hero and His name is Jesus”
- APP: As you hear the story of God Himself, come to earth and dying on a cross for your sins, do you accept this? We must not reject the Divinity of Christ.
- If we believe in the Divinity of Christ, we must obey Him as God, not a wise teacher. We will be accountable for following the commandments of the God-Man Jesus Christ because they are the commandments of God Himself. They are not suggestions.
- APP: Do we treat the words of Christ as the words of God Himself? Are we embracing Jesus as God?
B. #2-Sacrificial DEATH (Matthew 27:39-40. C/R: John 20:25-28)
- Matthew 27:39-40 (NLT) - 39 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at You now!” they yelled at Him. “You said You were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if You are the Son of God, save Yourself and come down from the cross!”
- Do not miss this, there were people who I’m sure gathered by, but even those people who were passing by, mocked Him.
- They demanded He come down from the cross. If He was truly God, then save Yourself.
- This demand, was not only meant to mock Christ, but also sounds very similar to a temptation from the enemy before Jesus entered into ministry.
- Matthew 4:6 (NLT) - and said, “If You are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order His angels to protect You. And they will hold You up with their hands so You won’t even hurt Your foot on a stone.’”
- Not only this, but Jesus rebuked Peter for this very thing.
- Matthew 16:23 (NLT) - Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
- It was God’s plan for Jesus to remain on the cross and die in our place, paying for our sins. So while men carried out the plan, it was God’s plan and Jesus’ will and the Spirit’s power that carried out the plan for Jesus to die on our behalf on the cross.
- Through Jesus we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of our sins.
- We are given new life through His death and resurrection.
- Our response to our sin, must be trust in Jesus. His willingness to forgive and restore us to wholeness in Him. True fellowship and service in the kingdom.
- His death should not produce sorrow, but instead hope.
- While this world may tempt us with how horrible things are and for some they might be. There is hope in Jesus and in Him alone.
- No matter how dire things seem here on earth, no matter how the economy looks, no matter how our relationships seem, no matter how successful or unsuccessful we are, there is always hope in Christ, because He conquered death.
- APP: Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for you? For your sins? For the sins of the world?
- We should not live in the rejection of this. We should live in the truth of our identity in Christ, as Josh preached about, made reality by His death on the cross.
- The death that Jesus died, is also useful for us as our example to follow.
#3 DISCIPLESHIP (Matthew 10:28; 27:41-43. C/R: Matthew 16:25-26; John 16:33; 1 Peter 2:23)
- Matthew 27:41-43 (NLT) 41 The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. 42 “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but He can’t save Himself! So He is the King of Israel, is He? Let Him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in Him! 43 He trusted God, so let God rescue Him now if He wants Him! For He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
- It wasn’t just onlookers, those traveling by who had heard of Jesus and mocked Him, but those that should have been the most acquainted with the Messiah rejected Him.
- This shouldn’t surprise us, the religious leaders had been denying Jesus since His arrival, but their rejection should instruct us.
- The teachings of Jesus weren’t easy. He taught that wealth did not lead to the Kingdom of God.
- He taught that authority did not lead to the Kingdom of God.
- His plan involved His own torture and death, and Jesus willingly chose those things.
- In this life, those of us that follow Christ are presented at different times the same command…
- Matthew 16:24 (NLT) – “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me.”
- That is what Christ commands us, it’s also what He modeled for us. Christ took up His cross and He bids us to do the same.
- This is one of the most beautifully difficult things about discipleship. We want discipleship to be a formula. Study these texts, attend these services, check off these boxes, but Jesus gets in our stuff.
- We come to some suffering, some fork in the road, some risk, some conflict and Jesus stands there saying, If you want to follow Me, you must pick it up.
- Some of you in this room are living this right now. You lost a loved one, you lost a job, you are being challenged to step up and engage in a relationship or a contentious situation, you are being asked to be gentle and loving to someone that is not. You are ridiculed for your faith and participation as a Christian and you are not to retaliate just as Jesus did not retaliate.
- When these situations happen, we can choose to avoid the suffering or enter into it.
- Matthew 10:28 (NLT) - “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
- It hearkens back to the prayer of Jesus that if God would allow the cup to pass from Him. God ultimately allowed the cup to pass from Jesus…after He drank it.
- His suffering did find relief in death.
- When we obey Christ and choose to suffer on His behalf, it is where our relationship with Him grows most intimately, deeply, fully. It is where our worship moves from words of a musician, to the words of our heart.
- We experience what theologians call, “union with Christ” or what the Scriptures call “communion with Christ” but only when we embrace the discipleship plan that God has for us.
- This is not easy, it is often difficult, but it is also the thing that Jesus did for you.
- If you are a follower of Jesus, I’m asking you to consider picking up your cross. To serve, to give, to come back to the family of God. Quit denying Jesus’ commands.
- Did you know that our adult volunteer numbers in Children’s Ministry have been in decline over the last 4 years? Thankfully our teenagers have stepped up and we can continue to love on kids and students, but our adult numbers have dwindled.
- May God be calling you to serve in this way?
- If you are in the pathway of discipleship and you’ve got no other step that Christ has given you today, you are completely in obedience to His will in your life, rest, enjoy the fruit of fellowship with Jesus. Show someone else the way.
- We should not be angry, without hope, or overwhelmed with the way the world is today. Jesus has overcome and Greater is He than he who is in the world.
- But do not reject His plan of discipleship in your life. His commands are not mere suggestions they are the way that we should love and devotion to Him.
- APP: What is Christ calling you to do?