Symbols of Relief
Easter Artifacts – Message 3
March 28, 2021
I. Introduction: We continue our series entitled, Easter Artifacts.
- John 19:28-37; Matthew 27:45-56; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49
A. Today’s message refers to, and is titled, Symbols of Relief.
- Since Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17), everything mentioned in a passage, including the physical items referred to, were deliberately included by God’s Spirit, so there is important information to be discerned from reflecting on them.
- An artifact is an object, either handmade or found in nature, that is used for a particular function; it reveals information about the time or situation in which it was utilized.
- We are thinking about the spiritual meanings of physical objects employed in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in this Easter series of messages.
- Today’s theme verse: Matthew 27:48 (NLT)—One of them… filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up… on a reed stick so He could drink.
- The items included in today’s passage are The reed, sponge and wine [which] expressed compassion for Jesus.
II. Compassion for Jesus is expressed through…
A. #1 - Concern about His rejection. (Matthew 27:45-46. C/R: Habakkuk 1:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24)
- Matthew 27:45 (NLT)—At noon, darkness fell across the whole land [can also be translated earth] until three o’clock. [Not an eclipse due to the time of year.]
- The darkness, which may have been local or universal, expressed, in my opinion, the judgment of God against the world’s sin.
- Matthew 27:46 (NLT)—At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God, why have You abandoned [forsaken] Me?” [Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34 quotes Aramaic form of God’s name, Eloi]
- Why would God abandon His Son? (Only time Jesus did not address God as Father.)
- Habakkuk 1:13 says God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil—and Jesus became sin.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that God made Christ to be sin [NIV], to become sin [NCV].
- 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT)—He personally carried [NIV: bore] our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.
- Imagine the agony Jesus suffered when the Father justly punished His Son by abandoning Him, forcing Him to experience hell, which is separation from God.
- Jesus’ anticipation of this excruciating separation was revealed when He sweated great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was arrested! [Luke 22:44]
- Jesus ceased to know the intimacy of fellowship with His Heavenly Father.
- Do you empathize with Jesus’ rejection, His agonizing abandonment?
- ILL.: Have you ever experienced rejection from someone you deeply loved and felt close to? (I feel pain whenever my wife is upset with me, which is always my fault.)
- APP.: Does the agony of Jesus affect us? Does separation from God frighten us?
Compassion for Jesus is expressed through…
B. #2 - Caring about His suffering. (Matthew 27:47-50; John 19:28-30; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 3:10)
- John 19:28 (NLT)—Jesus knew that His mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture He said, “I am thirsty.” [Psalm 69:21]
- Matthew 27:47 (NLT)—47Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought He was calling for the prophet Elijah.[Misunderstood, thought He was saying, Elias, Aramaic.]
- Also, these were Jewish citizens watching the spectacle who knew Elijah was supposed to precede the arrival of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5), so perhaps Jesus was calling to him.
- Matthew 27:48 (NLT)—One of them [likely a Roman soldier] ran and filled a sponge with sour wine [cheap wine highly diluted with water, common drink for soldiers and laborers], holding it up to Him on a reed stick [John 19:29: hyssop branch, bush-like plant in the mint family with long stems and purple flowers] so He could drink.
- Some commentators assert this offer of a drink was a remedy for dehydration, given to prolong Jesus’ life, thereby lengthening His torture, but I don’t think so.
- I think it was an act of compassion, offered by a merciful soldier to a suffering man.
- I think the artifacts of reed, sponge and wine symbolized sympathy for Jesus.
- APP.: Do we reflect on the willing suffering of Jesus solely for our sakes, not because deserved it, but because of our sin, we desperately needed it. (Romans 5:7-8)
- Matthew 27:49 (NLT)—But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save Him.” [Mark 15:36: “to take Him down!”] [Sincere or mockery?]
- It’s difficult to discern whether this was ridicule or authentic interest.
- Darkness at midday certainly caused some onlookers to think God was involved in this scene, but others instantly rejected the idea that God was at work.
- John 19:30 (NLT)—When Jesus had tasted it, He said [Matthew 27:50: shouted, requiring considerable strength], “It is finished!” [Work His Father sent Him to accomplish was complete.] Then He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. [Surrendered His spirit by a sovereign act of His will; John 10:18.]
- APP.: Do we care about Jesus’ suffering for our sakes?
- Philippians 3:10 (NLT)—I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death,
- APP.: Do we want to suffer with Christ to know Him better? (Graham)
- The suffering of Jesus is symbolized in the Lord’s Supper.
C. #3 - Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:23-26)
- 1 Corinthians 10:16–17 (NLT)—16When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body.
- BREAD: 1 Corinthians 11:23–24 (NLT)—23For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord Himself. On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread [OPEN TOP] 24and gave thanks to God for it. Then He broke it in pieces and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this to remember Me.”
- WINE: 1 Corinthians 11:25–26 (NLT)—[OPEN CUP TOP] 25In the same way, He took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and His people—an agreement confirmed with My blood. Do this to remember Me as often as you drink it.” 26For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until He comes again.
- Does the willing, sacrificial, death of Jesus result in…
Compassion for Jesus [that] is expressed through…
D. #4 - Conveying His attitudes. (1 Corinthians 2:16. C/R: Romans 12:15-16; Philippians 1:8; Colossians 3:12-14)
- 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NLT)—For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach Him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
- Having the mind of Christ means knowing and sharing in His plan, purpose and perspective—and it is something all believers possess by the Presence of the Spirit.
- Possessing the mind of Christ is thinking (thoughts and feelings), and therefore acting, in the way Jesus would.
- When we possess the mind of Christ, we express His attitudes toward others.
- Paul wrote at Philippians 1:8 (NLT)—God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.
- APP.: Do we express the compassion, the sensitivity of Christ? (COVID-19)
- Do we care about other people’s suffering and concerns?
- Do we desire to connect with fellow believers?
- Romans 12:15-16 (NLT)—15Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
- APP.: Am I more concerned with creating harmony in our body or making sure to only associate with people who agree with me? (No place for divisiveness, by me or you.)
- We agree about our identity in Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, the way of salvation, the path to spiritual growth, the fact that God still speaks and acts miraculously, and the dignity of every person because every person possesses the image of God.
- There are theological differences within our church, especially on non-essential issues, that rarely cause conflicts, but there are political and cultural issues, including matters involving the election, the virus and masks and vaccines, which we disagree about.
- Are we striving to maintain harmony in our body with each other by asking questions without judgment? EX.: “Why do you disagree? What do you think about this matter?”
- Differences don’t have to cause division if we will express the mind of Christ and convey the attitude of Jesus toward each other.
- ILL.: Even among Jesus’ disciples there were different opinions about how to relate to the Roman rulers, the Jewish religious leaders and even the Jewish people.
- We don’t have to all agree (including with me), but we must all be agreeable.
- We want unity, but that doesn’t mean we require uniformity of opinion.
- Colossians 3:12–14 (NLT)—12Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
- If we are willing, God’s Spirit will make us able, to treat each other this way!
- APP.: Are you willing?