Luke 23:33-34                     The Love of God For His People              8/21/2016      ßà 

 

 

 

#1.      Father, Forgive Them (Luke 23:32-38, Rom 6:23)

 

 

 

#2.      Today Shalt Thou Be With Me (Luke 23:39-43)

 

 

 

#3.      Woman, Behold Thy Son (John 19:25-27, Gen 3:15, Gal 4:4)

 

 

 

#4.      My God, My God (Matt 27:45-47, Isa 53:10, Gal 3:13, John 15:6, Matt 25:30)

 

 

 

#5.      I Thirst (John 19:28-29, Isa 53:10)

 

 

 

#6.      It Is Finished (John 19:30, Heb 10:14)

 

 

 

#7.      Father, Into Thy Hands (Luke 23:44-48, 2Tim 1:12)

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Luke 23:32 (2X). The title for our sermon today is, The Love of God For His People (2X). How can we describe the Love of God in a 40-minute sermon? I can only superficially touch on the Love of God within this length of time. Today I do want to preach about the Love of God, since this is a “Lord’s Supper Service”. And as you know, in the memorial that is called “The Lord’s Supper”, we “do shew the Lord’s death till He come”. His death on the cross is a huge manifestation of the Love of God for His people. The Lord Jesus Christ came to do two things: #1, He came to atone for the sins of all those who believe on Him, and #2, He came to preach the Gospel to the nation of Israel, who in turn were commanded to preach this Gospel to the nations of the world. Why does the Gospel need to be preached to all nations? God says that all mankind is under the wrath of God, and God will “take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Gospel is the Good News that we can be saved from eternal damnation. To this end, God spoke and His words are written in the Bible as a set of principles and doctrines. The Lord Jesus preached primarily before He went to the cross. He preached very little after His resurrection. Therefore, the last sayings of Jesus before He died are of particular importance to us, because these are the last messages of a dying Father to His children.

Most certainly these are messages of utmost importance. These are messages that must agree with the entire system of principles and doctrines taught by the NT Apostles and the OT Prophets as they are written for us in the Bible. There are 7 last sayings of Jesus on the cross. In the past 2 years I have preached on these 7 last sayings of Jesus whenever we had a “Lord’s Supper Service”. I thought it might be a good Idea to summarize these 7 last sayings of Jesus in one sermon, because they show God’s love in action. If we love someone we must not only say it in words, but particularly we must say it in action. Our actions speak louder than words. And whenever we think of the cross, we must remember what the angel said to Joseph in Matt 1:21, “She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”. The Lord Jesus Christ did not provide the possibility for His people to become saved. No! He shall save His people! And since Christ is God, He shall mightily save His people, without any other conditions imposed. He shall save His people from their sins in this life, which means that sin will not have dominion over them in this life, and He shall save His people from the consequences of their sins in the life hereafter, which means that they will not have to go to Hell to suffer the consequences for their sins. But who are His people? Is that the nation of Israel? But what if I am not a Jew? Does that leave me out? Did Christ suffer and die on the cross to save only Jews? Or does God have two different programs of salvation, one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles? But that cannot be true, because God says in Eph 2:14, “Christ has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us”. You see, when God speaks about “His people” in the Bible, we understand from Eph 1:4 that the term “His people” refers to those whom He has chosen unto salvation from before the foundation of the world. This is the Remnant whom He chose out of every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue, not only out of the nation of Israel, but out of every nation in the world. These are the ones whom Christ saved on the cross. These are the people whom God so loved that He sent His only begotten Son into the world to save them from their sins, and no one else. Therefore, we must also keep this in mind when we turn to the first of the 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross. The Lord Jesus said:

#1.      Father, Forgive Them (Luke 23:32-38, Rom 6:23)

Lu 23:32 ¶ And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.

Lu 23:33-34  And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.      Then said Jesus, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Lu 23:35  And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.

Lu 23:36  And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,

Lu 23:37-38  And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.   And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Whom did Jesus pray for when He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”? And please understand that this request from Jesus was fulfilled. Since Christ is God He cannot do or say anything that will be frustrated. Who was forgiven of the sin of crucifying the Lord Jesus? Was it the Jews for requesting from Pilate that Jesus be crucified? Or was it the Romans who nailed Him to the cross? But God is not an unrighteous judge that He would forgive sins just because Christ has asked for it. God, the Righteous Judge, must demand satisfaction for every sin before He forgives that sin. And so, the Lord Jesus would have to suffer in His soul and die in His body on the cross for that sin also. In fact, the Lord Jesus had to pay the equivalent of what the sinner had to pay for that sin. Each sin, no matter how small, is a slap in the face of God, and God has promised that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23), in which the death that God has in view is the 2nd death, an eternity in the Lake of Fire. To forgive people the sin of crucifying Him, Christ would have to pay the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for that sin. Would Christ suffer the torment of Hell for those who themselves are going to Hell? That is impossible, because God cannot do anything that would be frustrated. The Lord Jesus Christ came to pay for all the sins of His people, but He paid for none of the sins of everyone else in the world. God chose to save His elect, and He chose to pass by all the reprobate. Therefore, when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”, Jesus was not referring to the Romans, or to the Jews, but He was referring to all the sinners whom God intended to save. We are the ones who were responsible for putting Christ on the cross. We nailed Him to that cross. This sin is laid to our account. Therefore this 1st of the 7 sayings of the Lord Jesus on the cross is the one that dominates them all, because here the Lord Jesus speaks about forgiving sins. And forgiving sins was the primary purpose for which Christ came to this earth. He went to the cross to forgive the sins of all the Saints. He was nailed to the cross with the plea to forgive our sins on His lips. Can you see how much the love of God shines through all this? And can you see how much the love of God shines through the 2nd of the 7 sayings of Jesus? He said to the dying thief:

#2.      Today Shalt Thou Be With Me in Paradise (Luke 23:39-43)

At first this dying thief had reviled Jesus, just like everyone else did. But then, under the influence of God the Holy Spirit, God poured His grace upon him and he repented. We read in Luke 23:39,

Lu 23:39  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

Lu 23:40-41  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?          And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

Lu 23:42  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

Lu 23:43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

This dying thief on the cross was a very stubborn man. During his entire sinful life as a thief and a robber he never repented. He brought great sorrow to many whom he robbed of their money or of other valuables, but he never repented. And now that he was condemned to die he brought great sorrow to the Lord Jesus when he reviled Him. It was at this time that God had mercy on him. What an incredible love of God, to have mercy on this enemy of Christ at a time like this. But God’s providence arranged his execution for the same time as when Christ was crucified. The timing could not be more perfect. God stripped him of everything he had. God stripped him naked and nailed him to a cross, next to Jesus. God put him face to face with physical death, to make him meditate on the life hereafter. Then God gave him repentance and then God made him see that the man next to him was not a common criminal but the Christ, the Anointed One. Then, to everyone’s surprise, he said to Jesus, “Lord”. He addressed Him as “Lord”, the Greek word Kurios, because He believed Jesus was a King. “Lord, can you please forgive me that I have reviled you a couple hours ago?” And “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom”. But he received much more than he had asked for. Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise”. He asked for a future blessing, but Jesus promised him, “Today!” He asked only to be remembered, but Jesus said, “Thou shalt be with Me”. He asked for a humble place, but Jesus gave him a place “in Paradise” Wow! Where is that place? Paradise is another name for Heaven. But the body of this thief was probably thrown on the trash heap of Jerusalem, in the Valley of Hinnom, and Jesus’ body was put in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Therefore, the fellowship that this thief on the cross would enjoy with Jesus would be in his soul, or in his spirit essence, together with Christ in His Spirit essence. What does this teach us? It teaches us that when a saved person dies, his or her body is put in the grave and his or her soul goes to live and reign with Christ in heaven. Therefore, we do not weep and wail when one of our fellow believers dies, because they are received up in glory. All their sins have been forgiven, and they have been adopted as sons of God. Now consider the 3rd saying of Jesus:

#3.      Woman, Behold Thy Son (John 19:25-27, Gen 3:15, Gal 4:4)

 Put a sticker here in Luke 23 and please turn to the Gospel according to John 19:25 (2X).

If it seems that in the 2nd saying of Jesus on the cross He forgave the sins of only one person, then consider that in the 3rd saying of Jesus He forgave the sins of all those whom He came to save. Here Jesus was addressing all the elect, of all times, and out of all nations. Jesus said to His mother:

Joh 19:25  Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

Joh 19:26-27  When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved (John), he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!                 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own (home).

What has this to do with the atonement of Christ? Well, we have to remember the principle that Jesus regards spiritual relationship with Him of more value than physical descendancy. Secondly, we have to remember the principle that during the atonement the OT ceased and the NT began. It meant that the OT ceremonial Law ceased to exist when Christ died. It meant that the OT nation of Israel no longer represented God’s people, but the NT church came in her place. What has this to do with Mary and John? Jesus came out of Mary, like Christ came out of the woman. God promised that already in Gen 3:15 where God said to Satan, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed”. God promised perpetual war between Satan’s seed, which are all the reprobate of mankind, and the woman’s Seed, which are Christ and all the elect who are in Christ. Thus the woman represents the entire body of believers, and Mary is symbolizing the OT portion of the body of believers. Likewise John represents the NT body of believers. Of all the Apostles only John witnessed the crucifixion. John feared God, but he did not fear the wrath of man. When Jesus said to His mother “Woman, behold thy son”, spiritually He indicated that the OT church had spawned a new generation of believers, which is the NT church, whom they should love as one of their own. When Jesus said to John, “Behold thy mother”, spiritually He indicated that the NT congregation should acknowledge that their mother church was the OT congregation of Jews, and that they should take them in, and instruct them in the way of the NT economy. This is how the 3rd saying of Jesus pertains to the atonement. And now we realize that the 2nd saying of Jesus also pertains to the atonement, since the thief on the cross most likely represents all the elect of mankind. We all have been saved “in the nick of time”, but from God’s perspective it was “just at the right time”, or “in the fullness of the time”, as in Gal 4:4. 

Put another sticker here in John 19 and please turn to the Gospel According to Matt 27:45 (2X).

#4.      My God, My God (Matt 27:45-47, Isa 53:10, Gal 3:13, John 15:6, Matt 25:30)

We have here the 4th saying of Jesus on the cross. What insight of the atonement does this give us? Remember, the love of God for His people in forgiving them their sins is in view. This is the first and foremost step in the atonement of Christ. The 2nd step of giving His people the rank of sons of God cannot be acted upon until that 1st step has been completed in full. What is required for this? How can God be merciful and just at the same time? God does it through the principle of substitution. The guilt of all the sins of all the elect had to be imputed on our Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ. But God is not leaving any sin unpunished. Therefore, the Lord Jesus had to endure a penalty for our sins that was equivalent to the penalty we would endure if Christ had not paid for our sins. God specified what that penalty is. It is to be cast into a Lake of Fire forever, or to be cast into Hell forever, or to be cast into outer darkness forever, which is the darkness outside the Kingdom of Heaven. Matt 27:45,

Mt 27:45  Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

Mt 27:46  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Mt 27:47  Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.

What do we see here? #1 Not only did the righteousness of God require that Jesus must suffer the equivalent of eternal damnation for our sins, and #2 not only must Jesus "make His Soul an offering for sin", according to Isa 53:10, and #3 not only had Jesus come under the curse of God, for "Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree", according to Gal 3:13, and #4 not only was Jesus "cast forth as The Branch into the fire", according to John 15:6, and #5 not only was Jesus forsaken by God as if He was left in Hell, but #6 Christ also had to suffer in the midst of a darkness that resembled the outer darkness of Hell itself, according to Matt 25:30. This darkness was for us the evidence that this entire world was in the clutches of Satan, and that Christ had to suffer the agony for our sins alone, all by Himself, abandoned by man and by God. God indicated hereby to us that the Lord Jesus in His Soul was suffering in the midst of Hell. Here was a fire that burned infinitely fiercer than Nebuchadnezzar's furnace. These words of unparalleled grief reflected the fullest manifestation of Divine love, and it was the most awe-inspiring display of God's inflexible justice, because God is infinitely Just. At the cross we learn that this cry from our Savior was uttered that we might be allowed to know of what passed there. At this point in time, at about 3 O’clock in the afternoon He suffered under the most intense wrath of God. When Jesus went through this deepest and darkest moment of His suffering He saw light at the end of the tunnel, and He knew that the end was near. Then He said:

#5.      I Thirst (John 19:28-29, Isa 53:10)

Please turn again to the Gospel according to John 19:28 (2X). We read here in John 19:28-29,

Joh 19:28-29  After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.                        Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a

      spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.

We have here the 5th saying of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Why did God write, “After this”? The first three hours on the cross the Lord Jesus suffered in bright sunlight, until about 12 O’clock. Thereafter the whole earth was plunged into darkness for 3 hours, and it was during these cool hours of the day that the Lord Jesus suffered the most intense suffering. Then, in the coolest part of the afternoon Jesus said, “I thirst”. He did not ask for a drink during the first three hours. Why not? It was because He did not want any assistance that man could offer. He had to endure the wrath of God alone. Why then did He ask for a drink at this time, in the coolest part of the day? The answer to this question is contained in the words, “After this”. After Jesus had suffered in the deepest and darkest portals of Hell, and when He then emerged at the other end of Hell, He knew that the end of His suffering had come. It was then that Jesus knew “that all things were now accomplished”. He was still hanging on the cross, but the suffering for our sins was now over. Now He was ready for a little drink to relieve His thirst. He was no longer enduring Hell for our sins. Can you see, this proves that the physical sufferings in His body were not His only sufferings? He suffered in His Soul a great deal more than He suffered in His body. That is the only way we can make sense out of this verse. “All things were now accomplished”, and with the words “all things” we understand that God refers to the payment for the guilt of our sins. Let me read to you what God says in Isa 53:10, “when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand”. This passage says that Christ made His Soul an offering for sin. Even a perfect human soul cannot substitute for the soul of someone else. But the Soul of the Lord Jesus Christ was God the Son, who was God from eternity past. He could do what no other person could do, because He was and is God. Now we turn to the 6th saying of the Lord Jesus. He said:

#6.      It Is Finished (John 19:30, Heb 10:14)

Joh 19:30  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar”. What is the “therefore” there for? The word “therefore” refers to everything that has gone on before. The fact that Jesus was offered the vinegar was not enough. He also drank the vinegar, so that every last detail of the Law and the Prophets would be fulfilled. Every prophecy concerning Christ’s first coming was fulfilled when Christ died and rose again from the grave and ascended into Heaven. Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “It Is Finished”! It was not the voice of someone defeated, saying, “It is all over now; you can go home boys; the case is lost” No! It was the voice of triumph. “It Is Finished”! The work for which I came is finished! The full payment for every last sin has been paid. The full payment implies that Jesus suffered in His Soul the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. The Greek word that has been translated “It is finished” is the same Greek word that was translated “accomplished” in verse 28. Since all things were now accomplished Jesus could say, “It Is Finished”. Not only were all the OT prophecies fulfilled but Jesus also knew in His spirit essence that all the sins of all the elect had been paid, satisfying the righteousness of God, plus He had bought all the OT and NT Saints, body and soul, plus He had bought the corporate NT church as a visible manifestation of His body, plus He had bought the world and this universe to rule over it, so that all the elect can be saved out of the clutches of Satan. He was still hanging on the cross. He was still suffering in His body the pains of crucifixion, but all these pains were negligible compared to the suffering in His Soul that was now accomplished. The spiritual part of His atonement was completed. The Lord Jesus was overjoyed at this present time that He finished paying for our sins. Does this not prove that Christ’s suffering in His Soul was much greater than the suffering in His body? This cross experience of the Lord Jesus was His most glorious event. In fact, it is the most glorious event in all of eternity. Here “by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb 10:14). Now we have one more saying of Jesus. He was still very much alive. After He said “It Is Finished” we turn now to the 7th saying of Jesus on the cross

#7.      Father, Into Thy Hands (Luke 23:44-48, 2Tim 1:12)

Please turn again to the Gospel according to Luke 23:44 (2X). The Lord Jesus was still very much alive. Most of His blood was still in His body. Then we read in Luke 23:44-48,

Lu 23:44-45 ¶ And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.      And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

Lu 23:46-47  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.         Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.

Lu 23:48  And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.

The 6th hour in Luke refers to Jewish time, from sundown to sunrise and to sundown. So, the 6th hour is 6 hours after sunrise, which is about 12 Noon. On the other hand John refers to Roman time, which is the same time of our present day clocks. The 6th hour in the Gospel of John is 6 O’clock in the morning, or 6 O’clock in the evening. So, the darkness over all the earth was from about 12 Noon till about 3 O’clock in the afternoon. Jesus died at about 3 O’clock in the afternoon. The darkness had passed. It was beginning to get light again. A few minutes earlier, in the depth of His suffering, Jesus addressed His Father as “My God, My God”. But now He says, “Father”. It means that the line of communication with His Father had been restored. And why did Jesus say this with a loud voice? For two reasons: First, Jesus spoke with a loud voice to let His enemies know that He obtained the victory. His prize was to have purchase the mercy and grace for all His elect people. All the efforts of His enemies to destroy Him were turned upon their own heads. Secondly, He let His disciples know, and He has let us know, that Jesus laid down His life for His sheep. It was not taken from Him, but He laid it down of His own accord. He was not an exhausted victim on the cross. He laid down His life because in His Spirit He had completed the torments of Hell, which was required for the atonement for our sins. And now He said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”. By an act of faith He confidently laid His Spirit in the hands of His Heavenly Father. His Spirit went to Heaven and His dead body went into the grave. Two days later His Spirit returned to His body, and His body became alive again. Can we see that the Lord Jesus left us here an example? He committed His Spirit to the Father because it was in the Father’s hands all His life. Can we claim this also? Can we say, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day”? (2Tim 1:12). Happy are we when we can apply these words to ourselves. Let us now read one more verse:

Lu 23:49  And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

Historically these women were required to stand afar off. They could not come near, because the Roman soldiers were in control of this execution. Except for John all the other Apostles have fled. They were in total disarray because their Lord and Teacher had been crucified. But the women did not cease to treat the Lord Jesus with reverence. They would come near if they were allowed to. They were even willing to become unclean by embalming His dead body. They were eyewitnesses of His death, and they were the first to experience His resurrection. Secondly, these women stood afar off because they had read only the OT Scriptures. They could not come near to God except through a mediator who was a Priest, or a High Priest. But where do we stand? Do we also stand afar off, or do we dare to draw closer? What is our relationship to Christ? Do we love Him as much as these women did, who supported Jesus from their own substance, and who did not cease to minister unto Him? Is there any reason why our faith should waver? Certainly, we need to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. But after we have examined ourselves, and we found that we have faith, and we found that our faith is solidly rooted in love for Christ, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb 10:22). We have the NT Scriptures, which teach us that we can draw closer to God through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. How much are we willing to risk in our service to the Lord Jesus. Let us draw closer to Him not only in word, but also in doing those things that are pleasing in His sight. 

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

We have looked at the chronological sequence of the last 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross, and we have seen that they all refer to the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ for the guilt of all the sins of all the elect. When this payment is applied to each elect person individually that person is changed from a sinner to a Saint.