At the Cross

Who Was Present At The Crucifixion Of Jesus Chirst.

George Wright
Apr 2, 2021    30m
Do you recognize yourself in any of the people who were present at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? By examining the groups of people who were present when Crist was crucified, you can learn where you may need to grow in your relationship with Him. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:02 What a gift it is to gather together on this Good Friday. It is a sobering day, it is a challenging day to consider what truly took place, but what an important day it is in the life of our faith, what an important day it is to recognize truly how great the Father's love for us, that he would send his Son to die in our place on the cross.

George Wright: 00:32 As we reflect on this truth, this Good Friday, and as we prepare our hearts to observe the Lord's Supper together, I do want to encourage you if you would, to grab a Bible and join me in Luke's gospel chapter 23, as we step right into the scene of the crucifixion. Luke chapter 23, I'm going to begin in verse 33, as Jesus is on the cross. If you can pull out your Bible app or pull out your copy of the Bible, we'll also have this on the screen for you to see and follow along. And I want to invite you, I know we just sat down after some singing, but I want to invite you to stand with me as I read from the Word of God, to remind us all that the Word of God is the foundation on which we stand as a church. The people of God stand upon the authority of God's Word, the authority of God's Word, that lays before us, what is right and good and true. The authority of God's Word that shows us on this Good Friday, how much we need the cross of Jesus Christ. The authority of God's Word, that points us to the hope that we have as we recognize the cross is not the end of the story.

George Wright: 01:51 But tonight we reflect on the cross and we step into the crucifixion, and this is what we see in Luke 23. It says, "When they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments."

George Wright: 02:24 Would you pray with me as we consider God's Word this evening, that whatever it is that the Lord wants us to see tonight's through his divine appointment, with his word, we would open our eyes and our hearts to see it. Let's pray. Father, as we stand before you now, and as we turn our attention to your word, we are so thankful for that, which we have already been reminded tonight, that there was power in the blood. There was power in the blood, oh, how precious is that blood? Oh, how we need to come face to face with what Jesus Christ has done for us. Lord, I pray that we would not just blow past it tonight, but that your word would come to life in us, that your word would be deeply rooted in our hearts and on our minds. and that we would see that which it is that you desire for us to see on this Good Friday. So Jesus have your way among us in this place as we turn our attention to you. It's in Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. Thank you for standing. You may be seated.

George Wright: 03:44 What I'd like to do tonight for just a moment, as we step into Luke 23, is I'd like to take us back to the scene of the crucifixion. And I want to invite you, if you're willing to step with me into this scene and see where you might find yourself in the midst of those who are gathered around the cross. The reality is, as we consider the cross, it's not easy for us to imagine what this must have been like. This is a whole different category of brutality than we are comfortable with. The horrific scene of the cross is something we often just don't want to think about, we often try to clean this up, we often try to ignore the violence and the hatred of this scene all together. But the Word of God does not hold back, the Word of God shows us what took place at the place called The Skull, and the Word of God shows us that there were many people that gathered around to see what was happening as Jesus hung on a cross to die.

George Wright: 05:01 And here in Luke's description of the crucifixion, not only do we see the physical agony that Jesus endured at the cross, and the horrific pain and the torture that he experienced dying on the cross. But we also see through Luke's accounts, the mockery, the abuse, those who rejected him, those who were disgusted by him. You see, Luke is very clear that there are specific groups of people gathered, and I want to walk through four specific groups of people or individuals who are in this crucifixion scene. I just again want to ask you to consider in your own heart, in your own life, where do you find yourself at the crucifixion?

George Wright: 05:56 The first group that we see is found in verse 35, as Jesus is on the cross, we see there are a group of religious leaders called rulers here in verse 35, who have come to see Jesus die. Look at what the scripture says, it says, "And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” Now of all the people who are around the cross, it is very sobering to consider that the group of people that seems to be enjoying this the most are a group of religious leaders. I just want to ask you for a moment, how in the world could this be? I mean, these are supposed to be the men that know the Word of God, and they do know the Word of God. These are supposed to be the men that are to point people to the truth of God's Word, and they are seeking to point people to what they believe is true. How in the world could these religious leaders seem to be enjoying the crucifixion? In fact, when we see what Luke describes in verse 35, we don't see compassion, we see cynicism. We don't see concern, we see arrogance. We don't see shock, we see pleasure. Why are the religious leaders gloating as Jesus hangs on the cross?

George Wright: 07:46 The answer is painful to consider, and sobering to consider, because here are these religious leaders watching Jesus hang on the cross, have come to the place where they have concluded that they know what is best for them, and they don't need Jesus at all. They wanted to be the people in control, they believed that they had a position from God, and it was their job to control the people of God. And as a result of their desire for control, they refuse the grace of God that is right in front of their face. For you see, grace is scary if you want to be in control, it reminds us that we are not in control, grace reminds us that we desperately need someone else to be in control. For grace reminds us that we cannot do what it takes to set our lives right before God, and so these religious leaders refused to believe that they needed anyone but themselves, they were going to fix this problem called Jesus. In the name of religion, and in the name of their personal agenda, and their lust for control, they not only rejected Jesus, they sought to destroy Jesus.

George Wright: 09:23 For you see for them, their religious authority, and even the Word of God that they knew so well, had become a club to beat people into submission. And they had begun to use the Word of God to advance their agenda, and to give them power over others, and Jesus was a threat that had to be removed, And so they stand at the cross, mocking Jesus, sneering in self-righteousness, as they watched Jesus die for their sin. It would be very difficult to see yourself among these religious leaders. Where are you in the scene of the cross?

George Wright: 10:27 The second group of people we see at the crucifixion are also mocking and jabbing and jeering at Jesus, but from a different standpoint. The second group that Luke describes here in Luke 23 are the soldiers, the Roman guard, the ones who actually put the nails through Jesus' wrists and his ankles, the ones who pressed the crown of thorns upon his head, the ones who beat him within an inch of his life, torturing him and whipping him. Look at what the scripture says about the soldiers. It says in verse 36, "The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” And what we know from history about these Roman soldiers, is that they had been given a job to do, and they were very good at their job. They were the masters of torture and death, and they may have heard of Jesus, but to them, Jesus was just another troublemaker, Jesus was just another common criminal, just another religious nut that they had been ordered to kill.

George Wright: 11:47 They lived in a very dark world, these soldiers, they were very accustomed to torture and execution. And I'm sure for many of these soldiers, they had just concluded in light of all the pain and suffering that they had seen right in front of their eyes, there really can't be a God. The world is dark, the world is harsh, if there really is a God, I mean, why is he not doing anything about this? And so these soldiers are just numb, they are calloused, and the only thing that mattered to them was the power and strength that they had been given by the Roman authority. Jesus has no significance at all to them, as they follow orders and did what they were instructed to do. Maybe you can relate to some of these soldiers, looking at the pain of this world, the pain you've experienced in this life. Maybe you just find yourself numb, wondering if there is even a God at all. Maybe you've heard of Jesus, maybe you know about Jesus, maybe that's why you're here tonight because it's a good thing to do on Good Friday, go to a service. But if you're really honest, Jesus is just another historical figure to you, and your life is fine without him from your perspective. Maybe you're here tonight and you've built your life on your own strength, and you're trying to do your best to do a good job at the task that has been given to you, but if you're honest, you're just keeping your distance from God.

George Wright: 13:48 Do you see yourself as a religious leader, or like the religious leaders, who have concluded that your religious deeds will be good enough for God? You're doing your own thing. Do you see yourself like the soldiers, numb to the pain of this world? Wondering if there even is a God, just putting your head down and keeping your distance from him all together. Or maybe you see yourself like one of the criminals besides Jesus? Luke tells us there are two criminals also hanging on crosses next to Jesus as he dies on the cross. This first criminal is mocking Jesus as well. Look at verse 39, it says, "One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” Now, as this criminal mocks Jesus, he mocks Jesus from a different standpoint than the religious leaders or the soldiers, this man is mocking Jesus saying,, why don't you do something for us? Why don't you do what I want you to do? Jesus, if you're so powerful, give me what I want. I don't want to be here, I'm sure you don't want to be here, unless you're crazy, so get us out of here.

George Wright: 15:24 The criminal looks at Jesus, and he has his demands. And what the criminal wants from Jesus, is for Jesus to bow down to his desire. Jesus, I'm coming to you with this list of what I want, and if you give me what I want, then maybe I'll follow, maybe I'll believe. Jesus, I really just want to use you. Maybe you can relate. It's hard to be honest if we see ourselves in these individuals around the cross, but the reality is many people look to Jesus simply to get what they want. They want to use Jesus instead of worshiping Jesus as savior and Lord, are you coming to Jesus with your agenda and with your demands, or are you coming to Jesus looking for the Savior? For that is what we see in this fourth individual at the cross.

George Wright: 16:38 The other criminal hanging beside Jesus is laid before us in Luke 23 verse 40 and 41. It says, "The other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?" He hears the criminal mocking Jesus, he says, do you not fear God, do you not fear God at all? And then he says, "We indeed are here on these crosses justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Isn't it amazing, the stark contrast between what we see in these first three groups or individuals that are mocking Jesus at the cross, and this fourth individual, this other criminal hanging beside Jesus, who realizes he has come face to face with his only hope. This is a man who realizes the reality of his sin, he knows that he, the criminal, is guilty. He is getting what he deserves as he hangs on the cross, and he does not make excuses, he does not blame God. He knows that he is hopeless and helpless without the Savior, for this criminal understands, he deserves to die because of the actions of his life, and even the thoughts and intentions of his heart.

George Wright: 18:22 And so this criminal speaks to Jesus from a place of humility, a place of brokenness, this criminal knows that he needs a Savior. He is so aware of his own sin, and the shame, and that is a part of that sin that he carries. And he is looking to Jesus and going, the only way I could possibly have hope is through this one. So Jesus, I'm just humbly coming to you, believing you are who you say you are, believing you are the innocent one in this scene, believing that you are my only hope, believing that you don't deserve what you're getting, I do. Jesus, if it's at all possible, could you remember me when you come to your kingdom? Jesus, if it's at all possible, could you forgive me of my sin? Jesus, if it's at all possible, would you cover my life with the blood of the cross, that is the grace of God?

George Wright: 19:40 If you know this scene at all, you know the beautiful answer that Jesus gives, this amazing picture of the gospel. "Jesus looks at the man and said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Why is this such a beautiful picture of the gospel? It is such a beautiful picture of the gospel, because it is so obvious this man on the cross, begging Jesus for mercy, can do nothing to earn his salvation. No way, his life is coming to an end, he will not get off the cross, there is no way that he can do anything to deserve what Christ is giving him, that's the gospel. The grace of God poured out on this man who knows he's guilty, he knows he needs a Savior, and he humbly says, Jesus, save me, cover my sin for I believe you are who you say you are. Is that where you find yourself at the cross?

George Wright: 20:55 The beautiful gift of Good Friday, and the beautiful gift that we celebrate this Easter weekend, is regardless of where you see yourself in this scene at the place that is called The Skull, you have been offered a gift. If you see yourself like the religious leaders, if you see yourself like the soldiers going through the motions, if you see yourself like the hardened criminal, trying to use Jesus, if you see yourself like the humble criminal, begging Jesus for mercy, regardless of where you see yourself, there is a gift that is offered to you through the cross. We go back to where we started here this evening, as we prepare to take the elements of the Lord's Supper. We see what Luke said in chapter 23 verse 34, Jesus said, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

George Wright: 22:03 The religious leaders think they are helping God by getting rid of Jesus. Jesus looks at the religious leaders in the midst of all of their agendas, and all of their schemes, and all of their plans, and all of their desire for control, and says, Father, forgive them. As the soldiers are mocking Jesus, throwing sour wine at him, as the soldiers are jeering him, jabbing him, as the soldiers are loving what they're seeing, numb to the pain of the world, questioning whether or not God even exists. Jesus looks at the soldiers who have put the nails in his hands and says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And that criminal trying to use Jesus, the criminal who really didn't care about Jesus at all, but just wanted to get what he wanted, mocking Jesus. Jesus says, Father, forgive him, for he knows not what he does.

George Wright: 23:20 But there is one at this scene who becomes aware of what he has done, and to that man Jesus says, today, you will be with me in paradise. You see the gift of the cross of Jesus Christ, is that regardless of what you've done, regardless of your posture towards Jesus before day, regardless of your story, regardless of what you've walked through, no matter where you come from or how far you feel like you've been from God, the Savior is looking at you with his love and saying, Father, forgive them. For my blood is poured out, that they might find new life. My blood is poured out, that they might be covered in grace. My blood is poured out, that their sins might be forgiven. Father, forgive them, draw them to yourself, let them see your love as I hang here on the cross. And if they trust in me, they will be forgiven. That can be your story, for the forgiveness of God comes to us through the blood of Jesus Christ shed for our sins at the cross.

George Wright: 24:45 Have you received this gift? For, if you have, if you have, you have been given the greatest reason to celebrate and worship that one could ever know, Jesus Christ has set you free. But if you are here tonight and you have not received this gift, here's the amazing thing about what Christ has done, you can receive this gift today. That second thief on the cross shows us this beautiful good news of the gospel, you don't have to go clean your life up before you can receive the gift of forgiveness, you don't have to get down off that cross and go make amends for everything that you've done. No, no, that that can come, but right now, all you have to do is trust in what Jesus Christ has done for you, that's how you receive this gift and are made new and set free in the blood of Jesus Christ.

George Wright: 25:47 As we enter into the Lord's Supper here tonight, we want to give you that opportunity. For perhaps you're here recognizing that you see yourself at the crucifixion, but you don't see yourself like that second criminal quite yet, and you realize you need to come to the place where you receive the gift of what Jesus Christ has offered to you. And if you have received it, let's prepare our hearts to worship, and let's thank God for the incredible gift he has given as we remember the cross with the observance of the Lord's Supper. Let me pray for us, and then we're going to have a song that is sung over you, as we prepare our hearts for the Lord's Supper to give you a moment to reflect again on the good news of what Christ has done. And then we will take these elements together, and we will celebrate the beautiful gift of Good Friday.

George Wright: 26:42 Let's pray. Father God, we thank you for the cross, the cross that is so uncomfortable to truly be honest about, the cross that is painful, the cross that is agonizing and even horrific to consider, the cross where so many were mocking Jesus. Well, Lord, I pray right now in the power of your Holy Spirit, that each and every one of us would be very honest with where we are at the scene of the cross. I pray for those who are here, who have seen themselves tonight as one of the religious leaders, or one of the soldiers, or that first criminal, mocking Jesus, keeping their distance from Jesus, seeking to use Jesus, maybe even numb to the things of God, because of the pain of this life. Lord, whoever they may be, wherever they may be tonight, Lord, I pray in the power of your spirit that they would see how beautiful the blood of Jesus truly is. That your death at the cross has invited them into the gift of forgiveness and grace, the invitation to be made new, the invitation to be called a child of God, fully forgiven of their sin.

George Wright: 28:14 Lord, I pray that if there's any among us tonight that have never received that gift, that tonight would be the night. And I just pray that in their seat, they would offer you an honest prayer, an honest prayer that just says, Jesus, I see that I need you. Jesus. I've been trying to do it my own way. Jesus, I've been even keeping my distance, but tonight I realize I need you. And so Jesus, I am trusting you as my Lord and my Savior. Please forgive me of my sin, I'm ready to turn from my sin and turn to you. Jesus, forgive me, Jesus, cover me in your grace, make me new in the power of the blood shed for my sin at the cross.

George Wright: 29:08 Oh Lord, we thank you, we praise you for the gift of salvation, we pray that there would be none among us at the end of this night who have refused to place their trust in you. Lord, we pray that we all here would see the hope that we have and the good news of what Christ has done. Convict us of our sin, Lord, lead us back to the cross and show us the hope we have, and the good news of the gospel. Lord, as we turn our attention now to the Lord's Supper, prepare our hearts. If there is that we need to lay down at the cross tonight, Lord, give us the faith to lay it at the cross, let it be crucified, let that sin be crushed at the cross tonight as we look to you. We are so grateful for who you are and for what you've done, it's in Christ' name, we pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206