Easter Sermon Series ~ Station Six: The Cross

Station Six: The Cross

Matthew 27:32-44 ~ “As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.”

 

They forced Christ to carry the cross until He was exhausted (Matthew 27:32). The condemned criminal carrying his own cross was the common practice. A centurion riding upon his stallion led the way. A herald followed, shouting out the criminal charges against the condemned. Immediately behind the herald was the condemned man bearing his cross and a small detachment of soldiers. The criminal had to carry his cross up and down through the streets of the city, taking a meandering route. The Romans did this as a living lesson to the citizens of a city that crime did not pay.

 

Note two important facts:

  • Man forced Christ to carry the cross to Golgotha. There is a spiritual symbol here. Spiritually, it is man’s sin that forced Christ to bear the cross for man.
    • 1 Peter 2:24 ~ “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed”
  • God forced Christ to bear the cross for man.
    • Acts 2:23 ~ “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

 

They enlisted a Gentile to help with the cross of Christ (Matthew 27:32). Christ broke under the weight of the cross. This is not surprising, for He had just suffered so much…

  • suffered the agony of the Garden.
  • suffered the tension and excitement of the trials.
  • suffered the ridicule and torture of the soldiers.

He had lost too much blood from the savage torture, and He had gone without food and sleep for hours. The soldiers had the legal authority to tap a bystander upon the shoulder and enlist the citizen to help with whatever load needed carrying. In this case, of course, they needed someone to carry the cross for Christ.

 

They crucified Christ (Matthew 27:35). The crucifixion itself was the most horrible of deaths. The ancient writer, Tacitus, called it “a despicable death.” Cicero called it “the most cruel and horrifying death.” He simply said it was “incapable of description.” There was the pain of the driven spikes forced through the flesh of His hands and feet or ankles. There was the weight of His body jolting and pulling against the spikes as the cross was lifted and rocked into place. There was the scorching sun and the unquenchable thirst gnawing away at His dry mouth and throat. There was the blood oozing from His scourged back, His thorn crowned brow, His feet, and His stick beaten head. In addition, just imagine the aggravation of flies, gnats, and other insects. There was also the piercing of the spear thrust into His side. On and on the sufferings could be described. There has never been a more cruel form of execution than crucifixion upon a cross.

 

The religionists and government leaders (elders) mocked and taunted Christ. Men of religion and government should be above this kind of behavior. However, being part of a sinful unbelieving crowd, men filled with enmity and bitterness are led to do shameful things. These leaders ridiculed the four major claims of Christ:

  • that He was the Savior
  • that He was the King
  • that He was the Son of Man who trusted God perfectly
  • that He was the Son of God

 

Their purpose was to vent their enmity and humiliate Christ, hoping to reinforce in the minds of the crowd that He was an imposter and deceiver. The religionists completely misunderstood God’s Messiah, even the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Pastor Andy Lambert
{pastorandy@cvcog.church}