February 14

Matthew 27:32-66


Part of the crucifixion process was for the condemned person to carry his own cross from the place of judgment to the place of death. Carrying the cross made the person feel the weight of their punishment because execution. The Romans had a man named Simon to carry the cross for Christ. Perhaps Christ was beaten so badly, He was unable to bear the cross the full walk. This walk is known as the Via Dolorosa, Latin for “Sorrowful Way,” translated, “Way of Suffering.”


Jesus also told His followers, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).” The way to know God is through surrender. Adam turned to live self-sufficiently, coming out from God’s covering of authority. The death Jesus died was a choice to lay His life down (John 10:18). It isn’t necessarily required of us to die on a cross, but it is required that we die to ourself (Galatians 2:20). 


Jesus died at Golgotha (Aramaic: skull or cranium; Latin: bald head). It is also known as Mount Calvary. 


He was given wine mixed with gall to drink. Victims to be executed customarily received wine drugged with myrrh to dull the senses (Proverbs 31:6). Jesus did not drink it, choosing not to avoid the pain He would experience. Jesus not only died for our sins; He was punished. 


Before going on the cross, He would be stripped down to His undergarments. They cast lots, sort of like dice, to see who would get His clothing. This was a Roman custom to reward the soldier who stayed to watch Him and make sure He died. It is incredible that David prophesied even this detail (Psalm 22:18). 


In a crucifixion, the crime of the person being crucified was written and nailed above the person’s head. In John 19 we get more detail. Pilate is the one who wrote it. He wrote it in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin for all to read. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The chief priests demanded Pilate change it to “He said that He was King of the Jews.” Pilate responded, “What I have written, I have written.” Pilate, a Roman, had more understanding than the religiously pompous leaders of the day. 


These chief priests, elders, and scribes were there, watching, and mocking their own Messiah. In 1 Corinthians 2:8, Paul wrote, “none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 


Jesus was not the only one being crucified. There were two others, one on His right and another on His left. One of the thieves next to Christ, dying alongside of Him, mocked reviled Him as well. Jesus, dying, in pain, heard the mockery. He knew He was a sacrifice, and He knew they didn’t understand. He willingly died anyway. Oh, what love!


The sky darkened all over the land from noon to 3:00 PM. Around 3:00 PM, Jesus cried out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” It meant, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” This was prophesied is Psalm 22:1, another fulfillment of prophecy. Is it true? Did God turn His back on Christ? Yes, He did. Jesus not only took our sin; but He also became our sin. To read more, see my article “Did Jesus Christ Die Spiritually?” as a Bible Answer in Faith Downloads under Resources on growchurches.com. 


Jesus cried with a loud voice and left His body to go to Hades. Just as He died, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies was split in two from top to bottom. The Holy of Holies was the place only the High Priest would go once a year to offer atonement for all of Israel. Did the Jews take notice? How strange that the veil would be torn in two right as this man, Jesus, dies. 


There was also an earthquake where rocks were split in pieces. Did the Jews notice? How odd that an earthquake would happen right at Jesus’ death. 


Graves opened from the earthquake, and bodies of the recently departed were raised from the dead. They went into the city and many people saw them. Did the Jews take notice? Wasn’t that a supernatural event? 


In verse 54, it was a centurian and soldier with him that noticed these signs, had respect for it, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” 


In verse 57, a wealthy man from Arimathea buried Jesus. He cared. He wanted Jesus to have a proper burial. He honored Jesus. 


There were women who were part of Jesus’ earthly ministry that were watching over Jesus while He was on the cross and when He was buried. Perhaps they were curious what would happen on the third day. 


The chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate asking for a guard to the tomb, quoting Jesus, saying, “After three days I will rise.” They knew what He said. They didn’t believe it, but they wanted to make sure no one would attempt to steal His body and claim He had risen. The Roman soldiers sealed the tomb and set the guard. 


Leviticus 18-19


In Leviticus 18, the Lord gives Moses laws for sexual morality. God’s laws are for our good, to keep us from experiencing heartache and pain or causing troubles for someone else. The Law shows us what life in God looks like. Whatever is outside of God and His character is void of His life, causing sorrow, and if not for atonement, death (both spiritual and natural). 


The good news is that if someone turns from sin, God’s grace is available to forgive sin and restore relationships. God’s love is greater than any sin, no matter how far someone is from Him and His holiness. 


Do you have sinful, sexual desires? God knows what human beings wrestle with, understanding the rescue required. Remember Romans 5:8, while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you. 


Were you saved when you sinned? God knows Christians are still in a process of transformation. If God gave His Son for your salvation, wouldn’t He also freely forgive you when you make a wrong choice? Remember 1 John 1:9 was written to Christians. God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from unrighteousness when we turn back to Him in surrender.


Are you addicted to a wrongful sexual desire and are you tired of failing? First, know that if Jesus expected His disciples to forgive 70 x 7, symbolic of infinity, then would God not be willing to do the same for us when we repent? 


Jerry and I were once criticized for extending too much grace in our messages from the pulpit when addressing sin. This person had been a victim of someone else’s sin and was brought up in a religious church where guilt, shame, and fear were used to coheres people to go to the altar, stay in church, and live a clean life. I went to the Lord about it, and I asked Him, “Do we have Your heart?” Within a short time, four different women at four different times came to me to tell me of past sexual sin in their life. We talked about God’s forgiveness and prayed together. They felt they could approach me, we cried tears, and one even said she felt like a boulder had just been lifted off of her shoulders. God answered me – yes, we do have His heart. We don’t compromise the Word of God. We don’t shy away from talking about the consequences of sin, but we do always, always, always tell couple truth about holiness with God’s love and forgiveness. God doesn’t use the Law to beat us over the head. He used the Law to show us how desperate we were for a Savior. 


In chapter 19, the Lord gives Moses moral and ceremonial laws. Moral laws will never change. It’s always wrong to cause a blind person to stumble (verse 14). God is just, upright, and holy. That doesn’t change. However, some other laws that are not concerning morality may not apply today. For example, it isn’t immoral to shave your head (verse 27). Ask the Holy Spirit for discernment on what applies today and what is no longer required. 


In addition, moral behavior requires a change of heart – the born-again experience, which is now available through Christ because of His sacrifice on the cross. Moral behavior also requires the grace, or help, from God to walk out. God knows we battle our flesh and soul. Only our spirit was saved at salvation. The rest is in a process of becoming whole and healthy. God gets it, and He is hear to help us and cheer us on to growing in grace. 


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