Cross Encounters - Luke 23:26-46 NIV
We encounter the cross of Christ through the eyes of 6 groups there:
Encounter #1: Simon from Cyrene ____________ the cross.
”As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.” Luke 23:26 NIV
Not from the country like just outside the city. Cyrene located in Libya, a 900 mile journey. Journey took over a month. Potentially dangerous. Big risk weather, marauders, wild animals. Crowded Jerusalem relief & accomplishment. Would get to see Jesus. Eat passover in Jerusalem. Wrong place at wrong time? Roman soldier grabbed him, forced him to carry cross. Instantly unclean. All those miles in vain. Anger? Fear? Then he saw Jesus, what was left of him. Body mutilated beyond recognition. Simon could not participate in Passover feast but he encountered the Passover Lamb that changed his life forever. Doesn’t matter what your plans are. When you encounter Jesus your life changes. And it could be the most unexpected encounter you ever have!
Encounter #2: Wailing women ____________ the cross.
”A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.’” Luke 23:27-28 NIV (See also Hosea 10:8)
Women of Jerusalem - unlike the men - unconvinced of Jesus’ criminality - they remembered the miracles, the hope of the Messiah. Couldn’t believe their own government complicit with the Romans to execute Jesus. Then Jesus stops the entire parade to Calvary. This is the last paragraph from Jesus! And its with the women of the city. “Don’t mourn for me. Mourn for yourselves.” Then he reaches into Hosea! Voice of prophet who married a prostitute! Quoted a wish for mountains to fall upon us because death was preferred over what was to come. Jesus knew not only the future of the next 3 hours, but the next 40 years and the fall of Jerusalem. Doesn’t matter what your plans are. Jesus knows your future. And the future of the world. Life without Christ is not worth the living. Jesus knew Calvary was worth it! Don’t mourn what Jesus did for you!
Encounter #3: Betting soldiers ___________ beneath the cross.
”And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:34 NIV
Four Roman soldiers - not Jews - not familiar with OT prophesies, randomly assigned to Jesus’ execution. Their right was his clothing. Passed out head-dress, sandals, girdle & outer garment. 4 to 4. But then came to the tunic, indivisible, unique, more valuable. What do they do?
“When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. ‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’ This happened that scripture might be fulfilled.” John 19:23-24 NIV (See also Psalm 22:18)
Consider that until then the prophesy of how the clothing could be divided 4 ways and yet still need to cast lots to determine who got it was a mystery. 1,000 years later happened just like it was predicted. God’s plans work out. We can’t always see it or understand it. But we look back and think, oh I get it now. Every detail. Every jot and tittle. God has a plan for you and me too. He knows us intimately and created us for His unique purpose. We go through tough times and can’t understand why, but we can look back later and see who we have become as a result of what we endured. And we can look back (or we will be able to look back) and say, oh I get it now.
Encounter #4: Mockers _____________ wine up to the cross.
”There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.” Matthew 27:34 NIV (“wine mingled with myrrh” - Mark 15:23)
We come to a confusing question of wine offered to Jesus. Luke & John say he drank. Matthew Mark say no. Which is right? Both! 2 times. First time with Matthew & Mark, Jesus was offered wine to drink with gall (myrrh) - a narcotic to dull the pain of the crucifixion. He refused shortcut. Took on the full pain of the execution. But then 3 hours into the ordeal…
“The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar.” Luke 23:36 NIV
Mocking him. Come down off that cross if you’re so mighty! John adds:
“Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge… and lifted to Jesus lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’” John 19:28-30 NIV (See also Psalm 69:21)
Psalmist talks about BOTH gall and vinegar - both fulfilled in Jesus’ sacrifice. We already talked about God’s Word being inspired & fulfilled. Same truth here. But consider this too. Both deal with the full penalty for our sins being completely paid for. Jesus did not shortcut the pain of the cross in any way. When his mouth was so dry that he could not speak and he knew his time was short, he said he was thirsty. What was it he wanted to be able to say? Why did he take the vinegar? So that you and I would know for sure: “It Is Finished.” Tetelestai. Paid For In Full!
Encounter #5: Two criminals _____________ next to the cross.
”Then [the other criminal] said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Luke 23:42-43 NIV
Was it a coincidence that there were two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus? One joins the crowd to mock Jesus even in his dying minutes. The other defends Jesus and asks to be remember - demonstrating saving faith. Jesus ignores the first and rewards the second. This same division happens today all over the world. Why will some reject and mock while others show remorse and faith? To be ignored by Jesus would be a terrible tragedy. To be welcomed by Jesus would be the ultimate reward. Which side of Jesus do you want to be on?
Encounter #6: Temple veil _____________ by the cross.
”And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:45-46 NIV
3 things happened all at once: (1) Jesus cries out to His Father; (2) He drew his final breath; (3) the temple curtain (veil) torn in two. What was this veil? Thick! 4 inches. Fashioned from blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. 60 feet high! Separate the “Holy of Holies” from rest of temple worship. Once a year the High Priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil to enter into God’s presence for all of Israel and make atonement for their sins. BTW - this high priest was to wear a tunic with no seams from top to bottom. Sound familiar? Jesus became both our high priest AND the sacrificial lamb to atone for our sins!
“We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtains that is, his body.” Hebrews 10:19-20 NIV
The tearing of the veil at the exact moment of Jesus’ shedding of His own blood for us was a sufficient atonement for our sins. And now the way into the Holy of Holies was not just the right of one high priest once per year, but now is open for all people, for all time, every and any time. God moved out - never to dwell in a temple. Now He wants to move into to the new temple - the temple of your very being. He went through so much to make it possible. Only question is this: will you let Him in?