Branson Bible Church
Sunday Service 6.19.2022
  • Thank You Jesus For The Blood
      • Philippians 4:4–9ESV

  • I Lay It All
  • Jesus Messiah
  • PRAY
    INTRO: What is compassion? Compassion is a deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering, and it desires to alleviate the cause of that distress. It is intertwined with mercy because compassion does not depend on the person being deserving, having done anything in particular to merit that sympathy. And mercy displays leniency and compassion toward offenders.
    My title for this message (The Compassionate Cross) betrays a use of both personification and irony as literary devices. A cross can’t feel compassion, and the goal of death by crucifixion was anything but compassion. The intention, then, is to draw our attention to the compassionate act of the Lord in choosing to suffer the injustice and the agony of the cross in order to accomplish what was needed for our salvation.
    Let’s read the text in Luke here, where we have transitioned from Jesus’ trial and sentencing, now to his crucifixion.
    Luke 23:26–38 ESV
    And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And 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. 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!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
    Luke does not tell everything that could be recorded surrounding the crucifixion. In fact, there are further specifics in parallel accounts that are conspicuously lacking from what we might expect from the detail-oriented doctor Luke. But coupling that realization with additional details that only he includes leads us to consider that Luke favors focusing his attention here on highlighting specific aspects that are essential to his purpose: a right understanding and a right response to Jesus. (Particularly for a Gentile audience: Who is Jesus? What are we to do with him? … a right understanding and a right response.) Luke is getting beneath simply what happened to why it happened.
    A Right Understanding, and a Right Response to Jesus
    Key Words/Concepts to Catch Luke’s Purpose:
    We should take note in this section (through v. 49) that Jesus’ innocence continues to be paramount (out of the mouth of one of the crucified criminals, v. 41 and again v.47 in the declaration of innocence from the centurion [text for next time]. Secondly, Luke has proven the underlying power and authority that Jesus possesses, which serves to heighten the irony of the unfolding drama (Dramatic Irony: Jesus’ Identity (power & authority) Who is judge? Who is in control? Why is Jesus dying, allowing this suffering?). And it is this irony of Jesus’ identity and authority that highlights his patience and compassion toward these rejectors (deniers), these perpetrators of evil against him.
    Along with drawing attention to Jesus’ own identity and character, Luke underscores contrasting responses from everyone around this situation, this suffering Jesus. There is mourning contrasted with mockery, and there is rejection contrasted with repentance and confession (next time). Luke puts the reader on notice: How should you be responding to Jesus?
    Even as we look more closely at two sections of the text, we will try to keep this same focus that we believe Luke himself intended: In spite of his innocence (theologically, precisely because of his perfect guiltlessness), Jesus chooses the suffering of the cross as an act of compassion toward a rebellious humanity. How are we responding to the way of the cross, to the crucified Lord? Is it with mourning instead of mockery and rejection? But not with mourning only, with repentance and confession, like the second criminal on the cross.
    If I am correct about Luke’s presentation in this passage, what are we to make of the via dolorosa, the road to Golgotha in vv. 26-32…

    The Way of the Cross (vv. 26-32)

    The first thing that we have in this journey to the place of crucifixion is a bystander who gets caught up in this drama of the story of Jesus and whose life will never be the same because of it.
    Simon becomes a living picture of Jesus’ own metaphor for following him.
    Some see this assumed connection as a stretch, but I do not. Luke had recorded Jesus giving the the illustration twice (Lk 9:23 & Lk 14:27), and now Simon is providentially caught up in this, and the image of Simon carrying a cross behind Jesus is immediately contrasted with the warning of judgment Jesus gives to the “great multitude” also following behind (v. 27ff).
    Luke 9:23 (ESV)
    And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
    Luke 14:27 (ESV)
    Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
    We learn from history that criminals carried their own crossmember to the site of their crucifixion. - Jesus would have been extremely weakened by the scourging (and loss of blood), and the beam likely would have been fairly heavy. Evidently Jesus is unable to continue under the weight of it.
    So the soldiers grab an unsuspecting passerby “coming in from the country” (either just arriving late or returning from where he has been staying in the countryside). And they command that Simon should carry the horizontal beam of the cross. Clearly these soldiers have authority over Jews that they can impress upon anyone to carry for them whatever they should choose.
    Cyrene was a region in North Africa (what is now Tripoli, in Libya) with a large Jewish community, so this Simon undoubtedly had come as a devout Jewish pilgrim to Jerusalem for the Passover.
    Simon evidently had no choice but to comply, to carry the cross and follow behind Jesus with it. (Presuming Luke’s theology matching that taught by Paul, I do not see any chance encounter here, but a providential working of God that Simon was chosen.) Mark (15:21) adds that Simon had two sons, Rufus and Alexander, which probably suggests that the two were now well-recognized believers (couldn’t this be the same Rufus mentioned in Rom 16:13?).
    In the days ahead, the indelible imprint of the cross of Christ will remain on Simon of Cyrene and his family.
    Immediately on the heels of Simon carrying the cross behind Jesus, Luke references crowds following Jesus as well, and notes particularly the women who mourn him. Some may have followed out of morbid curiosity, but others perhaps “were saddened by the turn of events.” (Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 343.) In turning to address them (something that Luke alone records), Jesus focuses his attention on the mourning women.
    With compassion for the women who mourn him, Jesus warns of impending judgment for Israel.
    The women addressed here are not the same as the women disciples who had devoted themselves to following Jesus and helping to meet the needs of the traveling cohort Jesus and his students. Jesus calls them “Daughters of Jerusalem,” which means they are not those women, and it also helps us understand the meaning of the warning, connecting it to Jesus’ previous laments and warnings concerning Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70. The fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 would be symbolic of God’s temporal judgment on Israel for rejecting her Messiah.
    I also doubt the assumption by some that these women are professional mourners, although it is possible, but there is nothing incongruous about the idea that many, and especially women in Luke’s view, would lament this turn of events (even if they had only known Jesus more superficially).
    In any case, the most important element is the essence of Jesus’ warning. As these women lament the fate of Jesus, Jesus laments the fate of Jerusalem. These women sympathize with Jesus present suffering; Jesus sympathizes with their future suffering.
    “[…] Do not weep for me” (v. 28), for from this Jesus will emerge victorious. “But weep for yourselves and for your children,” because Israel has rejected her Messiah. The explanation from Jesus of a different cause for their mourning is that their suffering will be great (v. 29), it will be rooted in judgment from God (v. 30), and will come at the hands of the Romans (v. 31).
    It will be so bad that they will think it would have been better to have remained barren, to not have to watch their children suffer.
    The suffering will be so great that they—the people of Israel—will begin to wish for the mountains to fall on them and the hills to cover them. The reference here is a quote from Hosea 10:8c, which is in the context of divine judgement on Israel because...
    Hosea 10:2 ESV
    Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will break down their altars and destroy their pillars.
    The faithlessness of Israel is the cause of God’s judgment upon them. And I think it is evident here that Jesus is referring to, as he has previously made clear, the coming destruction of Jerusalem (Lk 19:43, 21:6,22-24).
    The main point of the proverbial saying in v. 31 seems to be that green wood is less likely to catch fire, but dry wood easily does so. While there are other possible ways that one might interpret who is being referred to as “they” and the green wood and dry wood, I think the most likely is this: “If the innocent Jesus suffered thus, what will be the fate of the guilty Jews? If the Romans treat thus One whom they admit to be innocent, what will they do to the guilty?” (Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 343.)
    The way of the cross is choosing the path of suffering as a means of compassion, of mercy, upon those who, just as we once were, remain enemies of God.

    The King [Lord] on the Cross (vv. 32-38)

    Luke simply, in matter-of-fact manner, describes the place and action of Jesus being crucified. What he emphasizes is that…
    Jesus is contrasted with the two criminals between whom he is crucified.
    Two others, who were actually criminals, were led away with him. - This activity, which would appear to be just a matter of convenience for the Romans to carry out more than one crucifixion at the same time, should be seen by Luke’s reader as the providence of God. - Although Luke doesn’t mention it because of his Gentile audience, this further fulfills prophecy of Jesus being numbered among the transgressors. For Luke it highlights the innocence of Jesus as well as sets up Christ’s response to one of these two who will repent and respond to Jesus.
    Again Luke does not give the Aramaic name, Golgotha, for the location of crucifixion, but instead gives only the translation kranion, meaning Skull Place. The latin translation is Calvaria (in the Vulgate), which is where we get our English word for Calvary. The name came from the way that the hill protruded from the ground in what appeared something like the shape of a skull.
    With directness and simplicity Luke says “there they crucified him,” drawing attention once more two the criminals crucified also on either side of Jesus. Luke picks this up again later, so for now we leave it as well.
    It is at this point where the patience and compassion of Jesus becomes the shocking factor. In the very midst of being crucified and mocked…
    With astonishing compassion, Jesus prays forgiveness upon the perpetrators of his torment and those making a mockery of his sacrifice.
    It seems that Jesus prays this for both Jews and Romans who are responsible for his death.
    Biblically we understand that Christ’s prayer for forgiveness does not automatically absolve them of guilt or universally wipe their culpability clean. But it displays God’s loving patience, shows Christ’s compassion for our sinful condition. Jesus is fulfilling his own teaching about loving one’s enemies, and I take this prayer to be a request to not hold this particularly egregious sin against these specific people, who are representative of all sinful humanity.
    Paul understood the depth of their blind ignorance:
    1 Corinthians 2:8 ESV
    None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
    “This” = the wisdom of God revealed in the message of wisdom—the Gospel, the person and work of Jesus Christ. “They would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
    Furthermore, this prayer draws attention to the fact that his atoning death would provide the very basis for forgiveness and restoration to God. Some of these very ones, present and participating, would respond in faith to Jesus.
    The many people gathered now appear as bystanders, probably to some degree in shock. But the sneering and mockery of Jesus, Luke shows as coming from both leaders and soldiers.
    v. 35 ***
    vv. 36-37 ***
    The inscription, v. 38 ***

    What are we doing with Christ’s compassion?

    Are you still a scoffer? Jesus willingly and innocently, out of compassion, chose the way of the cross. Why?
    Have you come to understand the compassionate cross, and have you responded to the Lord who willingly took it for you? Because of his sacrifice, he offers you forgiveness.
    For us to carry the cross of Christ as a way of life remains an act of compassion toward those who reject him, but as of yet still have opportunity to repent and believe.
      • Luke 23:26–38ESV

      • Hosea 10:2ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 2:8ESV

    • Thank You Jesus For The Blood

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