Calvary Road Baptist Church

“JOURNEY TO CALVARY” Part 4

 

 

10A.  SIMON PETER

“Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him.”

“And led him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.”

“Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.”

“And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest,” John 18.12-15.

“And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:”

“And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.”

“But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.”

“And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them.”

“And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.”

“But he began to curse and to swear saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.”

“And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept,” Mark 14.66-72.

The pages of the sages of the ages have praised the virtue of friendship. Said Aristotle, “Without friends no one would care to live, even if he had all other goods.”

And Peter suddenly felt he didn’t have a friend. He found himself in the enemy camp, so to speak, and he became uncomfortable, uneasy and uncertain. His cold heart was frantic with panic as he crumbled before the onslaught of questions: “Are you one of them—do you follow Him—how about your Galilaean accent?”

It was Emerson who said that we boil at different degrees—and Peter reached the boiling point. This man who had said he would be willing to die for Jesus suddenly thought he might have to do just that. Each confrontation made each question become a fearful ear full—and he boiled over with fear and anger and denied the Lord!

Three times he denied Him—even as Jesus had said.

Pity poor, paradoxical Peter! But there are many modern Simon Peters whose lives are like the patch-work in a crazy quilt—they do not know which way to turn when they are under fire. Their attitude, when they are pressed by pressure and torn by tension, reveals that they, like Peter of old, need to look over what they have overlooked.

Can this be Peter denying Jesus? Is this the man who was going to fight for the Master in Gethsemane?

Can this be the man who walked on the water?

Is this the man who would preach the Pentecostal sermon?

Would this man now under fire someday be on fire?

Yes, this was the pre-Pentecostal Peter who was feeble in faith and weak in witness.

This was the pre-Pentecostal Peter who found a hostile world too much for human weakness.

This was the pre-Pentecostal Peter who followed Jesus afar off.

This was the pre-Pentecostal Peter who slept while Jesus prayed in Gethsemane.

But the post-Pentecostal Peter would yet rise to declare boldly the name of Jesus to the multitudes.

Yes, the post-Pentecostal Peter would be filled with that power that is compatible with the coming of

the Holy Spirit.

The post-Pentecostal Peter would go out to turn the world upside down—or, rather, right side up!

The post-Pentecostal Peter would be a friend to the end. (Profane history tells us he was crucified upside down!)

But when Jesus was surrounded by enemies, Peter denied Him. He had a little of Judas in his own heart. In his own way, he betrayed by denial. Yet Peter would have been the first to rebuke Judas had he known the black heart of that man!

But do not deal harshly with Simon Peter. Other disciples fled in fear, feeling they were mistaken about the Messiah. These men were timid and half-hearted. Indeed, until the glowing embers of Pentecost are stirred within and made to burn, it is easier for the heart to be guilty of denial or betrayal or desertion.

In the Roman army the common practice was to cut the index finger from the right hand of a deserter—and he was marked for life. If God branded deserters in the same manner—how many would be without a finger?

So deal gently with Simon Peter—for even the Lord Jesus was firm, yet gentle, with this dear man who was so much like so many of us.

Jesus rebuked Peter with silence, as He turned and looked at him. But that holy glance was a hot lance that thrust through the heart of Peter. Peter had turned his back on Jesus, but Jesus turned His face toward Peter! Thank God for that! There is hope, my beloved, blessed hope—eternal hope! Says F. B. Meyer, “Christ’s love burns under water!”

What a gentle rebuke was that which Jesus gave!

What tender compassion!

What deep understanding!

When the cock crew after the third denial, it sounded like a clap of thunder in the ears of Peter!

Peter had failed.

He lowered the flag and let loyalty lag and his faith drag. He had accepted part—and not all—of Christ. He had given part—and not all—to Christ.

Oh, how many modern Simon Peters there are who go halfway with Christ, saying by their life, “Lord, take half my heart—and leave the other half for me.” There must be no unsurrendered territory in Mansoul.

Too many seem to think that the spiritual life is a tour through God’s cafeteria—and they can take what they want and leave the rest. But God’s call is for complete commitment—total trust—all or nothing at all! Let us remember that, in a growing spiritual culture, we never outgrow our need for rededication.

So Peter, the counterpart of our modern part, went out and wept bitterly and prayed. His soul swept by a surging storm of sorrow—this man repented. Later he was to write that he was “begotten again unto a living hope.”

It is reasonable to assume that Peter was an eyewitness to the suffering of Christ on Calvary. At a distance, he must have watched the spectacle of Calvary. What thoughts filled his heart in those moments of agony! Like the others, he misunderstood what Jesus had said concerning His death.

But who can fathom the love of God? It is said that Charles Kingsley requested that three words be placed on the tombstone for himself and his wife. These were they: Amavimus-Amamus-Amabimus - “We loved—we love—we shall love.” And the love of Jesus is past, present and future! His attitude toward Peter is a revelation of that eternal truth.

After the resurrection Jesus would send the message for His brethren and Peter to meet Him.

Have you denied Him?

Have you failed Him?

Have you crucified Him afresh?

He loves you still! Flee to His outstretched arms!

Ah, soon this same Simon Peter would preach with Pentecostal power. He would possess the Spirit

and the Spirit would possess him!

Each time I recall the tenderness and the mercy of Jesus as He dealt with the “Big Fisherman,” I want to pull back the clouds and shout, “Hosanna unto God! Praise His Name forever!” For there is hope for the hopeless, and strength for the weak, and help for the failing, and salvation for the lost in Jesus Christ!

O my beloved, if we tried to count the tender mercies of our God, it would be like trying to count the stars—we would not know where to begin! Peter found these truths for himself as he called upon God in his hour of spiritual crisis.

Yes, until Pentecost, Peter was a man of spiritual moods— moods much like the pendulum of a mighty clock. At one moment faith would rise until he could walk on the water, and the next moment, both he and his faith would sink. At one moment in Gethsemane he would defend Jesus, only to deny Him in another moment.

But he found spiritual stability! He was later restored—he lived and died in the faith of the Christ of Calvary. Why? Because he repented—whereas Judas, when he failed, felt sorry for himself. But Simon Peter repented and prayed!

Praise God for the power of prayer! It is the open avenue to the Throne. For prayer is a person- to-Person talk between the created and the Creator. Prayer is the conscious contact of the finite with the Infinite.

So Peter prayed! And through prayer he found his way back to God and forward to Pentecost.

 

11A.  PONTIUS PILATE

“And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate, the governor,” Matthew 27.2.

Jesus was tried before at least four tribunals during the early hours that Friday morning. Guilty courts were trying an innocent prisoner.

Now we find the Master before Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, deputy plenipotentiary of His Imperial Majesty.

Pilate heard the tumult and the shouting of the mob that brought the prisoner to him. The Jews did not enter his palace (it was pagan), as they did not wish to defile themselves with the Passover so near. So Pilate moved outside and stood on an elevated porch. His hostile heart hated these fanatical trouble-makers.

What strange things happened during those fast-moving hours! Jesus was to be illegally charged, acquitted, condemned and crucified!

Pilate looked at his prisoner and questioned Him.

“Art thou the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “I am.”

“Hearest thou not the many things witnessed against thee?”

Jesus answered nothing.

“Whence art thou? . . . Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee and power to release thee?”

Said the master, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above . . . .”

Pilate was amazed and astounded as he confronted his prisoner. Time after time he turned to the surging throng to declare the innocence of Jesus.

Pilate should have dismissed the case when he saw the shifting of the charge from a religious one of blasphemy to a political one of treason. Luke tells us about it in these words: “And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.”

“And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou

sayest it.”

“Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.”

“And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place,” Luke 23.2-5.

When Pilate realized what was taking place, the trial rose above a civil court. It was elevated to the level of moral jurisprudence. And, furthermore, it was now a court of conscience for Pilate. No mental acrobatics, no suppressed sense of values, could alter that fact.

What would this political puppet, controlled by Rome, do? Hot were the fires of fear that burned within him. His conscience stabbed him like a thousand bloody swords until he uttered, “I find no fault in him.”

But like the fierce screams of a wild eagle as it sweeps downward to capture its victim in relentless clutches, so did the mob cry aloud, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

The spectators demanded the spectacle! This crowd knew how Pontius Pilate feared repercussions from Rome if current conditions continued in Judea. Insurrection had been spreading across the province, and rumors of provincial troubles had found their way to Rome. So this confident crowd continued to accuse the Master. Pilate was as clay in their hands, and they knew it. False charges filled the air. Patience wore thin. Again came the deafening roar, “Crucify him!”

Pilate was plagued by the persistence of the people.

What now, Pilate?

The governor felt that he was about to maneuver a political master-stroke. He would ask the crowd what he should do about freeing a prisoner, as was the custom.

The governor cried above the confusion and clamor of the maddened mob! “Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus, which is called Christ?”

“...The chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy

Jesus.”

“The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas,” Matthew 27.20-21.

Then Pilate asked, “What shall I do with Jesus?”

“They all say unto him, Let him be crucified,” Matthew 27.22b.

In the next verse the governor asked, “Why, what evil hath he done?” That question has not been answered to this hour. But, says Matthew, “They cried out the more saying, Let him be crucified.”

What an unusual thing for a judge! He was asking the accusers to pass sentence on the Accused!

But Pilate’s powers of discernment caused him to know the hypocrisy in these pretending patriots. Yet, he allowed the crowd to free Barabbas and crucify Jesus.

What about this man, Barabbas? The Bible says, “Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison,” Luke 23.19.

Here was a man who rebelled against Rome—and he had committed other crimes. If he was what we would call today a leader of the underground movement, the people might have considered him a hero. At any rate, the restless and rehearsed crowd asked that Barabbas be made free.

What thoughts rose in the heart of this criminal? Marie Corelli writes, “Barabbas was overwhelmed!”

It must have been an unbelievable thing for him. He heard the approaching footsteps of the guards. He thought they were coming to crucify him. But they came to tell him he was a free man. Corelli says that Barabbas felt they were taunting him and adding to his coming torture. But he was now free.

Dr. Riley used to say, “Barabbas was guilty—and so was I. Barabbas was condemned—and so was I. Barabbas deserved to die—and so did I. But Jesus died in his place—and He died in my stead too!”

So Pilate weighed the facts with his thumb on the scale, and signed the death warrant of Jesus. No

judge who ever sat on the bench ever witnessed a more flagrant miscarriage of justice.

Watch him now—this nervous and uncertain man who was protecting his political appointment at the expense of justice—although profane history says it was in vain—and he ultimately took his own life.

In a feeble attempt to absolve himself of his responsibility for the death sentence he had approved, he publicly washed his hands and tried to believe he was free of the whole matter. But the governor could not wash away his own guilt, nor could he wash Jesus from the pages of human history or human conscience.

“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.”

“Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children,” Matthew 27.24-25.

Verdicts are inescapable—and God is inescapable.

When Pilate, former governor of Judea, stands before Jesus, eternal Governor of the universe, what will he say?

Ah, my friend, what will you say?

 

12A.  THE SUFFERINGS OF JESUS

How can words, poverty stricken and pauper ridden as they are, describe the suffering Savior?

How can the human mind, limited as it is, grasp the sufferings of Jesus?

How can mortal tongue, faltering and feeble, adequately speak of such sufferings?

Oh, let your unworthy heart reach out in reverence as you search the sacred scope of these sufferings. Oh, let the words weep and the sentences sob as hushed hearts and silent souls tread softly on this hallowed ground.

The smoldering volcanoes of hate now begin to erupt with full fury!

Yes, scorpions of envy run wildly through the mob!

The mild breeze of taunting now becomes a satanic cyclone of terror! But Jesus, the serene Savior, remained the only one with composure and calm.

The Bible says, “And the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.” Servants of Satan smiting the Savior of sinners!

Oh, your heart should be filled with tears as we read: “Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,” Matthew 26.67.

“Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” Matthew 26.68.

“And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.”

“And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?”

“And many other things blasphemously spake they against him,” Luke 22.63-65.

“And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands,” Mark 14.65.

Behold the divine Dove attacked by the heartless hawks of hell! See them now as they mar and scar the face of the Master. Isaiah spoke of these sufferings when he wrote: “. . . His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men,” Isaiah 52.14b.

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not,” Isaiah 53.2-3.

The Marred Face

Is this the Face that thrills with awe

Seraphs who veil their face above?

Is this the Face without a flaw,

The Face that is the Face of Love?

Yea, this defaced, lifeless clod

Hath all creation’s love sufficed,

Hath satisfied the love of God,

This Face, the Face of Jesus Christ.

—Christina Rossetti

And when Pilate announced, “Take ye him and crucify him,” that was all they wanted to hear—the very words they had waited to hear.

Watch the angry crowd surround Him. Fury is on a rampage.

Hear them as they teased and taunted Him. “So this is the one from the line of David! So this is the one who has come to save the people from their sins! He doesn’t look as though he could save anyone, does he?” How they laughed with fiendish delight.

It was a custom for any criminal who was to be crucified to be scourged—lashed without mercy. This was to weaken the prisoner so it would become more difficult to escape. So Pilate ordered that Jesus be scourged.

Stand with me in the outer pavilion—and let your ears be sensitized by the Spirit of God—and listen. Did you hear it? It was the angry whip that struck the blessed back of Jesus—and the flesh is torn and the blood streams forth. Did you hear it? With full fury and force the fiendish lash has struck again.

And again.

And yet again.

Oh, my heart cannot stand it! Jesus, full of mercy, love and truth, being scourged by sinful, scornful soldiers.

Finally they led Him forth—and His enemies smiled, thinking within themselves that they had defeated the Galilean.

Watch the mob molest the Master! Let us imagine we are there for a moment. See them as they gather around Him. One of them laughed and said, “He told us he is a king. If he is a king, he needs a robe.” And they brought the seamless garment and placed it upon His shoulders.

Another shouted, “If he is a king, he needs a scepter.” In mockery they brought Him a reed and placed it in His hand.

Another cried, “If he is a king, he needs a crown!” And cautious, nervous fingers fashioned a crown of thorns—and mercilessly they thrust it upon that sacred brow. The blood streamed down His cheeks. They bowed in miserable mockery and began to cry aloud, “Behold the king! He has a robe, a scepter and a crown!”

The leader stepped inside the crowd and said, “Time is getting away. We will have to hurry.” Roughly the ruffians reached for the Redeemer—and led him through the narrow, winding streets of the city to the gate. And there, waiting for Him, was the cross. How well their plans had been laid!

Now it was the custom of those days that any man who deserved to die such a horrible death as crucifixion, deserved to carry the transverse beam of his own cross. This was to announce to all the world that his crimes had brought this terrible shame upon him. The transverse beam, with the criminal fastened to it, was lifted into the air and allowed to fall into a prepared notch in the upright stake which was already planted in the ground.

So they lifted the transverse beam of the cross and placed it against the bleeding back of the Master, and they fastened His arms to it.

It was customary for a man to walk at the head of the procession and carry a sign. On this sign were listed the crimes the criminal had been charged with. I want you to read that sign. “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” Little did they realize the accuracy of that statement!

The flute began to play, and the procession moved slowly ahead. And Jesus started the long and wearisome trek up the brow of Golgotha.

He had not gone far until human strength gave out, and the divine Son of God fell beneath the cross. The God-man was physically exhausted from a night of prayer, and from the rigors of a false trial, and from the beating and lashing He had received.

The procession stopped. Soldiers gathered around Him. One of them said, “To your feet, man! Surely if you are a king, you can carry your own cross!”

Another said, “He still doesn’t look much like a king does he?”

And another in disgust—spat upon Him.

The leaders stepped inside the circle and said, “It isn’t any use. Someone will have to carry it for him.” And the Bible says, “And they compelled Simon, a Cyrenian, to bear the cross.” I like to think that Simon stepped into the midst of that narrow, dusty trail and said, “Fasten it to my shoulders—I’ll carry it for Him.” At any rate, they lifted the Master to His feet, and Simon carried the cross.

They reached the brow of that hill. Soldiers cut the ropes that bound the transverse beam to Simon—and it fell to the ground. And Jesus, fairest Lily that ever blossomed in the hearts of men, beautiful Rose of Sharon that longs to bloom in the garden of the soul, God’s own dear Son, they placed upon that beam. The wrists are secured by cruel thongs. How methodically these evil executioners—these bloody butchers do their work. The nail is held in the proper place, and the heavy mallet is lifted. Oh, can it be? Can it be?

Mercilessly they drove the nails and fastened Him to the beam—and then lifted it against the upright stake—and roughly, they dropped it. The flesh was torn.

The feet were held against the base on the upright stake, and, without mercy, the nails pierced those sacred feet that had walked on errands of mercy—feet that had stepped out of Heaven and walked through space to take form in the womb of a virgin and be born in a manger.

Soldiers walked around the base of that tree, and they looked up and laughed. “The sign says he is a king. But he certainly doesn’t look like a king does he?”

And another one said, “So, you have come to save the people. Let’s see you save yourself! Come down from the cross!” What ironic mockery that was. For if He had saved Himself that day, He could not have saved us. Long and torture-filled were the moments of agony that followed.

The angels must have been amazed! I can hear them cry out, as it were, “Behold, how the Father loves sinful man!”

O my beloved, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”!

Yea, stand by the cross and you will never doubt the love of God.

Yea, stand on Calvary Hill and listen to the blows of the hammer that fastened Him there—and remember that each blow of the hammer was for some sin in your life. Each drop of blood that fell was for some sin in your life.

On the mount of crucifixion,

Fountains opened deep and wide,

Through the flood-gates of God’s mercy,

Flowed a vast and gracious tide.

 

 

Behold the centurion! He has become impatient. Not knowing that Jesus was dead, he rushed forward and thrust the spear into His side—and the blood from Immanuel’s veins streamed downward. Five wounds He bore—and the wounded heart of Jesus bled for a wounded world.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood,

From Thy wounded side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure,

Save from wrath and make me pure.

 

 

Now behold the anger of God! The sun covered its face, and all became dark. The black mantle of night seemed like a burial shroud for the world. Above was a lonely sky. The stars closed their eyes and refused to look. Below was a spectacle of the sinful sons of Adam. In the vaulted regions known but to God—angels wept. In the subterranean passages of perdition—Satan smirked.

An infinite God could hardly bear that scene of sacrifice— His own Son on His own altar! This was the greatest price Heaven could pay—the only begotten Son of God—cursed, condemned, crucified! And all this at the hands of disobedient mortals!

Everything in creation obeyed Him except man—that masterpiece of creation, bearing within him a spark of divinity, the very image of God—the power of choice. Man’s use and abuse of that free moral agency drove Christ through narrow streets like a galley slave—brought Him to a mock trial before Pilate, the political despot—caused the angry lash to bite the flesh without mercy—laid the cross upon His bleeding back—drove Him up Golgotha—fastened Him to the tree—made the body contort and the lips tighten with pain—caused the flesh which clothed the Eternal One to cry out in thirst and agony and desertion—made men gamble for His garments—loosed teasing and tormenting tongues and drove the spear into His side.

And God moved the hand of wrath. Flaming fingers of fire flashed across the bosom of angry clouds. Thunder, deafening and defiant, roared as ten thousand angry lions! The wind wailed and shrieked, and bending, suffering trees bowed before the raging storm, making their pleas for mercy.

And as the wind screamed through the trees—animals went wild in a frantic search for refuge—the earth heaved, and then it heaved again, and again—as it trembled before the wrath of its creator.

The veil of the Temple was ripped down the middle!

In the fearful darkness, the centurion, trembling like the aspen leaf, cried above the confusion, “Surely this is the Son of God!”

Of all of the lives that have come to a close suddenly, not one has seemed more doomed to failure than did the life of Jesus. Seemingly, as He was hanging on Calvary, fastened against the lonely sky, all that He had worked for and planned for toppled in defeat before Him. And this was not an accident. It had been planned by His enemies.

You will recall in early church history that there were other types of death in those days. One was to be impaled upon a stake; another was to be bound to the body of a deceased person until the poison and decay brought a slow and an agonizing death. But to all men of that hour, to die on a cross was to have your name blotted out in shame. Historians tell us that once a man died on a cross, his own family never spoke his name again. They tried to pretend he had never existed. Now we can see why the enemies of Jesus wanted Him to die on a cross. They wanted His death to be so shameful that no one would confess they followed him. But the cross—that to them was a symbol of shame—has become to successive generations the symbol of God’s power and God’s love and God’s triumph.

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

“And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it,” Colossians 2.14-15.

Jesus, keep me near the Cross,

There a precious fountain

Free to all—a healing stream,

Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

 

Near the Cross! O Lamb of God,

Bring its scenes before me;

Help me walk from day to day,

With its shadows o’er me.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org