Calvary Road Baptist Church

“I WALKED WHERE JESUS WALKED

 

 Please grant me license to rehearse my recent travels out of sequence, and instead review them according to the general sequence given to us in the gospel accounts of our Lord’s final journey into Jerusalem. I want to tell you of walking where Jesus walked in those final days and hours before His crucifixion.

A missionary drove us to Jericho, now held by the Palestinian Authority. Somewhere not too far from the city square we passed through, the Lord Jesus Christ long ago heard the cries of blind Bartimaeus and his blind companion who had survived by begging alms of the pilgrims walking to Jerusalem. My Lord Jesus then dispatched disciples to them and bid them to come to Him, Mark 10.49. Near what is today’s city center in Jericho is a large old sycamore tree, reputed to be the one the little tax collector named Zacchaeus climbed to gain a better view of the Master over the crowd, at which time Jesus “looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.”[1]

Heading west from Jericho on the modern highway to Jerusalem, I asked the missionary to pull over to St. George’s Monastery, which overlooks the Wadi Qilt. A wadi is a ravine that carries no water except during the rainy season. The Wadi Qilt is the main east-west ravine through which most travelers in ancient times would pass from Jericho to Jerusalem. It was very tough to get to from the vehicle to the wadi, taking the better part of an hour to descend from where our car was parked. However, once there I could see the footpath near the bottom of the wadi, where pilgrims for centuries had come to Jerusalem from the east. The Wadi Qilt was also the place that would come to mind to anyone reading the parable of the Good Samaritan who was familiar with the region. Inside that deep ravine are thousands of small caves, in which were hidden from King Saul the men who followed young David, but are also caves in which will be hidden Jews seeking refuge from the wrath of the antichrist during the Great Tribulation. And for every cave found in the Wadi Qilt one can find a hundred more caves elsewhere.

Near Jerusalem, we found the suburb of Bethany, where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus had lived, and where Jesus had earlier delayed His coming for Lazarus to raise him from the dead.[2] The Palestinians blocked our access to Bethany with junk cars strewn across the road, so we were unable to approach what is claimed was the home of Lazarus and his sisters. However, this was likely the place where our Lord slept each night that He slept, leading up to His last night, when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane while others slept.[3]

We also went to the Wailing Wall, that portion of the west side of the Temple Mount that has remained exposed throughout the centuries. Jews were historically denied access to that sacred wall until Israel seized the city from Jordanian control in 1967. They pray there because that is the only easily accessible place remaining from their Temple that is closest to where the Holy of holies was once located. Around the corner from the west wall, on the south side, I approached two entrances that are now closed, which used to be the main entrance and exit to the courtyard of the Temple, stairs leading from the street to the elevated location of Mount Moriah where the Temple and its surrounding courtyard were located. It was probably near this location that Jesus gave sight to the man born blind, since the Pool of Siloam is nearby.[4] It is also where Peter preached his great Pentecostal sermon referred to in Acts chapter two.

It was up these stairs and through these entrances the Savior passed when He was in the city. He had earlier passed through that entrance on the final feast day on one occasion, when thousands of men packed the courtyard. As the high priest ceremonially tipped a vessel to show that it was empty of water as a reminder of their years of wilderness wanderings, “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”[5]

On the north side of the Temple Mount and on most of the east and west sides, the first century street level is about thirty feet below the level of the modern avenues and streets, with succeeding conquerors building on top of what had existed before. However, excavations now enable a person to go down to that original level. On one climb down to the first level, where the Antonia Fortress had stood, and where Roman soldiers were billeted, there exists large paving stones in which are inscribed the cruel games the Romans played with prisoners about to be crucified. It was this very game that was played when they placed a crown of thorns on my Savior’s brow and placed a robe about His shoulders before blindfolding Him and hitting Him and demanding that He identify who had struck Him.

This was the place Jesus had been eventually taken after His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was eerie to walk among the olive trees, some of which may have been in that garden when my Lord prayed while His disciples slept. It was eerie to walk to Caiaphas’ house, where I think Jesus was tried after being taken to the ex-high priest Annas, before He was taken to the Antonia Fortress to be tried by Pilate and tortured. I then walked the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus and the two thieves were forced to carry their crosses from the Antonia Fortress to the hill called Golgotha. Of course, it is up hill, and would be very difficult to walk after such a beating as He suffered, carrying His cross before collapsing under its weight, and Simon of Cyrene carrying it the remaining distance.[6]

Of course, much has changed from the first century. Certainly, the topography has changed considerably in many places. However, what has not changed is the hustle and bustle of the very crowded streets of Jerusalem. It is a mass of humanity, just as it was when Jesus walked the streets. And just as back then, most living their lives on the streets think little of Him.

This morning I would like to guide you to some reflection upon my Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly, no one must travel to Jerusalem to reflect upon Him, since the Word of God is our sufficient source of truth and light. However, it is thrilling, and it does fuel the imagination to walk where Jesus walked. Would you ponder three things with me this morning? Three things that deserve your consideration with respect to Jesus walking among us 2000 years ago:

 

First, JESUS WAS GOD WALKING

 

Impossible to imagine, though true. God walked among men. Bartimaeus and his friend cried out, “Jesus, thou Son of David.” That was not only an acknowledgment that Jesus was the long expected Messiah, but that He was the very Son of God. When Jesus formed little mud balls and restored the sight of the man born blind in Jerusalem, He was only doing what He had done in the Garden of Eden, when He formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

When He walked among men and fed 5000 from five loaves and two fishes, He demonstrated His ability to create. When He walked on the water, He demonstrated His authority as the Giver of the laws of nature. When He healed the Roman Centurion’s servant at a distance, He once again showed His authority, as well as demonstrating that distance is no impediment to Him. To be sure, He was fully man. He was born. He experienced physical growth. He wept. He hungered. He thirsted. He knew anger and sorrow. He showed compassion and demonstrated love. He walked among men and His humanity was never questioned. However, this man who walked among us was God. He was preexistent. He was virgin born. He was without sin. He claimed to be God. God the Father owned Him as His Son. He fulfilled predictions that could only be fulfilled by God, and wielded authority wielded only by God.

The question, of course, is why? Why did God become a man by means of the virgin birth? Why did He walk among us for thirty-three years? What was the point? What was the intent? What was the purpose? What was the mission?

 

Next, JESUS WAS OUR SIN-BEARER

 

It is striking to me that Jesus was ministered to by an angel as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.[7] That angel was no doubt dispatched by His heavenly Father. What an astounding privilege, to be selected by God the Father to be the last creature to attend to the Son of God before His sufferings began. However, along with His praying, it shows that our Lord’s communion with His Father remains unbroken to this point.

The question I pose to you is when did Jesus become our Sin-Bearer? At what point did God place upon His innocent Son the sins He would be punished for? Isaiah 53.6 declares, “the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The question is when this happened. My opinion is that Jesus began to bear our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He was roughly handled and taken into custody by the Temple guards sent by Annas, the ex-high priest.[8] Until communion with His Father was broken, until He became my Sin-Bearer, I cannot imagine the Father allowing His Son to be mistreated in that fashion, I cannot envision the angelic host sitting still without retaliating against His abusers.

However, by the time He was roughly handled He had become sin for us Who knew no sin. The punishment for our guilt had begun. Though He was without sin, He began to suffer for sins, though the sins He suffered for were not His own, but ours. He entered Gethsemane sinless, but was taken from the Garden of Gethsemane bearing my sins. He had walked the earth without sin for about thirty-three years. He would now walk the earth in the custody of His accusers for a few hours as a condemned sinner. The first stop was Annas. The second stop was Caiaphas, the current high priest. The third stop was Pilate. The fourth stop was Herod Antipas the tetrarch. The final stop was Pilate, who slowly and reluctantly and in fear surrendered to the demand of the Jewish leaders for Jesus to be crucified.[9]

Again, the question needs to be asked. Why? Why did the God-man become our Sin-Bearer? Why did He subject Himself to such indignities and cruelties? Why let the Romans mock and ridicule Him? What was the point? What was the intent? What was the purpose? What was the mission?

 

Finally, JESUS WAS OUR SATISFACTION

 

God is holy. God is righteous. God is just. God demands that sins and offenses be properly and adequately punished. If God did not demand the punishment of sins He would not be who and what He is, righteous, just, and holy. Therefore, God’s government of this universe in which we live demands justice. Therefore, sin must be punished. However, God is not only a God of justice, righteousness, and holiness. He is also merciful and kind, loving and compassionate. Therefore, though He demands that sin be punished, He does not demand that the sinner be punished. In His great mercy and grace, He allows for a Substitute to suffer the penalty that I rightly deserve.

Turn to Second Corinthians chapter 5, where we see Paul’s explanation of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross of Calvary:

 

14     For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15     And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

 

21     For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

 

Now, turn to Simon Peter’s concise explanation of Jesus Christ’s reason for suffering the cross, in First Peter 3.18: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

Finally, we read the Apostle John’s explanation, First John 2.2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The word propitiation means satisfaction. Thus, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf satisfied God’s demand that sins be punished.

 

Jesus Christ was crucified just outside the walls of Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago. But why was He crucified? He was crucified because He bore our sins, and sinners deserve to be punished for sins. Thus, while He properly suffered the death of the cross for sins, they were not His Own sins, but ours, that He was put to death for. However, why did Jesus bear the sins of others? Was He not sinless? Yes, He was sinless, without a nature of sin or any personal experience of sin. He bore the sins of others so those others would not be required to suffer the punishment for their own sins. Understand that if I suffer the punishment for my own sins, I would be in the lake of fire forever. The same is true of you.

Jesus, however, suffered the pent up rage of God poured out in vengeance for the heinous crimes of sinners on the cross of Calvary, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. He is our Substitute. The reason He was born of a virgin, the reason He walked among men, the reason He took upon Himself our sins, the reason He suffered the death of the cross at the hands of cruel men, was to pay my sin debt for me.

But why? Why would God allow His Son to suffer so? Why would God send His Son to suffer so? Why would Jesus choose to suffer so? Love. God’s love for mankind. Jesus Christ’s love for His Father. My friend, you have never known such love, as the love God has for you, the love Jesus demonstrated for you, is the love, which made possible the forgiveness of your sins.

What remains? Only this, that you respond to God’s love in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ’s demonstrated love for you, by turning from your sins and coming to Christ. Some men love their sins, and won’t let go of them. Few men love Jesus, and turn to Him instead of sins. However, you cannot do both.

Turn to Jesus now and be saved from your sins.



[1] Luke 19.5

[2] John 11.1-45

[3] John 12.1

[4] John 9.1-7

[5] John 7.37

[6] Matthew 27.32

[7] Luke 22.43

[8] John 18.12

[9] A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels, (New York: Harper & Row, 1950), pages 209-226.



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