Sunday, March 25, 2012



Preached at West End Baptist Church of Newport, Tennessee on Sunday Morning, March 25, 2012. It is the third in a series of five messages under the general title: "The Via Dolorosa - The Way of the Cross".

My dad was a volunteer firefighter back in the days when Robert Tucker was the chief; and as they got closer and closer to the fire, the adrenalin would begin to kick in.

Firefighters run into a burning building when it is only natural to run out of it. Law enforcement and emergency personnel face horrendous problems when it is only natural to try to avoid them.

In much the same way, as our Lord traveled the “way of the cross”, His soul was increasingly more and more troubled with every step. As Cal-vary loomed up ahead, the natural instinct was to run away or fight it; but Jesus did not turn away:

(Philippians 2:8) – “And being found in fashion as a man, He hum-bled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”.

Notice the word, “even the death of the cross” which should read “even the cross death”; which was well-known as the most brutal, agoniz-ing, intolerable, insufferable, unbearable, excruciating form of capital pun-ishment known to man – described simply as “the cross death”.

Luke notes that Jesus refused to pray for deliverance from “the cross death” when He was challenged by on the thieves:

(Luke 23:39-43) – “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If you are The Christ, save yourself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Do you not fear God, seeing that you are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but This Man has done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, Today you shall be with me in paradise”.

Not only did He refuse to pray for deliverance; but He yielded to the express purposes of His Heavenly Father for this hour:

(John 12:27) – “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? ‘Fa-ther, save me from this hour’: but for this cause I came unto this hour”.

At Calvary, the horror of death met headlong against the honor of obedience!

Jesus had already settled in His Mind what He was to do when He ex-pressed with a great amount of deep settled conviction:

(John 12:32) – “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”.

Jesus was going to Calvary because He loved us more than He loved His own life; and He wanted to pay the price of bringing every man, woman, boy and girl into a vibrant, living, throbbing relationship with Himself – and present His Followers as forgiven and redeemed to God the Father:

Not everyone would come to believe in Him; but He was dying for everyone so that could believe in Him!

The appeal was to be universal; and everyone could feel the tug of His Love for them as was demonstrated on the cross on which He was lifted up.

Author William Hull wrote: “Judaism offered men a national shrine, a racial circumcision, and a sectarian religious law”; but Jesus offered Himself – obedient, gracious, loving, dying – and in that sacrifice of His own life, we are drawn to Him to be released into a life more abundant and accepted, full, forgiven and free, rich and redeemed.

The message this morning concerns the process or procedure of the cross. What happened up there on the knarly and knuckled, contorted and distorted hillside outside the city walls of Jerusalem?


Luke 23:33 describes how they crucified Jesus in the “place of dishon-or” – the center position:

(Luke 23:33) – “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one of the right hand, and the other on the left”.

Reckoning Him to be the worst criminal of the three, they put Him be-tween the other two. They heaped upon Him the utmost scorn which they could give to a malefactor; and in so doing they unconsciously honored Him. Jesus always deserves the chief place wherever He is. In all things He must have the pre-eminence. He is the “King of Sufferers” as well as the “King of Saints”.

With His back torn to shreds by the flying whip with its nine leather thongs imbedded by pieces of metal and sharp rocks as it administered blow after blow; He was thrown brutally on the rough splintery wooden surface of the cross.

His Head was encircled with a crown of interwoven huge, sharp, tough thorns which was roughly jammed painfully down until it dug into His brow and scalp.

The rusty nails were expertly driven into the flesh and muscle tissue of His wrists and feet to hold Him to the cross with wave after wave of pulsing, excruciating pain. They were carefully placed to miss the major arteries; but to damage the extensive nerve clusters that can be found there. Every movement against those nails was tremendous pain to the Savior.

The cross was lifted into position and dropped into its socket in the rocky mountain surface, tearing His flesh still further.

As He hung by His hands, He could not breathe. His diaphragm was so distorted that no air could enter His lungs. The only relief afforded Him was to push against the nail in His feet to relief the pressure on His arms which were elongated by as much as two inches in each of the three joints (wrist, elbow, and shoulder).

When in His Humanity, He could stand that pain no longer, He fell back on His arms and pressed His back against the rough wood of the tree to begin the excruciating cycle all over again.

But the physical agony which we can somehow picture to a small de-cree was actually nothing but a small part of the sum total when we try to examine the spiritual agony – which our finite, sinful, carnal minds cannot comprehend.

There is a program on television called “Dirtiest Jobs” in which the host shows how people perform the most disgusting duties in the most loathsome of environments. I haven’t even watched a complete program because of the vileness presented.

In the same way, Jesus had never known sin in His own life; and now He was covered with the most horrendous, repulsive, foul sin ever known.

(2 Corinthians 5:21) – “For He (God the Father) hath made Him (God the Son) to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (God the Son).

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, our Savior had never known one second of time apart from the Father; never experience one moment of isolation from Almighty God - cried out:

(Mark 15:34) – “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is, being interpreted, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’”

Those of us who have lost a dear loved one can begin to understand what anguish Jesus was enduring when He was separated from His Heavenly Father. He was “cut off” from the Holy, Heavenly Father by sin which He did not, had not, and never would commit – our sins.

He was offered there – once for all:

(Romans 5:8) – “But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.


God is the great physician; and He has written a prescription for us that is exactly what we need.

For our sin of unbelief, He prescribed a liberal application of the blood of His Son’s Sacrifice. For our daily sins of omission and commission, He prescribed an acceptance of His Love and Forgiveness. Nothing gets through to us like His Love.

Robert Moyer wrote, “A sinner may go to hell unsaved; but he cannot go there unloved”.

Calvary is a public display of the remarkable Love of Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe towards us while we are still in our sins.


It is not easy to forgive; as we can all attest; but we have a perfect example in the events of Calvary.

Luke says that Jesus implored the Father to forgive those who had taken Him to Calvary and in mockery, hung Him there to die:

(Luke 23:34) – “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted His raiment, and cast lots”.

Jesus did not say one word in His own defense. He very well could have prayed, “Father, notice what they are doing to me; and judge them harshly for that”; but that is not what He prayed. Isaiah had written:

Isaiah 53:12B) – “ … He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgres-sors”; and that prophecy is here fulfilled as Jesus plead for His murderers: “Father, forgive them”.

He did not utter a single word of rebuke: “Why are you doing this to Me, the One who loves you, feeds you, wants to bless you?” No; nothing like that: “Father, forgive them”.

He had laid aside His majesty to be fastened to the cross; and there-fore He took the humble position of a servant and a sacrificial victim, rather than the more lofty place of one who had power to forgive.

Though we were not there, and we did not actually put Jesus to death, yet we really caused His death, and we, too, crucified the Lord of glory; and His prayer for us was, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”.

They did not ask for forgiveness for themselves, Jesus asked for for-giveness for them. Their hands were imbrued in His blood; and it was then, even then, that He prayed for them. Let us think of the great love wherewith He loved us, even while we were yet sinners; even then, He prayed for us:

(Romans 5:6) – “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly”.

He prayed for you when you did not pray for yourself. He prayed for you when you were crucifying him.

Notice: “Father, forgive them”. He was the Son of God, and He put His divine Sonship on the scale on our behalf. He seems to say, "Father, as I am Your Son; grant me this request, and pardon these rebels. Father, for-give them”.

His rights as The Son were very great. He was the Son of the Highest. "Light of light, very God of very God", the second Person in the Divine Trini-ty; and he puts that Sonship here before God and says, "Father, Father, forgive them”!

While He is wounded and dying in agony; He says, "Father, Father, grant my one request; O Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do;" and the great Father in Heaven bows His head, in token that the petition is granted.

Notice that the Son asked the Father to “Forgive them” or “grant them full absolution” – “grant the guilty ones full pardon” – “grant My enemies full forgiveness” – “Do not punish them; forgive them. Do not remember their sin; forgive it, blot it out; throw it into the depths of the sea. Mention it not against them any more forever. Father, forgive them”.

What a wonderful prayer from the Son of God! The forgiveness of God is so much more broad and deep than the forgiveness from man. When man forgives, he leaves the remembrance of the wrong behind; but when God pardons, he says, "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more”. This is what The Christ was requesting for you and me long before we had any repentance, or any faith; and in answer to that prayer, we were brought to feel our sin, we were brought to confess it, and to believe in him; and now, we can bless Him for having pleaded for us, and obtained the forgiveness of all our sins.

How startled those rough, tough Roman soldiers must have been to hear such words from one who was about to be put to death for a supposed crime! The men that drove the nails, the men that lifted up the tree, must have been shocked and surprised back with amazement when they heard Jesus talk to God as his Father, and pray for them: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”.

Had they ever heard such words before? No! They were so distinctly and diametrically opposed to the whole spirit of Rome. They believed in blow for blow, retaliation, reprisal, retribution, measure for meas-ure, tit for tat, give and take, eye for eye, repayment in spades, get even with, pay off the old scores, take revenge, having a bone to pick, harboring a grudge, and being relentlessly vindictive – only in the case of Jesus they gave blows where none had been received. The crushing cruelty of the Roman must have been startled indeed at such words as these, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

In His moments of utmost darkest darkness, He took the time to hear a penitent sinner cry out to Him. He personally assured him that they would be together at the end of the day – and for ever after:

(Luke 23:43) – “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shall thou be with me in paradise”.

In His final word, “Tetellesti”, He refused to retaliate in anger against those who were doing this:

(John 19:30) – “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost”.

He yielded his life. He did not die, as we have to do, because our ap-pointed time has come, but willingly the great Sacrifice parted with His life: "He gave up the ghost." He was a willing sacrifice for guilty men.

He did not give up the ghost, and then bow His head, because He was dead; but He bowed his head as though in the act of worship, or as leaning it down upon His Father's bosom, and then gave up the ghost.

Jesus forgave those who took Him, nailed Him, and watched Him on the cross. He pardoned and forgave the guilty criminal on His right; and completed the task of providing salvation and forgiveness. His message of “It is finished” had taken Him all the way to remove each and every sin of each and every person in each and every part of the world.



Preached at West End Baptist Church of Newport, Tennessee on Sunday Morning, March 18, 2012. This is the second in a series of five messages under the general title: "The Via Dolorosa - The Way of the Cross".

(Isaiah 53:10) - Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when thou shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

We are very familiar with the phrase: “check on the progress of whatever” and “things are proceeding according to plan”. Every project of every business or military endeavour has a “progress report” or “status check”.

The space program brought a simple little expression to the forefront: “Everything is AOK”; and we have adopted many such expressions: We refer to something being “on track” when it is moving “according to Hoyle”. Something is “on the button” when it is “rolling with the tide”. Something is said to be “on the high road” when it is “going great guns”.

The sign says, “Christian, it’s “game on” so “let’s get cracking”; and I have yet to have someone tell me they don’t understand. Something is said to be “making headway” when it is “making rapid strides”, “gaining leeway”, or “by the book”.

We understand when a plan is “gaining ground”, “going with the flow”, or “rising with the tide”. Something is said to be “on schedule” when it is “on course”, or even “right smack dab on the old bazoo”. When a “game plan” has to be “tweaked”, we comprehend what is meant. When a “timetable” has to be adjusted, we can “dig it”.

All of these familiar phrases are part and parcel of our dictionary; and we hear them and perceive their meaning. All these expressions are important to us because all our plans are subject to change like the “best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray”. Our plans are never “written in stone” and “alterations” are always included in the “ebb and flow”, the “wax and wane”, the “veer and yield” and we often have to “take a different tack”.

God had a plan for the Salvation of the world of every man, woman, young person, and old-enough child; and that plan is proceeding “right down the middle”. “straight to the front”. It can be seen and felt as it proceeds without one modification or resolve.


The Scripture plainly tells us that Christ was born “in the fullness of time”; not one second too early or late – but right on time, according to the plan.

Everything that was supposed to have happened had occurred:

A sacrificial system had been established in the Garden of Eden after the first sinner committed the first sin; and an innocent animal – actually several of them – had to die to make “long coats of skins” to cover Adam and Eve. This was a sacrificial system in which the people understood the principle of substitution – a sacrifice took the place of the guilty one and suffered the pain of his sin – in his place – the innocent one suffering for the guilty one!

They had practiced that principle day after day for hundreds of years in their homes in Egypt, in the Tabernacle in the wilderness, in the First Temple that King Solomon had built in Jerusalem, in the reconstructed Temple of Ezra on the exact same spot, and in the Second Temple that had been built by King Herod the Great, likewise on the exact same spot.

They were familiar with the first born male blood-shed sacrifice principle involving lambs, bulls, goats, rams, heifers, doves, and pigeons; with the food offering, with the garden produce “first-fruit” offering, with the drink offering.

Animosity had developed between the Israeli and the Philistines from day one of the Joshua conquest of the land; and there was always a constant power struggle between these two. That was very important because an incredibly complex and excruciating form of capital punishment was allegedly designed by these forerunners of the Gaza Strip – crucifixion!

Crucifixion was reportedly so brutal that Rome had outlawed it for any of its citizenry – no matter what their crimes. And Rome was in charge of the world.

The plan called for a Roman ruler that could be manipulated by a mob of angry Jewish leaders. The title of the ruler of the Roman Empire had evolved from “Imperiter” to “Principer” (“principle emperor”) to “The Caesar”; and the title has passed from General Pompey (63 BC) to Emperor Julius (49 BC) to Caesar Augustus (27 BC) (Luke 2:1) to Caesar Tiberius (14 AD) (Luke 3:1).

The Roman plan of governing called for its enslaved and/or captured people to fall under either a “proconsul” (if they “played ball”, paid their taxes, and did not complain) or a more strict “procurator” (for the more rebellious city states and people).

Judea was a complicated political situation and ended up being divided into different administrative districts at different times and governed by various levels of the Roman political bureaucracy. Also, political leadership was granted as a reward for being in favor with Caesar, and could be withdrawn just as quickly because of disfavor or perceived threat. As a result, various parts of God’s Land passed back and forth between supervised monarchial rule and total control under Roman procurators or governors. No one really wanted to be there; but many “strong-arms” had been assigned to rule there: Caponius (6-10), Ambivius (10-13), Annius Rufus (13-15), Valerius Gratus (15-26); and the fifth one was Pontius Pilate (26-36). Governor Pilate was under strict, unbending orders from Caesar Tiberius to bring those people in line – or else – and he was not willing to find out what “or else” meant.

But he was weak and corrupt. He made his home on the beach in Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea; and did not wish to have any uprising from these crazy Jews. He hated these people and their “scruffy” little capital city of Jerusalem; and was incensed because he had to be there to keep the peace for Passover, when he was probably awakened by mobs of Jewish citizens screaming for him to “do something” with this “criminal” they had examined and found to be guilty of blasphemy.

The hated Roman leaders clashed with the mistrusted Jewish leaders; and the stage was set and the plan progressed hour upon hour.

Judas Iscariot was a willing conspirator who was in over his head!

Governor Pilate was a willing weak-kneed cooperator who was afraid for his job.

And finally, Jesus was willing to allow the Plan to proceed as distasteful as it was to His purity and righteousness, His piety and holiness, His sinlessness and Godliness!


When you see Christ going up Mount Calvary, you should be able to see all of Christ’s Believers going there: when you see Christ hurled upon His back upon the wooden cross, you should be able to see the whole company of His followers there; and when you see the nails driven through His blessed hands and feet, it is the whole body of His Church who, in Him, are being brutally fashioned to the tree.

The intense agony that is seen there should be seen as the intense suffering of those of us who follow Him into the Church; and when Christ bows His Head, breathes His last, and dies; you should be able to look upon that death as not being for Him, but for His being the scape-goat and the substitute for every man, woman, youth, and child.

It is true, Christ died really IN Himself; but it is equally true that He did not die FOR himself; but He died as the substitute, in the room, place, and stead of all Believers who did then, and have since, and ever will believe in Him and accept His as their Savior.

When you die you will die for yourselves; but when Christ died, He died for you, if you are a Believer in Him. Whether you are a Believer or not, when you pass through the gates of the grave; you represent yourself, and are not the representative of anyone else. While Christians who die are accompanied by an innumerable company of angels, we will pass through the gates of death as an individual; but, remember, when Christ went through the sufferings of death, He was the representative Head of all His people.

Understand, then, the sense in which Christ was made a sacrifice for sin. It was as a substitute for sin that He did actually and literally suffer punishment for the sin of all His believers. Man for his sin was condemned to eternal fire; when God took Christ to be the substitute, it is true, He did not send Christ into eternal fire, but He poured upon Him grief so desperate, that it was a valid payment for even an eternity of fire.

Man was condemned to live forever in hell. God did not send Christ forever into hell; but He put on Christ, punishment that was equivalent for that. Although He did not give Christ to drink the actual hells of believers, yet He gave Him a quid pro quo - something that was equivalent thereunto. He took the cup of Christ's agony, and He put in suffering, misery, and anguish such as only God can imagine or dream of, that was the exact equivalent for all the suffering, all the woe, and all the eternal tortures of every one that shall at last stand in heaven, bought with the blood of Christ. And you might be thinking, “Did Christ drink it all?” Did He suffer it all? Yes, He took the cup, and drained it dry to the last ounce of damnation.

He suffered all the horror of hell: in one huge storm of wrath it fell upon Him, with hail-stones as big as those that will fall during the Tribulation Period; and He hung there on that cross until that foreboding spiritual storm cloud had emptied itself completely. There was our sin debt, huge and immense, falling full upon Him; and He paid it off in full; and now there is not so much as a penny due to the justice of God in the way of punishment from any believer. Although we do owe God a huge debt for His Love to us; we owe Him nothing to His justice; for Christ in that hour took all our sins, past, present, and to come, and was punished for them all there and then, that we might never be punished, because He suffered in our stead.

Do you see, then, how it was that God the Father bruised him? Unless He had so done, the agonies of Christ could not have been an equivalent for our sufferings; for hell consists in the hiding of God's face from sinners, and if God had not hidden His face from Christ, I do not see his Christ could have endured any suffering that could have been accepted as an equivalent for the woes and agonies of His people.

Someone might be thinking, “Are you sure that Christ’s death was for ME?” Are you a sinner? Do you feel convicted and condemned? Has God, the Holy Spirit, made you feel that you are a lost sinner? Do you want salvation? If you do not want to be saved; that does not take away the fact that He wants YOU to be saved; but if you really feel that you want it, you can receive your salvation by receiving Him as your Savior. If you have a desire to be saved, a desire given you by the Holy Spirit, that is a good thing! If you have begun believingly to confess your sins and accept His Salvation; you have sure and certain evidence that He can be your Savior. It is a sure and certain thing; that Christ was punished for you.

It might manifest itself as a desire, a need to come clean with Him, a thirst after righteousness; and “want to” to be a Christian – whatever – but it always works that way – every time, never changes; sure and stable, secure bad constant, uniform and unvarying. Everybody who has ever been saved from the crucifixion until now; and everyone who will be saved from now until the King comes to establish His Kingdom – has been, is now, and will be saved exactly the same way – whether it was in a church, Sunday school, Bible school, revival meeting, or a country music concert! It is always through Jesus Christ’s shed blood; solely through Jesus Christ’s shed blood; uniquely through Christ’s shed blood; exclusively thorough Christ’s shed blood!

What are the effects of the Cross?

A. "He shall see His seed."

Humans have offspring by life; Christ has offspring by death. Humans die and leave their children, and might not see their families past possibly five generations; but Christ is still alive forevermore, and every day sees His seed brought into the unity of the faith.

The salvation of multitudes is the first effect of Christ's death; and this was not, is not, and never will be an accident or “happenstance of circumstance”. There was not so much as one atom of chance work in the Savior’s death. Christ knew what He bought when He died; and everyone who has progressed to accept that death as his substitutionary sacrifice shall one day meet around the throne,

B: “He shall prolong His days”.

Simply spoken, when He died, His Life and Ministry did not end. Oh, for an instant in the eternal scheme of things, Jesus died; but the third morning came, and the conqueror, rose from among the dead ones , and came forth from His prison house, no more to die. He ministered for forty days and “ascended up on high”.

In His death, you died; in His life, you live; and will ever live, no more to die!

C. “The pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand”.

By Christ's death the Father's good pleasure was effected and prospered. God's good pleasure is, “that as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name”. Christ's death has made that possible.

The hour is coming when the capitals of the world shall shake with the sound of Christ’s footsteps; when all the gods of the heathens shall lose their thrones and be cast out on the garbage heaps of this world; and then, from pole to pole, from the east to the west, Christ shall be honored, the Lord shall be paramount of earth, when from land to land, from the river even to the ends of the earth, one King shall reign, one shout shall be raised, "Hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth."

Then, we shall see the progress of the Cross of Christ. It shall be evident what Christ's death has accomplished – in the world; but what about in you?

Has His death made any difference in you?




(From Internet Sources)

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Mr. John Common-Sense, who had been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape; but he will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
- Knowing when to come in out of the rain -
- Why the early bird gets the worm -
- Life isn't always fair -
- It was my fault -

Brother Common-Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

Sadly, his health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations from government bureaucracies were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his condition.

Common-Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Our friend John lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

His outlook on life took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home; while the burglar could sue you for assault if you did.

He finally reached the end of his rope, and gave up the will to live after Stella Leibeck failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot; and when she spilled a little in her lap, she was promptly awarded a huge settlement (See this space next week).

Common-Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his many stepbrothers and sisters;

I Know My Rights; I Want Them Now;

Someone Else Is To Blame; I'm A Victim;

My disturbing childhood caused all my criminal traits;

Why work when fools will pay me not to;

Being gay is not abnormal, it's only another lifestyle;

It’s ok if your children do not know who their father is;

Having lots of babies means lots of money coming in from the government (taxpayers to the government); and has an added benefit when my thirty year old mother can be named as official foster caregiver and also get paid;

Selling illegal drugs and paying no taxes is a great way to earn a living, and no one is harmed;

Prisons should be a clean, comfortable, fun place to live with lots of good food and free time;

Government employees do not need to live by the rules they set for other citizens;

Creating debt is necessary; others can deal with it later;

Terrorists need to be reasoned with and they will become good people;

Supporting people and countries who hate and deceive us will change their feelings toward us;

Women are not equal to any men and should have no rights;

Children can be traded or sold for any reason to anyone!

Because of limited time and a quick funeral, many members of John Common-Sense’s step family could not be listed; and they are spread out so far and wide, they could all be contacted. Most people meant well; but not very many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone until after the funeral service.

Friday, March 23, 2012



Preached at West End Baptist Church on Sunday Morning, March 11, 2012. This is the first of five sermons under the general heading: "THE VIA DOLOROSA" (LATIN - "The Way of the Cross")

(Isaiah 53:10) - Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He (The Father) hath put Him The Son) to grief: when thou shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.

In my seventy-one years, I have either participated in or observed quite a few memorable events. A touchdown catch against Jefferson City; graduation after my seven years in high school; marrying Anita; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassination of JFK; my Salvation experience; my call to preach; the births of our children and grandchildren; the salvation and baptisms of our children and grandchildren; your gift of our trip to Israel; and many wonderful experiences in forty-four years of ministry.

There is one great event, which should be at the top of every person’s list; the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. The eyes and hopes of all the saints who lived before the Christian era were always directed forward to the Cross; and the eyes and faith of all the saints who have since received Jesus Christ as their Savior are always looking backwards to the Cross.

The ancient prophets spoke in future terms; and the angels in heaven are continually gazing intently upon Christ:

(1 Peter 1:10-12) - Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

This morning, we begin a series of five messages on “The Via Dolorosa” – “The Way of the Cross”. When we look at Calvary; let us try to determine in our minds why that knuckled, gnarled old hilltop is the focus of the joy and delight of all the citizens of heaven.

Let’s let the Scripture Text guide us in our visit to the “Way of the Cross”; and allow the Holy Spirit to look on the One who died there.

First: the CAUSE of Christ’s Death: "It pleased the LORD (YHWH) to bruise Him (The Son); He hath put Him to grief."

Secondly, the REASON of Christ's death: "Thou shall make His soul an offering for sin." Christ died because he was an offering for sin.

Thirdly, the EFFECTS of Christ's death: "He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand”.


"It pleased Jehovah to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief."

If we read about Jesus merely as a historical figure; if we consider His death as merely a result of the hatred of the Jewish leaders and the stupidity of Governor Pilate; we miss the entire point.

But if we look at Calvary with the eye of faith, desiring to discover its hidden secrets; we can see something more in the Savior’s death than Roman cruelty, or Jewish malice. If we really look at it, we will see that it was done by the solemn decree of God, and carried out by men who were ignorant, but guilty instruments of its accomplishment.

If we look beyond the Roman spear, whip, and rusty nails, beyond the Jewish taunts and jeers; we can follow the clearly blood-marked trail right up to the One Who not only ALLOWED it to happen; but Who actually PLANNED it to happen!

Peter stated it very clearly:

(Acts 2:22-23) - Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.

I know what you are thinking! You do not want to level the charge at God; I get the heeby-jeebies myself about preaching this; but at the same time, we have to face the fact that “It pleased Jehovah to bruise Him”.

When we look at Calvary this way, we overlook both the ignorance of Pilate and the evil of Herod, and we can see the PLAN of Calvary – The Heavenly Father, the First Person in the Divine Trinity. "It pleased the LORD to bruise Him, He has put Him to grief." It was not solely the Jews or the Romans that caused Jesus to go to His death; it was us and our sin!

Now there are a lot of well-meaning, but uninformed and misguided people who attend churches all over the world; and have it firmly embedded in their minds that God the Father is just an indifferent spectator to the Plan of Salvation.

There are multitudes of others who look upon God as an unloving, severe Being, who really had no love to the human race, and could only be made loving by the death and agonies of our Savior. Where in the world did that heresy come from? That is a black mark on the fair, just, merciful, and glorious Grace of God the Father, to whom be glory and honor forever.

Jesus Christ did not die to make God loving; He died because God WAS loving!

Christ was sent into the world by his Father because God “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.

The fact is, that the Father as much decreed salvation, as much effected it, and as much delighted in it, as did either God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit.

And when we speak of the Savior of the world, we are usually speaking about Jesus Christ; but shouldn’t we also include the One Who Planned it (God the Father), the One Who Performed it (God the Son), and the One Who Pursued it (God the Holy Spirit) – because these Three, as one God, save us from our sins.

The Text clearly tells us that “it pleased Jehovah to bruise Jesus Christ”. The death of Christ is traceable to God the Father.



The Triune God of heaven and earth wrote the “Plan” for Calvary. Nobody else helped Him, in even the smallest parts. From beginning to end, it was marked out, designed, sketched, and planned by the mind of the all-wise, all-knowing God. Because of that, not even Christ's death was exempt from it.

The God Who directs all the millions upon millions of angel hosts of heaven, and yet pays attention to one single sparrow on the immenseness of earth; the God Who created every single particle of the vastness of the universe, and yet pays attention to the very hairs of the head, the color of the eyes, and the individuality of each and every snowflake; the One Who decreed the greatest wonder of each and every one of the miracle of heaven and earth was not about to make a mistake in His generation of the greatest of the greatest wonder of the wonders of all of earth's miracles - the death of Christ!

No; through the blood-stained pages of Scripture, God Almighty “planned” the “Plan”; and the past, present, and the glorious future all the words concerning the pivotal point of it all – Cavalry!

God the Father planned and determined that Christ should be born of the Virgin Mary; He planned and determined that Christ should suffer and ultimately die an agonizing death under Governor Pontius Pilate; that He should descend into Hades to appear to all the Old Testament Believers in Paradise; that He should rise again in three days; that He should someday come again secretly to gather His Followers home and then come again publically to establish His long-awaited Kingdom; and that He should usher in eternity when He shall reign for ever at the right hand of the Majesty on high!

The death of Christ is the very center piece and main-spring by which God did fashion all His other decrees, making this the first and foundation-stone upon which the sacred architecture should be built.

Christ was put to death by the absolute foreknowledge and solemn decree of God the Father, and in this sense "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief."


Now, we come to a more difficult part to understand!

Jesus did not come into thus world on His own! No; He had been the constant companion of God the Father and God the Spirit from before all worlds, eternally delighting himself in his Father, and being himself his Father's eternal joy. But, “In the fullness of time” God sent His Son, His only-begotten Son, and freely delivered Him up for us all.

This simply cannot be understood by mankind. This was a matchless, peerless love that mankind cannot grasp – that the offended Judge should permit His co-equal Son to suffer the pains of death for the redemption of a rebellious people.

The Bible speaks of a bearded old patriarch, who took his young strapping strong young teen aged son to go on a trip - three days journey with their men; until they come to the Mountain, of which the LORD had spoken to the patriarch.

You know the patriarch; Abraham is a holy memory to both Christians and Jews, as well as Moslems. I don’t imagine the father spoke too much to the son; his heart was too full, too heavy for words; he was overwhelmed with grief. God had commanded him to take his son, his only son, and slay him upon the mountain as a sacrifice.

And so they walked together; one in anguish of soul who had heard the command and didn’t understand, and the other one who did not hear the command and maybe just beginning to understand. That son meant everything to that old father; and he knew that he was going to be his executioner. At the foothills, they told the servants to stay and they would go and worship – and return!

The son, Isaac finally asked, "Father, behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?" Can you conceive how the father, Abraham, stifled his emotions, and, with sobs, exclaimed, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb”. He was telling his son that God had demanded his life.

Isaac, who might have struggled and escaped from his old father, declared by his actions that he was willing to die, if God had decreed it. The father took his son, bound his hands behind his back, piled up the stones to make an altar, laid the wood, and had his fire ready. And now where is the artist that can depict the anguish of the father’s countenance, when the knife is unsheathed, and he holds it up, ready to slay his son?

The ram caught in the thicket supplies the substitute, and Abraham did not need to go any further physically; but we are told in Hebrews that in the Mind of God, Abraham DID go through with it:

(Hebrews 11:17-19) - By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Now skip from this scene to a far greater one. What faith and obedience led Abraham to do; love constrained God to do!

God had but one son, His Only Begotten Son; but He covenanted to yield Him up for our redemption. He did not violate His promise; and when the fullness of time was come, He sent His Son to be born of the Virgin Mary, for the express purpose that He might suffer and offer Himself as the Sacrificed for the sins of man.

Can you explain that kind of Love that He completed in reality what Abraham only did in intention? Look up here at the facsimile of the place where God’s only Son hung dead upon the cross! Here is love indeed; and here we see how it was, that it pleased the Father to bruise him.


This is the most difficult of all to understand.

Down through the years, there have been martyrs in prison with chains on their wrists; under sentence that they will die tomorrow. Unbelievably, they think, “I shall eat breakfast alone down here in fiery tribulations, but have supper with Jesus in heaven”.

History has recorded that thousands of them died; and many of them singing while the flames leapt up or wild beasts leapt out to consume their physical bodies and they slipped into eternity. Hundreds may have been in the crowds watching and praying for them!

At Calvary, the Savior is going up the Via Dolorosa; weak from the beating; His soul sad within Him. He falls under the load; and they whip Him back to His feet. He is nailed to the tree with the sound of utter silence of singing. Just a few followers are there to comfort His mother.

When He spoke, it was not a song but a cry: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The martyrs died and God was with them; but God was not with His Son when He died. You see, it was not pleasing to God that the martyrs die; but “it pleased God to bruise Him”.

The sunshine of God's countenance that has cheered many a dying saint, was withdrawn from Christ; and therefore he suffered in thick darkness of mental agony.

Underneath the church are the everlasting arms; but underneath Christ there were no arms at all, but his Father's hand pressed heavily against Him to bruise Him; and not one drop of joy or consolation was afforded to Him. "It pleased Jehovah to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief." This was the climax of the Savior’s woe, that His Father turned away from Him, and put Him to grief.

And that was all according to plan!

Now what are we going to do with that?

NOTE: I am grateful to Pastor Charles Spurgeon for many of the seed thoughts contained in this message.