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Thursday, March 15, 2012


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In order for us to take a fresh look at Easter; we must take a fresh trip to Calvary. Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land and experience the trip down the Via Dolorosa (The Way of Suffering) that Jesus Christ took for each of us. During that time the Lord ministered to me this message. Today I ask you to join me in this journey, so together we can not only take a fresh look at Easter, but so we can experience the true meaning of Easter.
Destination #1 fromGlory to Galilee! (Luke 1:26-33)
Gabriel came from God to Galilee to a virgin named Mary. Bethlehem in Judea is the place He would be born – yet Nazareth in Galilee was the place He was conceived. One thing we need to realize is that Jesus has always been and will always be. He came from the right hand of the throne of Heaven to come down to the earth as the only possible means of redemption and reconciliation of mankind. He left the glory of Heaven and came to a fallen earth. His arrival came in the most vulnerable way, as a baby, born to a virgin teenager named Mary. He grew up in a world being tempted in all things as we are, yet never did He sin. Therefore, He became the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind.
Destination #2 fromGalilee to Gethsemane! (Mark 14:32-42)
Thursday night – Jesus and His disciples came to the Garden – a place they would often visit. Yet, this time was different! This time He had to make the most difficult decision of His life. The choice He made here was a matter of life and death for Him, but even more importantly for all mankind -- past, present and future. The word Gethsemane in the Greek means “oil press - a place for squeezing oil out of olives.” This was definitely a time of squeezing…as He wrestled with what was about to happen.
Jesus told His disciples to sit while He went a little further and prayed. He took Peter, James and John with Him. The Bible says, that He was “deeply distressed and troubled…His soul was overwhelmed to the point of death. He asked Peter, James and John to pray while He went a little further and prayed to the Father. The more He prayed…the more intense it got because He knew that His time had come. In His prayers He pleaded with the Father to let this cup pass from Him. Over in Israel the groom and the father of the bride will exchange a cup of wine. The opportunity is there for the bride to drink it (which means she accepts the man) or to not drink it (which means she rejects the man). If she drinks the cup, she is making a life-long commitment to this man. Jesus is asking the cup pass from Him. As He is wrestling in prayer we see how intense it got with Dr. Luke’s account. The Bible says, “And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” The word anguish in the Greek means, “to be in a state of great mental and emotional grief an anxiety.” Jesus here experiences what the medical world calls hematidrosis – which is the actual mingling of blood and sweat together as in the cases of extreme anguish. In the end of wrestling, as well as in the midst of it, He prays, “Not my will, but your will be done.” In other words…He is willing to drink the cup.
There is something important again that we must understand as we take a look at what happened when they came to arrest Him. Take a look at John 18:4-11. It says, “knowing all that was going to happen to Him.” He asked them who they wanted. They said, Jesus of Nazareth and He said, “I am He.” When He said this the Bible tells us that they fell to the ground under the power of God. He had power to destroy them all. Peter cut off Malchus’ ear and Jesus stopped him – healing the ear and saying, “Shall I not drink the cup my Father has given me?” Jesus was saying, I am committed to this thing until the very end. He knew why He came and what He was going to have to do in order to get it done. What kept Him going…you and me – His love for us!!
Destination #3 From Gethsemane to Gabbatha! (John 19:1-16)
After being arrested in Gethsemane, they brought Jesus to the High Priest and then to Pilate early Friday morning. They took Jesus and they flogged Him. The whip they used was made of strips of leather that had pieces of bone. They would strip you down and whip you 39 times…13 on each side and 13 on the back. Many times people were killed during flogging. Each time they whipped the individual the bones would rip the flesh off the body. That is why it says in Isaiah 53:14, “His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form was marred beyond human likeness.”
This is also the place where they placed the crown of thorns on His head and a purple robe on Him. As they would push the crown of thorns on His head – the thorns cut into His head and the blood flowed. They hit Him on the head again and again with a rod and struck Him in the face. They mocked Him and spit upon Him. He said nothing except verses 10-11 ®. Then is says in verse 13, they brought Him to the Stone Pavement – Gabbatha. This is the place of judgment and the place that He was handed over to be crucified.
Destination #4 From Gabbatha to Golgotha!
At around 9:00 AM Friday morning they brought Jesus to the place of the Skull called Golgotha and they crucified Him. They made Him carry His own cross until He could not carry it anymore. They put the nail through His one wrist and then the other. Then they put the nail through His two feet. Realize, that He is beaten beyond description, naked and crucified between two thieves. They offered Him wine mixed with gall which is a pain killer and He refused. In an effort to better comprehend what Jesus went through on your behalf and mine; let me share from a medical standpoint what it is like to be crucified.
Medical Description of Crucifixion
The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place.
The left foot is pressed backward against the right food, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain – the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again, he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of the feet.

As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen.
Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and beings to compress the heart.  It is now almost over – the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level – the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues – the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air.
He can feel the chill of death creeping through his tissues…Finally he allows his body to die. All this the Bible sums up in the words…”And they crucified Him.”
Now, let’s take a moment and hear the words Jesus spoke from the cross. There was darkness from the sixth hour until the ninth hour – 12 noon until 3 PM.
1. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
He forgave the ones who put Him on the cross. He forgave the ones who were mocking Him and who were insulting Him. He forgave every single one of them. He also forgave all our sins right there.
2. “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
Here we see that Jesus is crucified between two thieves. Both mock Him and then one changes and ask Jesus to remember him…Jesus promised him that he would be with Him in Paradise that very day!
3. “Behold your son.” “Behold your mother.”
He makes sure His mother is taken care of as He speaks to John to take care of her.
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
At this moment – Father God turns His face from His son because at this moment all the sin of mankind –past – present and future has been put on Him who knew no sin!! Here we see His complete identification with sinners as He took our sins. Quote from Psalm 22:1. At this time – the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Earthquakes opened tombs of those who had died as the righteous were raised!!
5. “I thirst.”
His mouth dry and His body dehydrated, again showing how human He was in this moment, He thirst.
6. “It is finished.”
The Greek tense indicates that the word of redemption has been completed once for all!! Sin no longer has to have a hold! Death no longer has victory!! You do not have to stay the way you are – you can experience God’s very best now and eternal life as well!!
7. “Into Your Hands, I commit my Spirit.”
A prayer from Psalm 31:5 taught to Jewish children. A prayer of confidence!! He commits Himself to the Father.
Destination #5 From Golgotha to the Grave! (John 19:40-41)
They carried His beaten, battered dead body and put it in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. He and Nicodemus – a man who earlier visited Jesus at night wrapped His body and put it in the tomb. A giant stone was rolled in front of the tomb.
A violent earthquake (Matthew 28:1-7) on Sunday morning!! An angel came and rolled the stone away!! The guards were so afraid the Bible says they became like dead men. The angel told Mary Magdalene and the other Mary – HE IS RISEN!! Jesus appeared to His followers at least 10 times over a period of 40 days.
Destination #6 From the Grave to Galilee!
Jesus had spoken these words (Matthew 26:32) “But after I have risen, I will go before you to Galilee.”
Then again awe see He speaks to the women, in Matthew 28:7 -- “go quickly and tell His disciples…goeth before you into Galilee – there you will see Him.”
Finally, we see that He gives His disciples what we refer to as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)
Here we see our life mission – to reach the world and make disciples of all nations!
Destination #7 From Galilee to Glory! (Acts 1:9-11)
Jesus ascends from the Mount of Olives into the sky. His disciples stand there staring I the sky – awestruck and perhaps waiting to see Him come back. Angels have to come and tell them to go and fulfill their mission. Also, they give the promise that Jesus will come back someday just like He left.

The Truth is Jesus is coming back and it could be any moment. Are you ready for His return? Have you experienced the power of having your sins forgiven? Is the resurrection of Jesus Christ a reality in your life? God loves you so much and wants to give you a second chance, a fresh start, a new beginning. He wants you to experience His best, which is the very best of all! He is reaching out to you today so you can experience the true meaning of Easter. The decision is yours and yours alone. I urge you to surrender your life to Him afresh and really begin to live!

[Pastor Larry A. Crawford]


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