So You Didn’t Have To

April 10, 2022 | Jess Rainer

Passage: Matthew 27:32-61

We arrive at the heaviest moment in the history of humanity.  Good Friday, Silent Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday are the three most important days ever.  These three days are big, heavy, and vital to every one of us.  But I’ll go ahead and give you a spoiler, it doesn’t stay heavy for long.  As we turn our focus to the cross on this Palm Sunday, I want you to grab a hold of this truth…Jesus died so you didn’t have to.

 1)How do you see the cross? (vs. 32-44).  I love that we have 4 different gospels in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Each give us a slightly different perspective with different details.  As we look at the crucifixion, we see the people witnessing Jesus on the cross see Him in different ways.  They view the cross in completely different ways. 

 In verses 39-43, we see priests, teachers, elders, and even people just passing by.  What does a person have to have in their heart to mock and ridicule a man who dying while nailed to a cross?  What did they have in their heart to make them see Jesus in this way?  I’ll cut to the chase on this one: they were absorbed with pride and the praise of others.  Jesus got in the way of their glory.  They were in love with the praise of men and Jesus had taken that away from them – specifically with the miracles He performed.  They were baiting Jesus to do another miracle.  They had already seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead and didn’t believe.  These people looked at the cross and saw a way to get more glory for themselves.

 In verses 38 and 44, we know there were two criminals crucified next to Jesus.  Matthew lets us know that these two joined in the mockery.  But we know something changed with one of them from the book of Luke.  Jesus told one of the criminals that he would be in paradise with Jesus.  The criminal looked at the cross and saw Jesus for who He is.  While Jesus was on the cross, we have people that would never believe.  We have a man who saw Jesus for who He is and believed. 

Look at verses 51 and 52, when we look at the cross we miss that Creation itself reacts to Jesus on the cross.  The weight of glory that is being displayed by Jesus on the cross was too much for creation.  The earth cracked under the pressure and magnitude of Good Friday.  And the dead couldn’t even handle what was happening on the cross.  The dead got out of their graves and started declaring Jesus’ praise!  If the cross causes the dead to sing Jesus’ praise, how much more should the living sing Jesus’ praise?

 Who do you identify with when you look at the cross?  Are you like the religious?  Unwilling to put yourself aside so that Jesus gets His due glory.  Are you like the criminal who sees Jesus for the first time?  Maybe someone here today needs to see Jesus as their Savior for the first time.  Are you like Creation?  Are you ready to sing Jesus’ praise because you know what He did for you?  Why are there different reactions to the cross?  Because we don’t fully understand what Jesus did on the cross.

 2)Jesus’ death was not just for you, but instead of you. (vs. 45-50)  In just a few verses, we see Jesus’ final moments on the cross.  Do you remember one of the major pieces that was taking place in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed?  The Father was beginning to turn His face from the Son.  There was an abandonment that was taking place.  Now, here, on the cross, the abandonment is complete.  The Father is completely separated from the Son.  

 Let me answer a big question: Why did Jesus have to die?  Before Jesus’ final breath, He said three words. The only way for Jesus to come back was to finish the mission.  Jesus’ final three words were “It is finished.” What was finished?  The mission that Jesus came to do.  The mission to save the world.  The mission that required His death. 

 So, why did Jesus have to die?  There are many reasons, but let me give you two:

1) For God.  God is the most loving, righteous, just, and holy God imaginable.. Because of that God is completely incompatible with sin.  So, when Jesus says “God, why have you abandoned me?” on the cross, Jesus is experiencing the terrifying weight of being separated from God because Jesus has taken on all the sin of the world.  That’s our problem – humanity’s problem is that we all begin in a place where our hearts set out against God’s design.  Our hearts begin in that sinful position.  And as unpopular as this truth is today, God hates sin and is wrathful towards sin.  That’s a good thing, by the way!  God hates what destroys us.  God’s wrath must be satisfied.  And the only way – the only person – who could take on the God’s wrath on behalf of all humanity was Jesus.  Jesus died to satisfy God’s wrath on sin. 

2) So you didn’t have to.  Let me go back to the criminal who believed in Jesus while on the cross.  Do you remember what He said?  Look at Luke 23:40-41.  Do you see what he said?  We deserve to die for our crimes.  That’s all of us! Our sin – the sin we are born with – deserves spiritual death.  But Jesus stepped in and died our death.  We all deserve what Jesus received, but Jesus took our place in order that we can receive what we don’t deserve.

 3) Jesus’ death changes your eternity. (vs. 51-54)  The temple curtain tearing was a statement from God.   Inside the temple, was the Holy of Holies – where the presence of God on earth resided.  The temple curtain was used to shut off the presence of God from everyone.  Because entering the Holy of Holies would mean death.  With the tearing of the curtain, God was now available to everyone.  The temple curtain was 4 inches thick.  Only God could tear the curtain.  Only Jesus could make a way for the world to have access to God.  Everyone can access God for all eternity.  Jesus’ death gave us a way to spend eternity with God. 

 This Easter...Pick up the cross.

Previous Page

Series Information

This is a 6 week series on the Story of Easter.  Throughout his earthly life, Jesus told his disciples and others what he was doing. But divine hints of what was to come were not limited only to Christ’s years on earth. God had always been telling his people what Jesus was going to do, and even now, Jesus tells us what he is going to do in our lives. He tells us the what (continue to save sinners) and the how (using us and our work in the midst of this world).

Other sermons in the series

March 13, 2022

The Last Supper

Matthew 26:26-29 ESV 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread...

March 27, 2022

Purpose and Power

Matthew 26:64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you...