Challenged to Change
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Loved ones, will you take a Bible please and turn to Luke 23:13:
“Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore chastise him and release him.’
But they all cried out together, ‘Away with this man and release to us Barabbas’ — a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, ‘Crucify, crucify Him! A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has He done? I have found in Him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.’ But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus, he delivered up to their will.
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck! Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’
Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide His garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with
a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this, he breathed His last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, and said, “Certainly, this man was innocent!”
Let’s thank our Lord for what He has done for us as we sing to him Hymn 116, “O sacred head now wounded with grief and shame weighed down”.
Last night 1954 years ago, Jesus ate the last supper with his disciples and then he went to the garden of Gethsemane and about midnight last night, he was arrested and taken then before Caiaphas and then dragged on before Herod and before Pilate and then, in the early hours of the morning, back to Pilate again and then sentenced to death. About 9 O’clock this morning, he was nailed on the cross outside Jerusalem in Palestine and hung on the cross until noon and then a great darkness came upon the earth for three hours and the sun was blotted out. And so from noon today, until 3 O’clock in the afternoon, just when we began this service, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?”
Pilate, who condemned him, said, “Nothing deserving death has been done by this man” and one of the thieves on the cross beside him said, “This man has done nothing wrong” and then the centurion who was part of the military machine that crucified him said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” Why then did Jesus cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Because He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed. He, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for you and me.
Loved ones, every perversion in your personality, every crookedness in mine, was borne by Jesus during those hours of darkness and he bore those into hell where they were exterminated and destroyed, once and for all, and he went into that darkness and bore hell for everything in you and me that is corrupt and that is perverted. That means every habit that any one of us has, that we have not been able to shake for years. It means every tendency in our personalities towards self and selfishness that remains, every evil thought life that we have indulged in. It means every mental and physical habit that is filled with corruption and sin. Jesus bore that to death with him today, 1954 years ago.
So let’s meditate, each one of us in what he did personally for each one, because he did something for you that he didn’t do for me, and he did something for me that he didn’t do for you. So let us meditate on that and let us thank him personally for that. And then let us forsake it and let us never again acknowledge it or accept it in our lives from this day forward — that he may look down on us this day and see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied as we walk free forever of the sin that he bore such pain to destroy.
Loved ones, forsake it and do not say, “I cannot” because that is a mockery of his death and that is a direct contradiction of what he has said is true. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. He who knew no sin, was made to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Let us each one, as Jane sings, make our own agreement with our Savior and our own declaration to Him. Let us pray.
We do not presume to come to this thy table, most merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness — but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table but thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so by faith to receive thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ, that the bread which we break may be unto us the communion of His body and the cup of blessing which we bless may be the communion of His blood and that we may evermore dwell in Him and He in us.
The Lord Jesus, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread and broke it and said, “This is my body which is given for you, this do in remembrance of Me.” In like manner He took the cup after supper saying, “This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood; this do as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He come.