The Price He Paid (Lord’s Supper)
December 4th, 1966 @ 7:30 PM
THE PRICE HE PAID
Dr. W.A. Criswell
12-4-66 7:30 p.m.
On the radio on WRR you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled, The Price He Paid. And we would invite you to turn in your Bible to the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Luke, Luke chapter 23. And we shall begin reading at verse 32 and conclude at verse 43. Luke, chapter 23; and there at home where you are, read it out loud with us.
It has been such a joy to welcome Jack Coldiron from the Southwestern Seminary here tonight, who sang that unusual a cappella solo, whatever a cappella means. And when he came up, I said, "Jack, don’t you want me to introduce you?" He said "No indeed" for all the time that he was here, Jack said to me, "There is nobody in this earth that pronounces my name and just gives me a chill of frigidity the way you say Coldiron." Bless him, and the wonderful teaching ministry he has in Southwestern, and we are thankful that he could be here tonight. With all the rest of you, this is a great night, a marvelous time to come to church, and God is going to give us a great evening. Now let us read out loud together Luke 23, begin in verse 32 and close at 43. Now together:
And there were also two others, malefactors, led with Him to be put to death.
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted His raiment, and cast lots.
And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen of God.
And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar,
And saying, If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself.
And a superscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us.
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.
The price that He paid: everything in the choice, in the volitionary discretion of our Lord, could have been so very different. He chose this way! There was no mandate except His love for us and the commission that He came to fulfill from heaven. It could have been so different. In the first temptation [Matthew 4:1-10], the evil one, our archenemy, said to the Lord, "See these stones, You do not have to starve or go hungry, nor suffer the pangs of want. Thou art the Son of God!" That’s an indicative not a subjunctive, "if Thou be the Son of God," it is a declaration, "Since You are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread!" Eat, indulge, satisfy, "appease Your appetite!" And He refused.
But there is a greater temptation. "Cast Yourself down from this high pinnacle of the temple, and let all of these throngs and throngs and throngs see You. For the very angels will bear You up. You will not dash Your foot upon the stone below. You are the Son of God! Do it!" You can shine, satisfy that ego that all of us possess to be exalted, to be received, to be adulated, to be complimented, to be applauded. Shine, cast Yourself down, and let the people see the miracle, and He refused.
And the third time Satan came and said, "Behold the glory of all the world, look upon it. Its wealth, its grandeur, its history – look upon it – all of this will I give to Thee, if Thou will fall down and worship me. Rule! Think of it, the kingdoms of the earth, Yours! What exaltation, what exaltation, what heights, what raisings, what marvelous adulations! Rule!" And all of us have a part of that in us, to seek to excel above our fellows, to be raised above our fellows. "Do It! You are the Son of God, and it is Yours for the asking!" And He refused. And the way that He chose was the way that I have read and we have read tonight: the price that He paid, the way of the cross.
Look at it: I repeat, He did not have to do this. He was not forced to do this. "In the roll of the book it is written of Me, Lo, I come to do Thy will O God" [Hebrews 10:7], He volunteered, and look at the price that He paid; what He could have been, what He could have done. All of the indulgence, all the self-exaltation, all of the glory, it was His for the asking, for the taking, for the having! And look at the price that He paid. First: the repudiation of the people, of the rulers, and of the nation. "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him, crucify Him" [John 19:15], all the hurt in His heart! "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" [John 1:11], cast out, repudiated, rejected, despised, undone, a refusal, a rejection, and the horrors of this indescribable, illimitable suffering.
Why, my dear people, not in history has there ever been anything invented that has in it the afflictions, the sorrows, the indescribable pain and suffering of a Roman cross. It was a symbol in the ancient world of horror. No Roman citizen could be crucified. By law he was interdicted from suffering such shame. Cicero said, "It was reserved for slaves and for seditionists." And our Savior was forced to bear His own cross, remembering the night of Gethsemane and remembering the cruel and terrible scourging by those Roman soldiers, and physically He fell exhausted beneath the heavy burden.
There are three kinds of crosses. There’s the St. Andrew’s cross that is like your "X"; there is a "T" cross; then there is a dagger cross, one with a headpiece. And almost certainly the Lord was crucified on a dagger cross because Pilate placed above His head the superscription of His accusation written in Hebrew and Greek and Latin, "THIS IS JESUS KING OF THE JEWS" [Matthew 27:37]. And as custom was, almost inevitably, almost always, the victim was nailed to the cross, then it was lifted up and fell into that hole, in the ground that supported it, with an awful jar. That’s why in pictures so many times, you will see in a cross that the man’s hands are not only nailed, but they are held by a rope to this side and to this side. Because when the cross was raised and was lowered, fell, dropped into the hole that supported it, the tendons of the hands broke and the ropes were necessary to keep the victim supported. The horrors of it, lasting two, three, and sometimes four days, are beyond human imagination.
Now I come to speak of the doctrine of the cross. What does it mean? First: who slew Him? Who killed Jesus? Who was responsible for that darkest of all tragedies in human history? The Apostles’ Creed dates from the first century; nobody knows where it came from. But it is one of the most beautiful and one of the finest expressions of the Christian faith and doctrine to be found in theological literature. And strangely enough, there is one sentence in the Apostles’ Creed about the death of our Lord. And he is charged with it: Pontius Pilate. "Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate." And for the centuries since, it has been sort of the consensus of feeling in the Christian world that this was the atrocious and abominable act of the Jews under the aegis, the authority of Pontius Pilate.
But Pilate is none other than the representative man; he is we! He represents us. In my reading in preparation for this message tonight, I came across an experience of a soldier in the First World War. As you know for all of those years, the line of battle in France between the German army and Allied army was mostly set. It wavered back and forth somewhat, but not much. And for years there was a line there, no man’s land, and they fought back and forth. Well, toward the end of the war, in a great Allied push, they came through what had been for so long a time a no man’s land, over which they were fighting, and shooting, and bombing, and dropping artillery shells. And this soldier said that in the middle of that land, he came across a shrine.
And if you’ve ever gone through France, so many times along the roadside, you will see a shrine, and it will be a crucifix. It will be a statue of Jesus or one of the saints, a shrine by the side of the road. Well, this shrine was one of the lowly and humble Jesus, and when the soldier saw it and looked upon it, the years of fighting had mutilated it. "The right leg," he said, "was blown away and there was just a stump left of the left. And the body was pierced with shrapnel splinters and with bullets, and it was torn with great gaping holes." And as he looked upon it, and seeing the sorrowful gaze of the Lord down from that pedestal, he said "I could not help but remember we all did that. We all did the, not just the Germans, the Allies also, and not just the Allies, but the Germans also. We all did that, we all had a part."
"You drove the nails through His quivering feet, I pierced each tender hand, and we carelessly lifted the cross on high, too blind to understand. You gave Him the gall and vinegar; I thrust the lance in His side, yet they say it was years and years ago that our Savior was crucified." The doctrine of the cross begins in this, we all had a part. It was our sins that nailed Him to the tree. It was our sins that pressed on His brow the crown of thorns. The doctrine of the cross, it is all sufficient for our salvation. There is none other necessity. There is none other work required. He paid the price, and that is the price that He paid. As the apostle Paul wrote so pointedly in the sixth chapter of his first Corinthian letter, "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price" [1 Corinthians 6:19-20], and this is the price that He paid. And it is sufficient for our salvation, nothing needed, nothing added, all that God requires to wash the stain of sin out of our soul, all that God asks when we stand at the judgment day of Almighty God; just that we look in faith and in trust to the atoning grace of our Lord Jesus. It is enough, it is all adequate and all sufficient.
And may I illustrate that in the passage that we read together. All of the evangelists are careful to state, very careful to state, that our Lord was not crucified alone. He was raised up, a malefactor on one side and a malefactor on the other side. He was crucified in the midst of transgressors. In keeping with the holy prophet and the prophecy, our Lord was numbered among the transgressors [Isaiah 53:12]. And He was crucified in the center, as though He was the most rejected and the most despised and the most despicable. And as He was raised, His hands were outstretched on either side in love and in mercy, to the malefactor crucified on His right and to the malefactor crucified on His left. Both of them were as near the forgiveness and the mercy of God as the other. And both of them saw and heard our Savior bow His head and ask the Father to forgive these who knew not what they did.
One of them cursed, and rejected, and blasphemed, and dared. But the other, but the other, turned in humble penitence, and in simple faith and prayed one of the briefest prayers recorded in the Word of God. And somehow, some precious how, some marvelous and heavenly how, some celestial how, somehow between those two crosses, penitence and mercy met. And in that humble short prayer, for he had not long to live, "Lord, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom, remember me." And Jesus said, "Today, semeion, this day, today. Usually two, three, and four days, one crucified hangs, hung in dying. But Jesus said, "Today, today," semeion, emphasized "this day," that’s the first word in the reply of our Lord. And the emphasis is on the first word, "Today! Now! This moment, today, thou shalt be with Me in Paradise" [Luke 23:32-43].
How long does it take one to be saved? Just long enough to ask. How long does it take God to answer prayer? Just long enough for you to say the word. Can I be saved now? Yes! Can I be saved this minute? Yes! Can I trust Jesus this very second? Yes! Will God accept me now? Yes! Come, come, come. "Pastor tonight, I open my heart to receive the love and grace, the favor and mercy of the Lord Jesus, and here I am."
However God shall press this invitation to your heart, make it tonight. I’ll be standing on this side of this sweet, precious, memorial communion table, to give your heart to Jesus, to put your life in the fellowship of the church, a family you, a child you, a couple you, one somebody you, while we sing this song, while we make this appeal, come tonight, make it now, do it, do it, while we stand and while we sing.
While our people prayerfully wait just for this moment and while the choir softly sings this appeal, what a glorious time to come to Jesus. Does the Lord invite you, not of man, for the voice of a man; does the Holy Spirit press the appeal to your heart? Does He bid you come? If for any reason, to give your heart to God, to trust Him as Savior, to go with Him in a deeper walk, to put your life with us in this ministry; however God shall say the word, while our people quietly wait, praying in their souls and the choir sings this appeal, make it tonight. Come now with these who are here. Do it, while we pray and while we sing. Somebody you, you.
THAT HE PAID
I. What He might have chosen (Matthew 4:1-10, Luke 4:1-13, Hebrews 10:7)
A. First temptation –
indulgence of His appetites
B. Second temptation – egotistic
C. Third temptation – ambition,
rule, glory of the world
II. The way of the cross
A. Repudiation by the
nation (John 1:11, 19:15)
1. Compelled to
carry His cross, until physical exhaustion
2. Horror to the
ancient world (Matthew 27:37)
III. The doctrine of the cross
A. Who slew him?
B. Paid the price for
our salvation (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Hebrews
C. Graphically seen in
the three crucified
1. He was not
crucified alone, but between malefactors (Isaiah
2. Three crosses
faced in the same direction toward eternity
One rejected; one accepted
"Today you will be with Me in Paradise"