The Wounds of Jesus
October 29th, 1972 @ 7:30 PM
THE WOUNDS OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-29-72 7:30 p.m.
On the radio of the city of Dallas you are worshiping with us in the First Baptist Church. And we invite you to take your Bible and to turn to the Gospel of John, the Fourth Gospel, and read out loud with us this passage from the crucifixion of our Lord, beginning at verse 28 and reading through verse 37. John chapter 19, verse 28 through verse 37, and all of us reading out loud together. John chapter 19, beginning at verse 28, through 37. Now all of us out loud together:
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth.
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.
The Jews therefore, because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was a high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him.
And when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs:
But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken.
And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced.
The title of the message is The Wounds of Jesus.
The crucifixion of our Lord is very dramatically portrayed in each of the four Gospels. Most of the gospel message is taken up with the story of the suffering of our Lord. His ministry was over three years, yet all four of those Gospels spend most of their words in recounting the suffering, and the crucifixion, and the ultimate resurrection triumph of our blessed Savior.
And not to spiritualize as such, but we’re going to look at the body of Jesus in a little different way than just beholding Him as He was nailed to the cross—and not to spiritualize, but to take the presentation of the incarnation of our Lord today, and what we do today to bruise, and to wound, and to tear the flesh of our Lord. For in the days of His actual flesh, they drove great nails through His hands and His feet, and one of the soldiers took a spear and thrust it into His heart [John 19:34].
And when Jesus died there were those five wounds, so visible, so red, so crimson; blood flowing from His two hands, from His two feet, and from His side. And it’s easy to visualize the awful tragedy of earth’s darkest day, when the gift that God made in Bethlehem [Matthew 1:18-2:1], was handed back to the God who gave Him on the point of a Roman spear [John 19:34]. I would suppose that the cross was first laid on the ground and that they took the body of the Lord and laid Him on top of the cross with His back against the wood. And one of the soldiers took His right hand and drove a great, heavy nail through it. And then one of the soldiers took His left hand and drove a great, heavy spike through His left hand. And then one of the soldiers took His feet and crossed one on the other and drove one of those long, heavy nails through His feet. While all of that was going on, would you think that He cried? Would you think that He lamented? The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah says, “As a lamb is dumb before her shearer, so He openeth not His mouth” [Isaiah 53:7]. There was no sound from Him. He was quiet.
One time I went through a slaughterhouse, a big packing house, Armour and Company in Chicago, and I stood there where all of the sheep were being slaughtered. They took them by their hind feet and held them up on a chain that passed through as they processed them. And then a man there slit the jugular vein, cut the throat of the sheep. When they kill the cattle in that part of the great plant, it was full of sound and lowing of the herds, very loud. When you went to where the hogs were being killed, it was very loud; the squealing and the sound.
But when you went to that section of the big plant where the sheep were slaughtered, there was no sound at all, except the clanking of the machinery as it took the sheep from place to place to place. And as the sheep, with head down, watched the blood flow out the jugular vein which was severed, there was no sound at all. That was the crucifixion of our Lord. He did not cry out. There was no sound in that intense suffering.
Now, the Lord identifies Himself. He is incarnate in His church. When He met Paul on the way to Damascus He cried to him, “Why persecutest thou Me?” [Acts 9:4]. And the apostle, “I do not persecute You, Lord. Who are You?”
“I am Jesus whom thou persecutest” [Acts 9:5].
When Paul was wasting the church [Galatians 1:13], he was wasting the Lord. When he was wounding the church, he was wounding the Lord. So when we identify the Lord today with His people, we are doing no other thing than the Scripture presents of our Master. Now, is it possible today to wound Christ, to drive great stakes in His hands and feet, to thrust a spear into His side? Is it possible to wound Christ today? I want to show you three ways in which it can be done—the wounds of our Lord, how we can thrust iron into His body.
First, we can wound the Lord today by leading astray His children, especially His little ones:
Then said He unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses, skandalon, stumbling blocks, will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he be cast into the sea, than that he should skandalizô, make a stumbling block, before one of these little ones.
We wound the body of Christ, we drive nails into His flesh and thrust a spear into His heart, we wound Christ when we place stumbling blocks before His little ones. Now that can be interpreted two ways, and I think both ways are correct. His little ones are the children, and His little ones are those who have just been saved. They’re babes in Christ. When we lead them astray we wound the body of our Lord. Now there are many ways in which we can lead astray our children, our little ones. And I’m going to choose one. When you see a drunkard in the gutter, sitting there in his own vomit, there is not a boy or girl who, looking at that drunkard, would say, “That is my paragon. I’d love to be like him.” Rather, the child, the youngster, would be offended by the sight, the scene, the smell, the filth, and the dirt. There’s not anything more unbecoming, unpalatable, unseemly, unsightly than the alcoholic in his stupor, and in his drunkenness, and in his vomit. There’s no youngster in the earth that would be affected by such a paragon, such an example.
But the youngster is led astray, he is hurt, the child and the young executive, he is led astray by the example of that fine successful businessman. Naturally the young fellow would like to be like him. He’s a successful doctor, or he’s a famous lawyer, or he’s a businessman of great parts. And just to look at him is to want to emulate him. He is successful. And when the youngster sees that man drink liquid-pot, take a drug––don’t get the idea that drugs are defined just as heroin, or hashish, or marijuana, or any other of those derivatives of the poppy plant. A drug is anything that affects a man’s mind, and alcohol is a drug––and when we seek to get our youngsters not to use drugs, and your finest people use them all the time, how in the earth can you turn to the youngster and say, “Under no conditions are you to find yourself victim of drugs?” The curse of America and of the world is a thousand times more in alcohol than it is in heroin, in opium of any kind. The curse of the drug problem is the curse of the liquor traffic.
And when this fine executive drinks, takes liquid pot, the boy seeing him sees no reason at all why he should not also emulate him! For look what a fine and acceptable and successful professional man or businessman or successful man he is. And that leads the youngster astray. And these statistics are just factual. They’re everywhere. When you take men who drink, eight of them can get by with it all right; but the ninth one is destroyed. He becomes a problem drinker, and he ruins his life, and he ruins himself, and he ruins his house, and he ruins his home, and he ruins his job, and he ruins his effectiveness as a man.
A thousand times better is it for the man to say, “I may be able to carry my liquor, I may be able to drink my pot, I may be able to drink my drugs, take my liquor and it not affect me at all, I can do it,” but for the sake of those youngsters and those teenagers and those young executives who are coming along, it is a thousand times better to say, “I will not wound the body of Christ. I will not partake for His sake. I will not drink.”
One of the tragedies that overwhelmed American life was the destruction of the Eighteenth Amendment, for they persuaded America that we were on the downbeat in the days of prohibition. And if any time we are honest, there was never a greater period in American history than those days of prohibition. I quote just one statistic, “Let us take courage,” said this best known criminologist, writing of those days, “Let us take courage from the official record covering those years which showed a decline of thirty-five to forty percent in the crime rate in the United States during the days of prohibition.”
What is the crime rate doing in America today? It is soaring just like that, just like that, and it goes up and up and up until finally we are becoming a nation of fear. We cringe before our city streets, and there are great sections of the great metropolitan areas in the United States where even a man hardly walks without fear, even in the daytime. Oh!
Offending these little ones, wounding the body of Christ; there’s no commandment in the Bible as such that you are not to take a cocktail, though there’s admonition against drinking in the Bible [Proverbs 23:31-33]. Yet I’m not saying that a man will be damned and his soul will be forever castigated in outer darkness if he were to take a cocktail. I’m just telling you that when you take drugs, liquid or white tablet or smoking marijuana, when you take drugs of any kind you are setting an example before a youngster who might see it and know it, before a young executive who’s following along in your footsteps, and it may destroy and curse his life. It is not worth it! I don’t care how much personal joy or pleasure you might think you get out of it.
And I’ve never understood why a man has to have liquor in order to carry on a conversation. I’ve never understood why a man has to have liquor in order to have a happy time and a good time. How do you get it that a deep, dark, brown hangover is having a good time? You don’t need it. A good time is a good time. And when we walk before God and before these young people in the fear and love of the Lord, they are blessed, you are blessed, and the body of Christ is not wounded.
Second: how can we wound the body of our Lord? We can do it, and it is being done, in the tragedy that we find in so many of our modern pulpits and our modern divinity schools. Back there in the days of the apostle Paul, he said, “Their word doth eat as a canker, the word of Hymeneus and Philetus; who concerning the truth err, saying, that the resurrection is past already; and they overthrow the faith of the people” [2 Timothy 2:17-18].
It is so easy to do that, for a man in the divinity school, for the man in the church-related school, to stand up in his professorial capacity and mock and make fun and ridicule the Word of God. When you send the boy to Texas University and there’s a professor there that stands up––and he’s an infidel––and he mocks, and derides, and scoffs, and scorns the Word of God, it has hardly an effect upon the youngster because he expects that in Texas University. They have infidels, openly, who teach there. They have agnostics and atheists who teach there. And when the agnostic and the atheist stands up at Texas University and he derides, and scorns, and mocks, and ridicules the Word of God, the boy expected it. He’s an infidel. He’s an atheist. That’s why he does it.
But when you send a child to a church-related school, and it has the name of the denomination, and it is supported by the denomination, and that professor stands up and mocks and ridicules the Word of God, the boy is destroyed in his very soul! And dear me, to send a boy to the seminary, to the divinity college, and there the professor mocks and ridicules the virgin birth [Matthew 1:18-25], and the resurrection of our Christ [Matthew 28:1-7], and His promised return [Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7], and our own hope of seeing Him in the flesh [John 14:1-3; Revelation 22:3-4], as Job cried, “Yet in my flesh shall I see God” [Job 19:26]—when the professor derides, and makes fun, and scoffs, and scorns the great revelation and the miracles, and the supernatural, and the truth revealed in the Bible, the boy is destroyed, and the kingdom of God is hurt, and Jesus is wounded.
Let me read you an editorial from a Chicago newspaper, talking about those professors up there who were scoffing and deriding the Word of God. I quote from him:
We are struck with the hypocrisy and treachery of these attacks on Christianity. This is a free country and a free age, and men can say what they choose about religion; but this is not what we arraigned these divinity professors for. Is there no other place to assail Christianity but in a divinity school? Is there no one to write infidel books except professors of Christian theology? Is a theological seminary an appropriate place for a general massacre of Christian doctrine? We are not championing either Christianity or infidelity; but only condemning infidels masquerading as men of God and Christian teachers.
I had a friend who went to Chicago University in order to get his Ph.D. degree in pedagogy. He was a teacher. And he went up there to do his Ph.D. work in pedagogy, to be a teacher. While he was there, he got acquainted with a young man who was in the Chicago Divinity School. The young fellow was a Presbyterian.
So the day came when the young man in the divinity school was graduated, and a Presbyterian church in the Midwest called him. So he went to my friend and said, “I am in a great quandary. I’m in a dilemma. I don’t know what to do.” He said to my friend, who was getting his Ph.D. in pedagogy at the University of Chicago, he said to him, “I have been called to this Presbyterian church in the Midwest, and it’s an old fashioned Presbyterian church: it’s one of those churches that believes the Bible, and I don’t believe the Bible, and I don’t know what to do!”
And my friend said to him, “I can tell you exactly what to do.” And the young fellow said, “What?” And my friend said to him, “I think you ought to quit the ministry.” I say the same thing. If a young fellow has come to the place where he does not believe the Word of God, and he cannot accept the divine mind of God as it is revealed in the blessed Lord Jesus, who was born miraculously [Matthew 1:18-25], who was raised miraculously [Matthew 28:1-7], whose whole life was a miracle [Matthew 11:4-5], if he can’t believe that and preach that, I think he ought to quit the ministry. It wounds the body of Christ for His servants to stand up and reject those marvelous truths that the Lord hath given to us in the Holy Scriptures, and in the life, and ministry, and testimony, and birth, and resurrection, and promised return of our blessed Jesus [Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7]; wounding the body of Christ.
My time is already spent. I don’t see how these moments go by as rapidly as they do. Permit me to say just one other.
Wounding the body of our Lord: how can we do it? A third way we can do it is by sheer indifference. Following the life of the apostle Paul, when he came to Athens there were certain philosophers, the Epicureans and the Stoics, who said to him, “What would this babbler say? He seemeth to be a setter-forth of strange doctrines” [Acts 17:18], and then on and on [Acts 17:18-21]. They took him up to the Areopagus, and there listened to him; and that word, “What would this spermalogos, this seed-picker, what would this spermalogos, what would he say if he had anything to say?”
That’s the Greek of it, spermalogos, spermalogos. Spermalogos was a sarcastic name for a man who dealt in trifles, like birds picking seed. And that’s the word that they used. “What would this spermalogos, what would this seed-picker say if he had anything to say?” And after they listened to him, and he spoke of the resurrection of the dead, some of them mocked, some of them laughed out loud [Acts 17:22-32], and others more courteous said, “We will hear thee again of this matter” [Acts 17:32], and smilingly passed away. Oh, anything, anything, except just to pass Him by!
Lord Hugh Cecil, son of the famous Lord Salisbury, the premier of Great Britain, one time said that “The great danger that threatens us is not that people will regard Christ as untrue, but that they will come to regard Him as unnecessary, beside the point, not pertinent.” The conquests of medical science, of social reform, are helping lessen belief in sin, and consequently, the belief in the need of a divine Savior. More and more and more there is developing the attitude that “Nothing there, nothing pertinent there; nothing that a man ought to weep over here; nothing that a man ought to consider now.” And in Christ, they just pass Him by.
When Jesus came to Dallas town,
they simply passed Him by.
They hurt not a hair of His head;
they only let Him die.
For men had grown more tender:
they would not cause Him pain.
They simply passed on down the street
and left Him in the rain.
Still Jesus cried, “Forgive them;
they know not what they do,”
And still it rained that bitter rain
that drenched Him through and through.
The crowds went home and left the streets
without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall
and cried for Calvary.
[adapted from “Spiritual Hideaway of the Crucifixion,” G. A. Studdert-Kennedy]
Anything but just to pass Him by, as though His tears were nothing [Luke 19:41-42; John 11:35; Hebrews 5:7], His wounds were nothing [Isaiah 53:5]; His cross is nothing [Matthew 27:32-50]. His poured-out life for us is nothing [Isaiah 53:12]; anything but just to pass Him by.
O Lord, how could any heart be so calloused, any soul be so hardened as to look upon our Lord and say, “It matters nothing to me? It has no meaning to me. There’s no pertinency for me,” and just pass Him by. O Master, just to stand, to look, is to be convicted. Just to remember what God did in His Son [John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8], for us is to praise His name, to love Him, to return words of gratitude to Him.
And that’s what it is to be a Christian. “Lord, Lord, I do not forget. This You did for me, this I shall do for Thee: dedicate Thee my life, give Thee my heart in faith and trust [Romans 10:10], give Thee my soul someday in the hour of my dying [Luke 23:46], and plead the mercies of Christ when I stand before the judgment bar of Almighty God [1 John 2:28]. That’s what it is to be a Christian; accepting Jesus, His grace and love [Ephesians 2:8], and I’ll do it now.”
In a moment when we stand up to sing our appeal, in that balcony round, you; on this lower floor, you; down one of these stairways, walking down one of these aisles: “Here I am, pastor. I make that decision now, and here I come.” Do it. On the first note of this first stanza, come, and God speed you in the way and angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.
THE WOUNDS OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Five wounds of His flesh
B. He was quiet in His suffering (Isaiah 53:7)
C. The Lord identifies Himself as incarnate in His church (Acts 9:4-5)
D. It is possible to wound Christ todayII. Leading astray our young (Luke 17:1-2)
A. Children, or babes in Christ
B. It is the successful business executive, not the drunk in the gutter, who sows the seed for the downfall of the youth
C. The days of Prohibition
D. Taking drugs of any kind you are setting an exampleIII. The attack upon the Christian faith by men of the cloth (2 Timothy 2:17-18)
1. The Chicago editorial
2. Man called to Bible-believing church
B. To reject the marvelous truths of the ScripturesIV. Indifference to the things of God and of the faith
A. Paul in Athens mocked (Acts 17:18, 32)
B. Quote of Lord Hugh Cecil