CAN THE BLOOD OF JESUS SAVE US
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-28-86 12:00 p.m.
I thought today being the last in the series of these pre-Easter services that I might maybe take a moment longer in thinking of the death of our Lord. This is Good Friday; it is the day that our Lord was crucified. And the meaning of that sacrifice is so eternally meaningful to us; and for us to have the privilege of looking at it for this moment, I pray will bless our souls. In the series delivered this week on “God Answered Questions” – : Is There a Hell to Escape?; Is There a Heaven to Achieve?; Is There a Judgment to Face?; Does My Soul Live Forever?; and this day, How Does the Blood of Christ Save Us?
This coming Lord’s Day evening, Easter evening, we shall observe the sacred memorial of the Lord’s Supper; and in the heart of that celebration our Lord said, “This is My blood of the new covenant, shed for the remission of sins” [Matthew 26:28]. This is the answer of why our Lord came from heaven down to this dark and sinful world. There was something that drew our Lord, a purpose that laid back of His incarnation; what was it? It was our hopeless and helpless condition, sinners by nature, and facing death by judgment; all of us.
In the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, there is a dramatic presentation of a scene in heaven. The avowal is made that burnt offerings and sacrifices – animals, goats, bullocks, calves – these could not suffice to take our sin away or to save us from the penalty of death [Hebrews 10:4]. Then the passage continues, “A body has Thou prepared for Me; and lo, I come: in the roll of the book it is written of Me to do Thy will, O God” [Hebrews 10:5-7]. Our Lord came down from heaven into this sinful and darkened world that He might save us from the penalty, the death that accompanies our sins.
Our lost and darkened condition is traumatically emphasized in every area, in every episode of our Lord’s life. When He came down from heaven to earth, the angels sang. The holy family came to Bethlehem; the star came to Bethlehem; the shepherds came to Bethlehem; the magi, the wise men, came to Bethlehem [Matthew 2:1-11; Luke 2:1-8]. Then there followed the tramp, tramp, tramp of Herod’s soldiers; the sword also came to Bethlehem [Matthew 2:16]. And the song of the angels changed to the lamentation of Rachel, “Behold a voice crying in Ramah; Rachel weeping for her children, because they are not” [Matthew 2:18].
And when Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He delivered a beautiful, precious message from the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah [Luke 4:16-19; Isaiah 61:1-2]. Then the end of the episode; the townspeople brought Him to the brow of the hill, upon which their city was built, to cast Him down headlong [Luke 4:29]. When Jesus came to the Galilean synagogue, He healed a man with a withered hand. And the story ends, “And they took counsel how they might destroy Him” [Matthew 12:9-14]. When Jesus came to Bethany, He raised Lazarus from the dead [John 11:43-44]. Then the story ends, “And they gathered together to seek ways by which they could put Him to death” [Luke 4:22, 29].
When Jesus came to the temple, they sought to entrap Him in their speech, that they might accuse Him to Caesar as an insurrectionist and a revolutionary, denying tribute to the throne [Mark 12:13-17]. When Jesus came to trial, the bitterest things affront, hatred, blasphemy; even blindfolded Him and struck Him on the face saying, “You are a prophet, tell me who struck You” [Luke 22:63-64]. And when Jesus came to Calvary, they nailed Him to a cross.
When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree.
They drove great nails through hands and feet and made a Calvary.
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns; red were His wounds and deep.
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.
[G.A. Studdert Kennedy, “Indifference”]
All through the life of our Lord is emphatically seen the sin and the darkness of this world; and that is why He came. The purpose of the suffering of our Lord: that we might be delivered from the penalty of our transgressions; He suffered and died for us. And lest we might think that this, the crucifixion of our Lord, is strange, and unique, and unusual, and separated from the usual course of life; lest we think that, we must look at the suffering and the pain that lies back of all life and living.
There are two great figures in the Bible: in the Old Testament, Moses; and in the New Testament, Paul. Of Moses, he was the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, who named him “Ramses,” after the Egyptian god Rah, Ramses. Then when he became of age, according to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, he refused to be called “the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,” and disowned his name “Rah”; and chose rather to be called, “drawn out of the watery grave for Jehovah,” and chose to suffer, and chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; suffering [Hebrews 11:24-25]. The other great lay leader beside Jehovah Jesus, in the New Testament, God said of Saul of Tarsus when He called Him, “I will show him what great things he must suffer for My name’s sake” [Acts 9:16]. Suffering is the price and the penalty for any worthy achievement in life, there is no exception.
If a child is born, there is a mother who travails in pain, in suffering. If there is a pastor worthy his calling, he has paid the price in study and prayer in preparing his messages for the people and in being a good undershepherd for the flock. If there is an achievement in any area of life, it is bought at the price of pain and travail; whether it be a wonderful pianist, or a magnificent violinist, or a glorious organist, or a marvelous painter. That’s why – and this is just I – that’s why I have such contempt for Pablo Picasso. In fifteen minutes, or maybe in ten minutes, or maybe in five minutes, Picasso would paint one of his masterpieces. And I think of that in contrast with Raphael; the time, and the time, and the effort, and the toil he would pour into his paintings. His last, the transfiguration of our Lord Jesus; and before he finished it, he died on Good Friday, April 6, in 1520. And when Raphael died in the midst of painting that glorious transfiguration, they laid the beautiful Christian artist before his unfinished painting, in his studio, that all Rome might pass by and pay a lasting tribute to that glorious artist of God.
And what I think when I read that, I think of Raphael and the toil and the effort that he poured into his marvelous painting, and they lay him in state before it. And I think of the infidel and the agnostic Picasso; who would think of placing him in state before one of those masterpieces of caricature that he painted in five minutes? I am just saying that there is toil, and effort, and commitment, and suffering poured into any worthwhile thing in life.
And how much more is that true of our wonderful and blessed Savior? He came into this world to die. He was incarnate that He might carry our sins, live our life, share our sorrows, weep our tears, die our death; He is one of us, He belongs to us. He came to be named as one of us; and always in the Bible is presented that great, holy purpose for which our Lord came into the world; the protevangelium, Genesis 3:15, the Seed of the woman. Woman doesn’t have seed, it’s the man that has seed; yet the Bible says, “The Seed of a woman shall crush Satan’s head, but Satan will bruise His heel.” Born of a woman, the incarnation, the virgin birth of our Savior; made as one of us. And the tremendous prophecy in Isaiah 53, “God shall make His soul an offering for sin, and the Lord God shall see the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” [Isaiah 53:10-11]; paying the penalty for our sin, dying for us.
And the story of the crucifixion. I don’t see how heart could be so hard and just look at our Savior on the cross and not be melted in tears. All of it, just for us. “He who had no sin, became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” [2 Corinthians 5:21]. For Jesus’ sake, the Lord forgives us, loves us, adopts us into His family, opens the door for us into glory; thus did He pay the penalty for my sins.
The good news from heaven; Paul defines it in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “My brethren, I declare unto to you, I make known unto you the gospel wherein you are saved.” What is it? Namely, “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and the third day He was raised according to the Scriptures”; that is the gospel. Or as Paul describes it in the [fourth] chapter of the Book of Romans, “He was delivered for our offenses, and was raised for our justification” [Romans 4:25]. He died to pay the penalty for our sins, and He is in heaven at the right hand of God to declare us worthy, to see that we are safely arrived in glory: not only to pay the penalty for our transgressions, but to guide us, and to be our companion, and our prayer partner, and our yokefellow, and our strength, and our friend, and our helper, to grant us one day an answer to the roll call in heaven, “Lord, by His grace here I am.” O Lord, what a message and what a gospel!
When we say this preacher, this pastor preaches the gospel, that’s what we mean; he preaches that Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our justification. When we send out a missionary, and we say to the missionary, “Preach the gospel,” what do we mean? We mean, “Preach Jesus, Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our justification.” For thirty-five years or more, I went all over this world preaching the gospel; on practically every mission field in this earth, I have gone preaching the gospel. And when I would come back home, I would be asked time and time again, “Pastor, when you’re preaching to those Stone Age Indians in the Amazon jungle, or you’re preaching to those black Hottentots in Africa, or you’re preaching to those aborigines in Australia, pastor, what do you say? What is the gospel you preach? How do you present to them the message of God, how?”
And I say, “In the simplest way that you could think for. Number one: all of us have a black drop in our hearts, all of us are sinners, all of us; all of us have done wrong.” And when I say that I’m on common ground with the entire creation of God’s humanity; we are all sinners alike, all of us. “And the second: and I face the penalty of death; as my fathers have died, and as their fathers have died, I also face the penalty of death, I am a lost sinner.” Whether it is the Stone Age Indian, or the Hottentot, or the aborigine, all of us alike; “I have sinned and I face the penalty of death.” Then the messenger from heaven, “I have good news: Jesus is our hope, and our way, and our life; He paid the penalty for our transgressions, and He opens for us the door into heaven. I need but to accept Him in my heart.”
Could you think of a simpler message than that? Could you think of one more universally applicable than that? But that is the gospel. “We have sinned, we face death, and Jesus came to deliver us from so great a penalty, a punishment, a sentence.” And that is our assignment. Preaching the gospel, witnessing to His grace in our own hearts and lives; this is why He died, and this is why He rose again. This is why Good Friday, and this is why Easter Sunday. May I close?
I one time read a fanciful scene in heaven; after our Lord’s death, and after His resurrection; our Lord ascends back into glory, and He meets Gabriel. And Gabriel welcomes his Lord back to heaven. And Gabriel says to the Lord Jesus, “We followed Your life and Your death and now Your resurrection. Dear Lord,” he says, “how many know of Your sacrifice for their sins?” And the Lord Jesus answers, “Gabriel, just a little band in Judea.” And Gabriel says, “And Lord Jesus, how will all the earth know?” And the Lord Jesus replies, “I gave them the Great Commission [Matthew 28:19-20], to witness to all the people of the world.” Then Gabriel says, “But Lord Jesus, what if they fail? And what if they forget?” And the Lord Jesus replies, “Gabriel, I have no other plan.”
This is the great assignment and commission of our church, this is the great commandment and commission of my own heart and life: as a church, to make known to the world, the love and grace of the blessed Jesus; and as a minister of the gospel, and as one somebody me, as I have any open door to say a precious word about my Lord, who died for our sins, and was raised for our justification [Romans 4:25].
Grant it Lord that this season of the year will be the finest and most triumphant we have ever known. And our Lord, in Thy love and grace, bless us as we witness for you. We praise Thy name for assuming our humanity, dying our death, and our Lord, we praise God forever for the atoning sacrifice that opens for us the door into heaven. And bless our people, sweet, sweet, dear people, as we prepare to celebrate on the Lord’s Day, the resurrection of our Savior who paid the penalty for our sins. And may our words of invitation and witness be used of God to bring a multitude in saving faith to Thee, precious Lord, wonderful Savior, glorious Redeemer, our Friend and Companion; we love Thee Lord Jesus, amen.
BLOOD OF JESUS SAVE US
A. What brought Jesus
down from heaven?
1. Our hopeless
and helpless condition (Matthew 26:28)
B. Sacrifice, burnt
offerings could not suffice (Hebrews 10:5-7)
II. How dark, lost this world save in the
life of Christ
A. Jesus came to earth (Matthew 2:18)
B. Jesus came to His
home town of Nazareth (Luke 4:22, 29, Isaiah 61)
C. Jesus came to the
Galilean synagogue (Mark 3:1-6)
D. Jesus came to
Bethany (John 11:43-44, 53)
E. Jesus came to the
temple (Matthew 22:15)
F. Jesus came to trial (Luke 22:63-64)
G. Jesus came to
Calvary (Matthew 26)
III. The purpose of such suffering
A. The way of life
1. Moses (Hebrews 11:25)
2. Paul (Acts 9:16)
B. Suffering is the
price and penalty for any worthy achievement
So the sufferings of Christ (Genesis 3:15,
Isaiah 53:10-11, 2 Corinthians 5:21)
IV. This the gospel of salvation
A. Defined (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 4:25)
B. Good news for the