Death To God’s Son
September 29th, 1991 @ 8:15 AM
DEATH TO GOD’S SON
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-29-91 8:15 a.m.
This is the senior pastor delivering the message entitled Delivering God’s Son to Death. In our preaching through the Gospel of Mark, the second Gospel, we are in chapter 14. And you have just read the record of the arrest and the ecclesiastical trial of our blessed Savior [Mark 14:42-65]. The characters in it are very explicitly, and plainly, and even dynamically described. There is the Lord Jesus, holy, heavenly, pure, God’s Son, and there are His accusers and defamers, the ecclesiastical and political leaders of the nation: the rulers, the high priest, the priests, the elders, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees [Mark 14:53].
It was against their law that the trial should be at night; so after they had concluded that He was worthy of death and condemned Him to death [Mark 14:64], they waited until the dawn to give a semblance of legality to their condemnation. Between their accusations and final sentence of death, and the dawn, in that period of time, they humiliated our Lord in every way they knew how. They covered Him with spit [Matthew 27:31]. They plucked out His beard [Isaiah 50:6]. They beat Him with their fists [Luke 22:64]. They blindfolded Him and striking Him said, “Who hit You?” [Matthew 27:29-31; Luke 22:64-66; John 19:2-4]. This is a commentary on the depravity of humanity.
What can change it? Does religion? Does religion change the baseness of human nature? What you have here in this description is one thousand five hundred years of the law of Moses. And it resulted in the temple, the priests, the rulers, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. And after one thousand five hundred years of the religion of the law of Moses, the dastardly ecclesiastical court is as vile to us today as it was in the eyes of God.
Does religion change the basic depravity of humanity? When you read the paper, when you listen to the news that great arc in the Middle East, in the Near East, beginning in North Africa and Egypt, then Palestine and Arabia, then Asia Minor, it is in constant turmoil. Yet that is the birth of the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism. And the United Nations and the whole world struggle day and night, year after year, trying to bring some kind of a solution to the military confrontations in Palestine. Religion is helpless before the depravity of humanity.
We’ve just listened to our pastor, Dr. Gregory, describe his visit to India. Millions and millions of gods in India. I have stood at shrines, and there will be women, they’re barren, and they’re importuning and pleading gods and gods and gods that they become pregnant because their husbands will leave them if they don’t bare children. And those gods are the most vicious looking and impossible to describe. The depravity of humanity: religion does not change it.
Science and education do not change it. I’m old enough to have lived and remembered poignantly World War I. And our great worldwide Baptist leader David Lloyd George, prime minister of England said, “Our formidable foe is not the munitions factories and arsenals of Krupp, in that Ruhr valley, but the schools of Germany.” And of course, many of us here today have lived throughout the Second World War. There has never been a nation so literate as modern Germany. There has never been a nation so educated as modern Germany. When I was a youth, and for years thereafter, any professor of any stature at all, the whole world of the educational elite went to Germany for their final education, the universities of Germany.
Right after the World War, just outside of Munich is Dachau, and I went through Dachau. It was exactly as it was during the Second World War. Here is the chamber where the people were gassed. Here is the chamber next, where they knocked out their teeth seeking to recover what gold and silver they could. And here is the row of ovens where they were burned, their corpses cremated.
But the thing they did in Dachau was, they experimented with human life. “What do you mean by that, pastor?” Well, I’ll show you just one illustration: as they prepared for their invasion of Russia, they had to remember the cold of the wintertime. So they experimented with different uniforms, different clothing, different things to keep them warm. So they would take human beings and put them in water and then gradually pull down the thermometer. And when they froze to death, then they compared: clothed in this and these here were clothed in this, and these here were clothed in that. And in that way they could tell which garment and what kind would keep them alive longer. Or they would put them over here in this compartment and there, with the atmosphere, just pull the thermometer down and down until they froze to death. They did that with human beings.
That is the most intelligent, and the most learned, and the most literate of all of the nations of the world. Education and science does not deliver us from the depravity of human life.
Well, surely affluence will. Take all of these poor and make them rich. In that way, we will rid this world of its lostness and its depravity. Take a bum and he’s hungry, and he breaks into a railroad car to find something to eat. Dress him up, send him to Harvard, make him head and chairman of the greatest corporation in America, and he’ll steal the entire railway system and get away with it: affluence! If I were seeking the people who were the least responsive to the grace and love and mercy of God, I’d pick out the affluent.
I don’t look at television very much. I just happened to be seated in front of one of those baseless tubes and watched a program; it was Eddie Albert. And scene one: you are in a gorgeous mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City, and on the inside of that mansion here sits at a breakfast table Eddie Albert. And then a long table, and the other end sits his wife, and she is excoriating him. She is blasting him and damning him for everything she can think of. And while she is blasting and damning, in comes her father, Eddie Albert’s father-in-law, and he looks like a patriarch. He looks like a rich nobleman and he comes over there to the head of the table, and he damns him, too. It’s just unthinkable, the excoriation of Eddie Albert there at the head of that table. That’s scene one. Scene two: he’s in his office in one of those great skyscrapers in New York City, and he is bowed in misery and despair. And while Eddie Albert is in that office bowed in despair, the telephone rings and it’s from his old childhood sweetheart up in a village in New England. And she says to him on the telephone, “You promised me that if I ever needed you, you would come. I need you so now. Won’t you come?” And he says, “Yes.”
Third scene: he is visiting with his old sweetheart in New England and she says to him, “My boy, my son, who has been reared here in this little village has fallen in love with a village girl. And they are planning to be married. But I’ve told my boy I want him to be like you. I want him to go to the big city, to New York. I want him to marry a glorious girl. And I want him to be rich like you. And I want you talk to my boy and persuade him not to marry this village girl. And I want you to persuade him to go to the big city as you did, and to marry there in some corporate home and family and to be a rich man like you.”
And the last scene, Eddie Albert talks with the boy and he says to him, “Son, what I did is the most blasted and damnable thing I could have ever done in my life. Son, you marry this girl of your heart. And you live in this little village where you work, and you buy you a little home. And you rear your family here. And you forget the big corporation and the big city and the big salary and the big wealth; you forget it.” What do you think? I say Eddie Albert had it right; there’s nothing in affluence that changes the depravity and the blasted sorrows of humanity.
You remember that book by Dan Crawford, missionary in Africa, Thinking Black? He’s taking some of his converts in the middle of Africa and they are trekking to the seacoast. They are going to get on a ship and go to civilization. And while they make the journey from the heart of Africa down to the seacoast, why, Dan Crawford talks to those black natives about the marvels of civilization, what they are going to see and what they are going to experience. And there is one great, big black man that was unmoved.
Finally, Dan Crawford said to him, “Don’t you realize all of the marvelous things that you’re going to see in this civilized world?” And the black man folded his arms and said to Dan Crawford, “To be better off is not to be better.” That black man could never have said a truer thing. To be better off, to be affluent, to be wealthy, to accumulate things, is not to be better in your soul and in your heart.
Well, maybe civilization, maybe advancement in law and government will help us and rid this world of the depravity of humanity. In 1933, I attended the World’s Fair in Chicago. And I went all around looking at those incomparable modern displays. First time I ever saw a television was there. It was able to send the signal thirty feet, thirty feet—it was a new invention—thirty feet! And as I looked at it I said in my heart, “You know, if they can send that signal thirty feet they can send it around the world some of these days.” And that’s come to pass; I’m on television now.
One of the things I looked at was the display of bank vaults, bank doors. And I stood in front of one of those bank doors like I’d never seen before, an enormous thing. And I said to the custodian there, the man that ran the display, I said, “Man, man, if you had your money back of a bank door like that, it would be safe, wouldn’t it?” And he said, “Son, we don’t lose our money because we don’t have good bank doors. We lose our money because we don’t have good bankers.” And today I think of the savings and loan industry and I think of these big corporate banks, and they’re sending their corporate leaders to jail, and I thought of that. “We don’t lose our money because we don’t have good bank doors; we lose our money because we don’t have good bankers.” Civilization, advancement, law, government, does not change the depravity of humanity.
“Well, pastor, what’s the matter? Why is it that none of these areas in which innovation and repentance and life brought to bear on human nature, why is it that they don’t change?” Several reasons: number one, sin doesn’t change. Whether it is in the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-6], or outside the gate when Cain slays Abel [Genesis 4:8], or whether it is the days before the Flood when the whole world was in antipathy to God [Genesis 6:1-8], or whether it is in the Assyrian captivity [2 Kings 17-18], or the Babylonian captivity [2 Kings 25], or whether it is in the destruction of the Lord Jesus as we have read [Mark 14-15], or whether it is in the Revelation at the consummation of the age, sin doesn’t change; it’s all the same all the way through in every generation.
Why is it that these efforts that I have described do not change the depravity of humanity? Because Satan doesn’t change! When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, just outside—there he is [Genesis 3:1]. Satan doesn’t change, the enemy of God and the enemy of mankind. There he is, watching Job and hating him because Job loves God [Job 1:7-12]. And there he is tempting the Lord Jesus, seeking the destruction of the Son of God Himself [Matthew 4:1-11]. And there he is with every Christian, as Paul describes the things that afflict him, he describes them as “the messenger of Satan to buffet him” [2 Corinthians 12:7]. And in the Revelation, there he is bringing the last great confrontation with God Himself [Revelation 20:7-10]. Satan doesn’t change.
And the strangest thing that I know reading the Bible, the affinity of human life and human nature doesn’t change. Here in the nineteenth chapter and in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, here you have the description of the millennium: one thousand years of perfect peace and happiness in the presence of the returned Son of God, one thousand years of the millennium! [Revelation 20:1-7]. And after the thousand years is finished, Satan is loosed, and he goes forth and he deceives the people of the earth whose number it says is as the sand of the sea [Revelation 20:7-8]. After one thousand years of perfection and holiness and worshiping in the very presence of God Himself, the human heart is just the same [Jeremiah 17:9]. That’s the most amazing thing that I could ever have read in human history!
“Well, pastor, that is the bluest and the darkest and the most hopeless of all of the pictures that you could possibly paint. Is there any way out? Is there any way of salvation?” There is, and that’s why I’m a preacher and that’s why we’re in church. And that’s why we sing the praises of Jesus and that’s why we worship in His name. There is a deliverance, and it lies in our blessed Lord.
In the days, in your days because he hasn’t been dead too long, in the days of the beginning decades of this century, Roger Babson, the world’s greatest economist and statistician, professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Roger Babson had a daily forecast. And when I would read them, they would sound like sermons to me. Roger Babson said, “The great need of the world is not more factories and more railroads and more steamship lines.” He said, “The great need of the world is not more education and more schools and more armies and more navies.” And he just went through all of the things to which we give our lives and fortunes. And he said, “The greatest need of America is more lives patterned after the mind of the blessed Lord Jesus.” He said that. He said that.
I imagine some of you did as I did, I listened to the radio when—by the way, that woman over there, that mother over there comes from the Philippines—when General Douglas MacArthur came back from the Philippines and spoke to the combined assembly of our Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Remember that? Remember one of the things he said? “If we are delivered it must be of the spirit if the flesh is to be saved. It must be of the spirit if the flesh is to be saved.” And that is the love and grace of God revealed to us in this blessed Book [John 4:24, 6:63].
In the rebellion in Israel Moses drew a line and said, “Let him who is on the Lord’s side come and stand by me” [Exodus 32:26]. Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” “Look unto Me.” I remember that poignant dynamic moment when young Spurgeon was saved. And that layman in the pulpit, taking that text, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved.” Don’t look to yourselves. Don’t look to your neighbor. Don’t look to the church. Don’t look to the preacher. Look unto God:
There is life for a look at the crucified One.
There is life at this moment for thee;
Then look, sinner, look, unto Him and be saved,
Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.
Look and live, my brother, live,
Look to Jesus Christ and live.
It is recorded in His Word, Hallelujah,
It is only that you look and live.
[“There Is Life for a Look,” by Amelia M. Hull]
So Paul avows,
We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you be reconciled to God.
For God made Him to be sin for us, Him who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. . .Wherefore, He saith, in a time accepted have I heard thee.
(And in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
[2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2]
And the Bible closes with that beautiful and universal invitation:
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.
And let him that heareth say, Come.
And let him that is athirst come.
And—ho thelōn and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Our hope and our salvation is not in religion. Our hope and our salvation is not in education and science. Our hope and our salvation is not in affluence. Our hope and our salvation is not in government and civilized advancement. Our hope and salvation lies in the personal response to the love [Galatians 2:20], and grace [Ephesians 2:8], and atoning mercy of the Lord Jesus [Titus 3:5]. And that’s extended to us, wherever in the world we live, and however we may have sinned against God in the days of our earthly pilgrimage. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing Jesus has done for us.
Come and live [Revelation 22:17]. Look and live [John 3:14-16; Numbers 21:8-9]. Respond in your heart and live: a new day, a new life, a new beginning, a new hope, a new glory, a new heaven and a new earth [Revelation 21:1-7].
I. The characters
A. Jesus, God’s Son
condemners and accusers
II. A commentary on the depravity of human
A. Religion does not
B. Science and education
do not change it
C. Affluence does not
D. Civilization and
advancement do not change it
III. The reasons for the tragedy
A. Sin does not change
B. Satan does not
C. Human affinity and
nature does not change (Revelation 19, 20:7-9)
D. Death, its presence
and fear, does not change
IV. Our deliverance lies in God, Christ
Jesus our Savior
A. Roger Babson
B. General Douglas