Mt. Calvary: Mount of Atonement

Mt. Calvary: Mount of Atonement

March 28th, 1997 @ 12:00 PM

Matthew 27

When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me. And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children. When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 27

3-28-97    12:00 p.m.


This is your lunch hour, remember; if you have to leave, you just go ahead and walk out.  We will all understand, and it will be no hindrance to me at all.

As we speak of these great mountain peaks of the Bible, we have come to the last one of the five:  Mt. Calvary: the Mt. of Atonement.  And the background passage is from the twenty-seventh chapter of the First Gospel:

And when they had scourged Jesus, Pilate delivered Him to be crucified…

And when they came unto a place called Golgotha, which is to say, a Place of a Skull—

[Matthew 27:26, 32]

When you go there and look at it, it kind of looks like a skull—

There they crucified Him . . .

The chief priests, with the scribe and the elders, said,

He saved others; Himself He cannot save.

[Matthew 27:35, 41-42]

That’s a good gospel in itself.

If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross…

Now from the sixth hour—twelve o’clock at noon—there was darkness over the earth until the ninth hour—until three o’clock in the afternoon.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, [lama] sabachthani?  My God, My God, lama sabachthani?  Why hast Thou forsaken Me?

And Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

[Matthew 27:42-46, 50]


And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top—

now look at that—

from the top to the bottom.

[Matthew 27:51]

Had it been by man, it would have been from the bottom to the top.  That shows that God’s hand did it.

The veil was rent from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks were rent;

And the graves were opened . . .

And when the centurion saw these things that were done, he feared greatly—

[Matthew 27:51-52, 54]

anybody would—

saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

[Matthew 27:54]

[Matthew 27:26-54]

So, on the cross that day, Jesus spoke seven last words.  The first one, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34].  The second one:  “Today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise” [Luke 23:43], that awful sinner.  The third, to John His disciple and to His mother Mary, “Woman, behold thy son!  And son, behold thy mother!” [John 19:26-27].  Isn’t that a preciousness in our Lord, dying, and before He closed His eyes in death He took care of His mother?  “John, you take her.  You take her.  And sweet, Mother, you look upon him as your son.”  That’s our Lord.

Then four:  “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” [Matthew 27:46].  And number five:  “I thirst” [John 19:28].  Number six:  “It is finished” [John 19:30].  And the seventh:  “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” [Luke 23:46].

Now the one that is overwhelmingly inexplicable to me is the fourth one:  “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” [Matthew 27:46].  Why this agonizing cry?  Countless brave men have endured the agony of death with no cry of anguish whatsoever; facing it many times with indifferent disdain, with splendid composure.  Women, even women, have arrived at death and smiled; and in the most hideous form they have carelessly, indifferently accepted it.  It is unbelievable that in misfortune such as would issue in that tragedy they were absolutely unmoved.  And even criminals have been unmoved by the prospect of a terrible death.  I read about them all the time here in the paper, these men that face execution.  Oh! not moved at all.  Even one of the criminals there, one of them on the cross, undismayed by his torture, he poured contempt upon the Lord [Luke 23:39].  But this One in the center, that One crucified there, cries in agony, “Eli, My God, My God,” lama, “why,” sabachthani, “hast Thou forsaken Me?” [Matthew 27:46].

That cry of anguish was not occasioned, did not occur by a mortal fear.  It did not come out of the dread of our Lord as He was crucified.  Thousands of His followers have found a death without such a cry.  The cry of anguish emerges from the lips of Jesus; not them, but our Lord.  Now why this cry of our Savior?  Jesus was not dying the death of a martyr or of a hero:  He was dying the death of a vicarious sacrifice for sin, for the sins of the whole world.  John 1:29:  “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.”  First Peter 2:24: “His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.”  [Revelation 19:15]:  “He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God against your sins.”  Hebrews 2:9:  “He by the grace of God tasted death for every man.”

So many of these things in the Bible, you know, I prayerfully, prayerfully think of them.  Think of the number of people in the earth, billions of them, think of the death of all of them, and Christ died as though all of the sentences of death were centered in Him [Hebrews 2:9].  I just can’t enter into it.  And, of course, in Isaiah 53:  “God offered His soul an atonement for our sins” [Isaiah 53:10].

The amazing sacrifice of Christ is so moving.  The hands stretched forth in blessing are now nailed to a tree.  The feet so given to errands of mercy are now cruelly pierced.  The brow upon which the grace and peace of God so beautifully rested is now filled with cruel thorns, crowned with that awful thing [Matthew 27:29].  The lips from which fell words of love, sweet as honey, now are parched, they are swollen, and He cries, “I thirst!” [John 19:28].  And the eyes that were filled with compassion, such as weeping over Jerusalem [Luke 19:41], are now glazed in death.  He is dead! [John 19:30-34].

What has happened?  When we seek an explanation for such a tragedy, unspeakable, we find it that sin wrought this tragedy of suffering.  The Passover lamb was chosen, and for four days it was set aside.  It was penned up; and then it was slain for somebody else [Exodus 12:3-6]. 

So, sin is a triumph of Satan.  He singled out the Lord to die.  Satan did that.  Satan sought to slay Jesus in Bethlehem, by the sword of Herod [Matthew 2:13-16].  Satan sought to destroy Him in the wilderness, in the three temptations [Matthew 4:1-11].  Satan sought to cast Him to death in Nazareth, down the slope of the mountain [Luke 4:28-29].  And Satan sought to murder Him in Gethsemane, in the agony in the garden [Luke 22:44].  He was finally slain and forsaken in this boundless opportunity in the day of the cross [Matthew 27:32-50].  Satan that day entered Judas for money [Matthew 26:14-16].  Satan that day entered the chief priests, the leaders of the people [Matthew 27:41-42].  Satan that day moved the foolish mob to mock [Matthew 27:29-31].  And Satan that day entered the palace of the Roman procurator [Matthew 27:11-14], and Satan that day entered the barracks of the legionnaires [Matthew 27:27-31], all lest they be scorned and abused and called cowards by the people.  What was given to us in the beautiful songs of the angels at Bethlehem [Luke 2:13-14], we returned to God on the point of a Roman spear, bathed in blood [John 19:34].

Well, that’s the way the world would look at it.  But the ultimate explanation for the suffering and the crucifixion and the death of Christ lies in the heart of God Himself [John 3:16]. God did it.  This is God’s way of dealing with our sin; washing it out with His own blood [Revelation 1:5].  God received the stroke Himself; God did it.

In Genesis 22, Isaac about to be offered up, says, “Father, here is the wood, and here is the fire, but where is the lamb?” [Genesis 22:7]. And Abraham replies, “Jehovah Jireh, God must provide it.  God must provide it” [Genesis 22:8].  And God did it:  it was His own Son [John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8].  Isaac had a vicarious substitute:  it was God’s own Son who was slain [Matthew 27:54].  He is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth [Revelation 13:8].

All the types, all of them, and the rituals, and the sacrifices, and the prophecies of the Old Covenant, all of them point to Him.  They are all fulfilled in Him [Matthew 5:17].  To take away our sins, our sins, He was incarnate in human flesh, and suffered and died on the cross for us [John 12:27; Hebrews 10:4-14].  The angel said, when He was born, “Call His name Iesous, Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins” [Matthew 1:21].  In the introduction of John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God” [John 1:29].  In the transfiguration:  “And, behold, there appeared unto Him Moses and Elijah, who spoke to Him about His death which He should accomplish in Jerusalem” [Luke 9:30-31].  The memorial Supper:  “This is My body, this is My blood”; blood, shed for the remission of our sins [Matthew 26:26-28].  And the cry from the cross, “It is finished” [John 19:30]; the atoning death He had come to die [Hebrews 10:5-14], He was dead [John 19:33-34].

And the preaching of the apostles carried that same glorious announcement:  “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Galatians 6:14].  And John:  “And the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin” [1 John 1:7].

The song of the redeemed in heaven is like that:  “Thou art worthy to receive honor and praise and glory, because Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us by Thy blood out of every kindred and people in the earth” [Revelation 5:9].  And the answer to the question raised in Revelation chapter 7:13, “Who are these arrayed in white robes?  And whence came they?” [Revelation 7:13], and the answer, “These are they who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 7:14].  That’s our answer and our rejoicing and our thanksgiving to God forever and forever.

And the question of the whole earth is that, and it has never changed:  what do I do in the day I have sinned and am accountable for it before God?  What shall I do?

I majored in English when I was in the university.  And of course one of the things we studied was Shakespeare.  And do you remember in that drama Macbeth, Duncan, king of Scotland, is a guest in the home of the duke.  And egged on by his wife, Lady Macbeth, the husband takes the dagger and plunges it into the heart of the king, and he dies.  But in that awful tragedy, the hand of Macbeth is covered with blood.  And do you remember in the play, he looks upon it, covered with blood, and he cries:

Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood

[Clean] from my hand?  No, rather, this my hand will
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,

Making the green one red.

[Act 2, Scene 2]


How do we wash our souls of the sins of our lives?  And that’s why we sing:

What can wash away my sins?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow

That makes me white as snow;

No other fount I know,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

[What Can Wash Away My Sin?”; Robert Lowry]

O God, thank You for the gift of Your Son, our Savior, who died on the cross that we might be forgiven of our sins, and might find entrance into heaven [1 Corinthians 15:3].  Praise His name!  Amen!