The Blood of Jesus

The Blood of Jesus

April 10th, 1998 @ 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

4-10-98    12:00 p.m.


Here I am, can hardly talk.  I have so meticulously prepared the sermon today and having prayed through it, lived through it, moved by God in it, I have a hard time speaking of it without being deeply, deeply moved.

Job cried, “I have sinned; what shall I do?” [Job 7:20].  And our Lord said, “The wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23].  So the Christian faith, our religion, is one of salvation and deliverance.  The Christian faith is not, in the first place, an ethic; although it is ethical.  It is not, in the first place, a theology; although it is theological.  Nor is it, in the first place, philosophical; although it has to do with all of those problems that the Greeks wrestled with throughout their long history of scholastic achievement.  But the Christian religion has to do with our souls, and with the problem of sin, and with the great judgment day of Almighty God.

This is seen in the symbol of the faith.  The symbol of the Christian faith is not a burning bush.  It is not two tables of stone.  It is not a seven-branched lampstand.  It is not a halo around a submissive head.   It is not even a golden crown.  But the symbol of the Christian faith is a cross, a naked, rugged cross, as the Romans would have it; a philosophical irreconcilability, as the Greeks would have it:  but the outpouring of the saving grace of God as the Christian faith presents it.

It is hard for us to realize the vast, illimitable distance that the Lord in His soul felt as He descended from the glory of God in heaven to the depths of the suffering on the cross [Hebrews 10:4-14].  I cannot enter into it; the Lord in glory and the Lord on that terrible cross.  Down and down and down and down and down and down He came; and finally was made in the likeness of a man, out of the dust of the ground [Philippians 2:7].  Then He was crucified as a criminal [Matthew 27:32-50].  Then He cried, being deserted by man and forsaken by God [Matthew 27:38-46].  I cannot think of it; it is beyond my highest or lowest thoughts.

Abuse was not vile enough:  He was covered with spittle [Matthew 27:30].  Spittle was not contemptuous enough:  they plucked out His beard [Isaiah 50:6].  Plucking out His beard was not full of feeling enough, so they crowned Him with thorns [Matthew 27:29].  The thorns were not sharp enough, so they drove in nails [Matthew 27:35].  The nails did not pierce deep enough, so they thrust a spear into His heart and there flowed out the crimson of His life [John 19:34].

Who did this?  Who was responsible for this?  Who is guilty of this?  The wife of Job said, “It is God.  He did it.  Curse God, and die!” [Job 2:9].  Others would say, “It’s His own fault.  He should have been a better manager.”  Satan would say, “This is my revenge!” having been cast out of paradise.  Still others would say, “Pilate did it.”  And others would say, “The Jews did it.”  And others would say, “The Roman soldiers did it.”  Pilate would answer, “Bring me a basin of water, that I may wash my hands; for I am not guilty of the blood of this innocent Man [Matthew 27:24].  I did not do it.”  The Jews throughout the Book of Acts disclaim any responsibility for the suffering death of our Lord.  And for the ages since and for the world of Jewry today, they disclaim any responsibility for such a spectacle as the cross.  And dear me!  The Roman soldier would say, “We are men under authority.  We just carried out the commandments of our army.”

Who did that?  Who is guilty of that?  Sweet people, it must be we all had a part.  We all did it.  We all are guilty and stand before God condemned [Romans 3:19].

“I have sinned, what shall I do?”  The blood of Jesus is on my hands; what shall I do?  I think of Shakespeare’s Macbeth:  Who shall wash this blood from my hands?  Will all Neptune’s ocean? This hand steeped in blood; incarnadine, making the green one red.”  Who can cleanse me?  Who can forgive me?  Who can save me?  Who can deliver me?  O God, what shall I do?

And this is the message of this day; this is the crimson of the cross; this is the wonderful gospel of salvation.  See:  that is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world [Revelation 13:8].  Look:  that is the blood of the Passover Lamb [1 Corinthians 5:7].  Look:  that is the consummation of all of the sacrifices revealed to us in this Old Testament [Colossians 2:17].  Look:  this is the preaching of the faith of salvation, given to the apostles and to those martyrs and first preachers [Acts 1:8].  This is the consummation of the purpose of God in revelation throughout the age and throughout the earth [Galatians 4:4].

When the Lord died, the blood came down to the ground.  And the Lord said, “It is finished” [John 19:30].  And the dust of the ground whispered to the grass, “It is finished.”  And the grass whispered to the trees, “It is finished.”  And the trees whispered to the birds, “It is finished.”  And the birds whispered to the clouds, “It is finished.”  And the clouds whispered to the angels in glory, “It is finished.”  And the angels in glory gathered around the throne of love and grace, and said, “It is finished.”

Nothing could be added; nothing beside could be done.  When the Lord died for our sins on the cross, He completed that reconciliation between us and God [Romans 5:10].  “I have sinned; what shall I do?  Jesus, You did it for me” [1 Corinthians 15:3].

O God, what a message!  And what a glory!  And what a salvation, and what a deliverance in Thy blood and in Thy cross!  [Ephesians 1:7]. So in the cross we have a message for the world.

Look and live, my brother, live

Look to Jesus Christ, and live;

‘Tis recorded in His Word, hallelujah!

It is only that you look and live.

[“Look and Live,” William A. Ogden]

The arms of the cross are open wide: they extend in invitation to the ends of the earth, Come, come, come, the symbol of the cross is universal.

If in Flanders the poppies grow,

It will be between the crosses row on row.

[“In Flanders Fields,” John McCrae]

So as I close, I speak of my own soul and my own life.  Soon, maybe real soon, I shall stand at the judgment bar of Almighty God [1 Peter 4:5].  And when I do, how shall I plead an entrance into heaven?  Shall I do it with my good works?  “Lord, look at me.  For over seventy-three years, Lord, I have been a pastor.  For those years, Lord, I have preached thousands of sermons.  Lord, in those years so many funerals have I conducted, I cannot count them.  Lord, in the years of my life, how many souls have I won?  O God, in the years of my life, how many have I pointed to Jesus?  And how much good have I done?  Lord, I know I deserve heaven.  My good works exclaim my worth and present my credentials as I enter the pearly gates, and walk those golden streets.  My works, Lord, commend me.”

Then as I stand there in the presence of the great God of judgment, I recall:  by good works you cannot be delivered.  Good works, things that we seek to do that are right, cannot deliver us from our sins.  Only God in His love and grace can save us [Ephesians 2:7-9].  In the grace and mercy of God, we are delivered; not by works of righteousness and goodness are we saved, but by the love and sacrifice and death of Jesus my Lord [Titus 3:5].

So I say when I stand soon in the presence of the great God of heaven and the Judge of all the earth, I’ll not plead my good works; I will not refer to the life I’ve tried to live or the ministry I have sought to dedicate to Him.  When I stand there, I will plead the love and mercy of God in Christ Jesus [Titus 3:5]:  His blood shed for me [1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 9:22], His grace extended to me [Ephesians 2:8].  “Just in the love of Jesus, Lord, receive me.”

What can wash away my sins?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

O gracious is the flow

That makes me white as snow;

No other fount I know,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

[“Nothing but the Blood,” Robert Lowry]

When I stand therefore in the presence of the great King and Judge of all the earth, not one syllable of my thought will think of me; but I will give glory and praise and thanksgiving to Jesus, who died in my stead [2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 2:20], whose blood washes my sins away [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5], and whose loving arms shall receive me into glory [John 14:1-3].

O God, what a day!  What a day!  And I look forward, Lord Jesus, seeing Thee soon.