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Sermon #2448 — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: The Place Called Calvary
Text: Luke 23:33
Subject: The Wonders of Calvary
Date: Sunday Morning — October 28, 2018
Reading: Luke 23:1-49
(1) And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. (2) And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. (3) And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. (4) Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. (5) And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. (6) When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. (7) And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
(8) And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. (9) Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. (10) And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. (11) And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.
(12) And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.
(13) And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, (14) Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: (15) No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. (16) I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (17) (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) (18) And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (19) (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) (20) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. (21) But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. (22) And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. (23) And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. (24) And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. (25) And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will. (26) And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.
(27) And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. (28) But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. (29) For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. (30) Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. (31) For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? (32) And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. (33) And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
(34) Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (35) And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. (36) And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, (37) And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. (38) And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
(39) And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. (40) But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? (41) And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. (42) And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (43) And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. (44) And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. (45) And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
(46) And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (47) Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. (48) And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. (49) And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
On the northern side of Jerusalem, a few hundred feet from the Damascus gate, there is a singular, dismal hill. It would appear to be an insignificant mound of dirt. But this bleak, dismal hill is the most important and most significant place in all the world. It is — The Place Called Calvary. Ever memorable and dear to the believing heart is The Place Called Calvary. May God the Holy Spirit give wings to our souls and cause us to fly away to that wonderful place called Calvary from whence our redemption came!
(Luke 23:33) “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.”
“When they were come to the place” Not just any place would do. They must come to this specific place, “the place which is called Calvary.” It was at this place, Golgotha, the place of the skull, that the God-man must suffer and die. When our Lord set his face to go up to Jerusalem, he knew what he was doing. He knew where he was going. He knew what would happen there. But to Calvary he must go! He said, “What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.”
Satan tried to take his life in the wilderness. The Jews tried on many occasions to kill him. The devil tried to destroy him again in the garden of Gethsemane. But his hour had not yet come. He had not yet come to “the place,” “the place which is called Calvary.” But now his hour has come. Now “they came to the place.”
The Jews thought they had dragged him as a helpless victim to the place of his execution. But in reality, the Lord of Glory had led them as a sovereign King to the place of his great conquest. God the eternal Son had purposed from all eternity to come to this place. It was the object, desire, and purpose of his heart to come to this place before the world was made. It could truthfully be said that the great purpose for which God created this world was that in the fulness of time the Lord of Glory might come to this place.
Our great Redeemer, from old eternity, fixed his eye on “the place which is called Calvary.” He had sworn to redeem us; and he would not rest until, from the tree fixed on Calvary’s hill, he had cried, “It is finished.” And so Luke records these words, “and when they were come to the place.”
It came to pass, exactly as our Lord had purposed. He must come to “the place which is called Calvary.” In my mind’s eye, I see King Jesus marching with steady pace from old eternity, through the ages of time, to the place where he would make for himself an everlasting and glorious name — The Place Called Calvary (Isaiah 50:5-7.)
(Isaiah 50:5-7) “The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. (6) I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. (7) For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.”
He was on his way to Calvary when…
(Hebrews 10:5-14) “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: (6) In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. (7) Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. (8) Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; (9) Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. (10) By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (11) And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: (12) But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; (13) From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. (14) For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
He was on his way to Calvary when…
Come with me now. I want us to go back one more time to “the place which was called Calvary.” Oh, no, I do not suggest that we simply think of that physical place. We will leave those superstitious “holy places” and religious relics to the pope and his idolatrous worshippers. We care nothing for such things. But I do want us to go back to that place spiritually. In heart and mind, go with me to the place of the skull, just outside the gates of Jerusalem. With the eye of faith, I want us to behold the things that took place there.
Well do I recall my first visit to Calvary. I came as a guilty, heavy-laden sinner, burdened down with the oppressive load of my sin and guilt. But there I beheld the Son of God dying in my place; and the burden of my sin rolled away. I went home that day singing…
Mercy there was great and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty!
Proposition: I have just one purpose in preaching this message. ¾ I want you to behold the wonders of Calvary; and, being overwhelmed by the mercy, love, and grace revealed in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, I want you to trust your soul to the Son of God.
Divisions: My message, if it is blessed of God to your hearts, will fully meet the needs of all who hear me. As we stand here upon Mt. Calvary, the place where our redemption was accomplished, I would ask no curious questions. But I do want to raise five very practical questions, which might help us to worship the Lord of Glory, our Substitute, our Sacrifice, our Redeemer, our King.
1st — Who was there?
To be sure, there were multitudes who gathered around the hideous sight. It was the sport of depraved minds in that day to watch the agonies of dying men. Wicked men of every rank were there. The self-righteous Pharisees joined in sport with the Roman soldier. Refined, educated men joined with the uncouth men of the streets in their diabolical amusement. Housewives and harlots danced together around the cross. Women and children joined in hellish concert with the songs of drunkards. But these are not the people who concern us now.
There were some people whom we might expect to see at Calvary who were not there.
As our Lord had prophesied, so it came to pass, — “I have trodden the winepress alone: and of the people there was none with me” (Isaiah 63:3). — “Reproach hath broken mine heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 69:20).
Simon the Cyrenian
Others whom we might have expected not to be there were there. — There was a man named Simon, a Cyrenian, there, who carried the Savior’s cross (Luke 23:26; Matthew 27:32; Mark. 15:21). As our Lord Jesus went forth to suffer without the gate, fulfilling the typical red heifer sacrifice (Numbers 19:3; Hebrews 13:11-13), this man, Simon, was compelled to bear the cross, following the Savior up to the place of sacrifice. What a message there is in that!
There were some devoted, believing women there, who followed the Lord to this place. Matthew tells us of “many women there, watching from a distance” (Matthew 27:55-56). But three women, all named Mary, are specifically named as women who were with the Lord Jesus at Calvary.
The Triune God
But the thing I want you to see throughout this message is that all three Persons of the Sacred Trinity were there. Our salvation is the work of the Holy Trinity, the three Persons of the eternal Godhead (1 John 5:7).
God the Father was there, sacrificing his Son. — God the Son was there, obeying his Father’s will. — God the Spirit was there, strengthening and sustaining the sacred humanity of Christ as he bore Jehovah’s holy, infinite wrath.
And all God’s elect were there. My brother, my sister, you and I were there. — We were there in the Person of our Representative. The Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer and die as an individual. He died as the Representative, Surety, and Substitute of God’s elect. All that he endured on that day, he endured for us. The shame he bore was my shame. The guilt he bore was my guilt. The sin he bore was my sin. The wrath he endured was my wrath. The death he died was my death; and I died with him! Salvation is altogether by grace, grace that flows to needy sinners through the blood of our crucified Substitute.
Turn to Galatians 2:20 for a minute. In Galatians 2 Paul is showing us that salvation is by grace alone, without works. He asserts that “a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ” (not by faith in Christ, but by the faith of Christ — by Christ’s faithfulness unto death as our Surety). Then, in verse 19, he makes this great assertion…
(Galatians 2:19) “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.”
How is it that we are now dead to the law? We are dead to the law because we were crucified with Christ. When our Substitute died, we died in him. That is what Paul declares in Galatians 2:20.
(Galatians 2:20) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Š Literally, the first statement of this verse is in the past tense and should be translated, “I have been crucified with Christ.”
Š Then, he speaks of that which is presently true of all believers in the blessed experience of grace. — Being born of God, he says, “Nevertheless I live.” God the Holy Ghost has given me life by his almighty grace.
Š “Yet,” this new life in Christ is not me. Rather, “Christ liveth in me.” This is what he is talking about when he says Christ in us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Being made partakers of the Divine nature, believers are a people in whom Christ lives. —— Imagine that! —— The Son of God lives in me!
Š “And the life which I now live in flesh, I live by the faith,” that is to say, by the merit and efficacy of the faithful obedience “of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
2nd — What happened at Calvary?
I hope we have more reverence for the Son of God than to raise such a question only to satisfy curiosity. If you are merely curious about the events of that great Passover, you will leave this place empty. But the answer to this question ought to break the hardest of hearts, bring every sinner here to fall at the feet of Christ in repentance, and cause every saved sinner to bow down and worship.
Gather, my friends, around the cross. Get as close as you can. There upon the middle cross hangs the Son of God. He was crucified between two thieves, as though he were the vilest of the three. With our hearts fixed upon the God-man who suffers upon the cursed tree, look around “the place which is called Calvary” and see what is taking place.
1. I see a most unusual thing. — Here that the free-will of wicked men accomplished the sovereign will of the eternal God (Acts 2:22-23; 4:27-28; 13:29). — Pilate “delivered Jesus to their will” (Luke 23:25).
(Acts 2:22-23) “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: (23) Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”
(Acts 4:27-28) “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, (28) For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.”
(Acts 13:29) “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.”
Those wicked and ungodly men crucified the Lord of glory with malicious hands. They did exactly what their wicked free-will wanted to do. But in pouring out their hatred of God upon his Son, they did exactly what God almighty had determined must be done. These ungodly rebels did exactly what they wanted to do. Free-will had its way. But they did exactly what God had said must be done. — If I could bring no greater condemnation to the proud doctrine of free-will, this is enough to identify its hellishness. Pilate “delivered Jesus to their will.” If man’s free-will had its way, it would kill God!
2. Yet, I want you to understand that God sovereignly ruled even the wills and actions of these vile men. They did nothing except that which God had decreed from eternity and caused to be written in the prophets.
(Psalms 41:9) “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”
(Zechariah 11:12) “And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.”
(Psalms 27:12) “Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.”
(Isaiah 50:6) “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”
(Psalms 22:6-8) “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. (7) All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, (8) he trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.”
(Psalms 22:16) “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.”
(Psalms 69:21) “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
(Psalms 22:18) “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”
(Isaiah 53:12) “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
(Psalms 34:20) “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.”
(Zechariah 12:10) “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”
If I could find that Roman soldier who pierced the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ, I would tell him that the blood he spilled is a sufficient atonement for the crime of spilling it. It is sufficient to put away your sin, too.
It is true, these men, by wicked hands and malicious will, crucified the Lord of Glory. But, my friend, the Lord Jesus Christ died according to the will and purpose of God at the appointed time, at the appointed place, in the appointed way, for the appointed purpose, in the place of an appointed people. (1 Peter 1:20).
(1 Peter 1:18-20) “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; (19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”
3. Standing here, at “the place which is called Calvary,” I hear ungodly men telling the truth as plainly as the very prophets of God.
Š Pilate said, “I find no fault in him at all.”
Š Pilate had a large sign printed and hung on the top of the cross, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Š One of the Roman soldiers said, “Truly, this was the Son of God.”
4. Behold again “the place which is called Calvary.” There an innocent man died in the place of a guilty man. — Christ took Barabbas’ place. This is substitution.
Here all the glorious attributes of God and all the heinousness of human sin were most fully manifest. — Never was the depravity of the human heart so fully revealed as it was at Calvary. — Never did human sin appear more sinful than it did when Christ was made sin for us. — Never did all the attributes of God shine forth so brilliantly as they do at Calvary.
(Psalms 85:1-3) “LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. (2) Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. (3) Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.”
(Psalms 85:10-13) “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (11) Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. (12) Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. (13) Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.”
5. Here at “the place which is called Calvary” the law was ended and the gospel was established (Romans 10:4).
6. Here, the most important question ever raised by man is clearly answered. — “How can a man be just with God?” (Romans 3:24-26).
(Romans 3:24-26) “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
7. Look again, Calvary is the place where Satan was defeated (John 12:31). In his death our Lord was triumphant. His heel was bruised. But his heel was bruised as he crushed the old serpent’s head.
8. Children of God, look over this scene of blessed woe and know that our salvation was accomplished at Calvary.
Now, listen to me, this is the place where God meets sinners and saves them by his grace. There hangs the mighty Savior, with his arms stretched out upon the cursed tree. He says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”
(Exodus 25:22) “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”
9. “The place which is called Calvary” is the place of assurance. — Standing here, looking upon the crucified Son of God…
Š I am convinced that a holy God will punish sin.
Š I am assured that God is willing to save sinners.
Š I am persuaded that no one who trusts Christ will ever be punished for sin.
Š Not one of those for whom Christ died can ever perish.
Here, at Calvary, by our Savior’s one great sacrifice for sin, all the stipulations of the everlasting covenant were accomplished. — All the law of God was fulfilled. — All the requirements, all the types, pictures, and prophecies of the Old Testament were accomplished and fulfilled. — And all God’s elect were redeemed, justified, sanctified, and saved by the blood of the Lamb!
3rd — Why did the Son of
God come to this place?
Š He loved me (1 John 3:16).
Š He had agreed to die for me from eternity.
Š There was no other way for him to save his people (Galatians 2:21).
Š This was the door by which he would enter into his kingdom (Isaiah 53:10; John 17:1-2).
Š By dying at Calvary as the sinner’s Substitute, Christ has revealed the glory of God. ¾ His Holiness and His Grace! — His Mercy and His Truth! — His Righteousness and His Goodness! — His Justice and His Compassion! — His Infinite Love and His Inflexible Purity!
4th — What practical lessons
are to be learned at Calvary?
I hear, “Be practical. We need more practical preaching. We need someone to tell us how to live.” Well, if its practical Christianity you want, you do not need to run back to Mount Sinai. Just stay right here. If your life is ruled by what you see at Calvary, your life will be well ruled.
Š When I see Christ hanging upon the cross as my Substitute, I see how I ought to love my brethren (1 John 3:16-17).
Š When I see Christ giving his life to redeem my soul, I see what it means to give (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Š When I see Christ hanging upon the cursed tree, I see what it is to obey God with a willing heart. — “Thy will be done.”
Š When I see the Lord of Glory dying such a death as the death of the cross, I see what dedication and perseverance really is. — “He endured the cross.”
Š When I hear the Son of God praying in Gethsemane, as he anticipates his agony, I see how I am to patiently submit to the will of God.
Š I see all that I need to comfort my heart at all times (Romans 8:32).
5th — Come to this Place.
I am done when I have raised one more very practical question. ¾ Say, sinner, will you come and stand with me at the place called Calvary? — I stand here by the grace of God alone…
Standing here I have but one thing to say. — “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Will you come by faith to the Christ of Calvary?
Š You have no other hope.
Š Come just like you are.
Š Come in submission.
Š Come, trusting Christ alone.
Š He is able and willing to save.
Š God help you to come now.