Tried and Torn

Christ's enemies at his crucifixion behaved just as the enemies of the Gospel do today. And so, for today's Church, the crucifixion exemplifies God's love and the world's hostility.

Sermon Notes:

  1. The purpose of Christ’s coming was to redeem all of life and to restore it back to right fellowship with the Father.
  2. Having been tried, we here see the Lord enduring the tearing effects of the crucifixion – in clothing, body, and spirit, and above all in communion with the Father.
  3. The torn garments signify a king with no apparent power or authority. The world to this day regards the crucifixion as a matter of contempt – what could possibly be accomplished by the cross? It runs counter to every instinct of sinful man’s darkened mind (1 Cor. 1:23).
  4. For Christians, however, the cross is central to our hope.
  5. The high priest tears his own garments in a feigned gesture of humility and piety –Jesus’ confession gave him a convenient pretext for the execution sentence they had already decided.
  6. The account of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion should cure us of any thoughts that Jesus was not fully human – this is a heresy known as Docetism.
  7. Crucifixion was designed to maximize suffering and humiliation. The One who bore our sins away was taken out of the city, not considered fit for human society. By being crucified with criminals, Christ fulfilled the prophecy of being “counted among the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12).
  8. It was such an agonizing ordeal that even the Romans offered victims a rudimentary sedative – wine mixed with myrrh. Jesus refused the wine in order to taste the full sting of death (v. 23).
  9. If we are not prepared to be hated for Christ’s sake, we cannot be followers of Christ.
  10. The sour wine that Jesus accepts moments before His death was a different drink – a stimulant drunk by soldiers preparing for combat (v. 36).
  11. On some level, we can relate to Jesus in His physical suffering and ridicule, but nothing can compare to His separation from communion with the Father.
  12. God’s kindness and grace for all human beings mean that he holds back to a degree the effects of the curse of sin. At Golgotha, the curse of sin was felt in all its fullness.
  13. Even at the final judgment, no one will be able to measure the enormity of the Son’s separation from the Father.
  14. The unbeliever despises God and so at some level wants to be forsaken by Him; Jesus loved God to the end and was nonetheless forsaken.
  15. In order for Christ to be our Redeemer, the curse of death had to utterly overwhelm Him.
  16. In Jesus’ commitment of His spirit to God, we see the first stirrings of Christ’s victory. The tearing of the temple curtain condemned the hypocrisy of the High Priest and forever revoked the Aaronic priestly privilege (v. 38; cf. Mark 15:63; Joel 2:13).
  17. The torn curtain signifies the rise of spiritual Israel, evidenced by the centurion’s testimony. The first man through the curtain after the death of Christ was a gentile soldier (v. 39).
  18. In Christ’s burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, the valuation of the world is turned on its head, the first sign of Christ’s possession of all the earth.
  19. Today we are not left in the power of sin and death, but can freely come to the Lord’s Table to minister as priests.

Application Questions:

  1. In light of the torn curtain, what are some ways we can act as Christ’s ministers and priests?
  2. Why do you think Docetism – the idea that Jesus was not fully human – was declared to be a false teaching? What problems would arise from such a belief?
  3. What does it mean to say that Christ possesses all things in heaven and on earth?