Dean Bruer - Jesus's Crucifixion and Resurrection - Maroota II, Australia Convention - 2017

Matthew 27:35, “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.” As they watched Jesus dying, what did they think? Would it have any effect on their past or any bearing on their future? For most of them, there was no effect but a few were touched to their innermost core. Now it is our turn. We have been told of the importance of visiting Calvary often because of what Calvary can do for our souls and for our spirits. Sitting down, we watch Him there. What do we see, what do we feel, what do we think? Will it have any effect on our past; will it have any bearing on our future?

 

We heard on Friday that living close to Jesus is soul luxury. We might say that living near to Calvary is soul enrichment and living with the risen, living Christ is soul fulfilment. So, we will share a little about Calvary and go on to the resurrection and the joy of that. As we consider some of those who watched Jesus dying, we will consider what they saw and felt, then the different ones at the resurrection and what they saw and felt, and what is our experience with the risen, living Christ. A few years ago, a wonderful Friend of ours, about sixty years of age, was dying of cancer, and her husband asked us to come. When we went into the bedroom, her husband was on one side of the bed holding her hand and her daughter was on the other side, holding her other hand. A few others were there and when we came in, they stepped back and we went over and knelt down to express a few words of thankfulness for what she had been to us. Then we tried to share a little encouragement for this last great step of the journey. An older Sister also came and when she stepped into the room she surveyed the setting, summed it up and said, “Surrounded by love.” A few hours later our Sister died, surrounded by love.

 

Friends, when Jesus died on the middle cross of Calvary, He was not surrounded by love. Yes, a few were there but most of the people there were full of hatred, mockery, derision. There were no kind, encouraging words. It was just a lot of hatred. It wasn’t kind, loving hands holding His hands but it was hard, cold, cruel hands. As Jesus was dying on Calvary’s cross, midday became His midnight and God turned His face away. Jesus died, not surrounded by love but filled with love. As we behold Jesus dying on Calvary’s cross, we see the greatest manifestation of love the world has ever witnessed. Two thieves were crucified beside Jesus and both those men spoke against Jesus. Matthew 27:44, “The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth.” So, at first both those thieves spoke against Jesus but one had a marvellous, miraculous change of heart and he will be eternally thankful for having been crucified with Christ. We too, will be eternally thankful if we are willing to take up our cross. 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.”

 

As they were uplifted on those crosses, close enough to hear Jesus say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” one thief maybe would think, “How could He say that?” He didn’t feel that way towards those who convicted him and pounded the nails into him. It has been said that all mankind is represented in those two thieves, those who repent and those who do not recognise their time of visitation and opportunity. One man had a change of heart. Luke 23:39, “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, 'If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us.' But the other, answering rebuked him, saying, 'Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward for our deeds but this Man hath done nothing amiss.'” There are two vital things regarding salvation: to acknowledge the righteousness of Jesus and to acknowledge our own sin. We might acknowledge the righteousness of Jesus but do we acknowledge our own sin? Then he said, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” He received a revelation of who Jesus was. Most people thought Jesus was just about dead but this man realised that it was only beginning and it would be for all eternity. If anyone needed a Saviour, it was this man. He saw beyond Jesus as Saviour to Jesus as Lord. It is wonderful to see beyond Jesus as Saviour, to Jesus as Lord over our lives.


Verse 43, “And Jesus said unto him, 'Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.'” This man went from his worst day to his best day when he accepted Christ. It didn’t mean that he was taken down from the cross, but it meant that he had a change of heart and spirit, a change of future, a change of eternity. He would still be hanging on the cross, suffering, and it would not be too long before someone came along and broke his legs. When we accept Christ, it doesn’t mean that we get a change of situation. Our settings and surroundings don’t necessarily change but if we receive a change of heart and spirit, it is worth it all.


Then there was the centurion and what he saw and felt. The Roman government and military were fairly orderly; the death sentence had been passed on Jesus and it would have been up to the centurion to give account of the execution. He was beholding it all and it seems that there were three soldiers with him, and those soldiers divided the garments of Jesus into four pieces. Our friend the centurion was a responsible military officer and had no doubt seen a lot of people die, now he was watching these three men dying. Perhaps he also heard Jesus say, “Father, forgive them,” and he would wonder, “I have never seen anyone with a spirit like Jesus, saying words like that.” He was watching and thinking and feeling. It was his golden time of opportunity.


Luke 23:47, “Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, certainly this was a righteous Man.” Mark 15:39, “And when the centurion, which stood over against Him, saw that He so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, 'Truly this Man was the Son of God.'” It came home to him, “We have put to death an innocent man.”  As we behold Calvary and watch Jesus die, we come to the conclusion that we have had a part in the death of an innocent man, a righteous man, even the very Son of God. We are humbled at the thought and what can we do? We have had a part in the death of an innocent one, even the very Son of God. 


We will move along to Joseph of Arimathaea. He was a secret disciple, also Nicodemus. It was a very serious thing to be identified with Christ. If any man confessed that Jesus was Christ, they would be put out of the synagogue. The synagogue was not just for Sabbath churchgoing; the synagogue had to do with a lot of their lives. If you were put out of the synagogue, it was very serious for you and your family. So it was a very serious thing for Joseph and Nicodemus. Joseph beheld Jesus as He was dying and by what he saw and thought and felt, he realised, “I cannot hold back any longer.” He went and craved the body of Jesus from Pilate.     


Mark 15:43, “Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.”  We crave something because we feel we cannot do without it. Matthew 27:57, “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.As rich as he may have been, Joseph knew that he could not buy Jesus. He also knew that he could not demand the body of Jesus so his only hope was to beg. It is not very often that rich people beg, but Joseph begged the body of Jesus.I marvel that he was willing to be identified with Jesus. Many people want to be identified with the risen Christ, the returning Christ, the reigning Christ, but are we willing to be identified with the crucified Christ? Joseph and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus down from the nails, no doubt as lovingly and respectfully as they possibly could. Joseph had that new tomb hewn out for himself, but he felt, “Jesus is worthy,” so they buried the body of Jesus. Now we will move on to the resurrection and what people saw and felt and thought and did.       


John 20:1, “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.”  Verse 11, “But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, 'Woman, why weepest thou?' She saith unto them, 'Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.' And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, 'Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?' She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto Him, 'Sir, if Thou have borne Him hence, tell me where Thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.' Jesus saith unto her, 'Mary.' She turned herself, and saith unto him, 'Rabboni;' which is to say, 'Master.'”


Mary Magdalene had a need that day that only Christ could fill. She found the stone had been rolled away and she rushed to find Peter and John. She respected them, but Peter and John couldn’t meet the deep need of her soul. As much as we respect our fellow labourers, we realise they cannot meet the deep need of our souls. Even the angels that day couldn’t meet the deep need of Mary Magdalene’s soul. We are thankful for those ministering spirits but even the angels cannot meet the deep need our souls today; it is Jesus only. Mary Magdalene, in the quietness of the garden of resurrection, had a wonderful meeting. The judgement hall had echoed with, “Crucify Him,” and all kinds of mockery but in the quietness of the garden of the resurrection, a weeping, seeking soul was willing to be identified with the crucified Christ and as a result, she was identified with the resurrected Christ. I wonder if it didn’t well up in the heart of Jesus right at that moment, “It was worth it all, worth leaving the glories of Heaven, worth being born and living for a time in a foreign country, worth being a teenager, worth leaving My home in Nazareth, worth the time in Gethsemane; it was worth it all because of the love of this woman.”


When I first started in this Ministry, my companion gave opportunity in a meeting for anyone to accept Christ and there was a woman right in the front row, with tears running down her cheeks. “I will take Jesus.” My heart almost burst with joy and I felt, “It is worth it all for just one soul.” So, I wonder if Jesus wasn’t saying, “It is worth it all,” when He looked at you, when He looked at me, because of our love and worship.       


There was a lot that Mary Magdalene did not know that morning of the resurrection, but she did know the voice of Jesus. There is a lot we don’t know, but if we know the voice of Jesus calling our names it will make all the difference on the day of the resurrection. When we first read of Mary Magdalene, it wasn’t good, then Jesus entered her life and she had a living, loving relationship with Him and now she was rejoicing and sharing the message of the risen, living Christ. Friend, if that is the last thing you ever hear about me, it will be good; and if the last thing I hear about you is that you are sharing the message of the risen, living Christ and rejoicing in that, it will be wonderful.  Luke 24. There was another meeting Peter had with Jesus but we don’t read any details of it. Peter had such a wonderful relationship with Jesus but it had ended up on a note of, “I don’t know who you are talking about.” Then Jesus turned and looked at Peter and he wept bitterly; he still had a soft heart in a hard experience. Don’t fear the hard experiences so much as hardness of heart. So, Jesus wanted to see Peter and Peter wanted to see Jesus. I used to wish we had details of that meeting but now I am thankful that we don’t. It was too personal to share openly and it is a poor soul who doesn’t have any secrets with the Lord. There are some friends we share a bond with but some things we can only share with our best friend, and our best friend is Jesus, the Bridegroom of our soul.         


Peter shared many things in the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles, but on the mount of transfiguration Jesus told him to tell the vision to no man. Matthew 17:9, “Jesus charged them, saying, 'Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.'” Something happened in his relationship with the Lord and it would be a while before Peter could rightly share it. Later, he wrote about the time in the mount but perhaps there are some things that Peter never shared that were just between himself and the Lord, and that was good and right.


John 20:19, “Then the same day . . when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, 'Peace be unto you.'” The disciples were behind closed doors. Deuteronomy 13:1, “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, 'Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;' Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God.” If anyone taught anything new or different, they were put to death and after they were put to death, the followers were to be put to death. That is why the disciples were behind closed doors; Jesus had been put to death and they thought they were next in line.


Jesus was the realisation of the plan of God; this was not anything new. Often we wonder, what can we bring to a meeting to be a help? Bring what Jesus brought: peace. That is the first thing we can bring to a meeting. I don’t know of anyone who had a harder week than Jesus had, but when He met with the disciples He brought peace to the meeting. It was so important that He repeated it again, “Peace be unto you.” The next thing Jesus brought was victory. As we come to a meeting, that in itself is a measure of victory. The disciples were glad when they saw His hands and His feet. It was the marks of death, the evidence of the risen, living Christ. It is still the marks of death that give evidence that we are alive in Christ. Jesus didn’t show them His back, where He had been whipped and scourged, they were not the marks of death. He had been wounded but He didn’t show them those wounds. When we come into fellowship, we don’t want to show where someone has wounded or hurt us. We can relate to each other in defeat, but that is not bread. It is wonderful to bring victory to the meeting and share in that.      


The next thing Jesus brought to the meeting was example. John 20:21, “As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.” We appreciate Christlike examples among us and I never want to ask anything of someone that I wasn’t doing or willing to do myself. Jesus was not asking them to do anything but what He had already done Himself. We appreciate it when Godly example is brought into the meeting. The next thing He brought was the Spirit. Jesus knew they desperately needed the Spirit in the future and He brought the Spirit so they left the meeting with more than they came with. He breathed on them. Breath is unseen but it is felt and as He breathed on them, they received more. I love their testimony after the meeting. Verse 25, “We have seen the Lord.” It is wonderful when we go away from a Convention or a meeting and that can be our testimony. We would like to aim at these four things that would make a wonderful meeting: bring peace, victory, example and bring the Spirit so we can have the testimony, “We have seen the Lord.” Maybe someone came along and said to Mary Magdalene, “You know, Mary, really what happened is that the disciples came and stole away the body of Jesus.” Some people were paid money to say that, but would Mary Magdalene believe it? Never. Her experience was different. Things are still said about Jesus that are not true, but do we believe them? Not if we have had a personal experience with Jesus. Matthew 26:31, “All ye shall be offended because of Me this night for it is written, 'I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.'”  Matthew 28:7, “And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him.” Jesus reiterated it. Verse 10, “Be not afraid; go tell My brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see Me.” Verse 16, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.”


Those experiences of Jesus took place at Jerusalem, so what is this about Galilee? I Corinthians 15:3, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve. After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.” The message was brought that Jesus was going to appear in Galilee and some five hundred people were there. That Convention would have happened in the first four weeks after the resurrection. Word had spread that Jesus was going to appear in Galilee and the brethren were headed there, not going to miss it for anything.


We sometimes hear some who are critical of Convention and say it is Old Testament, but this was in the New Testament. They came by the hundreds, what to do? John 21:10, “Jesus saith unto them, 'Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.'” Those fish were not wasted by the Master. It will give you a clue as to what was on the menu of that first wonderful Convention, there was far more spiritual feeding. Heaven alone knew the tears the disciples had wept between the time of the crucifixion and the resurrection, but now they had this wonderful time together.


If I could have the notes of any Convention, I would have the notes of that Convention. An older brother said, “Maybe we do have the notes from that Convention,” and he referred to Acts 1:2, “Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen to whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Jesus is the only One who has stood on both sides of the valley of death and He didn’t change His mind. Jesus shared all those things about the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5, 6, 7) and I think they would have listened all the more attentively.


Luke 24:49, “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Most of the disciples of Jesus were in the Galilee area but one day, Jesus told them to wait at Jerusalem. It would have been against their thinking. Jerusalem was where Jesus was most hated. There are some things that only come by waiting in accordance to the will of the Master. As they walked along and Jesus began to ascend up into Heaven, they stood and watched. They had seen many beautiful things about Jesus and now He disappeared in a cloud. When Jesus left His disciples, He left them looking up. They saw Him going heavenward. We appreciate those who have left us looking up and those going upward and thinking of His return. A Convention is successful when we have a greater anticipation for the return of Christ, the Bridegroom of our soul. “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.”