Nothing and no one can ever catch the Sovereign LORD by surprise or unawares
By Donald Whitchard
John 19:1-18,Luke 23:21-23,1 Corinthians 1:18,1 Corinthians 1:23-24,1 Corinthians 2:14
Summary: Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941), the assassination of President Kennedy (November 22, 1963), and the terrorist act upon America (September 11, 2001) are all considered “infamous” days. The true “day of infamy” was 2000 years ago, when we attempted to kill God Incarnate.
The central theme of the Gospel is that the Lord Jesus was placed upon the cross for the redemption of our sins. It was an act of mercy, love, grace, and salvation that we did not deserve (Romans 5:6-11). It was also the day that rebellious humanity shook its fist at God Almighty, and the creature in an act of futility tried to kill its Creator. It was the day when the devil and his demons shouted with joy over the fact that their enemy was about to be put to death, and the curse that God had inflicted upon Satan (Genesis 3:15) would not come to pass. It was the day where the mortal enemies of Christ, disguised in robes of religious piety and ceremony, looked upon the King of Kings with contempt and mockery, and a sense of vindication for the woes He decreed upon them for their acts of hypocrisy and pettiness a few days earlier (Matthew 23:1-36; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:45-47). Jesus had declared Himself to be the true Temple of God when He drove out the money changers and others who were using the House of God as a marketplace and a “den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-22). These actions infuriated the Pharisees and Sadducees, who saw their “business” torn apart by the preacher of Galilee.
In all of their collective eyes and thoughts, the sight of this troublemaker, wrongly accused and illegally tried, was getting the punishment He deserved, and they thought would be a means of eradicating His memory for all time. If the world, the flesh, and the devil had their way, the name and work of Jesus of Nazareth would be wiped away into the dustbin of historical oblivion. Even today there are people walking around and making noises who say that Jesus never existed or was a “cult” thought up by a bunch of fanatics, or a story conceived by those who had followed Him to keep His ideas alive, and a seemingly never-ending host of fanciful tales told to gullible and ignorant masses who don’t bother to check the facts for themselves, instead allowing others to do their thinking for them. The enemies of Jesus Christ, in hoping that He would die and rot in the grave, were and still are today harboring the greatest case of wishful thinking ever conceived. On that infamous day long ago, it certainly looked as if their wishes were about to come true, and all the apostles could do at that time were to watch in horror and fear, bearing the seeds of disillusionment and sorrow, or remain in hiding, afraid that they would be the next in line for crucifixion as well.
John 19:2-3 tells of the scourging, mocking, and humiliation placed upon the Lord Jesus, shoving on His sacred head the crown of thorns which only added to the pain He was enduring. The religious men (19:4-7,15) had tried and then sentenced the LORD to death, later mocking Him as He slowly died the agonizing death of a criminal by a means so brutal that no Roman citizen was to be put to death in such a manner. The governing powers of Pilate and Herod (19:6-15) both had the authority to stop the entire procedure. They had both judged that Jesus had done no wrong, yet cowardly gave in to the bloodthirstiness of the Pharisees, who were guilty of blasphemy when they declared to have no king but Caesar (19:14-15). When Jesus was nailed to the cross and hoisted between two thieves, who had been sentenced to die that day, they also took turns blaspheming and mocking Him (Luke 23:39). However, the thief on His right saw the error of his ways, rebuked the other thief, and asked Jesus simply to remember Him (Luke 23:42). Jesus graciously told this dying criminal that he would be with Him in Paradise (v.43). This man’s simple request was graciously answered.
Alister Begg, a preacher from Scotland, presented the scene as a drama where this thief found himself in the portals of heaven. The angels asked him how he had gotten there. He had not been baptized, nor confirmed, nor had been instructed in the confessions of the faith, or anything of that matter. This man who was at the edge of hell just moments before told them that: “The Man on the cross said I could come in.” Is that not the true essence of following Jesus? If God asked you at the end of your life, “By what right do you have to enter My heaven?,” the answer does not rely upon degrees in theology, or complicated diagrams of biblical interpretation, or a knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, nor ordination, nor licensure, or anything we accumulate in the name of religion or how we define faith. It all boils down to telling God, “At one time, I was a sinner. I trusted Jesus to save me, and He said I could come in.” The promise of eternal life, victory over death, peace with God, freedom from the bondage of sin, and the final judgment of evil was accomplished by what Jesus did on the cross that day. The powers of evil, both the demons and the deviant individuals who had believed that their malevolent deed succeeded, did not know that this infamous day had been planned and put into place by God Almighty before the foundations of creation (1 Corinthians 2:7-9; Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8). Nothing and no one can ever catch the Sovereign LORD by surprise or unawares.
Because of the physical, emotional, and spiritual agony Jesus suffered on the cross on what we call, “Good Friday,” the glorious event of the Resurrection became a reality and confirmation that the work of Christ was complete, never to be repeated, and sufficient to redeem us from our sins. If Jesus Christ were still in a tomb, then any talk of redemption, salvation, or the promises of God would be of no merit or use, and we would still be dead in our sins without hope (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). For those of you reading this message that are uncertain of where you stand before Christ and the fact of death and judgment (Luke 12:13-21; John 5:28-29; Hebrews 9:27), this promise of salvation and peace is for you as well. The path to your redemption is not complicated. It is as simple as admitting you’re a sinner, just like everyone else, believe that Jesus Christ is LORD, that God has raised Him from the dead, and call on Him to save you (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23, 6:23,10:9-10). The work has already been done by Jesus on your behalf. All you need to do is ask Him if you can come home. It worked for the thief and countless others throughout history. You’re no exception.
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Donald was born and reared in southern Louisiana in the heart of what is known as “Cajun country.” He is a graduate of Louisiana College, Pineville, LA (B.A. in History and Biblical Studies, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. In Christian Education, 1994), and Andersonville Theological Seminary, Camilla, GA (Doctorate in Biblical Exposition, 2000). He has served in the Gospel ministry since 1986 as an evangelist, pastor, teacher, and healthcare chaplain. In 2018, he began devoting his time to Internet and social media evangelism as a writer for online ministries such as Rapture Ready, Sermon Central, Inspirational Christian Blogs, and other venues. He is the author of the book, “The Scope of Biblical Prophecy: A General Introduction,” available at Parsons Porch Publishers (www.parsonsporch.com). He is the host of the YouTube broadcast, The Reality City Review (https://www.youtube.com/@realitycityreview), a program dedicated to teaching books of the Bible, Bible prophecy, and related issues. It can be seen on his website (https://www.realitycityreverend.com/) and on Facebook, GETTR, Truth Social, and Savior Connect. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org for speaking/preaching engagements or other inquiries.