October 2nd, 2016
Auxiliary Text: Philippians 2:1-11
Call to Worship: Psalm 69
Service Orientation: We fail to live victorious, enlightened, powerful lives because we fail to kill pride. Naturally, we simply cannot get beyond ourselves. Look to Jesus Who never fails to live victoriously.
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. — Philippians 2:5-7
- (v. 28) And whereas John’s gospel focuses on the crucifixion primarily from the perspective of God’s redemptive love and grace, Matthew’s focus is primarily from the perspective of man’s wickedness. Man’s wickedness attempted to kill Jesus shortly after His birth, tried to discredit His teaching, and made every effort to mislead and corrupt His disciples. Man’s wickedness had betrayed Him, denied Him, arrested, maligned, and battered Him. But the incomparable manifestation of man’s wickedness was in His crucifixion. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 246)
- (v. 28) Although it was far from the soldiers’ intent, the use of scarlet was reminiscent of Isaiah’s declaration that “though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool” (Isa 1:18). Just as the soldiers clothed Jesus in the scarlet robe, He willingly clothed Himself in the scarlet sins of the world in order that those who believe in Him might be freed from that sin. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 249)
- (v. 29) Like the scarlet robe, the crown of thorns became an unintended symbol of the sins that Jesus was about to take upon Himself. After the Fall, thorns and thistles became painful reminders of the curse that sin had brought to the world (Gn 3:18), the curse from which the world ever since has longed to be freed (Rom 8:22). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 249)
- (v. 29) Do you see how Matthew takes several similar words and actions, and starting from both ends, works his way to the center? In verses 27 and 31b the soldiers lead Jesus somewhere; in verses 28 and 31a they put on and take off a cloak; in verses 29a and 30 they do something to Jesus’ head (note also the repetition of the word reed). But then, as we finally arrive at the center there is no parallel because we have arrived at the point, poetically and thematically. The point is that these soldiers pay homage to Jesus as king (v. 29b), but mockingly so. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 851)
- (v. 31) Indeed, writes Pastor Philip Ryken, “There was no word for it. No polite word, at any rate, for the word for “cross” was taboo in Roman society. (Philip Ryken, “The Offense of the Cross”) That is why Cicero also said, “let the very mention of the cross be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears. (Cicero, Pro Rabirio, 5) (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 614)
- (v. 31) If mention of the cross was offensive to the Romans, it was even more abhorrent to the Jews, for they saw it in the light of Dt 21:22-23. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 614)
- (v. 31) None of the Gospels describes the actual crucifixion in detail. The details were well known; there was no point in dwelling on its horrors. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 614)
- (v. 31) The replacement of Jesus’ own clothes for the walk to Golgotha was probably a concession to Jewish scruples about public nakedness (Jub. 3:30-31; cf. Gn 9:20-27). Crucifixion was normally naked, and in v. 35 Jesus’ clothes will again have been removed; m. Sanh. 6:3 specifies that the clothes should be removed only at the place of execution, not on the way there. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 1063)
- (v. 42) That declaration, of course, was knowingly false and meant only as a taunt. They had not believed Jesus either for the truths He taught or for the miracles He performed. If He came down from the cross, they would not believe Him, any more than they believed in Him when He rose from the dead, just as Abraham had declared in Jesus’ story about Lazarus (Lk 16:30-31). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 261)
- It is estimated that by the time of Christ the Romans had crucified some 30,000 men in Israel alone, primarily for insurrection. The crucifixion of only three men outside Jerusalem was therefore virtually insignificant in the eyes of Rome. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 254)
- Matthew’s readers recognize that the soldiers speak more truly than they know, for Jesus is both King and Suffering Servant. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 573)
The question to be answered is . . . What does Matthew want to communicate in this passage?
Answer: That Jesus is the epitome of what it means to be human: created in God’s likeness and image. Jesus is obedient, loving and humble with no concern for Himself; only others.
At the heart of their scorn are his claims to be King of Israel and the Son of God. They cannot fathom how God’s anointed could be annihilated, the mighty Messiah murdered, the conquering Christ crucified. They stumbled over this stumbling stone. They failed to see that by losing his life, Jesus saves ours (cf. 16:25). But we should not fail to see this. He is the King of Israel. He is the Son of God. He does trust in God, and God will vindicate him. He is now saving others. Every jest they say is true. The greatest truths of the gospel come from the mouths of these fools! (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 868-9)
The ministry of Mohammed is symbolized everywhere by the scimitar, the sword. The universal symbol of Christianity is the cross, because it was while He hung on that Roman tool for execution that our Savior paid the price for our sin. (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 798)
The Word for the Day is . . . humble
Wilderness? Exodus? Exile? Incarnation? Crucifixion? Taking up your cross? These elements of the biblical narrative suggest that God does not prize comfort. (Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship, 57)
Jesus’ kingdom was to be reached through humiliation, suffering and death. Now Satan offered Him the kingdom without having to pay the price of humiliation. Here the prize is sheer glory without suffering. All Jesus had to do was give the evil prince of this world a moment of worship. Perhaps all Satan wanted was a bow of the knee, a slight genuflection. That would have satisfied him for with the slightest act of obeisance to him the obedience of Jesus would have been compromised. (R.C. Sproul; The Glory of Christ, 84)
What does Matthew reveal about Jesus in this passage?:
I- Jesus is obedient. Jesus did what His Father wanted no matter what it cost Him. (see: Mt 16:21-25; 26:39-44; Lk 22:40-46; Mk 14:32-42; Jn 5:19-21, 30; 6:27, 38; 7:16-19; 8:29, 55; 10:17-18, 25; 11:41-42; 12:49-50; 14:9-10; 15:10; 17:4; Acts 2:23, 36; 3:18; 4:10, 19; 5:29, 41; Rom 5:8-19; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 2:1-11; Col 2:14-15; Heb 5:8-9)
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me? In fact He attributed the suffering and ignominy of His passion not to the Jews who accused him, not to Judas who betrayed Him, nor to Pilate who condemned Him, nor to the soldiers who ill-treated and crucified him, nor to the devil who incited them all, though they were the immediate causes of His sufferings, but to God, and to God not considered as a strict judge but as a loving and beloved Father. (Father Jean Baptiste; Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, 25)
“ When you saw a man walking with a cross, one thing you knew. That was the last thing that person was ever going to do. You know you don’t walk with a cross and say, ‘This isn’t working for me. I thought this was going to be, you know, kinda purifying. But, it is really not working for me.’ A person under a cross is under arrest. Jesus Christ is saying, ‘You are under arrest. When you become a disciple it means you are no longer your own. You are no longer an independent person.’” (Timothy Keller; “How to Hate Your Parents”, Luke 14:25-27)
“I’m not comfortable . . . so God can’t want me there.” (Fred Saunders’ sarcastic comment in Sunday School Class 2-8-09)
Suffering can prepare ordinary Christians for extraordinary service.
Without suffering, obedience is meaningless. Obedience is measured and defined in the presence of suffering.
The church is to bear the cross the world deserves, sharing in Christ’s sufferings. We are to move as self-sacrificing priests among those who are poor, hurt, diminished, and afraid. We are to identify with them, cast our lot with them, get involved with them, suffer with them. (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.; Assurances of the Heart, 179)
The words “Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him” have several levels of meaning. They constitute a malicious barb directed at Jesus’ helplessness, while having the effrontery to suggest that the leaders’ failure to believe was his fault. The taunt piously promises faith if Jesus will but step down from the cross; but the reader knows that, in the mystery of providence, if Jesus did step down, there would be no “blood of the covenant for the forgiveness of sins” (26:26-29), no ransom (28:28), no salvation from sin (1:21), no theological basis for healing (8:16-17), no gospel of the kingdom to be proclaimed to nations everywhere (28:18-20), no fulfillment of Scripture. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 577)
Do not let ourselves be troubled when we are sometimes beset by adversity, for we know that it is meant for our spiritual welfare and carefully proportioned to our needs, and that a limit has been set to it by the wisdom of the same God who has set a bound to the ocean. Sometimes it might seem as if the sea in its fury would overflow and flood the land, but it respects the limits of its shore and its waves break upon the yielding sand. There is no tribulation or temptation whose limits God has not appointed so as to serve not for our destruction but for our salvation. God is faithful says the Apostle, and will not permit you to be tempted (or afflicted) beyond your strength, but it is necessary for you to be so, since through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God in the steps of our Redeemer who said of Himself, Did not the Christ have to suffer all these things before entering into his glory? If you refused to accept these tribulations you would be acting against your best interests. You are like a block of marble in the hands of the sculptor. The sculptor must chip, hew and smooth it to make it into a statue that is a work of art. God wishes to make us the living image of Himself. All we need to think of is to keep still in His hands while He works on us, and we can rest assured that the chisel will never strike the slightest blow that is not needed for His purposes and our sanctification; for, as St. Paul says, the will of God is your sanctification. (Father Jean Baptiste; Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, 31-3)
St. Bonaventure relates that St. Francis of Assisi was afflicted by an illness which caused him great pain. One of his followers said to him, “Ask Our Lord to treat you a little more gently, for it seems to me He lays His hand too heavily upon you.” Hearing this the saint gave a cry and addressed the man in these words: “If I did not think that what you have just said comes from the simplicity of your heart without any evil intention I would have no more to do with you, because you have been so rash as to find fault with what God does to me.” Then, though he was very weak from the length and violence of his illness, he threw himself down from the rough bed he was lying on, at the risk of breaking his bones, and kissing the floor of his cell said “I thank you, O Lord, for all the sufferings you send me. I beg you to send me a hundred times more if you think it right. I shall rejoice if it pleases you to afflict me without sparing me in any way, for the accomplishments of your holy will is my greatest consolation.” (Father Jean Baptiste; Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, 67-8)
A person can respond to suffering like an egg, or like a potato. A potato goes into the boiling water hard, but comes out pliable. An egg goes into the boiling water soft and comes out hard.
More often than not suffering is frequently the necessary road to the realization of higher values.
“The place of suffering in service and of passion in mission is hardly ever taught today. But the greatest single secret of evangelistic or missionary effectiveness is the willingness to suffer and die. It may be a death to popularity (by faithfully preaching the unpopular biblical gospel), or to pride (by the use of modest methods in reliance on the Holy Spirit), or to racial and national prejudice (by identification with another culture), or to material comfort (by adopting a simple lifestyle). But the servant must suffer if he is to bring light to the nations, and the seed must die it if is to multiply.” (John R. W. Stott; The Cross of Christ, 322)
Some think they can’t do it; others refuse to change or grow. They simply lack the faith to step out and do something. “Where is your faith?” I wish to admonish them (and many times I do). “Don’t you believe that God will enable you to obey Him?”
The churches that mature in health and effect lasting change are the ones that come to God in brokenness and humility and beg Him to produce the obedience of faith in them. (Donald J. MacNair; The Practices of a Healthy Church, 231)
Christ’s suffering is for propitiation, our suffering is for propagation. (John Piper; Desiring God, 230)
Because Jesus was the Son of God who always obeyed the will of the Father, he did not come down from the cross to save himself. If he had done so, he could not have saved us. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 558)
After the soldiers took Jesus to Calvary, “they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall” (v. 34a). Once Jesus tasted what it was, he refused to drink it (v. 34b). That reaction tells us that the drink was either a cruel joke (like someone offering you lemonade but intentionally giving you lemon juice) or a drug to deaden the pain (an ancient anesthetic) or to assist death (a suicide solution). If it’s the latter, then Jesus’ refusal is all the more admirable. He refused to give up control of his conscious choice of death by crucifixion. “He was determined to accept death at its bitterest and grimmest.” Either way, our Lord’s refusal to drink from that cup shows us that he is still willing to drink the cup of God’s wrath for us. He will neither take “a shortcut to death,” nor will he allow their “malicious mockery” to drift him off course. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 863)
I have closely studied every passage on suffering, and even in God’s summation speech to Job, at a moment that begged for such an answer, God refrained. Jesus contradicted the Pharisees’ airtight theories that suffering comes to those who deserve it, yet avoided directly answering the question of cause. Resolution of the “Why?” questions lied beyond the reach of humanity–was that not God’s main message to Job? (Philip Yancey; Soul Survivor, pgs. 212-13)
“I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in the world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained. In other words, if it ever were to be possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence by means of some drug or other medical mumbo-jumbo, as Aldous Huxley envisaged in Brave New World, the result would not be to make life delectable, but to make it too banal and trivial to be endurable.” (Malcom Muggeridge quoted by Kent Hughes; A Twentieth Century Testimony: Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome, 121)
In His incarnation, Jesus’ humiliation was essential to God’s plan for the Son, “who emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 250)
It was intended to dull the pain. When Jesus realized what it was, he refused to drink it because he did not want to be “knocked out.” He still had a few words he wanted to say. He wanted to pray the Psalms. He wanted to be able to recognize his mother when he saw her. He did not want a narcotic to get any credit for helping him endure the agony of the cross. (G. J. and M. J. Albrecht, The People’s Bible: Matthew, 415)
The nails had to be driven in, usually through the wrists, but commonly the feet were only loosely bound to the cross. At that moment, in order to deaden the pain, the criminal was given a drink of drugged wine, prepared by a group of wealthy women of Jerusalem as an act of mercy. A Jewish writing says: “When a man is going out to be killed, they allow him to drink a grain of frankincense in a cup of wine to deaden his senses. . . Wealthy women of Jerusalem used to contribute these things and bring them.” The drugged cup was offered to Jesus, but he would not drink it, for he was determined to accept death at its bitterest and at its grimmest, and to avoid no particle of pain. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 428)
The ultimate explanation of the cross is neither Jewish hostility nor Roman injustice, but the declared purpose of God. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 1060)
“It is, then, the hope of glory which makes suffering bearable.” (John R. W. Stott; The Cross of Christ, 323)
What is the consequence of our sin against God? . . . the loss of a relationship. But don’t forget, you realize what that means; for the son to lose a relationship with a mother, if he does not patch that up, he is going to have a lousy life. If we don’t patch up our relationship with God—we were built for the presence of God, we have to have the presence of God to be human, to love, to think, to be utterly cut off from the presence of God, absolutely is agony, is hell. But, what Jesus is beginning to experience, is way beyond that.
Now, you say, “What do you mean way beyond that?” Wait a minute, how can you say way beyond that, how could anything be way beyond that?
Well, think about this: Remember when I said, “If a friend rejects you that is infinitely less harmful than if a spouse rejects you; as you certainly know. If God rejects me, that is awful. But, if the Father rejects Jesus (we have to realize) that the Father and the Son have a relationship of love that is infinitely greater than anything that we know.
The greatest marriage in the history of the world, compared to the love of the Father and the Son is like a dew drop compared to the Pacific Ocean. No lover was ever so one with her spouse, no parent was ever so one with his child, no soul ever so one with its body as the Father and the Son were. And so for the Son to even get on the outskirts of a loss of that love, to even get on the outskirts, to even get a whiff of that, meant that he began to experience a horror that . . . pushed blood out of his pores, even though He was the Son of God. What must it have been like to actually DRINK the cup, if the sight of it, if the smell of it did this to Him. That is what is going in the garden.
And so, why did he do it? Why did he do it. . . .
Centuries ago, God put Adam in Garden with a tree. And He said, “Obey me about the tree. Don’t eat it.”
In other words, God says to Adam, “Obey and you will live!” But he didn’t.
Centuries later, the second Adam, is in the garden: Not Eden, Gethsemane. And there is another tree. This time it is a cross. And God says, “Obey me about the tree.” But, I want you to see the contrast here. The first Adam was told, “Obey me and you will live.” The second Adam was told, “Obey me and I will crush you to powder.” Jesus was told something that God has never said to anybody before and will never say again. God has never said this before or again. But He said it once. He said, “I want you to obey me, and if you obey me I will utterly abandon you. I will utterly cast you off. I will send You into hell. I will send You into infinite sorrow. Because our relationship was infinitely greater than a relationship between anybody else. Your sorrow, your pain, your misery, will be infinitely greater than someone going to hell.
God says to the first Adam, “Obey and you will live.” And he didn’t. God says to the second Adam, “Obey and I will crush you to powder.” But he did obey! Why? Why would he do that?
To get glory? He had glory before. To get a relationship with the Father? Obviously not. What did He get out of it? Only one thing. Us! You. Forgiven. Loved. A relationship. Don’t you see when Jesus died, the minute He died, Lk 23:45, it says darkness was over the whole land for the sun stopped shining. What does that mean? The darkness came into him. He took the darkness. He took the consequences of what was done. He took the darkness. . . . He died in the dark, the ultimate dark, so we could live in the light. So we could have the light that never goes out. (Tim Keller; The Hour of Darkness)
II- Jesus is loving. Jesus’ only concern was that He do what was loving towards the Father and us. (see: Isa 53; Mt 8:17; 9:36; 14:14; 18:11; Lk 19:10; Jn 10:3-16; 13:1-13; 15:9-15; Rom 8:35-39; 2 Cor 8:9; Gal 2:20; 3:13; Eph 3:17-19; 5:25; Heb 9:28; 13:12-13; 1 Pt 3:18; 1 Jn 3:16; Rv 1:5)
God saw Abraham’s sacrifice and said, “Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your only son from me.” But how much more can we look at his sacrifice on the Cross, and say to God, “Now, we know that you love us. For you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love, from us.” When the magnitude of what he did dawns on us, it makes it possible finally to rest our hearts in him rather than in anything else. (Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods, 18)
“When someone we love suffers, we suffer with that person, and we would not have it otherwise, because the suffering and the love are one, just as it is with God’s love for us.” (Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark)
They add to their head-shaking and temple-claim mockery the accusation and devilish temptation, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (v. 40b). Put differently, “If you, O Son of God, have come down all the way from Heaven, why not come down a foot or two off that cross. That is assuming, of course, that you are the Son of God” (cf. 26:64). “If you are the Son of God. . .” That’s a big if. We remember hearing that phrase “If you are the Son of God” earlier in Matthew. It came from Satan when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (4:3, 6; cf. 26:63). “Here truly is Jesus’ last great temptation.” How will he use his power–for himself or for others? Will he turn a stone into bread? Will he grasp for the kingdoms of the world? Will he worship Satan? Will he fly from the cross or stay on it? (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 866)
If you love, you will suffer, and if you do not love, you do not know the meaning of a Christian life. — Agatha Christie
The Maker of the Universe, became unmade for you on the cross, so that He might remake you in His image. (Tim Keller; “Who Is the Lord?”)
The Jews could see God only in power; but Jesus showed that God is sacrificial love. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 429)
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was the climax of redemptive history, the focal point of God’s plan of salvation. God’s redeeming work culminated in the cross, where the Lord Jesus bore the sins of the world. But also in the crucifixion of Christ the wickedness of man reached its apex. The execution of the Savior was the vilest expression of evil in human history, the utter depth of man’s depravity. The death of Jesus Christ was therefore the supreme revelation of the gracious love of God while also being the ultimate expression of the sinfulness of man. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 246)
His form is so marred that he is hardly recognizable, even to his friends. No representation of Jesus’ crucifixion that I have ever seen, even by the greatest of artists, does justice to this horror. They are all too clean, too sterile. The crucifixion was bloody and vulgar, ugly and repulsive. Yet he was the Son of God! Think of that and try to understand something of the horror of your sin and of the grace, love, mercy, and compassion of our God. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 617)
Cubicles of Authority by Molly Marsh
We each are inclined
To build our own cubicles
around our ego.
They are constructed
Of our own authority,
Maintained to endure.
Little do we know
They are imprisoning us,
Not protecting us.
They have blocked God’s love.
Cubicles are meaningless
When we put God first.
We need give to God
Our self-sought authority:
Then walls are removed.
We become aware
And enlightened by God’s love . . .
Dark cubicles flee.
Choose to give all your
Authority to Jesus.
He died, to save you.
Ask to receive him . . .
Let cubicles fall away . . .
Fully LIVE God’s LOVE.
Divine Authority by Molly Marsh
Giving God authority
Ought to be a commandment,
But it’s already our first.
We cheat ourselves of Divine
Beauty, Blessed Assurance,
Because we want control.
This is a real paradox:
How can we gain for ourselves
When we give . . . to God, our will?
Satan’s laughing up his sleeve,
Since the Garden of Eden
When he sales-pitched, “Think your way”.
Control freaks miss much of life,
Don’t know why they’re unhappy,
Can’t see the trees for the forest.
When we give God our control,
It’s open sesame!
To a new world of living.
We become more than humans:
When God’s LOVE flows through us . . .
We become Divine humans.
Give God your authority:
Find freedom rings throughout you.
Let Jesus show you the way.
Christ was to be hung on a cross (or tree to which it is sometimes referred) which was to be cursed by God (see Dt 21:23 & Gal 3:13). Also a crown of thorns was placed on Jesus’ head (Also a part of the original curse of the Garden of Eden in Gn 3:17). Why? Because Christ became cursed for us so that we might become the righteousness of God.
III- Jesus is humble. Pride, ego, arrogance, conceit, and selfishness are non-existent in Jesus. He simply doesn’t care about His own agenda, needs, status, reputation, or interests. (see: Ps 138:6; 149:4; Prv 11:2; 15:33; 16:5, 18-19; 21:24; 22:4; 29:23; Isa 50:6; ch 53; Mt 20:25-28; Jn 13:1-13; Acts 20:19; 2 Cor 12:7-10; Phil 2:1-11; Jam 4:6-10; Heb 2:9-10; 1 Pt 5:5-6)
It is impossible to have spiritual maturity and pride at the same time. (Rick Warren; The Purpose Driven Church, 338)
The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil . . . It is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But pride always means enmity—it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God. (C.S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 109-111)
The fuller of pride anyone is himself, the more impatient will he be at the smallest instances of it in other people. And the less humility anyone has in his own mind, the more will he demand and be delighted with it in other people…You must therefore act by a quite contrary measure and reckon yourself only so far humble as you impose every instance of humility upon yourself and never call for it in other people. (William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, 234)
God can never entrust His kingdom to anyone who has not been broken of pride, for pride is the armor of darkness itself. (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 17)
Pride in the Hebrew means literally “a bubbling up or a foaming over.” It is the attitude of self-exaltation at the expense of honoring God. …Pride regards self as fundamentally more significant than anybody else. (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 188)
Jesus’ enemies unwittingly teach us about the meaning of the cross. Their putting Jesus to open shame–by crucifying, mocking, and disregarding him–shows us how, in allowing his Son to be nailed to the cross, God “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:15). (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 862)
The organic material that has been broken down to give the soil its richness is called “humus.” Our word humble is related to it, meaning “to be brought low.” That is the process God uses to makes us receptive to His word. He allows us to be brought low. Sometimes He Himself is the one who brings us there. Humility, said Confucius, is the foundation of all virtues. (Ken Gire; The Reflective Life, 54)
Humility rests on self-knowledge; pride reflects self-ignorance. Humility expresses itself in self-distrust and conscious dependence on God; pride is self-confident and, though it may go through the motions of humility with some skill (for pride is a great actor), it is self-important, opinionated, tyrannical, pushy, and self-willed. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prv 16:18). (J. I. Packer; Rediscovering Holiness, 149-50)
Humility is accompanied by much happiness and peace. But the proud man is trouble for everyone who knows him. Anything can irritate the proud person and hardly anything can please him. He is ready to complain about everything that happens as if he were so important that Almighty God should see to it that he is always happy. He acts as if all the creatures of heaven and earth should wait upon him and obey his will. The leaves of high trees shake with every blast of wind. Likewise, every casual conversation or harsh word will upset and torment a proud man. (Henry Scougal and Robert Leighton; God’s Abundant Life, 51)
Humility is the obverse side of confidence in God, whereas pride is the obverse side of confidence in self. —John Baillie (Eugene H. Peterson; A Long Obedience in the Same Direction discipleship in an Instant Society, 143)
Criminals were executed naked. Classical paintings of the crucifixion always seem to show Jesus in a loincloth, but He almost certainly had no clothing on as He hung on the cross. That was intentional; the Romans wanted the prisoner to feel humiliated and disgraced. (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 800)
Gleefully–for they’re having fun–each soldier, when his turn comes around, after getting up from his knees spits into the face of God’s only begotten and beloved Son! (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 960)
Through all of that torment and pain Jesus said nothing either in defense or in reproach. He had predicted His mocking, His suffering, and His crucifixion long before Pilate or his soldiers knew who He was (Mt 16:21; 20:18-19). That was God’s plan countless ages before it was the plan of wicked men, and it was for that very purpose that He had come to earth. As men fulfilled their evil and destructive design, God fulfilled His gracious and redemptive design. Christ was on the divine schedule, which even His enemies were unwittingly fulfilling in minute detail. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 250)
Next in their brutal amusement they took the reed from His hand and, to further ridicule His supposed authority, began to beat Him on the head, which was already swollen, lacerated, and bleeding. It was as if to say, “Your kingliness is a joke. Look how easily we strip you of your dignity and your authority. We beat you with your own scepter. Where is your power? Where is your royal army to defend you from your enemies?” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 250)
It was inconceivable to them that the Messiah would permit such mistreatment of Himself or that God would permit such mistreatment of His Son. They were utterly blind to what Scripture taught about the Messiah’s suffering and atoning death, and they took Jesus’ crucifixion to be final and irrefutable proof that His claims were spurious. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 262)
The soldiers’ adoration and enthronement is a farce; yet if we remove their appalling attitudes from their actions–take away the parody of the wreath of thorns as golden garland, a soldier’s cloak as royal robe, a reed as scepter, and the adulation due Caesar conferred upon Christ–we have the truth set before us. As these joking Gentiles bow before Jesus (cf. 2:11; 15:22), so all the nations are to give to the true King of the kingdom of God the veneration due his majestic name. Put simply, their scorn is our call to worship. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 852)
It is not the case that Jesus can’t save himself, but he won’t save himself. He has indeed saved others (see 8:25, 9:21, 22, 27; 14:39). He thus can save himself. He has the power to do so. Yet he understands that “real power is the control of power, the rejection of power, the willingness to express power in weak-seeming ways.” And if we haven’t learned that lesson already from the Sermon on the Mount, perhaps now we shall learn it from the Sermon on the Cross. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 869)
The greatest of Kings born in the most humblest of place. God made into flesh. (Wise men at the manger of Jesus from “The Nativity”)
None of the seven words from the cross was a response to any of the ridicule he had to endure. This was very different from the way most other crucifixions went. Ancient historians tell us that those on the cross would often scream in pain and hurl down curses at their executioners. But all Jesus did was pray for them, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (G. J. and M. J. Albrecht, The People’s Bible: Matthew, 418)
The cross was so offensive to the Romans that they refused to allow their own citizens to be crucified, no matter what they had done. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 614)
We are sometimes told that we should not dwell on the physical aspect of the cross; but we cannot possibly have too vivid a picture of what Jesus did and suffered for us. Joseph Klausner, the Jewish writer, says: “Crucifixion is the most terrible and cruel death which man has ever devised for taking vengeance on his fellow-men.” Cicero, the Roman statesman, called it “the most cruel and the most horrible torture.’ The historian Tactitus called it “a torture only fit for slaves.” (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 425)
Here we see more clearly than before that the King of kings is the King of Pain and that that King will soon rule from a wooden cross, not a golden throne. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 851)
What the Romans hang mockingly above Jesus as his “crime,” Matthew sees as a coronation. He turns their accusation into the church’s proclamation–“This is Jesus the King. . .” (V. 37). (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 865)
In an act of extreme humiliation, they removed His own clothes and redressed Him in a red or scarlet robe. This garment was meant to be mockingly symbolic of royalty. (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 798)
“Humility will save you from self-consciousness. It will take away from you the shadow of yourself and the constant sense of your own importance. It will save you from self-assertion and from thrusting your own personality upon the thoughts and attention of others. It will save you from the desire for display, from being prominent, from occupying the center stage, from being the object of observation and attention, and having the eyes of the world turned upon you.” — Dr. A.B. Simpson
“If Christian pastors adhered more closely to the Christ who was crucified in weakness, and were prepared to accept the humiliations which weakness brings, rather than insisting on wielding power, there would be much less discord and much more harmony in the church.” (John R. W. Stott; The Cross of Christ, 290)
For those who would learn God’s ways,
Humility is the first thing
Humility is the second thing,
Humility is the third things. — St. Augustine
Worship Point: Worship the paragon of humility. The greatest of all became the lowest of all for love. (see: Mt 17:12; 20:19; 26:2; Mk 9:12; Lk 9:22-23; 17:25; 24:26)
The proud and lofty man or woman cannot worship God any more acceptably than can the proud devil himself. There must be humility in the heart of the person who would worship God in spirit and in truth. (A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship?, 84)
Was he flogged? It was done so that “by his wounds we are healed” (Isa 53:5). Was he condemned, though innocent? It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty. Did he wear a crown of thorns? It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory. Was he stripped of his clothes? It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness. Was he mocked and reviled? It was done so that we might be honored and blessed. Was he reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong? It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin. Was he declared unable to save himself? It was so that he might be able to save others to the uttermost. Did he die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful of deaths? It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory. (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 281)
It is one thing to have a thorn pushing into your skull when a Roman soldier hits you in the head; it is quite another thing–an unfathomable thing–for God the Father to charge/impute/bestow upon his only Son all of our sins.
You see, nothing reveals the weight of our sins like the sufferings of Jesus. Nothing reveals the mercy of God like the sufferings of Jesus. Nothing reveals our absolute inability to save ourselves like the sufferings of Jesus. And thus something of our heartfelt thanks offered up to him is more than appropriate, don’t you think? (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 855)
Surely God’s wisdom is beyond our understanding. We would never have thought up a gospel like this, but this is true Christianity. Jesus died for us because without that death we could not be saved. To God be the glory! (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 619)
“They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud.” (John Flavel quoted in Moody Bible Institue’s; Today in the World, November, 1989, 20)
Gospel Application: The Spirit of Jesus living in you saves you with the resources to live a victorious life even in the face of abject humiliation. The fruit of the Spirit is a natural consequence of living a life in the Spirit. Look to Jesus as the model of victory through humility. (see: Ps 10:4; Mt 10:38-39; 16:24; Mk 8:34; Jn 16:33; Rom 8:31-39; 1 Cor 1:17-2:16; 2 Cor 1:5; Phil 1:29; 3:10; Heb 2:18; 1 Pt 2:19-23; 4:12-13; 5:9-10)
We must reassert the words of Joseph Rickaby: “the Cross does not abolish suffering, but transforms it, sanctifies it, makes it fruitful, bearable, even joyful, and finally victorious.” (Robert Lewis, The Church of Irresistible Influence, 97)
Make a confession in all humility. There are two ways of increasing the power of falling water: rise the dam. Or lower the channel. So you will always find that the lower you humble yourself, the more power you will have with God and men. Obey the Spirit, and more of the Spirit will be given you. “And we are his witnesses of these things and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32). To those that obey the drawings of the Spirit, the fullness is given. (B.T. Roberts; Fishers Of Men, 62)
From the inhumane torture of American POWs by the Japanese in World War II to the junior high jokester poking fun at the fat kid on the playground, Jesus is sympathetic to our weaknesses because he is Savior of those sins and a zillion more. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 854)
While the world sees failure, we are to see fulfillment. This must be the powerless Son of David, who through sufferings gains power, as the Psalm says toward its end of Psalm 22:27, 28. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 864-5)
Paul’s righteousness based on the Law brought him into direct conflict with the Truth. He was a persecutor of true worshipers, as is everyone who tries to live by the Law. Just as Cain could not tolerate Abel, those who seek to stand by their own righteousness find the presence of those who stand by faith in Jesus intolerable. The righteousness of God, based completely on the atonement of the cross, strips away facades and lays bare the pride of man. The cross is the greatest threat to man’s self-centeredness. Paul testified to the Philippians that to know Christ he had to give up everything that he was. When he perceived the righteousness of Jesus, he counted everything that he had so valued in life as rubbish (Phil 3:2-9). (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 23)
Spiritual Challenge: Die to your agenda, your will, your desires, your inclinations, your values, your preservation. Make Jesus the Lord and Master of every decision in your life. (see: Prv 3:5-6; Rom 5:1-3; 8:17-18; 12:1-2; Gal 5:16-26; Phil 3:18-19; Col 1:24; 2 Tm 2:3; 1 Pt 1:3-9; 2:18-25; 4:12-14)
Jesus was not their kind of Messiah, and they had no desire to follow Him in the way He demanded. They did not want to be made righteous but successful. They did not want to be cleansed but selfishly satisfied. They did not want to give up anything for God but wanted from Him only the worldly, material advantages they cherished. When they realized Jesus offered no such favors, they had no more use for Him. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 261)
I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled. —D.L. Moody (J. Kuhatschek, Taking The Guesswork Out of Applying The Bible, 153ff)
I believe the reason most of us don’t enjoy our anointing is fear. We are afraid to claim this power because we’re afraid to really follow the Spirit’s leading. Because He may not lead us where we want to go. He might even ask us to climb up on a cross after we get beaten half to death. —Buddy Briggs (1-21-09)
As Jesus had explained to his position-conscious disciples, a person who wants to be close to Jesus must be prepared to suffer and die as he himself was doing. The way to the kingdom is the way of the Cross. If we want the glory of the kingdom, we must be willing to be united with the crucified Christ by believing in him and becoming his followers. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 558)
In the back of Steve Brown’s Bible:
Dying to self:
- When you are forgotten or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don’t sting or hurt with the insult or the oversight but your heart is glad being counted worthy to suffer for Christ . . . that is dying to self.
- When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger arise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence . . . that is dying to self.
- When you lovingly, patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, when you come face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility and endure it as Jesus endured it . . . that is dying to self.
- When you are content with any food and offering and raiment and any climate, any society, any solitude and interruption by the will of God . . . that is dying to self.
- When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or to record your own good works or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to go unknown . . . that is dying to self.
- When you can see your brother, and have his need met and can honestly rejoice in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in more desperate circumstances . . . that is dying to self.
- When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit both inwardly and outwardly finding no rebellion or resentment rising up in your heart, that is dying to self. (Steve Brown; “Miracles in the 20th Century”)
Many people today are like them (the passer byers). They may have been raised in the church, heard the truths of the gospel many times, and know that Jesus Christ claimed to be the Son of God. They may have been baptized, made a profession of faith, and attended church regularly for a while. But because Jesus does not fulfill their worldly, selfish expectations they lose interest in the things of God. They may be quite willing to have the church attack evils in society but are quite unwilling to be confronted with their own sin and need for repentance and forgiveness. In effect, they mock and sneer at Jesus as they turn their backs on His truth, His righteousness, and His lordship. The world is full of passers-by who once praised Jesus but now ridicule Him. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 260)
The only kind of power, natural or supernatural, with which those religious leaders were concerned was that which would serve their own expectations and interests. It would seem certain that, if Jesus had used His power to conquer Rome and establish Israel as the supreme nation on earth as most Jews expected, those leaders and most other Jews would have followed Him enthusiastically. But they would not have believed in Him as Lord and Savior but only given Him the superficial loyalty necessary to achieve their own ends–just as His nominal followers have done throughout history and continue to do today. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 261)
REFLECTION by Muriel Larson
As you ask yourself the following questions, think about your answers.
- Whose opinion do I value most–God’s or man’s?
- Do I love Jesus Christ enough to suffer rejection for Him?
- Do I compromise my Christian beliefs in order to gain the approval of others?
- Do I suffer rejection from people because I am a Christ-loving, people-loving Christian–or because I sometimes have an unfriendly attitude?
- Does my pride in self mean more to me than being humble for Christ’s sake?
- Do I stand in judgment on those who do not believe the way I do?
- Do I dwell on angry, hostile thoughts about those I feel reject me?
- Or do I meet rejection by forgiving and praying for those who reject me?
Now consider the following Scriptural criteria in light of the above answers:
- “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn 2:15 b)
- Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23).
- “But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” (Heb 10:38).
- “And live a life of love, just as Christ loved us” (Eph 5:2). “It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (I Pt 3:17).
- “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” [humble] (Phil 2:5).
- Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For the same way that you judge others, you will be judged” (Mt 7:1-2). Let God do the judging!
- Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those that hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Lk 6:27-28). This way brings peace!
- While dying on the cross, Jesus prayed for His rejecters and enemies: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).
Jesus suffered outside the city gate in order to redeem us. Heb 13:13-14 says, “Let us then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we look for the city that is to come.” (Evangel, April 16, 2006)
As Christians, our state of mind and spiritual condition should be such that no power can insult us. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Spiritual Depression, 287)
- W. Tozer in “The Old Cross and the New”
“From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life; and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique—a new type of meeting and new type of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as of the old, but its content is not the same, and the emphasis not as before.
“The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into the public view the same thing the world does, only a higher level. Whatever the sin-made world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.
“The new cross does not slay the sinner; it re-directs him. It gears him to a cleaner and jollier way of living, and saves his self-respect…The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.
“The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere, but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross. The old cross is a symbol of DEATH. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took the cross and started down the road has already said goodbye to his friends. He was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life re-directed; he was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise; modified nothing; spared nothing. It slew all of the man completely, and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with the victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.
“The race of Adam is under the death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear, or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him, and then raising him again to newness of life.
“That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world; it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life to a higher plane; we leave it at the cross….
“We, who preach the gospel, must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, or the world of sports, or modern entertainment. We are not diplomats, but prophets; and our message is not a compromise, but an ultimatum.” (The Biblical Evangelist, Nov 1, 1991, 11)
So What?: Jesus said, “The greatest among you will be the your servant.” (Mt 23:11). And, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9). As well as, “. . . the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Mt 20:16). So go low like Jesus. (see: Ps 18:27; Mt 16:25; Lk 14:27)
The life of repentance: The way up is the way down. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. God’s grace and God’s power like water always flows to the lowest place. So go low. —Steve Childers
Christ went more readily ad crucem (to the cross), than we do to the throne of grace. — Thomas Watson
The world thinks the cross is crazy. It always has. It always will. But to those of us who believe it is our only hope for true sanity. It was a great miracle that Jesus walked on water. It was a great miracle that Jesus fed the 5,000. It was a great miracle that Jesus opened the eyes of the blind. It was a great miracle that Jesus raised the dead. It was a great miracle that Jesus himself rose from the dead. But perhaps the greatest miracle of all was his miraculous non-miracle–staying on the cross for our salvation. He did not call out for twelve legions of angels to rescue him. Instead he took in all our twenty-billion demons and crushed the greatest demon–death–with his bloody heel. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 867-8)
A season of suffering is a small price to pay for a clear view of God.” (Max Lucado; Evangel, July 31st, 2005, 5)