Silence: Our Suffering Saviour Is Speaking!
Reading Luke Chapter 23 v 27-28
Preached By Ken Humphries,
Bishop Carlyle called language the garment of thought!
And of course we all know that to be true, you can only know my inner thoughts as expressed by my words.
The Saviour reminds us in Matthew 12 v 34.
"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 3 v 1-7 recalls for us.
"To everything there is a season, a time to keep silent and a time to speak."
Is it not therefore so very sad and tragic that we weak mortals have done so much damage with words over the generations?
All too frequently, when silence would have been golden, some have displaced their inward thoughts with words to the deep, deep, outward and inward, lasting hurt of others. Someone says, ah, but I like to speak my mind! Sure, that’s fine provided your mind is a sanctified mind and not a carnal mind.
My beloved brothers and sisters be careful how you use your words.
Matthew makes clear in Ch. 12 v 37.
"By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be judged."
Praise God there was one man who crossed the stage of human history, who was perfect in all his words, works and ways, that man was Jesus Christ.
This man, who would be arrested by heartless and cruel men intent upon his everlasting destruction, arrested men through His words by the thousand to everlasting life.
People returned from an encounter with Him saying John 7 v 46.
"Never man spake like this man."
This man who said, John 6 v 36.
"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life."
This man who said, Matt. 24 v 35.
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
As He speaks from Golgotha’s Hill, He uses such wonderful and precious words as the clothing of His innermost thoughts.
This from Dr. Vance Havner.
"We preach a new Christianity today that stresses similarities, not contrasts: That parallels the world instead of intersecting it; making no demands, unpleasant of its converts. And because of that we are content to sit with Moses and the Prophets on Sunday and live in Egypt through the week. We desperately need to learn afresh: the Cross, the Church, and Christianity are Christocenteric." End quote!
We commence today, what I trust will be a very profitable study over this Easter period giving to us a fresh insight into the heart of our suffering Saviour! These are the last sayings Jesus ever uttered on earth from the cross before he died. They were seven in number. His words were neither too many nor too few. As we are all aware the number seven in Scripture gives us the idea of completeness, so that here we have a complete explanation of the love of God toward humankind.
This from Dr. Lehman Strauss.
"Of these seven words of our Lord, three were addressed to God the Father and four to men. I like to think of these seven sayings as seven
windows through which we are able to look into the very mind and heart of God. On the darkest day in human history man needed windows through which the light of God could shine. Blessed be His Holy Name, that light did shine! And praise God the light is still shining and ever will shine. And wherever these saying of the Saviour are retold, men are privileged to peer into the mind of the world’s Creator and Redeemer and see the heart of the Christian Gospel." End quote!
Now, lets endeavour to unpack this amazing and wonderful first saying!
"Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Luke Ch. 23 v 34.
- An Amazing Example Of Power!
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." Abraham Lincoln.
"The basic difference between physical and spiritual power is that men use physical power but spiritual power uses men." Justin Wroe Nixon.
- This Is Power Being Abused! "For they know not what they do."
He could see, if no other, that sin has a powerfully blinding effect on sinners.
You see, they were not ignorant of the fact they were crucifying innocence.
Pilate had said. "I find in Him no fault at all."
Herod had said, "Lo, nothing worthy of death is done of Him."
Judas had said, "For I have betrayed innocent blood."
Of what then were they ignorant? Listen to this from 1 Cor. 2 v 8.
"If they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
And again from Acts 3v17.
And now Brethren, I believe that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers."
Paul reminds us in 2 Cor. 3 v 14. With respect to the unbelieving Jew.
"But their minds were blinded; for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ."
The Apostle also reminds us of the unbelieving Gentile 2 Cor. 4 v 4.
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believed not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
As the Lord Jesus hung on the cross he could see the blinding propensities of sin and the awful effects it has upon mankind. They were acting ignorantly because of blindness. That of course aroused in the heart of the Son of God a burning passion for lost souls and from the depth of His heart he cries, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
The dear Saviour is so very aware that all men have the same heartache. They have the same heartache because there is an aching void, that is, every heart has a God shaped vacuum and until that vacuum is filled with God no man can be complete. He realises every man has the same hunger. You see there is nothing in the world that will satisfy any man or woman except what Jesus Christ can supply, He and He alone is the bread of life and He and He alone can satisfy the insatiable hunger the soul seeks in the many pleasures of this passing world. He knows every man has the same hope. Who is the hope of this world? Why Jesus is the only hope of this lost and undone world. And as He hangs on that old rugged cross He gives Himself as, not the best hope for this Old World but the only hope. So the dear Saviour speaks and His words are a prayer, "Father forgive" Displaying His heartbeat of love for a lost and dying world.
This really is an amazing prayer! If you notice the first word of that wonderful prayer is "Father" indicating to us that despite all the awful suffering He has faced, in Gethsemane, in Gabbath, and now on Golgotha He has not lost that abiding consciousness of His eternal Sonship.
Under staggering losses and severe crosses, when right is being suppressed and wrong seems to be triumphing, faith is tempted to doubt God’s dealings with us as a father, because it feels as if He is dealing with us more like a judge, yet not once did the dear Saviour question or doubt His Father’s care and love of Him. Not once did He fail to, even when nailed to an old rugged tree, carry the needs of others to His Father in prayer.
You know those times of illness, you were unable to get up, do anything for anybody, to be a help in any way, could it be you were allowed that bed of illness for the specific purpose of engaging in a ministry of prayer for others! Dear saint of God, never allow yourself the belief that you are beyond usefulness even in the most distressful situation. If we cannot attend meetings, teach a Sunday School Class, help in the Children’s Work, invite others to a service, be a part of the Youth Work or Silver Threads meeting, go on the doors with Gospel literature, remember, while you breathe and are still conscious you can pray!
B. This Is Power Being Aborted! Matt. 28 v 18-20.
"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Jesus said, All Power, all authority was given unto me, but temporarily He lays His power aside and bestows power on His disciples.
The right Hon: Sir A.J. Balfour, a British Statesman and essayist, said, "Christ is a rare jewel, but men know not His value; a sun which ever shines, but men perceive not His brightness nor walk in His light. He is a garden full of pleasantness, a hive full of honey, a sun without spot, a star ever bright, a fountain ever full, a brook which ever flows, a rose which ever blooms, a foundation which never yields, a guide who never errs, a friend who never forsakes." End quote!
This is the one who gives power to His people, and He hangs on a Roman Gibbet to ensure the transfer of that power.
Now these disciples can go out with power and authority from the highest source and do exploits for God, yet they became shorn Samson’s in treadmills, like rocking chair Christians, all movement yet going nowhere.
They had failed to allow the power of God flow through them. Beloved, as the church of Jesus Christ we likewise have been given great power Acts 1 v 8.
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Are we any better than the disciples? Are we guilty of aborting that power? Someone has said, Christians are like tea, their real strength comes out when they are in hot water. Now friends if that is true the church ought to be on its knees, because it’s not until we are on our knees that the Spirit will set us on our feet. Ezek. 2 v 2.
"And the Spirit entered into me when he spoke unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him who spoke unto me."
Militant marching humanism is on the move, the new age movement is having a field day, false cults are on the increase, the Moslem menace is running riot, moral corruption in every respect is spreading, the slaughter of the unborn is unbelievable. We see the human misery drugs and drink cause; sexual perversion is widely accepted.
Within the church of Jesus Christ we are witnessing daily the assassination of godly character. We witness the increase in unfaithful relationships, the break up of longstanding marriages, splits between office bearers and pastors as never before, the wreckage of strong fellowships, fall out and division in church life is at an all time high.
Groups who wanted to break away from the ties of church discipline and an old fashioned way of doing things, that they might establish what they thought would be a church of power and expansion are falling apart at the seams, leading to disillusionment and deflation. WHY? WHY?
I believe dear folks because we have negated the responsibility of allowing the power of God to flow through us. We desperately need to put power back into our living for the Lord.
"Make sure it is God's trumpet you are blowing, if it is only yours, it won't wake the dead; it will simply disturb the neighbours." Maj. Ian Thomas.
"When William Carey began thinking of going to India as a pioneer missionary, his father pointed out to him that he possessed no academic qualifications that would fit him for such a task. But Carey answered, "I can plod." How true it is that God accomplishes mighty things for His kingdom through those who are willing to persevere, who are willing to plod faithfully through one difficulty after another in the power of the Spirit." James S. Hewett.
Whatever it is we are doing for God we would need to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit! That means regaining our confidence in God as creator, controller and conqueror Acts 4 v 24-28. The result? The Spirit will be received, unity will be achieved and the Gospel will be believed Acts 4 v 31-33.
Our life, our home, our church, our world, will never see the beauty of Jesus in us, only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
C. This Is Power Being Appraised! He saved others.
Notice, the Saviour’s power is not appraised by his own, rather by others!
What a testimony! If someone else were asked to give your testimony, what would they say about you and your profession of faith? I am sure we would all agree we live in amazing times. But the tragedy of these times is that the situation is desperate, but the saints are not. If the saints were as desperate as the situation something might happen and we would raise the standard of our testimony.
Dr. Vance Havner gives us this very telling statement.
"The standard of Christianity is so low today, one would have to backslide to be in fellowship!" End quote!
My brothers and sisters I believe the Scriptures portray the days in which we live with more than a hint of emergency that calls for urgency. But how is it with us? We discover restlessness amongst us, always looking for a new and brighter pasture in which to graze. Yet what we need is not so much a new pasture, but renewal in the pasture we are already in, a new thing done in heart and life so that others will be affected by the very life we live for God.
A member leaving his church one Sunday morning said to his pastor, "well, after that sermon today we will be moving on to another church." "Well," said the pastor, "I guess it does no harm at all to change the label on an empty bottle every now and then."
Beloved, I am convinced as disciples we need to be recalled to the great renunciation of Matt. 16 v 24.
"Then Jesus said unto His Disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."
We sing so enthusiastically, "to the old rugged cross I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear." Then we fold up the reproach in the hymnbook and go home.
In World War 1 Theodore Roosevelt made a notable speech in which he spoke of some Americans with a divided loyalty, as hyphenated Americans. He said, "if you are an American and something else you are not an American."
If we are Christians and something else then we are not Christians!
"Be such a man, and live such a life, that if every man were such as you, and every life such as yours, this earth would be God's paradise."
"We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results." R. A. Torrey.
I thought I looked and saw the Master standing, and at his feet lay an earthen vessel. It was not broken, not unfitted for service, yet there it lay, powerless and useless, until he took it up. He held it awhile, and I saw that he was filling it, and soon I beheld him walking in his garden, where he had "gone down to gather lilies." The earthen vessel was yet again in his hand, and with it he watered his beautiful plants and caused their fragrances to be shed forth more abundantly. Then I said to myself, "Sorrowing Christian, hush! Hush! Peace, be still! You are this earthen vessel, powerless, it is true, yet not broken, still fit for the Master's use. Sometimes you may be laid aside altogether from active service, and the question may arise, what is the Master doing with me now? Then may a voice speak to your inmost heart, 'He is filling the vessel, yes, only filling it to be ready for use.' Don't ask how he will use you. Be silent. Is it not all too great an honor for you to be used by him at all? Be content, whether thou art employed in watering the lilies or in washing the feet of the saints. It doesn't really matter. Surely it is enough for an earthen vessel to be in the Master's hands and employed in the Master's service."
C. H. Spurgeon.
Mark what has been the practice of the Devil from the beginning, most cruelly to rage against God's children, when God begins to show them his mercy. And therefore marvel not, dearly beloved, though this should happen to you. If Satan fume and roar against you, whether it be against your bodies by persecution, or inwardly in your consciences by a spiritual battle, do not be discouraged, as though you were less acceptable in God's presence, or that Satan might at any time prevail against you. No! ... I have good hope, and my prayer will likewise be, that you may be so strengthened, that the world and Satan himself may understand and perceive, that God is fighting your battle. John Knox.