By Terry S. Ross
Chapter 7 – Calvary
“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him” (Luke 23: 33).
Oh, the love of our Saviour and His Father! Can we really grasp even a particle of the vast truth about the gift that heaven emptied out for our salvation in the life and death of our Master and friend Jesus Christ? The God who was and is the originator of our very existence, the God who is the way, the truth and the life was about to experience death for us. In this trip through Gethsemane’s gate Jesus would know what it means to be separated from the blessings of His Father and what those who reject His offering of redemptive mercy will suffer.
Who are the “they” mentioned in Luke 23: 33, above? Christ died for us because we need a Saviour, but the church of His day should not have been the ones to murder Him. The crowd that followed the Saviour saw His weak and staggering steps, but most of them manifested no compassion. They taunted and reviled Him because He could not carry the heavy cross. Again the burden was laid upon Him, and again He fell fainting to the ground. His persecutors saw that it was impossible for Him to carry His burden farther. They looked to find someone who would bear the humiliating load. The Jews themselves would not do this, because the defilement would prevent them from keeping the Passover. None of those in the mob that followed Him would stoop to bear the cross.
No one who refuses to bear the humiliating load of Christ’s cross will share in the glory of Christ’s crown. Even though the “church” was literally killing the Son of God, they would continue business as usual and looked forward to keeping the Passover which represented the very Person whom they were killing! They had become so blind that they couldn’t recognize the Truth even when He was actually right before them! Don’t be fooled into believing that something like this couldn’t happen in the church today. It not only can happen, it has happened, and IS happening for the last time right now.
Several women were in the crowd that followed the condemned to His cruel death. Their attention was fixed upon Jesus. Some of them had seen Him before. Some had carried to Him their sick and suffering ones. Some had themselves been healed. These experiences were told from one to another. They wondered at the hatred of the crowd toward Him for whom their own hearts were melting and ready to break. And notwithstanding the action of the maddened throng and the angry words of the priests and rulers, these women gave expression to their sympathy. As Jesus fell fainting beneath the cross, they broke into mournful wailing.
This was the only thing that attracted Christ’s attention. Although full of suffering, while bearing the sins of the world, He was not indifferent to the expression of grief. He looked up at these women with tender compassion. They were not necessarily believers in Him; He knew that they were not lamenting Him as one sent from God, but were moved by feelings of human pity. He did not despise their sympathy, but it awakened in His heart a deep sympathy for them. “Daughters of Jerusalem,” He said, “weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children” (Luke 23: 28). From the scene before Him, Christ looked forward to the time of Jerusalem’s destruction. In that terrible scene, many of those who were now weeping for Him, were to perish with their children. Even these women were amazed at the hatred church leadership had toward Christ! But Jesus told them that they should be weeping for themselves. Why? He was looking forward and He knew that most of the people in the crowd would continue to be influenced by the apostate church leaders who would continue to say “the church” is God’s voice on earth. They, in turn, would continue to believe this and would be destroyed with these leaders because they were not led by God.
From the fall of Jerusalem the thoughts of Jesus passed to a wider judgment. In the destruction of the impenitent city in 70 A. D. He saw a symbol of the final destruction to come upon the world. He said, “Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luke 23: 30- 31). By the green tree, Jesus represented Himself, the innocent Redeemer. God suffered His wrath against transgression to fall on His beloved Son. Jesus was to be crucified for the sins of men. WHAT SUFFERING, THEN, WOULD THE SINNER BEAR WHO CONTINUED IN SIN? ALL THE IMPENITENT AND UNBELIEVING WOULD KNOW A SORROW AND MISERY THAT LANGUAGE WOULD FAIL TO EXPRESS.
If Jerusalem is a symbol of the bigger destruction of the world, what then can we learn? Who made up the populace of that city? The headquarters of the “church” was also the local headquarters of Rome in that part of the country. As they worked hand in hand for the destruction of Christ then, in the future they will also work hand in hand for the destruction of God’s last day people. This may be difficult to believe, but not any more difficult to believe than two thousand years ago. Only those who took God, through Jesus, at His word escaped the destruction of Jerusalem. We can expect that a similar group of believers will escape the destruction to come, as it surely will. Leaders who teach their congregations that they can continue in sin and cannot stop sinning are leading the people to eternal damnation! If we truly love others, the exposure of this deadly heresy must be openly challenged. People must be given the opportunity to know the truth and to stop listening to the lies of these agents of Satan.
Of the multitude that followed the Saviour to Calvary, many had attended Him with joyful hosannas and the waving of palm branches as He rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. But many who had then shouted His praise because it was popular to do so, now swelled the cry of, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
When Christ rode into Jerusalem, the hopes of the disciples had been raised to the highest pitch. They had pressed close about their Master, feeling that it was a high honor to be connected with Him. Now, in His humiliation they followed Him at a distance. They were filled with grief, and bowed down with disappointed hopes. The words of Jesus were verified: “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 26: 31).
To follow Christ for political reasons, because it’s popular do so, or for any other reason than from conviction based on love for God and His truth, will prove to be fatal! Every single person whose motivation and actions fall below the standard God has set will betray, forsake, and be lost! The Saviour made no murmur of complaint. He remained calm and serene, but great drops of sweat stood upon His brow. There was no pitying hand to wipe the death- dew from His face, nor words of sympathy and unchanging fidelity to encourage His human heart. While the soldiers were doing their fearful work, Jesus prayed for His enemies, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23: 34). His mind passed from His own suffering to the sin of His persecutors, and the terrible retribution that would be theirs. No curses were called upon the soldiers who were handling Him so roughly. No vengeance was invoked upon the priests and rulers, who were gloating over the accomplishment of their purpose. Christ pitied them in their ignorance and guilt. He breathed only a plea for their forgiveness, “. . . for they know not what they do.”
Here Jesus wonderfully demonstrates the balance of warfare and welfare. While He had exposed His enemies and would have gladly forgiven them if they had repented, He had no pleasure in thoughts of their future destruction. Today, although we are to do the same work, we can be guilty of murder ourselves if we enjoy the destruction of our enemies. We must do what we do for the purposes of salvation, not for the purpose of destruction. Jesus had in perfect balance the words mentioned earlier: “Not blind, nor bitter.” This will be the living motive of every true Christian.
Had they known that they were putting to torture the One who had come to save the sinful race from eternal ruin, they would have been seized with remorse and horror. But their ignorance did not remove their guilt; for it was their privilege to know and accept Jesus as their Saviour. Some of them would yet see their sin, and repent, and be converted. Some by their impenitence would make it an impossibility for the prayer of Christ to be answered for them. Yet just the same, God’s purpose was reaching its fulfillment. Jesus was securing His position as advocate of men in the Father’s presence.
That prayer of Christ for His enemies embraced the world. It took in every sinner that had lived or would live, from the beginning of the world to the end of time. Upon all rests the guilt of crucifying the Son of God. To all, forgiveness is freely offered. “Whosoever will” may have peace with God, and inherit eternal life. Here is yet another description of the modern day “church.” No one has greater opportunity to learn about Jesus and His truth than those in the Christian church. The majority are ignorant of many of God’s requirements, but willfully so— they will not read God’s word and find out what their responsibility is. They will not find out that humanity must clasp the offered hand of Divinity and that there are steps they are to take to make their salvation complete. Yes, Jesus “paid it all” on the cross, but the Bible clearly outlines the steps that are to be taken that show us how to take what He did and apply it to our experience— to be converted. Ignorance will not be valid during the judgment period.
Some, during the time of ongoing education, will see the truth, repent and be converted. Others (the majority of those now claiming to be Christians and those in the world) because of stubbornness, willful blindness, wanting to be popular, and love for cherished idols, will refuse to be converted. This group (in the “church”) is the group referred to when we said earlier that “We have more to fear from within the church than without.” Pilate then wrote an inscription in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, and placed it above the cross, above the head of Jesus. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.” This inscription irritated the Jews. In Pilate’s court they had cried “Crucify Him!… We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19: 15). They had declared that whoever should acknowledge any other king was a traitor. Pilate wrote out the sentiment they had expressed. No other reason for His crucifixion was mentioned, except that Jesus was “King of the Jews.” The inscription was a virtual acknowledgment of the allegiance of the Jews to the Roman power. It declared that whoever might claim to be the king of Israel, would be judged by them worthy of death. The priests had overreached themselves. When they were plotting the death of Christ, Caiaphas had declared it expedient that one man should die to save the nation (see John 11: 50 and John 18: 14). Now their hypocrisy was revealed. In order to destroy Christ, they had been ready to sacrifice even their national existence.
You will notice that the only offense charged to Jesus was, in fact, the truth. You will also notice that the Jews’ allegiance was with Rome, and not God. To declare that the truth of Christ was above traditions of Rome meant sure death. Until it’s forever too late, the “church” will continue to declare that the traditions of Rome are above God’s word. It is up to you to decide which decree you want to side with!
Satan with his angels were present at the cross. The archfiend and his hosts were cooperating with the priests and rulers. The teachers of the people had stimulated the ignorant mob to pronounce judgment against One upon whom many of them had never looked, until urged to bear testimony against Him. Priests, rulers, Pharisees, and the hardened rabble were confederated together in a satanic frenzy. Religious rulers united with Satan and his angels. They were doing his bidding.
Just as Jesus was completing the first phase of the plan of salvation, Satan and his angels appeared to deceive all who could be deceived. The same deception will take place just as Jesus is bringing the final phase of salvation to a close. We are told in Revelation that Satan will appear as an angel of light to deceive the nations. Most I’ve met realize that Satan will personate Christ in order to deceive, but I have met very few who understand that Satan will not come alone. Unless we have the mind of Christ, which can only be obtained by following Him all the way, this deception to come will be overpowering. Only those who are fully connected with Christ will make it through. The preparation time which we are now enjoying is quickly disappearing and we had better be paying attention.
In their mockery of the Saviour, the men who professed to be the expounders of prophecy were repeating the very words which inspiration had foretold they would utter upon this occasion. Yet in their blindness they did not see that they were fulfilling the prophecy.
This same blindness is even now being repeated. This prophecy is having its fulfillment in our day. In their blindness, several of our leaders are preaching their own doom and fulfilling the prophecy of their own destruction.
Upon Christ as our substitute and surety was laid the iniquity of us all. He was counted a transgressor, that He might redeem us from the condemnation of the law. The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with agony. All His life Christ had been proclaiming to a fallen world the good news of the Father’s mercy and pardoning love. Salvation for the chief of sinners was His theme. Now, with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father’s reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was His agony that His physical suffering was hardly felt.
Satan wrung the heart of Jesus with his fierce temptations. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of His sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter and broke the heart of the Son of God.
Every soul who takes a stand for Jesus in these last days will have to go through a similar experience in their own sphere. But especially those who are alive just before Jesus comes will understand by experience in a greater measure what price Jesus paid for our salvation. On the other side of the coin, those who choose apostasy instead of Christ will feel the deepened terror that was felt by those who killed Christ.
There will not be another group of human beings who share in this same terror. To make a profession of Christianity and turn from what it really means (especially for the leadership) is serious business.
Oh, brothers and sisters, we do not want to be a part of those in the wayward “church”! To one day face the reality of this truth and know that eternity was in the palms of our hands, yet be forever lost! The terror will be indescribable. Let us choose rather to place our feeble selves in the hands of a caring Father for He will see us through the trouble ahead. No one will escape persecution in the end. A small group will be persecuted by man and by Satan. The larger group will be persecuted by God. Let us choose the RIGHT group in which to be persecuted.
Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs of the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as He submitted to death, He committed Himself to God. The sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor.
Evidence suggested that the Heavenly Father had forsaken His Son, but Christ’s personal life experience with God had developed the faith that was victorious over all the assaults of Satan. This faith, the faith OF Jesus Christ identifies His true people who ARE HIS TRUE CHURCH.
Never before had the earth witnessed such a scene. The multitude stood paralyzed, and with bated breath gazed upon the Saviour. Again darkness settled upon the earth and a hoarse rumbling, like heavy thunder, was heard. There was a violent earthquake.
When the loud cry, “It is finished,” came from the lips of Christ, the priests were officiating in the temple. It was the hour of the evening sacrifice. The lamb representing Christ had been brought to be slain. Clothed in his significant and beautiful dress, the priest stood with lifted knife, as did Abraham when he was about to slay his son. With intense interest many were looking on. But the earth trembles and quakes, for the Lord Himself draws near. With a rending noise the inner veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom by an unseen hand, throwing open to the gaze of the multitude a place once filled with the presence of God. No one but the high priest ever lifted the veil separating this apartment from the rest of the temple. He entered there once a year to make an atonement for the sins of the people. But lo, this veil is rent in twain! The most holy place of the earthly sanctuary is no longer sacred.
All is terror and confusion. The priest is about to slay the victim; but the knife drops from his nerveless hand, and the lamb escapes. Type has met antitype in the death of God’s Son. The great sacrifice has been made. The way into the holiest is laid open. A new and living way is prepared for all. No longer need sinful, sorrowing humanity await the coming of the high priest— or any priest. Henceforth the Saviour was to officiate as Priest and Advocate in the heavenly sanctuary. It was as if a living voice had spoken to the worshipers: There is now an end to all sacrifices and offerings for sin. The Son of God is come according to His word, “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” “By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 10: 7; 9: 12).
This terror and confusion spoken of in God’s word is the same that will be on the earth and in the hearts of apostate pastors, leaders, and all who reject God’s warnings and mercies when Jesus returns. The scenes you have studied in this book are now being repeated and will continue to follow the same course viewed two thousand years ago.
When the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom at the command of God, it was a signal and an invitation to all to understand that no pastor or priest would stand between man and God, save Jesus Christ alone. In this study, the Bible has clearly demonstrated that God is not bound to any pastor, church committee, denominational leader, or to a people once chosen.
It is not our intention to “attack” everyone in leadership positions in the Christian church today. As was said in the opening chapter of this book, there are (although in dwindling numbers) faithful and true pastors and denominational leaders. What is being urged on Christians everywhere is that we not be led astray. We need to be doing OUR OWN Bible study and we need to know that what we believe is based on the Bible— the entire Bible and not what someone else thinks it says. Leaders and theologians are not to take out certain portions of Scripture and make them fit their preconceived opinions. They are not to take Scripture passages out of context to make it fit their theology. The Bible is to be taken as it is written, IN ITS ENTIRETY. We need not fear that it contains errors. God has preserved it and in its pages is life eternal.
This book has been written in the honest hope that all who read it will come to a better understanding of not only what has been, but what is, and what will be. We are convinced that our loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, is warning us about events now happening and those about to happen so that we are not deceived. We also understand that many statements in this book are “hard sayings,” but it is just as imperative that we take them into our life as it was for the disciples.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” says God’s word, for we are told that the majority will be lost because they refused to take God at His word. Wherever you are or whatever you are doing, no matter where your present loyalties lie, we plead with you to take this study most seriously. If our understanding of the past is correct, we believe that your very life depends on how you choose to react to what you have read.
But, as with everything we have stated in this book, be sure you do YOUR OWN study regarding what has been written.
It’s decision time, dear brothers and sisters. What will it be? Will you go to man for your salvation, or to God? Your destiny hangs upon your answer. Choose ye this day . . .
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24: 15).
Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross