The Gift of God in Crown & Nail Dan Lightfoot 1479
I Pet 1:18-20 -- "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20For He was fore-known before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you"
I. Wonder of Wonders
Do you know the wondrous thing about the coming of Christ? You know the most remarkable part of the incarnation?
A. Not just that he swapped eternity for time. He did, of course.
1. Job 36:26 says that the number of God's years is unsearchable.
a. We may search out the time the 1st wave slapped on a shore or the 1st star burst in the sky, but we'll never find the 1st moment when God was God, for there is no moment when God was not God.
b. He has never not been, for he is eternal. God is not bound by time.
2. But when Jesus came to the earth, all this changed. He heard for the first time a phrase never used in heaven: "Your time is up."
a. As a child, he had to leave the Temple because his time was up.
b. As a man, He had to leave Nazareth because his time was up.
c. And as a Savior, he had to die because his time was up.
d. For 33 years, the Lord of heaven lived in the chains of time.
3. That's certainly remarkable, but there is something even more so.
B. You might think it was the fact that his eternal Spirit lived in a body.
1. One moment he was a boundless spirit; the next he was flesh & bones.
2. Remember these words of King David? "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me." (Ps. 139:7-10).
3. Our asking, "Where is God?" is like a fish asking, "Where is water?" God is everywhere! Equally present in China and Clarksville.
a. The dominion of God is "from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth" (Psa. 72:8). We cannot find a place where God is not.
C. Yet when God entered time and became a man, he who was boundless became bound. Imprisoned in flesh. Restricted by weary-prone muscles and eyelids. For 33 years, He would be limited to arm's length..
1. I wonder, was he ever tempted to reclaim his boundlessness? In the middle of a long trip, did he ever consider transporting himself to the next city? When rain chilled his bones, was he tempted to change the weather?
2. If ever he entertained such thoughts, he never gave in to them. Not once. Stop and think about this.
3. Not once did Christ use his godly powers for personal comfort.
a. He could transform the hard earth into a soft bed, but he didn't.
b. He could've boomeranged the spit of his accusers back into their faces, but he didn't. With an arch of his brow, he could paralyze the hand of the soldier as he braided the crown of thorns. ...didn't.
4. Remarkable. But is this the most remarkable part of the coming? Many would argue not.
D. Many, perhaps most, would point beyond the surrender of timelessness and boundlessness to the surrender of sinlessness. It's easy to see why.
1. Isn't this the message of the crown of thorns?
2. A soldier took branches -- mature enough to bear thorns, nimble enough to bend-- & wove them into a mockery, a crown of thorns.
3. Throughout Scripture thorns symbolize, not sin, but the consequence of sin.
a. Remember Eden? After Adam and Eve sinned, God cursed the land: "So I will put a curse on the ground....The ground will produce thorns & weeds for you, & you will eat the plants of the field" (Gen. 3:17-18). b. Brambles on the earth are the product of sin in the heart.
4. This truth is echoed in God's words to Moses. He urged the Israelites to purge the land of godless people. Disobedience would result in trouble. "But if you don't force those people out of the land, they will bring you trouble. They will be like sharp hooks in your eyes and thorns in your sides" (Num. 33:55).
5. Rebellion results in thorns. "Evil people's lives are like paths covered with thorns and traps" (Prov. 22:5). Jesus even compared the lives of evil people to a thorn bush. In speaking of false prophets, he said, "You will know these people by what they do! Grapes don't come from thorn bushes, and figs don't come from thorny weeds" (Matt. 7:16).
6. The fruit of sin is thorns-- sharp, spiny, prickly, cutting thorns.
E. I emphasize the "point" of the thorns to suggest a point you may have never considered: If the fruit of Sin is thorns, isn't the thorny crown on Christ's brow a picture of the fruit of our sin that pierced his heart?
1. What is the fruit of sin?
a. Step into the briar patch of humanity and feel a few thistles.
b. Shame. Fear. Disgrace. Discouragement. Anxiety. Haven't our hearts been caught in these brambles?
2. The heart of Jesus, however, had not. He had never been cut by the thorns of sin. What you and I face daily, he never knew.
a. Anxiety? He never worried! Guilt? He was never guilty!
b. Fear? He never left the presence of God! Jesus never knew the fruits of sin . . . until he became sin for us. (2 Cor. 5:21 -- "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, ...")
3. And when he did, all the emotions of sin tumbled in on him like shadows in a forest. He felt anxious, guilty, & alone. Can't you hear the emotion in his prayer? "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me."
--These are not the words of a saint. This is the cry of a sinner.
4. And this prayer is one of the most remarkable parts of his coming. He became my sin.
5. But I can think of something even greater. Want to know what it is? Want to know the most remarkable thing about the coming?
F. Not that the One who created stars gave it up to be a carpenter.
1. Or that the One who hung the galaxies gave it up to hang doorjambs.
2. Not that he, in an instant, went from needing nothing to needing air, food, a tub of hot water & salts for his tired feet, &, more than anything, needing someone--anyone--who was more concerned about eternity than where he would spend Friday's paycheck.
3. Not that he kept his cool while the dozen best friends he ever had felt the heat and got out of the kitchen. Or that he gave no command to the angels who begged, "Just give the nod, Lord. One word and these demons will be deviled eggs."
4. Not that he refused to defend himself when blamed for every sin of every slut and sailor since Adam. Or that he stood silent as a million guilty verdicts echoed in the tribunal of heaven and the giver of light was left in the chill of a sinner's night, alone and bloody.
5. Not even that after three days in a dark hole he stepped into the resurrection sunrise with a smile and a swagger and a question for a dazed devil -- "Is that your best punch?"
6. That was not only remarkable, That was cool.
G. But the most remarkable thing about the One who gave up the crown of heaven for a crown of thorns… The most marvelous thing of all is…!
Did you catch it in I Pet 1:18-20 ? -- "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20For He was fore-known before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you"
1. He did it for you. Just for you.
2. I know you have heard it before. Maybe from mom. Class teachers. A myriad of preachers… but do you know it yet? Has it sunk in?
3. Will you dwell on that? Meditate on it? He did it for you!
II. And He Knows All About You
A. New house. Make a list of things that need attention. You think everything looks great….until you live there awhile…& then you make a list..
1. Looking at the list of the builder's mistakes causes me to think about God making a list of mine. After all, hasn't he taken up residence in my heart? And if I see flaws in my house, imagine what he sees in me. Oh, dare we think of the list he could compile?
2. Just think of your life -- and the list God must have.
a. Would you like anyone to see yours? Would you like them made public? ... posted so that everyone, including Christ, could see?
b. May I take you to the moment it was? ... that list has been made public. But you've never seen it. Neither have I.
B. Come with me to the hill of Calvary, and I'll tell you why.
1. Watch as the soldiers shove the Carpenter to the ground & stretch his arms against the beams. One presses a knee against a forearm and a spike against a hand. Jesus turns his face toward the nail just as the soldier lifts the hammer to strike it.
2. Could Jesus have stopped him? With a flex of the biceps, with a clench of the fist, he could have resisted. Is this not the same hand that stilled the sea? Cleansed the Temple? Summoned the dead?
3. But the mallet rings & the skin rips & the blood begins to flow.
C. Then the questions follow. Why? Why didn't Jesus resist?
1. "Because he loved us," we reply. True, but only partially true.
2. There is more to his reason. He saw something that made him stay.
a. As the soldier pressed his arm, Jesus rolled his head to the side, and with his cheek resting on the wood he saw: A mallet? Yes. A nail? Yes. The soldier's hand? Yes. And...
b. Something else. He saw the hand of God. His hand. The hand of a man. Fingers of a woodworker. Callous palms of a carpenter.
c. These fingers formed Adam out of clay & wrote truth on stone...His hand toppled Babel's tower & split the Red Sea. From this hand flew locusts that plagued Egypt & a raven to feed Elijah.
d. Is it any wonder the psalmist celebrated liberation by declaring: "You drove out the nations with Your hand.... It was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance" (Ps. 44:2-3). ..a mighty hand.
D. Oh, the hands of Jesus. Hands of salvation as he died.
1. The crowd at the cross tho't that the purpose of the pounding was to nail the hands of Christ to a beam. But they were only half-right.
2. We can't fault them for missing the other half. They couldn't see it. But Jesus could. And heaven could. And we can.
3. Through the eyes of Scripture we see what others missed but what Jesus saw. "He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross" (Col. 2: 14) .
4. Between his hand and the wood there was a list. Long. A list of our mistakes: lusts & lies & greedy moments & prodigal years. Our sins.
5. Jesus knew the source of those sins was you… & He couldn't bear the tho't of eternity without you.
--Max Lucado has written: "He chose the nails."
6. The hand squeezing the handle was not a Roman soldier.
The force behind the hammer was not an angry mob.
The verdict behind the death was not decided by jealous Jews.
7. Jesus himself chose the nails.
a. And as a Savior he knew what it meant. He knew that the purpose of the nail was to place your sins where they could be hidden by his sacrifice and covered by his blood.
b. So, in a real sense, Jesus himself swung the hammer.
The same hand that stilled the seas stills your guilt.
The same hand that cleansed the Temple cleanses your heart.
The hand is the hand of God.
The nail is the nail of God.
The sin is yours.
And He did it for you.
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