Sunday, April 05, 2009

Spiritual Insanity

Matthew 27:41 – 54

“Spiritual Insanity”

 

There is a well known song by Xct that has been described as the most atheistic song ever to be sung in America.  It goes:

 

“Dear god, Hope you got the letter, and I pray you can make it better down here. I don’t mean a big reduction in the price of beer, but all the people that you made in your image, see them starving on their feet, cause they don’t get enough to eat from god, I cant believe in you.

Dear god, Sorry to disturb you, but I feel that I should be heard loud and clear. We all need a big reduction in amount of tears, and all the people that you made in your image, see them fighting in the street, cause they cant make opinions meet, about god, I cant believe in you.

Did you make disease and the diamond blue?  Did you make mankind after we made you?  And the devil too!

[Dear god, Don’t know if you noticed, but your name is on a lot of quotes in this book. Us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look, and all the people that you made in your image, still believing that junk is true. Well I know it ain’t and so do you, dear god. I cant believe in, I don’t believe in.]

I won’t believe in heaven and hell. no saints, no sinners, no devil as well. No pearly gates, no thorny crown. You’re always letting us humans down. The wars you bring, the babes you drown. Those lost at sea and never found, and it’s the same the whole world round.  The hurt I see helps to compound, that the father, son and holy ghost, is just somebody’s unholy hoax, and if you’re up there you’ll perceive, that my heart’s here upon my sleeve.  If there’s one thing I don’t believe in... It’s you, dear god.”

 

Can you hear some of the reasons a person might object to the existence of God in that song?  Starvation and war are just things to blame on God.  The writer knows the Bible well enough to talk about creation, heaven hell, devil, the trinity, and a “thorny crown.”

 

The sad part is that the writer of the song knows what needs to be known but has missed it.  However, he is not alone.  On the day of “the thorny crown” it was missed by a lot of people as well.

 

In fact in all of history that day must have been the most spiritually insane day in the history of the world.  Let’s take a look at it.

 

I.          The people who should have known were the instigators.

 

A.        “In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.”  [v 41]

 

1.         The “chief priests” were what the Old Testament called the “High Priest.”  (The Romans has put term limitations on the office for political reasons, so there was more than one that had occupied that office.)

 

a.         The “High Priest” was responsible for the spiritual state of the people. 

 

b.         The “High Priest” was the one who entered the “holy of holies” once a year on the Day of Atonement.  If the nation was spiritually pure he was allowed to live.

 

2.         The “teachers of the law” were the Biblical scholars of Jesus’ time.

 

a.       It was their responsibility to know and teach the Old Testament.

 

b.       This class of Levites was set up by Ezra in a national revival at the end of the Babylonian captivity.

 

3.         The “elders” were the political leaders of the day.

 

B.        “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, `I am the Son of God.'” [v 43]

 

            1.         The mockery had been prophesied by King David.

 

“All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: [8] "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him.  Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." [Psalm 22:7 – 8]

 

2.         I’m not sure they realized what they were saying.  Jesus gave witness to the prophecy when He quoted the first line of Psalm 22.  Their minds would have known the rest of the prophecy.

 

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.   My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. [15] My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. [16] Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. [17] I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.  [18] They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” [Psalm 22:14]

 

a.         Verse 14 describes the effect of dying on a cross on the heart.  When Jesus’ side was pierced with the spear, water and blood flowed out.

 

b.         Verse 15 describes the dehydration experienced by someone on the cross.  The soldiers gave him vinegar to drink.

 

c.         Verse 16 describes “the dogs” that “have pierced my hands and my feet.”  The term “dogs” was a way some elitist Jews referred to Gentiles.  The Romans were Gentiles.  Crucifixion involved nailing hands and feet to the cross.

 

d.         Verse 17 describes the effect of having the cross set up, more likely dropped into place dislocating many joints.  Isaiah said “…his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his fore marred beyond human likeness.” [Isaiah 52:14]

 

e.         Verse 18 refers to the Roman soldiers who cast lots for Jesus clothing.

 

II.        The people who could not have known figured it out.

 

“When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’” [Matthew 27:54]

 

A.        The people had no prior knowledge of Scripture (being Romans), yet they came to the correct conclusion.

 

1.         They saw the earthquake… it was strong enough to split rocks and open graves!  (Imagine the special “Ghost Hunters” would have with Jesus resurrection.)

 

2.         Most of all, they saw how Jesus died.  Jesus had “given up his spirit.” [v 50]

 

a.         It is wrong to think that Jesus was murdered or killed or somehow wrongfully taken from Him.

 

            b.         Jesus intention was to lay down His life.

 

“Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep.” [John 10:15]

 

B.        The twist to the story is that now we have the choice to decide for ourselves.

 

            1.         It is not dependent on our prior knowledge.

 

a.         In fact, prior knowledge (antecedent theology) can often hinder us.

 

b.         Personal defense of territory can blind us.

 

2.         It is dependent on experiencing Jesus personally.

 

a.         We are not to reduce God to a philosophy (like the writer of the song “dear god.”)

 

b.         We are not to reduce God to a theology (like the elitists of Jesus’ day did).

 

c.         We are not to reduce God to a mystical/spiritual experience (like “Ghost Hunters” would).

 

III.       Ultimately Jesus Christ is known PERSONALLY.

 

A.        Jesus experienced the separation of sin from God the Father on the cross. [v 46]

 

            1.         Of all the things Jesus suffered, I think this was the worst.

 

a.         Separated from God the Father would have been like losing a spouse; maybe even worse.

 

b.         Separated from God there would have been no hope and genuine doubt about the love of God or even God’s existence.

 

2.         For the first time in Jesus’ existence, Jesus experienced the spiritual insanity we live with every moment of every day.

 

a.         We face the temptations of sin, not fully realizing what it cost Jesus, and what it could potentially cost us.

 

b.         We make spiritual decision based on our culture, training, and theological bend.

 

B.        God the Father’s intention was to end that spiritual insanity caused by our separation from God, once and for all through Jesus Christ.

 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… [9] Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! [10] For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! [11] Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” [Romans 5:8 – 11]

 

1.         God’s love is indisputable.  Who would deliberately plan the death of his son?

 

            a.         If not for God’s love, then Good Friday is insanity.

 

b.         God having to demonstrate His love in so dramatic a way shows how much spiritual sanity has evaded us.

 

2.         We are justified by the blood of Jesus. 

 

            a.         Jesus established a new blood covenant.

 

b.         A permanent one, which does not have to be repeated endlessly.

 

3.         We are reconciled to God, the separation and spiritual insanity it caused can end.

 

a.         God does not force us to choose.  We choose the war, the starvation, and every other piece of spiritual insanity.

 

b.         However, one choice can erase all the bad ones we’ve ever made and give us peace with God and ourselves.

                       

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