CanceledSeries: Easter At Home. James Dewhurst April 12, 2020
Easter At Home
Canceled! This single word, “Canceled”, has taken on a global significance in our world today unlike never before. Everywhere we turn, we face fresh pandemic doses of cancellations. Jobs are canceled, schools are canceled, sports are canceled, March Madness was canceled, flights are canceled, weddings are canceled, medical operations are canceled, concerts are canceled, movies are canceled, graduations are canceled, and as we see today, even our physical church services are canceled.
The economic impact alone from this national shutdown has already cost our country over 2 trillion dollars in stimulus debt, and countless billions in economic output. Since the third week of March, 17 million people have filed for unemployment, and our country now has a 10% unemployment rate. Colorado has seen a 737% jump in unemployment claims, and in Pennsylvania, 1 in 6 workers filed for unemployment.
The mere mention of this word, “canceled”, has invoked emotions of anger, despair, disappointment, discomfort, depression and even fear. This word breeds insecurity, disrupts predictability, shakes opportunity, suffocates our hope and devastates routine.
This word has lead to empty roads, empty stores, empty shelves, and empty churches!
Canceled is not always a bad word!
God wants us to see today, that “canceled” is also a beautiful word, a positive word, a powerful word, a life-changing word:
14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (ESV)
Not everything that is canceled is bad! Some cancellations are lifesaving!
The world’s greatest virus was canceled when Jesus was willingly nailed to:
– Sin was canceled!
– The guilt was canceled!
– The shame was canceled!
– Death was canceled!
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (ESV)
1 Corinthians 15:55-56
55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (ESV)
The Bible tells us that on Saturday after Jesus was crucified and placed into the tomb, he descended to the depths of hell, where you and I were heading, and he took the keys from Satan that possessed control and power over death, hell, and the grave!
18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (ESV)
Jesus didn’t come to make God’s love possible. He came to make it visible!
Phillips Commentary: Christ, on the cross, has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross.
14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (ESV)
The “handwriting of requirements” is a Greek phrase only located in one verse in the entire Bible, Colossians 2:14. This passage tells us that every single one of us had a handwritten record of charges and debts that we were obligated to repay. But Jesus stepped in, and used his cross to cross out everything that was on our list!
*For every mistake and accusation, there is a bloody cross and an empty grave!*
Jesus was executed for treason as a transgressor. That charge was false! But by accepting the death penalty for that false charge, He became the substitute sin-bearer for the legitimate charges that God had against us. A signboard was then fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. If this was true, he would have died for his sins, but instead, he died for ours!
He allowed charges to be hung over his head, so they would no longer hang over ours!
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (ESV)
Contrary to popular belief, it was love, not nails that held Jesus to the cross!
Lee Strobel – “Jesus Christ did not come into this world to make bad people good; He came into this world to make dead people live.”
Oswald Chambers – “All of heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, and all of hell is afraid of it, while men are the only ones to ignore its meaning.”
What does the cross mean to you? What was nailed above his head on your behalf?
To pardon our cycle of sin that began with Adam in Eden, the Bible tells us that Jesus was tied to a post and beaten 39 times with a whip of metal and bone. The Roman soldiers tore his beard out of his face and mocked him by driving a crown of 2-inch thorns into his head. Isaiah 52 tells us that when his beating was finished, you couldn’t even tell that he was a man. He was then forced to carry a 125-pound wooden beam to Golgotha where he would be crucified:
1 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.” 6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. 13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.” 18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will. 26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” (ESV)
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. (ESV)
The most amazing thing happened to the crowd as they watched Jesus being crucified. The very same people who before all of this even started, rejected Pilates 3 offers to set Jesus free, were the ones who angrily shouted: “Crucify Him”. And as they watched his beating, saw the skies turn black, felt the earthquake and heard Jesus praying for his abusers, they beat their chest over and over and walked away in regret and shame.
These bitter, angry sinners had nailed an innocent man to a tree and they knew it!
What they didn’t know was that Jesus was getting ready to cancel their sin on Sunday!
Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day were just three days apart!
1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, (ESV)
On Easter Sunday, Mary and Mary were met by an angel in front of an empty tomb who declared, He Is Risen! Jesus didn’t just rise for his fans and followers. He also rose to redeem people who nailed Him to the cross and were beating their chest in regret!
Story -Around the year 1830, a man by the name of George Wilson killed a government employee after he was caught stealing mail. He was tried and sentenced to be hanged. However, in an act of unexpected grace, President Andrew Jackson sent him a pardon. But, surprisingly, Wilson completely refused to accept his pardon. His peculiar case was sent up to the Supreme Court, where the Chief Justice wrote a final opinion.
In it, he wrote, “A pardon is a slip of paper, the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person being pardoned. If it is refused, there is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.”And he was!
(A pardon that’s not accepted has no power!)
The three most powerful words in the English language are the last ones Jesus uttered on the cross before he died -It Is Finished!
(He canceled the debt and broke the curse)
Jesus offers us all a pardon on Easter Sunday, but if we don’t take it, it means nothing!