In this Palm Sunday sermon, Pastor Babij details how Jesus died a supernaturally empowered death. Pastor Babij shows, through several Bible passages, how Jesus demonstrated He is the God-man with complete control in all matters concerning his crucifixion and death. Pastor Babij specifically discusses six observations:
1. Christ’s authority over death
2. Christ’s command over His mental facilities while dying
3. Christ’s control over His physical composure while dying
4. Christ’s volitional power over His own spirit while dying
5. Christ’s prophetic fulfillment of His death
6. Christ’s power over the natural and spiritual realms
Pastor Babij explains how these six realms of Christ’s power are reality and how all people must assent to these, repent of their sins, and obey and trust only Jesus.
Good morning. We’re going to be stepping out of the ten commandments and we’re going to be looking at some supernatural observations of Christ’s death, six of them. Today we’ll will look at that as we consider the Scripture before us. I’d like to take you Bibles and we’re going to look up several passages, but we’re going to be looking first at Mark 15. Then we’ll move on to other passages and then others I’ll have on the screen.
As you’re turning to Mark 15:19, let’s pray. Father this morning, as we consider opening up Your Word, we know that the Word of God are the words of life. These are the words that came from You, Lord, and You caused them to be written down. And then You protected Your Word up until this day, and You will to the end.
So lord, as we open up the word of God, we know it is Your Word. And so Lord, I pray that we would do due diligence to listen to it and to understand it. Illuminate it for us, Holy Spirit, that it may be convicted our hearts. It may grow us and bolster our faith. And for those who don’t know you, it would bring those who don’t know You and have not confessed You as Lord and savior, to a place where they believe in You as their Lord and Savior. And that you would save them. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that You have come to seek and save that which is lost. I pray You bless our time in the Word of God today. In Christ name, amen.
It’s not uncommon this time of year for people to be making comments about the images that they’ve come in contact with concerning Christ’s death. You hear people say: it was terrible and sad that He had to die like that. It was cruel and it was a violent death. No one can deny, like in Mark 15:19:
They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him.
So often people go on further than these images and leave Jesus helplessly wallowing on the cross in defeat. Even by standards at the scene of the cross, shouted statements highlighted his weaknesses and helplessness while on the cross of crucifixion in Mark 15:29, it says:
Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.
Those are the two thieves. I never really liked the thought that Jesus is often pictured as only on the cross. At the same time, if we go back and examine more closely what the Scriptures actually record concerning Christ, I am sure that you will walk away with a different appreciation and a heightened understanding of this event.
And some may even exclaim that Jesus was the most magnificent person who ever died. His death was nothing less than supernatural. Even in His death, He had the preeminence. As you and me stand beside the cross, looking up at Jesus, once again that you would conclude like the Roman centurion concluded in Mark 15:39, where it says:
When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way he breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Just consider that for a moment. A centurion is really a soldier, and he’s probably a low-ranking soldier. He was on guard duty that day, under orders. He was assigned that place to guard and keep the peace. But he was a first hand observer that day. He was observing things, because of being a centurion soldier, that no one else could. He was the closest person to the scene. So he was taking in everything.
But remember, soldiers really had no right of opinion. They weren’t looked to for suggestions about how to interpret the events. They were pretty much silent observers. And yet, you see him concluding after what he was seeing happen on the cross. He concludes: truly this man was the Son of God. In fact, in another passage of Scripture, the Word of God says this, in Matthew 27:54:
Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
In other words, this particular centurion soldier had a place that no one else had. And yet, he proclaimed after what he saw and concluded truly that this was the Son of God. In other words, he concluded that this was the Messiah. This was the Anointed of God. This was the Saviour. This was the Deliverer. This was God. The things were so miraculous that he couldn’t even get around that.
This morning, let’s together be strengthened by the Scripture as we learn more about our Lord Jesus. May those who have never met Him listen and consider His unique person. We can be assured that He is the God-Man, even in His death. I pray that faith will be granted to you, so that you may believe and be saved. Those who already know Him as their Lord and Savior, that you will have your faith bolstered today.
I want to consider this morning, really the supernatural strength or observations surrounding Christ’s death. Each one of them gives us a different view, from the Scriptures, of what actually happened there. In fact this morning, we’re the observers. We’re the centurion soldiers that are looking on everything and making evaluation. We’re considering what took place, specifically about this person called Jesus, this person who was called the Christ.
Here is the first thing that we observe in Christ concerning His death: Christ’s authority over death. In John 10:17, it says this:
For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.
In fact, this word take is a word that is in a certain mood in the Greek language. Moods in the language really relate to the action of the reality of the event. The objective possibility of someone laying down their life in death and then taking it back again depends on a certain objective and certain objective factors.
In other words, Jesus would need to be able to do such a thing, which was clearly unheard of. Nobody could take their life back again once they died. That never was experienced before. But it does indicate that Jesus would need to be greater and more powerful than the greatest leveler known to mankind. The greatest level are known to mankind is death itself. Nobody can escape it. No one can get away from it. That is, no one has ever defied the power of death. Yet again, if you noticed the next verse John 10:18, it says
No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.
This means that Jesus was not powerless in the hands of His enemies. He had authority, absolute authority. To put it another way, Jesus had the freedom of choice and the right to act to decide, in and of itself, concerning His own death. He had absolute power in regard to death and to life.
Actually, He was also acting like a Goel redeemer from the old testament. A Goel redeemer was someone who came and redeemed either a person or property for their family. A Goel had qualifications to redeem a property: they had to be available, they had to be willing, and they had to be able. Sometimes they were willing to do it, but unable to pay the price. Jesus Christ here is not only available to do what He needed to do in His death, he was willing to do it and He had the power to do it.
Another example in Scripture was when they came to arrest Jesus. If you remember, this narrative in John 18:5-6, it says:
They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Soon as He pronounced the title of deity: I am He, if they fell to the ground, then they had no power to take Jesus unless He voluntarily gave Himself to them. They had no authority at all. He had all the authority. Jesus Christ gave His life. No person took it from Him unless He let them take it. In this case, He let them because He had a greater mission to accomplish, one that none of the government at that time knew of. So, that’s the first observation.
The second observation is found in John 19. I’d like you to turn there to John 19:28-29. It is observed in Christ’s command over His mental faculties while dying. It says:
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.”
Was His mind unclear? Was it clouded by terrible suffering, to the point that He was delusional? No, His mind reviewed the entire scope of the prophetic Word and checked off, one by one, even the one where He said right in this passage: I am thirsty. And where did that come from? That comes right from Psalm 69:21, but look at verse 29:
A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to his mouth.
He said He was thirsty. That was prophecy from Psalm 69:21 where it says:
They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
So our Lord was in full possession of His mental faculties while experiencing the fullness of suffering on the cross in the place of sinners. He was experiencing the fullness of suffering.
That leads to a third observation right there in John 19: the supernatural death is observed in Christ’s control over His physical composure while dying. In John 19:30, it says:
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
In other words, He had full composure of His body’s movements. Our Lord’s head did not drop helplessly on His chest. No, His head did not fall, but Jesus consciously and calmly and reverently bowed His head because whatever He had to finish in the physical realm was accomplished. He had completely accomplished redemption. He paid the redemption price in full. It was at the point of completion that He bowed his head, showing that He was in full control over His physical composure. Then also in scripture, it says in Matthew 27:46,50, He also had full composure of His voice where it says this in the Word of God:
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
And then in another passage:
Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
It is important to note, in the last three hours of His life, Jesus demonstrated that he still possessed physical strength. He had not reached utter exhaustion. His voice was strong and able to speak loudly. It was not weak and faint. It was the same voice that Jesus used to call Lazarus from the grave, when again, it says in Scripture that He cried out with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth.
Jesus was in full control. Instead of being conquered by death, He was willingly yielding Himself to it and then overcoming it. That’s what He was doing.
Another observation that we see in Scripture in John 19:30, the last part of verse 30, the observation is: Christ’s volitional power over His own spirit while dying. In verse 30, it says:
He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
In Matthew 27, it says:
Jesus cried out again with a loud of voice, and yielded up His spirit.
Meaning that Jesus had a volitional power over His spirit. That is the immaterial part of His being. He had power over the point in which the spirit leaves the body. Jesus was in control as to the very moment that His spirit left His body. In fact, Luke tells us this, it says:
And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.
In every one of these observations up until this point, we see that Jesus Christ is in full control of every single thing that happens on the cross. That He is the one directing it. He is the one checking off the boxes. He’s the one to make sure everything was being done as it was supposed to be done. And His authority was clearly seen while He hung on the cross, not in weakness and faint like some people like to portray Him, but He was in full control.
That leads to this next one, it is observed: Christ’s prophetic fulfillment of his death. You noticed right there in John 19:31. Before I read that, it’s important to note, when reading this text, that Jesus was already dead. The two thieves at the end of the day were still alive. They have been on their crosses the same amount of time. And noticed in John 19:31, it says:
Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.
Death by crucifixion, though exceedingly painful, was usually a very slow death. It was meant to be a slow death. Some lingered on the cross for two or three days before they completely were overcome by exhaustion and utter suffocation. Actually, crucifixion led to suffocation, because the people would have to lift themselves up in order breath. Once they did not have any more strength to lift themself up to breath, they would just be limp on the cross, and therefore they would suffocate on the cross because they could not get any air. It was designed for that purpose.
So for Jesus to have been already dead only after six hours, this was not normal to Roman crucifixion. That is, unless Jesus voluntarily laid down His life by Himself, and that God was in full control of every detail. So all that was written about Him in the Psalms and the prophets would be fulfilled. Look at John 19:34:
But one of the soldier pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”
In this passage, John is recording what had to take place based on what was already recorded in prophecy concerning when the Messiah would come and how He would die and everything that would take place on that cross, down to its detail. In fact, what Psalm was he using there? It was Psalm 34:20:
He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.
We’re talking about hundreds of years before this took place, after the Psalm was written, hundreds of hundreds of years. Yet everything is taking place just as God planned it. Now if He planned His death with such accuracy, such detail, and such authority, then all who would come to Him and believe He can take care of salvation. That’s why He came, to seek and save that which was lost.
That brings me to the last observation and the last observation is this: it is observed in Christ’s power of this event over the natural and the spiritual realms.
In other words, Jesus’ death broke open the way to God. For Matthew 27:51, it says:
And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.
Meaning that all the types and all the shadows and all the symbols of the old testament become a reality as they are given substance and fulfillment in Christ on the cross. This becomes a very significant thing because on the cross in Mark 15:33-39, it says:
When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Then down the verse 37, it says:
And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
This becomes a very significant event for the whole sacrificial system, for the whole priesthood, for all of Judaism, what took place there on the cross. According to the book of Hebrews, all true christians have confidence to enter His presence because Jesus broke open the veil by His death. This was symbolic. We really can boldly enter heaven’s most holy place because of the blood and the death of Jesus Christ. It is to come to the mercy seat at any time, in any posture, in any place.
No one was able to do that before. You always had to come with a sacrifice. You always had to go to the priest. You always had to go to the temple. There was a process for anyone to approach God. If they didn’t do it that way, dire consequences would be the result.
But now something different is going on. The Lord is making a new way to God. A way where you don’t have to go through priests anymore. You don’t have to go through ritual anymore. You don’t have to go any place, anywhere. It’s all comes down to Jesus Christ and what He did there on the cross. In fact, Hebrews tells us:
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,
So the Word of God is equating the veil of the temple with His own flesh. His flesh was torn for us. That makes us available to approach God in the new and living way. Also it says:
and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Now, Jesus is not only the high priest who offers the sacrifice, He is the sacrifice. That never has happened before. The high priest had to make a sacrifice for himself before he can make a sacrifice for the people’s sin. In this case Jesus, who was sinless, is the high priest and is the sacrifice. So in this one time act of crucifixion, the end of the whole old testament sacrificial system, the end of temple sacrifice, the end of the ministry of the human priesthood. These are now done because of Jesus’ one time sacrifice. The torn veil in the temple, symbolizing the torn veil of Jesus’ flesh, ended the old way to approach God and broke open a new way to approach God.
Now, those who repent of their sins and go directly to God to believe in Jesus Christ alone, our high priest, for forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. Believers have that access to God through the death of Jesus Christ. That is through the veil, which is His flesh. That is the promise that the Lord gives to us in the Word of God.
But not only did Jesus’ death break open a new way to God, also Jesus’ death broke open the graves and the power of death. It says in Matthew 27:52:
The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;
I often think to myself: could you imagine having been there? And an old lost relative who was a saint comes walking in your house who could have been dead for maybe years and presents themself alive. Tell me, that would not be a shocker. That would definitely change your day. But why did that happen? It happened because of what took place on the cross, because Jesus was defeating death.
He was defeating the one who kept people as slavery in death: satan himself. So the Lord’s death was not a tragedy that brought everything to an end. No, His death took the sting of death, which is the law. As the Scripture tells us:
The sting of death is sin, but the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is by His death alone that we are saved. Here is the message that really preserves the truth of the gospel: the sacrificed body and the shed blood of Jesus Christ announces the only way of salvation. There are not many ways to God. There is only one way. It is centered in on the person of Jesus Christ. It’s focused in on the cross of Jesus Christ because that’s where it took place, the redemption and salvation of man.
Jesus also broke the strong grip of the power of satan. Nothing, nothing rocked the plans and power of satan more than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It ruined his plans. It ruined everything about what he was up to. It says in Matthew 27:53:
and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
In other words, they could not come out of the tombs and enter into the city until Christ rose from the grave. That’s when that happened. He had to be the first fruits of the resurrection. The promise that we have as believers is that because he is the first fruits, we will come after Him. We are promised the resurrection of the body and the soul coming together, and spending an eternity with the Lord.
We find in the narrative in the gospel of Luke in chapter 11, where the rulers had accused Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebub, or the prince of demons. Jesus turns and exposes their folly by saying: if satan cast out demons, his kingdom will be divided and it will fall. According to this passage, we find that this is what takes place. It says in Luke 11:20-22:
But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacked him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.
In other words, Jesus has come into the strong man’s house and has overpowered him. Jesus overpowers the evil one, Satan. It is Jesus who overpowers Satan and takes his possessions away.
He divides and destroys his kingdom. So you see Jesus is the Great Disruption. In the world controlled by Satan, Jesus has come to plunder his Kingdom, and overtake it and all those who trust Jesus as Lord and Savior will be the overcomers. Only them!
We know from the Word of God that the mission of the suffering servant is finished when the Bible records in Hebrews 10:12,
but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.
That’s what’s taking place right now. The Lord has risen from the grave. He ascended into heaven. He’s sitting down, meaning His mission of His first coming is finished. It’s done. It’s complete. He doesn’t have to be sacrificed again, whether sacrificed literally or symbolically, those things should not take place today.
But when you see the great tragedy in this world, in reality, spiritual warfare taking place all around us. But the only ones aware of this spiritual conflict are discerning believers, because they’re armed with truth. They see what’s going on. They see what’s happening in the world. They see where the world is heading. Remember, we live in a disposable planet. There’s going to be a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells.
Right now, we are to live for the Lord. Those who are not Christian are unaware of this warfare because they are blinded by sin. They love darkness and are persuaded, for the most part, that all is well. They do not realize the terrible doom that is waiting for them. The only solution to their demise is Christ.
We live in a world, when it comes to defining anything spiritual, it sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook. Instead, we need to believe and proclaim, boldly and clearly, that Christ is the only hope for the people of this world. Jesus’ atoning sacrifice dealt with the problem of human sin, and in doing so destroyed the work of the devil. Clearly, in the epistle of 1 John, the Bible tells us this:
the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
And then also in Hebrews 2, it says:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
This all happened and took place because Jesus Christ died in the place of sinners. Now we are set free, those who believe, from his grasp, in order to daily walk in fellowship with our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Every time we give the gospel out; every time we go out there into our family, in amongst our friends, and our co-workers, and we give the gospel out, we are threatening the kingdom of satan. We are taking from his kingdom, kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of light, the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. And he is not happy about that.
Once we become children of God, he is still not happy, and often level attacks against the christians because of their faithfulness to Jesus Christ, trying to mess up their testimony, trying to get them to go down the broad road and not stay on the narrow path.
Jesus death also broke open the eyes of the unbelieving gentiles to see who He really was. As it says in Matthew 27:54:
Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
Now, can you say that today? Can you say for sure that Jesus is the Son of God? He is the Messiah. He is the anointed one. He is the only way to God. You cannot come any other way. You must come through the door. You must come to Jesus Christ, who is the way the truth and the life. No one can go to the Father unless they come through Jesus Christ. You don’t have to go through priests. You don’t have to go to temple. You don’t have to go to a specific location.
I heard sometimes testimonies of people who said: I trusted Christ on a roof, because I was a roofer. And my coworker kept witnessing to me, and it finally all came together while I was on that roof. On that roof, I bowed my heart and head and asked Christ to save me. Ever since then I’ve been a believer and I’ve been following Christ. And we who know Christ all have our stories of when we trusted Christ. They’re different, different situations and circumstances, but the same message, the same person that I have to believe in to be saved.
So brethren, when we faithfully gather at the communion table, we declare together to the community and the world that God’s way of forgiveness is through the death of His Son and His Son only. We further declare that this new agreement that God made with His people has been sealed and ratified with the blood of Jesus Christ.
Jesus referred to this cup of wine when we partake of the Lord’s table. He says in the same way, He took the cup and after supper saying: this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
At the Lord’s table, we sit down at peace with God not at war with God anymore, at peace with God not because of anything we’ve done. Not because of anything we could offer God. We have no righteousness, no good works to offer God. But based on everything He has done. And we believe in Him and He saves His people from their sins. That’s what Jesus does. He does it by taking all the sins of His people upon Himself. Because He took their load, His people are free and no longer have the burden of sin to weigh them down.
Now this movie that’s coming up, Pilgrim’s Progress, you’re going to see that Christian has his burden on his back. You are going to find out what that is when you watch the movie, but really it is the burden of sin, right? we all have this burden of sin that’s on our back and it’s going to stay there. It’s not going to be dropped off until we come to Christ, until we give the load to Him. So He saves christians, His children, His sheep, by burying the penalty due.
Because of sin, Christ was made a curse for us. He suffered for us. He died, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. He saves His sheep by bearing the wrath of God, the wrath of God’s clean justice. Jesus takes the sin and pays the penalty which was due us and He dies in our place. He saves His sheep from the power and the tyranny in the dominion of sins, which had mastery over us. He saves those who believe in Him completely. That is, Jesus’ work was so thorough, everything was accomplished and nothing else needs to be done.
So completely does Jesus save those who receive Him as Lord and Savior that He makes them fit to dwell with God and be one with Jesus throughout all eternity. And only could Jesus do that. There are not many ways to the Lord, to God, to the presence of God. There’s only one.
So all these observations that you and I, through Scripture, have experienced this morning have taken place. They are reality. That is what has happened. For those who don’t know Christ, there’s only two things that we are required of: to repent of our sins and believe the gospel. To repent is really a conscious recognition that you are a sinner, and that you are turning to a Savior who can forgive your sin and make you right with God and reconcile you to Himself. You have to turn from whatever you’re trusting in and believe in Christ.
And then of course belief in Jesus Christ alone for salvation is repentance towards the Father in heaven, and its faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. True saving faith always responds with obedience. It always responds with laying aside what you’re trusting in and coming to the Lord with all your sin, with all your baggage, and believing in Him and receiving the free gift of eternal life, offered to all who will come by Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the God-Man. Even in His death, a death that was unique in every way, and I pray that his death this morning would bring you salvation if you do not have it. If you already have it, then it would refresh you and bolster your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and cause you to worship from the depths of your soul, from today until he takes you out of here.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You this morning for just these truths that are evident, clearly evident in Scripture. I pray Lord that you would use them in a way in our lives that will truly strengthen us. Cause us to be more vocal about our faith, to cause us to examine our inner heart more seriously, to bring us more quickly to confess our sin, because we know Lord that you forgive us of that sin and all our unrighteousness.
So Lord thank you for the word of God, how it presents to us what is true. And Lord, I pray you would take Your truth and use it in a way that we know it will never come back void. It will always accomplish what You set it out to do. And I pray Lord that you use it for the glory of your name. I pray this in Christ most precious and holy name. Amen.