The Bloody Gospel

Matthew 27: 27-31 – Jesus is Flogged and Mocked

A Brief Summary of My Testimony
A thought crossed my mind once when I was looking at the Christian Movie Review site, “Am I willing to watch a movie that contains content that Jesus was punched in the face for, spat upon for, and flogged for?” My answer today is an emphatic “NO”, but at the time, believe it or not, I felt disturbed by the thought but quickly pushed it out of my head so that I wouldn’t feel guilty about a particular movie I wanted to watch. I went to church, called myself a Christian, was involved in leadership, and had even spoken out against such entertainment when teaching at youth events. Something was wrong on the inside of me though, it was a cold, dead heart. I loved church, I loved my Christian friends, I loved an exciting service with lot’s of people, but deep inside I didn’t love Jesus enough to stop watching/doing the things that I loved, even if they were things that he had to die for. I finally came to realize two and a half years ago that I wasn’t able to give certain sin up for Jesus because my heart didn’t belong to him.

Having grown up in the church this revelation was shocking to me, but even more so to many people who knew me and thought I was crazy to say that had only just got saved. But there is no mistaking the difference between a dead heart and an alive heart. I still sin. 1 John 1:10 says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” But I do not struggle with sin like I use to. It’s easy for me to say “No way” to a movie that blasphemes my Lord now. I have no desire to gamble with the money that God has entrusted to us now. My first thought when a salesperson or waitress is rude to me now is not a hateful one. And, my thought life does not wander into dangerous places as it used to.

These may seem like awkward confessions to make, but the reason it’s not is because that’s not me anymore. I used to hide this part of me from everyone else, but now my life is hidden with Christ. (Colossians 3:3 “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”) I finally came to the understanding that it wasn’t just “major” sins that condemned me before God but it was everything, right down to the “minor” sins of lying, hatred (which is murder of the heart), lust (adultery of the heart), and the idols of my possessions and happiness above God. I am thankful beyond words that the message of the Bloody Gospel reached and saved me before it was too late.

Is there any chance that you are living like I was, “in the church, but not of the church”?

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! .. 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV

We’d Rather Have Barabbas
The gospel of Matthew explains that it was the custom of the Roman governor to release a prisoner of the people’s choice each Passover. When the chief priests and elders brought Jesus before Pilate he knew immediately that Jesus was innocent because they were accusing him of insurrection against the Roman government, and obviously Pilate realized that their concern was not for Roman rule (as they were oppressed by it) but rather that their own position and power was threatened by Jesus. Then, after receiving word from his wife that she had a dream warning of Jesus innocence and righteousness, Pilate is eager to find a way out of punishing Jesus. So he presents Barabbas, a dangerous criminal and murderer, and Jesus before the people and asks them to choose, thinking that the people will surely come to their senses and value their safety above their pride and choose Jesus to be released.

Wrong. The same people, who only days earlier had shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest“, now shout “Crucify him!“. It’s really crazy when you look at the big picture here. How can the same mouths praise him one day and condemn him the next? The answer is simple…. blindness. These people could not see that Jesus was truly God in human flesh. He wasn’t the Messiah they had been waiting for because they were waiting for a false messiah, they were waiting for someone to come and deliver them from their immediate suffering and pain. Jesus didn’t come to do that. He came to deliver mankind from every age from the curse of sin and death.

The people chose Barabbas despite the fact that he was a threat to their community because of two reasons; one, they were persuaded by their “blind guides” (the chief priests and elders, their leaders), and two, because they were angry that Jesus was not fulfilling the desires of their hearts for relief from their current situation. How is this scene similar to what can happen in our culture today? First of all, when a false gospel is preached about how “Jesus died on the cross so that you can be healed of all your earthly pain and that he has a wonderful plan for your life” blind eyes are not opened but are darkened even further, if possible.

“Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” .. Luke 6:39 ESV

And secondly, when people hear a false gospel that only speaks of earthly abundance and heavenly peace, without any mention of their sin and the fact that they are guilty criminals before a holy God and are in great and urgent need of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone and not in a single work of their own hand, then they will become disillusioned when trials arrive and deliverance seems to be out of the question. Strangely enough the name “Barabbas” means “son of the father“, and the crowd traded in Jesus, the true Son of the Father, when he was not who they expected him to be. Could this also be the explanation for the astronomical numbers of “salvations” being reported by churches around the continent and the subsequent lack of “fruit that lasts” (John 15:16)? Just as the people chose Barabbas over Jesus, and just as I was able to justify the movies I wanted to watch (among other sins), so it is when the true gospel is not taught in whole but only in part in order to make people “comfortable” and “feel welcome”.

The Blood and the Law

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him , and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.” .. Matthew 27:27-31, ESV

So what is the true gospel “in whole”? Well Romans 7:7 says, “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” The vast majority of people will answer that Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins when asked if they know what Jesus did for them. The issue is not that people haven’t heard about the cross but that they haven’t heard about their sin, or rather what their sin is going to cost them. Like Paul, we can’t even understand what sin is unless we understand God’s law. How can we know we broke a civil law, like speeding, unless we are taught that speeding is against the law?

When the law (the Ten Commandments) was presented to me to examine myself by it was the first time in my life that I really saw myself as wretched. Up until that moment, I guess because I grew up in a Christian home and never did anything “really bad”, I didn’t really think that I had been saved from much. I honestly had thought it through and came to the conclusion that Jesus saved me from “an empty life”. If you read the passage from Matthew 27 above again and picture Jesus broken body and his blood drenched face being spat upon “an empty life” seems like a ludicrous reason to suffer what he did. However, upon looking into the mirror of the Commandments I realized that I was a Liar, a Thief, an Adulterer at heart, a Murderer at heart, and more, in short I was a guilty criminal in God’s court and in desperate need of the Blood.

Sprinkled Clean
The gospel doesn’t end with the law though, thank God! Once it accomplishes its work of revealing our guilt it points us to the cross and the blood.

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” … Galatians 3:24, King James

And then Isaiah 52:14-15 says this about the severity of Jesus’ beating,

“As many were astonished at you  – his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind – so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” … Isaiah 52:14-15, ESV

The law and the gospel are so closely knit that they should never be separated. Even though one condemns and the other sets free it is necessary to understand the charges in order to be truly aware and thankful for the deliverance. Nearly everything in the Mosaic law was a foreshadow for the Gospel. The following passage from Hebrews ties in with the above passage from Isaiah. Once God had given the whole law to Moses blood from calves and goats was used to sprinkle almost everything as purification for sin.

For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. .. Hebrews 9:19-22 ESV

Now that Jesus has fulfilled the law with the shedding of his own blood there is forgiveness of sins for those who are sprinkled with it.

“and since we have a great priest over the house of God (Jesus), let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” .. Hebrews 10:21-22 ESV

Jesus Received My Wages
Our culture is so desensitized to blood and gore and death that it’s sometimes difficult for even church going people to really be moved by the blood and gore of Jesus’ death. Can you picture Jesus having just been flogged, his skin torn apart, half dead already and instead of finishing the job the Roman soldiers prolong the torture by taking the time to bring him before the whole battalion (which could have been up to 600 soldiers) and they mock him and humiliate him by stripping him naked, then putting a royal robe on his battered body, driving the crown of thorns into his head and spending who knows how long bowing before him, hailing him as king, spitting on him and beating him further with the reed they had cruelly placed in his hand?

As I picture what took place inside the walls of the governor’s headquarters I am struck deeply that this was my punishment. It doesn’t matter that it took place over 2,000 years ago, these were the wages for my sin. I deserve to suffer those atrocities; the beatings, the spitting, the mocking, the humiliation, yet He endured it in my place and was marred beyond human recognition so that he could sprinkle me with his blood in order to redeem me from the power of Satan, the power of sin, and from the law of death.

Oh Precious is the Flow
We sang our kids “Nothing but the Blood” for a bedtime song tonight. I sincerely hope that the message of the Bloody Gospel will claim their hearts early on, as I hope it will for all who read this.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Preparing the Way,
~ Danae Martin

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