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THE HEART OF CHRIST ON THE WAY TO THE CROSS

by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 10, 2019

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).


We are now in the time that Catholics call “Lent.” It is a period of forty days before Easter. It began last Wednesday, which some call “Ash Wednesday.” On April 19 we will remember Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday. April 21 is Easter Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead.

The Bible devotes a great deal of space to the last week of Christ’s life on earth, to His death and to His resurrection. The Gospel of Matthew has 28 chapters. Eight of them tell of this short time. The death and resurrection of Christ are the most important events in all history. Without them no one could be saved.

It is right to think about Jesus and His crucifixion. Christ always thought of His crucifixion. It was always in His mind. He said so to His Disciples long before He went to the Cross. Our text says, “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).

Jesus was on the way to the Cross for years. That was why He came to earth. Even in Heaven, before He was born in Bethlehem, He was always on the way to the Cross. That shows His heart. Today I’ll talk about the heart of Christ. But first I must tell you about the heart of His lost Disciples.

I. First, the heart of the lost Disciples on the way to the Cross.

Peter was first among the Disciples. But Peter did not have the heart of Christ. Peter did not understand why Jesus went to the Cross. When Christ said He “must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things...and be killed” (Matthew 16:21),

“Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22).

Peter rebuked the Son of God! Peter did not want the heart of the cross. Jesus answered Peter,

“Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23).

Peter did not have the heart and mind of Christ. Peter had the heart and mind of lost men. That heart was the heart of Satan. Christ said to him, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” “Peter, you are talking like the Devil. You are saying what the Devil says.”

Peter did not agree with Jesus. He was against what Christ said about His crucifixion. He did not have the heart and mind of Christ. All he had was the heart and mind of a lost and sinful man, for he was not yet converted. The great Bible teacher Dr. J. Vernon McGee said the Disciples were not converted until after Christ rose from the dead. Dr. McGee said, “I personally believe that at the moment Christ breathed on them [after the Resurrection, John 20:22] these men were regenerated [born again]. Before this, they had not been indwelt by the Spirit of God” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, volume IV, p. 498; note on John 20:21). Before then, Peter thought like any other lost man. How do they think?

Unconverted people believe in getting ahead. They do that by power and force and brains and merit. Some of them lie and cheat. To the lost, the highest priority is money and achievement and power over others. Of them the Bible says, “God is not in all his thoughts” (Psalm 10:4).

Have you ever heard someone talk about the “almighty dollar”? They’re thinking about money. Money is the way they keep score – it’s how they judge their own worth. For athletes, it’s how many points they score. For some, it’s how many boyfriends or girlfriends they have. But when you die God will say, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee” (Luke 12:20). Your high score won’t help you then.

Self-advancement is the way of the world. The Bible says, “all seek their own” (Philippians 2:21). The Bible says, “There is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). But everyone “seeks his own.” You seek your own. But when you die, “thy soul shall be required of thee.”

“All seek their own.” Everyone seeks his own. That’s what Peter and the other Disciples were thinking. They didn’t want Jesus to go to the Cross. They wanted Him to set Himself up as King right then. Then they would rule with Him. They would be powerful and important. They’d get “their own.” Christ taught His Disciples, “The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him” (Mark 9:31, 32). The Disciples had been talking about quite the opposite, “for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest” (Mark 9:34). A little later Christ asked James and John, “What would ye that I should do for you?” (Mark 10:36). “What do you want me to do for you?” They said, “Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory” (Mark 10:37).

The Disciples had the heart of the world. “All seek their own.” They saw Jesus do miracles. He was the Messiah, the Christ of God. The Disciples thought Christ would take up His Kingdom and rule over the earth right then. They expected to rule with Him. When Christ was arrested, it looked like that hope was over. That’s why “all the disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56).

Judas had the same heart. He carried the money for Christ and the other Disciples. The Bible says Judas “had the bag” (John 12:6). But Judas was a thief. He took money out for himself. He stayed with Jesus because he thought Christ would rule as King, and he, Judas, would be in charge of all the money. Then he would really be rich! But Jesus talked about being crucified. In Jerusalem He preached against the priests and Pharisees. Judas thought Christ was the wrong one to back. He’d never be King. He’d get in trouble. Judas wanted to get off the ship before it sank. And he got money out of it. He betrayed Christ for “thirty pieces of silver” (Matthew 26:15).

Lost people in the church have the same mind as Judas and Peter. As long as they’re getting something out of it, and it looks like they’ll get more – friendship, fun, respect, a boyfriend or girlfriend – they stay. But they get off the boat when there’s a storm, or it looks like the boat might sink. They do not have the heart of Christ. “All seek their own.”

When lost people are religious, they still have the same heart, “All seek their own.” What other heart could they have? They show their heart when they try to get to Heaven by their own goodness, not by God’s forgiveness in Christ. For them, being converted is a work of their own goodness and knowledge. Pride and self-love motivate them. They can go a long time in a church without being a real Christian inside.

Lost people don’t have the heart of Christ. It wasn’t just that the Disciples didn’t understand. That could be corrected by a teaching. Peter and the others were against Jesus going to the cross. When Christ talked about it, Peter “began to rebuke” Jesus (Matthew 16:22). The Disciples wanted Jesus to reign as King and take them with Him. The cross went against everything they lived by.

The Bible speaks of “the offence of the cross” (Galatians 5:11). The cross was offensive to them. The Greek word translated “offence” is skandalon. We get the word “scandal” from it. Christ, the Divine Majesty, was crucified, the most horrible death in the Roman world – and for sinners. What a scandal! To proud religious people, the Cross goes against everything they know. The cross is offensive to them.

Why did Peter take offence? It was the only thing he could do! He didn’t have the heart and mind of Christ. All he had was the unconverted carnal mind, which the Bible says is “enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). The lost person “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). He can’t have the heart of Christ.

And you don’t have the heart of Christ. You are a sinner. All you have is sin. All you are is sin. You only seek your own. That’s the way you are.

Even when you try to “get saved” you can’t. To you conversion is a “great achievement” of yours, like getting good grades in school or making money. But you still haven’t been saved. You can come to church. You can force yourself to have a feeling – or wait for one from the Devil. You can strain to believe some doctrine about Christ – “that” He died for you – and try not to have any feeling. But you are still selfish, trying to “get it right” for yourself. You don’t see yourself as a disgusting, bankrupt, depraved sinner, who can do nothing but throw yourself on Christ.

You may say the words of the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13) but you have nothing of his heart. You may say a prayer but inside have nothing of what it means. You are a lost man or woman who doesn’t understand. Inside, it is a scandal to you that you haven’t been saved, and that others are converted who have sinned more than you, who have come to church for less time than you, who know less than you. All you have is your lost, selfish, unconverted self. You do not have the heart and mind of Christ. And this brings me to the second point.

II. Second, the heart of Christ on the way to the Cross.

Christ knew exactly what He was doing. He wasn’t crucified by accident. He chose to die. He could have walked away free at any time. On the Cross He said, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). Jesus went to the Cross on purpose. Our text says,

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).

Christ was determined to be crucified. The Bible says, “He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). He said to Andrew and Philip,

“Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour” (John 12:27).

In modern English, “Should I ask the Father to get me out of this? No, this is why I came here!” Jesus was determined to go to the Cross and die.

But what was in His heart? Christ didn’t have to come and die. Jesus did not come out of obligation or duty. He had no sin of His own. He didn’t have to come. Christ came voluntarily. What was in His heart? The Bible says,

“Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:5, 6).

As God the Son, He was just as much God as the Father. He could have stayed in Heaven. He had no sin. The sinners on earth deserved to be punished. Christ would be perfectly right and justified to stay in Heaven. But what was in His heart? He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:6). A modern translation says, “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” (NASB). For Jesus, being in Heaven, equal in His Godhood with the Father, was not something to be grasped. It was not something to hold on to. Christ surrendered His heavenly glory and came to earth, not to rule but to die as a criminal, not for anything He did wrong, but for the sin of others. The Bible says that He

“made himself of no reputation [He made Himself into a nobody], and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7, 8).

Christ didn’t have to come. He chose to come – out of love. As Joseph Hart wrote,

And why, dear Saviour, tell me why Thou didst a bleeding sufferer lie?
What mighty motive could Thee move? The motive’s plain – t’was all for love!
   (“Gethsemane, The Olive-Press!” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768; to the tune of
      “‘Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow”).

Christ came not as a King, but as a Suffering Servant. He came not to be served, but to serve. Jesus said,

“The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

This was His purpose. This was His heart. This is why He came. The Apostle Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15) because He loves you.

He did not come to teach people who thought they were already saved. He came to save sinners. When the wicked Zacchaeus got saved, Christ said, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Again, Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). As Mr. Ngann sang before the sermon,

Not the righteous, not the righteous; Sinners Jesus came to call.
Not the righteous, not the righteous; Sinners Jesus came to call.
   (“Come, Ye Sinners” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

If you come as a righteous person, you will not be saved. But if you see yourself as a lost and helpless sinner, you may come to Christ. You will find Him ready to take you and forgive you – right now. Two thieves were crucified beside Christ, one on His right and one on His left. One of them spoke to Jesus. He didn’t know much. But He said in trust, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42). That thief was saved immediately. Jesus answered him, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Dr. Hymers has told about how people struggled this way and that without getting converted. When they finally did get saved through simple trust in Christ, they often said, “Is that all you wanted?” Yes, that is all we want! Trust Jesus! It’s simple – but the Christ you trust will save you forever! As Mr. Ngann sang,

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched, Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity, love and power;
He is able, He is able, He is willing, doubt no more!
He is able, He is able, He is willing, doubt no more!
   (“Come, Ye Sinners” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

Jesus saved me, a selfish, greedy, mocking unbeliever. He saved Peter the coward and denier. He saved Moses the murderer. He saved Paul the persecutor. Christ will save you if you trust Him. His Blood will wash away your sins. If you would like to talk and pray about trusting Jesus, please come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.


WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“Come, Ye Sinners” (by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768; altered by Dr. Hymers).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE HEART OF CHRIST ON THE WAY TO THE CROSS

by Dr. C. L. Cagan

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).

I.   First, the heart of the lost Disciples on the way to the Cross,
Matthew 16:22, 23; Psalm 10:4; Luke 12:20;
Philippians 2:21; Romans 3:11; Mark 9:31, 32, 34;
Mark 10:36, 37; Matthew 26:56; John 12:6; Matthew 26:15;
Matthew 16:22; Galatians 5:11; Romans 8:7; Luke 18:13.

II.  Second, the heart of Christ on the way to the Cross,
Matthew 26:53; Luke 9:51; John 12:27; Philippians 2:5, 6;
Philippians 2:7, 8; Mark 10:45; I Timothy 1:5; Luke 19:10;
Luke 5:32; Luke 23:42, 43.