During this season of concentration on life and death and during this week of concentration on another’s life and death and resurrection, I come to present the most important event in all history to remedy the virus which has infected the human race.
I want to start with a word association. If you’re actually watching this live, you may have to engage with me immediately. But if you’re watching it later, you can stop and play the game with me. What is the first thing which comes into your mind? If I were to say morning, you would say, some will say, evening. Some of you are watching this in the morning or in the evening. If I were to say male, some of you might say female or email, depending on where your perspective is. If I were to say virus, most of you will come up with coronavirus. But till a few weeks ago, it was a virus which affected your software, malware, which infected and affected and afflicted you and gave you all sorts of headaches.
But in the last three months, four months, everything has changed, hasn’t it? A virus that has become a pandemic. A contagion which has spread all over the world, causing so much heartache. Death tolls climbing every day. The future that is not clear.
We started out as a small outbreak in a remote place in a market in a neighboring country, and now the whole world is seeing its deathly consequences and effects. We are hoping and praying that this virus would be destroyed, it would diminish in its intensity, that it would decrease in its impact, in fact, that a remedy would be found.
The context of this particular virus gives me the privilege of introducing another virus, a spiritual virus, a universal virus, a global virus which infects and affects and afflicts everybody in the human race.
Here are some features of that virus. Its prevention is impossible. We are born with it. You and I are not contagious, though we can multiply its consequences and make it very complex for others. Its detection is very easy. Every day there is proof, by lust and greed and corruption and anger. Anytime we think a thought that is wrong, act in a morally substandard way, or even speak in anger or bitterness, the virus proves itself. You are easily detected as spiritual virus positive.
The other problem is that the remedy of this virus disease is impossible for us. Just as we hear the words “shut down” and “closed down” and “locked down,” we have spiritually distanced ourselves from heaven. Seems like all the operations of heaven are closed. And there is no way out until we come to Good Friday,
to concentrate on this amazing day, the events of this day, of a man in his early 30s whose death we commemorate. This historical figure found in a particular geography, much like the remedy and the vaccine for the coronavirus will be finally found in a particular history and geography, and all of us will embrace and run to the cure. The Lord Jesus’ death is commemorated all over the world.
Jesus’ death was not a natural death. He didn’t die of old age and disease, because He was only about 33 years of age. His death was not a sick man’s death. Recently we had a 33-year-old who had gone to a game park and a theme park. Two weeks later, he was dead of the virus. Jesus’ death was not a martyr’s death. We salute martyrs, martyrs who are after causes, and who feel so compulsively attached to them that they would die for their cause. Jesus’ death was not a soldier’s death. Mothers who have lost their sons on the front line–as we saw last year of another 34-year-old who died–mourning.
Jesus’ death was not a hero’s death. Many of you are aware that the doctor who suspected the coronavirus, who warned his colleagues, eventually contracted the disease and died. They built a memorial for him in the city, and many people go there in order to memorialize him and other martyrs who are also heroes and heroes who are also martyrs. And Jesus’ death was not a sinner’s death. Jesus was not a sinner. Even His enemies could not find a single fault with Him. The finest, purest, most influential person in all history died a criminal death.
What do you say? Anybody who knows injustice know[s] also how the case can be skewed and matters can be complicated. That’s what happened in a political socio-religious move which killed Jesus. At the time of Jesus’ death there are many eyewitnesses. They heard His seven sayings, for example. In the passage that was just read to us, the mockers heard Jesus saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani. My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” And they mocked Him in rebellion, saying, “Maybe He’s calling on Elijah. Let him come down and save Him.” There was a Roman centurion, who at the end of this passage says, “Truly this Man was the Son of God,” along with others.
There were horrible experiences around Jesus’ death. He, Himself, was given a pain number, a pain relief, a pain killer, in sour wine. And the pain was unimaginable. Anybody who’s seen The Passion of the Christ will know that this was an inhuman death.
Around Jesus’ death were other people saying a few things and Jesus Himself saying a few things–the experiences were horrific–but there were some happenings.
The tombs became empty. After all, He was conquering death itself. And those who were resurrected, as a preview of His own three days later, went into the city and appeared to many.
But nestled into the beauty of this particular passage in its agony is something which gives you salvation in the middle of your spiritual virus and my deathly consequence. Matthew 27 verse 50 says, “He again cried with a loud voice and then yielded His spirit.” He chose to die.
Comes a statement which says, “And the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom.” It was torn in two, not in many, many pieces. It was torn from top to bottom, not from bottom to the top. The veil in the temple, the veil symbol, was impregnated with meaning that I would like to discover for you in these few minutes.
It showed the need for humanity’s desire for salvation, that somehow there was a block. Earth is shut down, locked down and closed down because there’s a spiritual distance between man and God. Every time we evidence our spiritual virus, there is greater distance. We fall short of His glory. We break His standards. We break His norms. The veil–the veil blocked God from us. We are spiritually distant. It shows our need for the veil to open up from top to bottom.
In that particular symbol is also a critique. The need to look at every other religious system which says we’ve got to go from bottom to the top. Every idea which says we’ve got to bribe our way into heaven, that we can somehow get God to take notice of us. Or with some philosophical sophistication say, “We deny the spiritual virus,” that it is a sin to call man a sinner. That is sophisticated, but the veil between God and humanity is thick. It is tough.
There’s a need for assurance. You see, sacrifices, especially animal sacrifices, are found in a majority of religions. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. This is built into the human heart, that somehow we cannot approach God because of our sin, our spiritual virus. And we’ve got to do everything that we can. And yet even if we have it, we don’t know. Even if we know it, we can’t do anything about it. And if we know it and have it, we should anticipate death forever.
That’s why in the very beginning, animal sacrifice was given for one couple after they fell from God. A little later there was animal sacrifice for one family at the Passover. A little later on, there was one sacrifice, animal sacrifice, for the whole nation at the Day of Atonement.
Last Sunday it was beautiful to see all of India shut down. And as candles were lit and mobile phones turned on their flashlights and torch lights were lit–[they] were lit in order to say to the world that we’ve got to defeat the deep crisis of darkness, as called by the leader of the nation. There was something deep going on. I saw one particular sign which said Go, Corona, Go. That’s what happened when the animal sacrifices were given to the nation.
Before the veil was split, once a year there were two animals brought, one by the high priest as a sin offering, the other goat as a sin bearer. The live goat was brought in front of the whole nation and the high priest would say that “the sins of the nation are upon you” and tried to send it to the wilderness. And the whole nation clapped and cheered and hoped and chanted, “Go, goat! Go! Go, goat! Go!”, hoping that the goat will never return.
That goat was the final sacrifice, because there was a sacrifice for the whole world, not only for a couple and a family and a nation, but the whole world. Before Jesus’ ministry began, one of His biographers says, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the whole world.” The Lamb of God.
Some time ago I was in a temple in our country. A newly married couple were negotiating with a priest for the goat price and the sacrifice price. After they came to a conclusion, the priest and his assistants took the goat, had stretched its neck over a cradle, and brought the knife down. The priest sprinkled the blood around the holy place and took the blood and put it on the newlyweds’ heads to say they are now clean.
At this final full sacrifice, the veil which went from top to bottom torn in two was not a repetitive one. It was a permanent one. It was not a restricted one. It was a global one. It’s a universal one. It is a proportionate one and it’s a definite one, because the veil says there is assurance of access before God.
You never have to wonder, because every other ideology and philosophy and religion says you’ve got to build it bottom up. This veil was torn from top to bottom. God initiated. He sent His Son to be the remedy for your spiritual virus, my spiritual sickness. Both of which resulted in death forever.
And now He invites us.
But as the first act of your Good Friday of 2020, when the world is in pandemonium, you can say “yes” to the Savior, the Lord Jesus, who on His cross solved the problem of human sin and on the third day rose again to say that we have been cured. And we will have life forever, beginning with forgiveness right now.
The cross is a solution to our virus, the spiritual virus of death and defeat. The Lord Jesus came outbound from heaven all the way to the earth. He tested positive because we could then be tested negative. When we trust Him, He takes our sins upon Him as our substitute solution, so that we, who are at the bottom, can go to the top.
Heaven is not closed down. Heaven is not shut down. Heaven is not locked down. He welcomes you to trust Him as your only heart God and Savior, since He paid the price of your virus on the cross. And you can be spiritually healed, have life and forgiveness, now and forever. No more lock down. You are welcome.