Misunderstandings of the Messiah

April 3, 2022

David Sorn

The Messiah is dying to save us, but the onlookers can’t believe He’s not saving Himself.

Misunderstandings of the Messiah

April 3, 2022

David Sorn

The Messiah is dying to save us, but the onlookers can’t believe He’s not saving Himself.



Good morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

We’ve been spending the last few weeks rolling out our new Core Values as a church, and today is our last week of doing that at the beginning of the message.

We aren’t taking our church in a new direction or anything.

But we wanted to put more accurate wording to the direction God has already been taking us these past few years.

So none of this should shock you or surprise you.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve rolled out these Core Values:

(We Put God First)

(We Pray The Impossible)

(We know our faith thrives in community but struggles without it)

(We are disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples)

(We will not rest until every person in our city has heard the Gospel)

And today I want to share with you our final 2, and also our Mission Statement.

Here’s the 6th Core Value:

(We believe the Bible is the lamp of truth in the darkness)

We didn’t previously have a core value statement on God’s Word and we wanted to add this.

Listen, it’s getting dark out there in the world.

But we believe that the Bible is God’s Word..

And it is THE truth.

And not just the truth, but the lamp that lights our path…and also makes Jesus look beautiful in a dark world.

And then, the 7th our final one shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who’s been here more than a few weeks:

(We are not a cruise ship, but a row boat. Pick up an oar.)

This is us, friends.

As we often say, we’re the anti-consumerism church.

If you came here today looking to be entertained, than this probably isn’t the church for you.

We want to equip you to be on MISSION for Jesus.

Not to sit in a seat and be served by others.

That’s not a Christianity you’ll read about in the Bible.

Speaking of this core value, I have a way you can apply it right now.

We still need 45 more volunteers to pull off our Egg Hunt Outreach in 2 weeks.

And most of the volunteers we need are volunteers to help direct traffic at the school across the street.

This is what we do.

We serve where needed to help people know Christ.

We imitate Jesus who said, “I didn’t come to BE served, but to serve.”

So pick up an oar…not a latte…an oar.

Grab your phone, head to the app, the connect tab, and press volunteer at the egg hunt…and help.

Or, you can sign up at our egg hunt table in the lobby

And finally, our Mission Statement.

We wanted to write a simple statement that demonstrated that our mission as Christians is really to serve and worship God ourselves and also to fulfill the great CO-MISSION (the mission Jesus commissioned us for)…and that’s to help lost people become disciples of Jesus.

So here is our new Mission Statement:

(Our Mission: To follow Jesus and help others do the same)

That is it. In the simplest terms.

It’s what we seek to do.

So there you have it.

We’ll be displaying these in a few weeks in the lobby, they’ll go on our website, and most importantly, our hope is that they deeply become a part of our culture.

Thank you for letting me take a few minutes to share about this each week.


(Lost & Found series slide)

All right, let’s get into our message.

As a church we are studying the book of Luke in the Bible

Luke is 1 of 4 books in the Bible about the life, teachings, death & resurrection of Jesus.

And we are currently in chapter 23, which is the day of Jesus’ crucifixion…Good Friday.

We have A LOT of ground to cover today with a long passage as we try our best to get to the Easter story in Luke on Easter Sunday.

I really wish I had 3 weeks to teach through today’s passage, but we don’t so I better stop talking about it and start preaching!

Luke 23:26-43

Page 721

We’ve just finished the last of Jesus’ “trials” and they are now going to begin his march toward his execution site.

We want you all to have this in front of you, so it won’t be on the screen.

So grab a Bible.

Look for that big number 23 (that’s the chapter), and then we’re starting at verse 26, so the small number 26.


(Luke 23:26-31) – NIV

26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then

“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”

and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

(Misunderstandings of the Messiah Title Screen)

Okay, we know from Matthew and Mark, two other writers about the life of Jesus, that after Jesus’ final trial with Pontius Pilate, Jesus was flogged.

And so while he begins to carry the cross (John tells us), he becomes too weak due to the floggings.

And just the exhaustion of everything that else that’s happened.

In just the last 12 hours, he has been sweating blood in the garden…

and then watched his friend betray him

He had to suffer through SIX false trials.

He also didn’t sleep all night.

And He endured beatings, not once, but twice!

He’s beyond exhausted.

And so the Roman soldiers grab a man out of the crowd named Simon who just happened to be walking in from the country, and made him carry the cross.

Simon is from CyrenE.

And I know, you’re like, “Where’s CyrenE???”

Don’t worry: I brought a map. I wouldn’t fail you like that!

(Show map of Cyrene)

It’s in modern-day Libya in Africa.

Simon is just in town for the Passover, strolling into town for the day’s festivities, and then BAM…carrying the crossbeam of a cross, which weighed somewhere between 75-125 pounds.

And notice Simon’s position (right at the end of verse 26)

He’s carrying the cross behind Jesus.

The exact thing we’re told to do as disciples in Luke 9:23

Jesus says:

(Luke 9:23b) - NIV

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

And fascinatingly enough other places in the Bible mention Simon’s sons as believers…

And so Simon and his family comes to faith…through this incredible hardship!

But in following after Jesus, he sees Jesus.

(Misunderstandings of the Messiah Title Screen)

And as Jesus is walking to his crucifixion and Simon is carrying his cross, verse 27 tells us that a large number of people are following this scene.

And the women are mourning and wailing for him.

But then, rather surprisingly, Jesus corrects their wailing.

And he says, “Don’t weep for me, weep for yourselves.”

And this is the first of 3 Misunderstandings of the Messiah we’ll see today.

These are Misunderstandings people had back then that caused them to miss out on knowing Jesus, and people have these same ones today

3 Misunderstandings of the Messiah

1. His death is an ordinary death

And because of this, Jesus begins to correct their understanding of what’s happening

First of all, it helps to know, historically, that women often wept along the route of an execution.

It was customary.

Sometimes there were even paid female mourners.

And so these women who are mourning an innocent man’s death are most likely not true believers in Jesus.

And Jesus corrected them because he knows they don’t truly understand what’s happening here.

They think this is a bad day.

…that a good man, an innocent man is dying (an ordinary death), and to them, that’s still a bad thing.

But what do Christians call the Friday when Jesus died?

GOOD Friday.

Because without his death, we wouldn’t be forgiven.

And Jesus tells them, there are worse things that are coming.

For their own children.

For in about 40 years, in AD 70, the Romans would completely destroy Jerusalem, and even the temple would be burned to the ground.

And so Jesus is saying, in the future, you are going to be so distraught in that you’ll ask the mountains and hills to fall on you

You’ll be so distraught in those times that people will literally say, “Blessed are the childless women right now” (v. 29)

Jesus is saying, “don’t just cry because you see a man dying.”

“Cry because judgment will come on you”

“And if you understood that I’m dying to take the judgment you deserve, tears would be coming to your eyes for a different reason right now”

Tears of gratitude

But you don’t see it.

They misunderstand the Messiah

They just see a man’s death, and nothing more.

And there are plenty of people today that still only see a man’s death.

They know about Jesus.

And know he died on a cross.

But they just think of it as a sad moment in history where a good man died.

They don’t truly understand WHY He died.

That he was dying for our sins. In our place.


Okay, let’s keep reading

(Luke 23:32-38) – NIV

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

(Misunderstandings of the Messiah Title Screen)

So Jesus, two criminals, Simon of CyrenE, and the crowd all head up to the crucifixion site, which is “The place called ‘the skull’

Many say there are some geographic features there that resembled a skull.

By the way, “Place of the skull” in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) is Golgotha if you’ve heard that before.

In Latin, Golgotha is Calvary.

So if you grew up going to Calvary Baptist or some other Calvary Church, that actually just means SKULL CHURCH.


Lot of death metal worship before the sermon.

And look at how they mock Jesus here:

They gamble for his clothes…right in front of him.

Which by the way fulfilled a prophecy hundreds of years old from the Old Testament

In verse 38, the sign above him is, although it’s true, meant to be a mockery

The “King of the Jews”

The soldiers mock him

The rulers and leaders sneer at him…

“let him save himself if he’s really the messiah!”

And that is the 2nd misunderstanding of the Messiah

3 Misunderstandings of the Messiah

1. His death is an ordinary death

2. They expect a Messiah will save himself

They think, “If he TRULY was the Messiah, why wouldn’t he get right off that cross and walk away.

And then, vanquish his enemies.

Bam! Strike the soldiers down with a flick of the wrist!

Boom! Call lightning down on the religious leaders!

But instead, what does this Messiah say?

V. 34: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”

And the people are most likely flabbergasted.

This cannot be a Messiah.

This isn’t how Messiah’s act. Is it??


Let’s keep reading.

(Luke 23:39-43) – NIV

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

(Misunderstandings of the Messiah Title Screen)

So there are two thieves being crucified with Jesus.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s refer to the thief who didn’t believe in Jesus as the 1st thief, and the one who did trust in Christ as the 2nd thief.

Look at the words of the 1st thief because they are quite indicative of the final misunderstanding of the Messiah in our passage

It’s the 2nd of half of 39.

Do you see it?

He says, “Aren’t you the Messiah?”

And then there’s this implied thought of, “and if so,”

If so, what?

Then, “Save yourself AND US!”

“If you were the Messiah, you would save me!

And that’s the 3rd misunderstanding that people have (back then and still today!):

3 Misunderstandings of the Messiah

1. People believe his death is an ordinary death

2. People expect a Messiah will save himself

3. People expect the Messiah will give them worldly salvation

What is the 1st thief most desperately looking for?

He wants to get off the cross.

He wants to be saved!

Not in a spiritual sense (like the 2nd thief), but in a worldly, earthly, physical sense!

When you read the whole book of Luke, you notice that people just can’t get their minds off of this idea.

They don’t want this spiritual salvation Jesus is offering, but they want an earthly one!

“yeah, Jesus, heaven and hell, blah, blah, blah, Jesus, “the kingdom of God…blah blah blah”

…what we really want is for you to make our lives better and conquer the Romans!”

The first thief might have said: “A real Messiah wouldn’t be talking about forgiveness right now, He’d be helping me get down off of this cross!”

Not that long ago, I was reading Timothy Keller’s thoughts on this very part of the Bible, and he fascinatingly said, “If you think about it, every single one of us has talked to Jesus just like that angry 1st thief did.”

The one who said, “If you’re really the messiah, save us!”

Christian or not, who hasn’t, when something really went wrong in our lives, said, “God, if you really do exist, here’s how you can prove it to me: Get me out of this. Get me out of this hospital, this job. Fix this thing. If you are the Messiah, save me from this situation…get me off this cross!”

There are maybe a some of you in this room today that are unsure if you even believe in God anymore because He didn’t answer that prayer when you prayed it: “If you’re God, do this”

---And certainly there are many people outside of these walls who don’t believe in God because God didn’t act how they thought He should.

And that 1st thief decides NOT to believe Jesus is the Messiah because well, Jesus didn’t get him down from the cross (so he must NOT be the Messiah!)

But Jesus doesn’t answer the prayer of the 1st thief (who wants to be taken down off the cross).


Because He is the Messiah.

He’s the Son of God, not our assistant who does our bidding.

We, in the American Church, have lost the mystery and majesty of God

We’ve simplified and reduced God so much, that people have lost reverence and respect for his sovereignty and wisdom.

Should Jesus have listened to the 1st thief’s plea to get him down from the cross?

I mean, people say, “I don’t believe in God, because He didn’t answer my prayer for help”

But, would the world be a better place today had Jesus just answered everyone’s prayers that day?

Say, Jesus answers everyone’s prayer, and gets down off the cross, helps down the thief who wants to get down, vanquishes his opponents, rides a horse all the way to Rome, and conquers the Roman empire with a wave of his hand.

And He gives Israel Notoriety, Safety, and Power, and dies at age 75.

Listen, that is almost the exact prayer request that everyone had for Jesus at that time!

They want the Messiah to give them worldly, earthly, physical salvation.

Would the world be a better place if Jesus had answered their prayers?


Because He wouldn’t have died in our place then…for our sins.

And if that’s true, then is it possible…that perhaps the world wouldn’t be a better place today if God answered every one of our prayers.

Let me ask you this: Can Jesus still be the Messiah, the Son of God, even if He doesn’t answer the prayer you have for Him right now?

Is it possible, that He’s more concerned with your eternal salvation (with you knowing Him) than your physical comfort?

Look at the contrast between thieves

While the first thief would follow Jesus only if Jesus did what HE thought Jesus should do…

…the second thief is different.

The other Gospels tell us that at the beginning both thieves began by insulting Jesus.

But something happens in the heart of one of the 2nd one.

Maybe it was how he heard Jesus pray.

Or how he heard Jesus forgive his executioners.

Or even the sign above him that said he was a KING.

The Spirit works on the heart of the 2nd Thief and he says, v. 42, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

It’s not, “Jesus, if you’re the Messiah, you need to do this.”

It’s, “Jesus, you’re the Messiah.”

V. 41: I’m getting what I deserve”

But Jesus, remember me. Save me.

(Misunderstandings of the Messiah Title Screen)

I mean, how interesting is this scene when you really step back from it?

God picked this final scene.

Jesus isn’t being crucified next to two robbers on happenstance.

This is the most important moment/setting in all of human history.

You better believe that God intentionally put two sinful criminals on each side of Jesus.

Because the truth is: Every human being is represented in those two criminals…much like Barabbas last week.

We are sinful, broken, and deserving of God’s judgment for our sins.

And some of us will look on the Messiah and say, “If you were really the Messiah, you’d do this for me, and then I would follow you. ”

While the rest of us will say, “I deserve this death, I believe you are the Messiah, save me”

Which one are you? Truly.

J.C. Ryle, the brilliant Anglican Priest of 19th Century England, put it this way:

“One thief on the cross was saved, that none should despair; and only one, that none should presume.” – J.C. Ryle

We see, in this beautiful passage, that even those on their deathbed, if they are genuine can be saved.

The 2nd thief did nothing to earn his way to heaven.

He had no time.

And yet his faith saved him.

While you still have breath, it’s not too late.

You cannot sin yourself into such a big hole that God can’t pull you out of with his grace and forgiveness.

And yet, the 1st thief isn’t spiritually saved. He’s going to go hell.

He doesn’t believe.

He’s concerned with his earthly life.

This very short, temporary life

And because his focus is in the wrong place, He misses out on eternal life even though the King of Kings is right there.

And his breath runs out, and now it’s too late.

And at some point for all of us, our breath runs out.

So, I urge you, make the decision now.

See Jesus for who He really is.

Jesus says this in John 5:

(John 5:24) – NIV

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Your faith in Him as the Messiah, as the one who died for you is what will save you.

It will forgive you, and give you eternal life.

A relationship with Him right here and now.

And the ability to spend eternity with him in heaven.

If you need to make that decision for the first time today, I encourage you to do it…

As we take communion together in a second, if you’re believing for the first time, I encourage you to tell God in your heart that you believe.

And then tell us afterward, so we can help you get started….

Our follow-up team will be up here in the front right.

And one of the ways we celebrate our salvation as Christians is to take communion together.

The night before Jesus was crucified, he gathered his disciples around for one last supper.

And on that night he gave them a way to always remember the sacrifice he was about to make for them

Luke tells us what Jesus said in Luke’s book in the Bible.

(Luke 22:19-20) - NIV

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

And so we follow those words, and we take communion in “remembrance of Jesus”

And this is something you want to do if you’re sure you absolutely believe it…that Jesus is indeed the Lord and leader of your life.

I know some of you are here just looking into Christianity, and we are absolutely thrilled about that…

(Misunderstandings of the Messiah Title Screen)

But you’ll want to skip this part for now, as the Bible says you should wait to do this until you know that you believe.

But for those of you who are believers, we want to take communion together today as we remember that His death gives our life meaning.

Under the chair in front of you, or under your chair if you’re in the front row…you’ll find a small communion chalice

Go ahead and pick it up

Look to the bottom of the chalice and pull off the covering to take the bread out.

Then hold it in your hand for a moment.

And I want you to take a second…and reflect that, in your sufferings, that God suffered for you, was broken for you, so that you could be together forever.


The body of Christ was given for you…go ahead and eat of the bread

Now before you drink of the cup, I want you to take a moment, and thank Jesus that he let his blood be spilled for you.

He wanted to be with you forever…so much so that He let his own blood be spilled over it


The blood of Christ was shed for you…go ahead and peel back the covering and drink from the cup

If you would, place the wrappers back in the chalice and place it in the holder under the chair in front of you.

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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