Matthew 27:33 ~ "The Cup That Christ Didn't Drink"
We have an important scripture to look at this morning. It means quite a bit. Preaching through the atonement to the crucifixion, I could probably preach some aspect of this in all four of the Gospels. It is interesting that throughout the whole bible, tons of stories are told and there are a lot of pages devoted to a lot of different historical events and things that have happened that when you go back and you look at them you are talking about a chapter here and a paragraph there, usually in just one book of the bible, but to have four chapters amongst fourth different gospel writers all focusing on this one event makes it really clear that there is a lot that is happening here that the Father in heaven wants us to see. This morning I want to focus in on one particular verse in Matthew chapter 27. Let’s start in verse 33, but it is actually verse 34 that is important. In verse 33 it says “And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.” Notice that, they offered him wine to drink mixed with gall. Matthew uses the word gall and Mark uses the word myrrh (Mark15:21-23). When he tasted it he would not drink it. He spit it out. They had lifted it up to him on a sponge perhaps or perhaps they gave it to him prior to nailing him on the cross and he did take a sip, but as soon as he recognised it for what it was he spit it out. At the end of the passage in verse 46 he says “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that means “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” and some of the bystanders hearing it said “This man is calling Elijah.” We see in verse 48 “one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. The scriptures record here as well as in Mark that he did actually take a drink of this wine. The first drink of wine he rejected, but the second drink of wine he received. We will be considering that this morning.
Please bow with me in prayer. Father we thank you for your son and for the atonement that he made for all of us on the cross. Father we thank you that we are declared righteous not because we are righteous but because of the righteousness which Christ freely bestows upon us taking away our sins and granting to us pardon and forgiveness. We thank you Lord for this covering that you have provided. Father if there are any here today who are still labouring under the weight of their sin who are still striving to make amends and still searching for some way to square the account with you and still trying in their own effort to make themselves righteous before you. I pray god that you would open their eyes to see exactly what is transpiring here at Golgotha. We pray Lord that you would open their eyes to see that there is no way to make right with you and that you have to make it right with yourself and that you do that through your son. Father we pray that if there are any here today who do not understand this that you would open their minds to understand it. We pray God that you give them faith to receive it and we ask Lord that they would trust in Jesus. We pray these things in Christ’s name, amen.
In retrospect, this statement should have been totally expected by me, but it wasn’t. Instead the statement came as a complete shock. I was in grade 12, it was one of my dear friends at the time who was not a Christian and he was a fellow by the name of Eric Echols and we were sitting there just before the start of first period. He was flipping through the news paper, the Austin American Statesman, and he turned to me and the statement he made was “It looks like God did justice for Madelyn Murray O’Hair. I was blown away by that statement from the mouth of an individual who didn’t believe in God and didn’t believe in religion at all. Some of you may not recall who Madelyn Murray O’Hair was, but she is the founder of the American Atheists Institution. She is the one that went before the United States Supreme Court in 1963 in order to press her lawsuit against the public education system of Texas and subsequently all public education systems across the United States declaring that prayer should be removed from school, that there should be no mention of God, the bible should not be a part of reading in English lit classes and that there should be a firmer separation between church and state and there should be no mention of God or religion in school. She filed a lawsuit on behalf of her son Bill O’Hair who was her oldest son and 16 at the time. There is a classic photo of her taken on the steps of the Supreme Court with her two children in tow and she is dressed in a demure wide brimmed hat and very lady-like white elbow-high gloves that were the fashion of the day. But, if you really know Madelyn Murray O’Hair you would know that she was not a lady. Man of what you would call “her dear close friends” would often comment of how mean she could be. One individual in particular, Jonathan Cleary, who was an associate of hers working at the American Atheists Institute said that “she would go through people like you or I might go through popcorn.” She could rip a person up one side and down the other and not feel the slightest bit of remorse and not really care what that person thought of her. Others would later on in life testify that she was a thief and a crook. She would often swindle the money collected by partner organizations, institutions which she herself had set up, in order to enrich her own pockets. She ran with a rough crowd. She would routinely hire ex-convicts and criminals to work at her American Atheists organization for a couple of reasons; 1. She could pay them less because they would struggle to find meaningful work being an ex-convict. 2. She admired their willingness to crime. She made the statement at one point in time “These are individuals who have embraced atheism to the fullest. Survival of the fittest. They came, they saw, they tried to conquer and unfortunately they got caught, but they are my kind of people.”
Well it was no surprise when on August 28, 1995 she turned up missing. Many of her associates said it was bound to happen sooner or later. Somebody was bound to grab this woman and do something horrible to her and it has finally happened. The strangest thing about it was that it was largely un-noticed by the world around her. People began to comment that Madelyn Murray O’Hair, her son John and her granddaughter Robin have gone missing to which the rest of the world said “So what?! Who cares? She was mean, she was nasty, she was vile, and nobody liked her. We are better off because she is gone. Don’t go looking for a cure to bring back. Be glad that the lord has taken it away.” Nonetheless, the society American Atheists needed to function and so when the CEO goes missing, in order to continue business, you have got to do something about it. The board met and convened where they appointed new directors and new leadership. Meanwhile, the whisperings continued. What happened to Madelyn Murray O’Hair? Where did she go? What became of her? What was her fate? People speculated and all kinds of theories were floated around. I can recall clearly sitting in church one Sundays in the mid-90’s and my pastor stood up and said “We need to stop talking about Madelyn Murray O’Hair because this much is true: God judged her and he knows right where he put her and that’s all that we really need to think about with regards to that situation.” Nonetheless, speculation continued. Late in 1995 under the leadership of new management at American Atheists, as they filed tax returns with the IRS, it became apparent that 1 million dollars had gone missing from the society. A crime was committed. Not the crime that Madelyn Murray O’Hair went missing mind you; nobody really cared too much about that, but a million dollars has gone missing from a non-profit society and that is something worthy of time and attention so the IRS investigated. Fortunately a few other federal agencies began to investigate. At the end of the day the conclusion was simply this, Madelyn Murray O’Hair fled with a million dollars, her son John and her granddaughter Robin. Beyond that nobody else was really interested.
Her first son, the one that stood with her on the steps of the Supreme Court in 1963, Bill O’Hair, he was the one to file a missing person report. Bill O’Hair had become a Christian in 1980 and on Mother’s Day 1980 he had come out and renounced the atheism that he had been raised with and he had shared with the world that he was an evangelical Christian and that he worshipped God. Do you know what Madelyn Murray O‘Hair said in response to this news form her first born son? She said “I wish now that I had just aborted him.” It is horrible isn’t it? She goes on “I regret that I ever brought into this world. As it is, one could call this a post-natal abortion on the part of the mother I suppose. As far as Bill is concerned I totally and utterly repudiate him, completely for now and all time, he is beyond human forgiveness.” Because Bill had decided to trust in a Jesus with whom she was at war with. He filed the missing persons report a year after she had gone missing. The media clamoured around the steps of the police department in downtown next to Austin City Hall and the chief of police, I remember seeing this on the news as a teenager in 1995, came forward and said “There is no body, there is no crime scene and there is nobody who cares.” Why would we go on and spend valuable police resources and assets chasing after somebody that nobody cares about. So, the legend of Madelyn Murray O’Hair continued to grow. What happened to this woman? What became of her and her son John and her granddaughter Robin who was the daughter of Bill; the man who became a Christian? It was one of those things that was gossiped about around the water cooler and became the talk of interoffice break rooms and chat rooms. At the end of the day nobody really knew and every year on the anniversary of August 28th the tabloids and newspapers - Texas Monthly, Austin American Statesman, San Antonio Express, The Tribune, and Dallas Moring News – would run an article on it because she was a bit of a famous person in Texas. She was after all the one who singlehandedly did away with religion in the public square, particularly in the public education system. That made her noteworthy amongst Texans and Texan Baptists no doubt. Then about three years after she went missing there was a reporter who had dug up some of the details regarding her family and published a few reports. This was an individual by the name of John McCormick. He received a phone call anonymously at his office at the San Antonio Express news department and the anonymous caller said something that just shocked John McCormick. Remember, he didn’t really care about Madelyn Murray O’Hair either, but he had published a series of reports detailing the theft of the million dollars. This anonymous caller made the statement “You want to know what happened to Madelyn Murray O’Hair? I’ll tell ya, look into the where a bouts of Danny Fry. Look at what happened to Danny Fry.” The caller went on to say “Danny Fry travelled from Florida where he hooked up with two other individuals by the names of David Waters and Garry Karr. The three of them together murdered Madelyn Murray O’Hair and her son and her granddaughter then made off with the million dollars. It was totally wild and unsubstantiated reporting. It was an anonymous tip. The tipster wouldn’t give his name and could give no corroborating evidence so John McCormick dismissed it out of hand. Later that month he was on a trip to Dallas for a journalists convention and in his hotel room that evening he flipped on the evening news and there was a detective on the evening new by the name of Robert Bjorklund who said “it is the three year anniversary of an unidentified dead body that has washed up on the banks of the Trinity River. Many of you have probably forgotten, but he washed up on the banks of the Trinity River in downtown Dallas, decapitated, missing his hands and missing his feet, just a torso. We would still like to see justice done for this man. If you have any knowledge pertaining to this dead person please come forward.” John McCormick, the reporter for the San Antonio Express was sitting there on his bed watching this while getting ready for dinner and the moment he saw that news report he said to himself “that’s Danny Fry from Florida.” He even recounts that the moment that he made this realization the chills went up and down his body. There was not a single shred of evidence to prove this theory, he didn’t even know why it jumped into his head, but at the moment that he had the thought he was utterly convinced it was true. He called detective Robert Bjorklund who was investigating the case and said “I think its Danny Fry.” To which Bjorklund said “how do you know this?” The truthful answer was given, “about a month ago I received an anonymous phone call to look into the death of Danny Fry in connection with the murder of Madelyn Murray O’Hair. In 1995 running DNA is an expensive proposition and you have to have more than just some wild and crazy theory and there were lots of wild and crazy theories circulating at the time about the disappearance of Madelyn Murray O’Hair, yet unbelievably, Detective Bjorklund said “Alright, I will run the DNA test. What else have we got to go on? An anonymous tip is better than nothing” Shockingly enough, guess what happened? The body that washed up on the banks of the Trinity River in Dallas was in fact the body of Danny Fry. Now they had a dead body that somebody actually cared to investigate. They began to research his cell phone records and his travel records. Danny Fry did not have a habit of using his cell phone, yet it was found that about a month before and the weeks following the disappearance of Madelyn Murray O’Hair, Danny Fry had made a shocking number of phone calls on his cell phone. These calls could be traced to one individual by the name of David Waters. David Waters was a former employee of American Atheists, the organization that Madelyn Murray O’Hair founded. This put them onto the case of David Waters. They began to investigate him. To the question of whether he knew Danny Fry he answered that they knew each other from prison a couple years before, but that he didn’t know anything about him and hadn’t seen him since. The investigators knew this wasn’t true because the two men had been talking via cell phone. One thing led to another and eventually David Waters was arrested on a probation violation in which he had a weapon in his car which was a violation of his probation. This led to a search warrant in which they tore apart his apartment and they found a gold coin. The coin was traced back to a jewelry shop in San Antonio. The investigators went back to the jewelry shop and they began to ask questions about this particular gold coin which had a serial number on it. Records were pulled and inquiries were made. Low and behold, we now know what happened to Madelyn Murray O’Hair; the woman that nobody cared about.
On the morning of August 28th David Waters together with Danny Fry and another ex-convict by the name of Gary Karr abducted her from her home together with her son and granddaughter. They held them hostage at a hotel in San Antonia, about an hours’ drive south of Austin. John, believing that they would hurt his mother if he did not comply, was coerced into making a withdrawal from the bank account of American Atheists to the tune of one million dollars. He then took the money by form of cashier’s check to a jewelers store in San Antonio where he converted that one million dollars into gold coins that he thought were untraceable. In 1995 they stamped serial numbers on everything so they were not as untraceable as they thought. They took this money and they stored it in a storage locker and then they took Madelyn Murray O’Hair, her son John and her granddaughter Robin to that same storage locker where they tortured her then brutally murdered her and her son and granddaughter. They dismembered their bodies, chopped them up into pieces, and took them out to a farm in West Texas where they disposed of the body. A few days later, debating how they would split the money, a decision was made that three ways was good, but two ways would be better so they murdered Danny Fry. They dismembered his body and disposed of him in the Trinity River in Dallas.
Whatever happed to these men? David Waters was convicted of first degree murder. In exchange for turning states evidence he was given life in prison. Garry Karr was sentenced to death; he was given the death penalty. He was executed in the state of Texas in 2009. Danny Fry, as you are already aware, was murdered by his accomplices. What is interesting is that David Waters, in prison, died of cancer. He reported to the infirmary one day and he was struggling with colon cancer. It was already too late by the time it was diagnosed as it had spread into his bones and into his lymphatic system. He died an excruciating painful death. The doctor that was treating him asked why he didn’t report it and he said that five years earlier, in 1995, when they took the million dollars off Madelyn Murray O’Hair they put it in a storage locker. When they went back to the storage locker to get the money it was missing. He thought he had committed the perfect crime, but somebody had taken that million dollars and he didn’t know who so he was always looking over his shoulder wondering when justice would catch up to him. As a result he developed a stomach ulcer. Because of this, he assumed the pain he was feeling in his abdomen was from the stress of that stomach ulcer. He didn’t know he was sick. David Waters died in prison from a cancer which doctors said was easily treatable if caught early. The doctor who closed the case on him said he died of his own guilty conscience.
Now you are all sitting here wondering whatever happened to that million dollars? Investigators finally figured it out. They had robbed Madelyn Murray O’Hair of a million dollars in gold coins, they had stuck it in a storage locker and a bunch of high school teenagers driving down the street and having a good time one Friday night, on a dare, pulled into that storage locker facility because they had a master key and decided to see if it would fit any of the locks. By their own admission they pulled up to only one locker and low and behold the master key fit that locker. They threw open the door and there was a chest sitting in the middle with nothing but a million dollars in gold coins. It was the craziest, wildest spending spree you had ever seen in the history of teenage adolescence.
You say “Pastor, that’s an interesting story. Why do you tell us all this?” Stop and think with me for a moment. Madelyn Murray O’Hair was a vial woman. I just told the story about the comment wishing she had aborted her own son and you all gasped because you know that is very wicked. When she went missing reporters were asking questions, but not too many. At the end of the day even the chief of police said we don’t care, we are happy she is gone. Madelyn Murray O’Hair was an unloved, unwanted person that nobody cared about and quite frankly when she went missing the world rejoiced, glad to see her gone. In terms of justice nobody cares to justice for Madelyn Murray O’Hair, nobody cares to see her killers brought to trial. Nobody that is except for one person and only one person. Do you remember that anonymous phone call that was made to the reporter, John McCormick at the San Antonio Express News? They had investigated all of the extenuating people who had been associated with this whole thing from start to finish. Danny Fry didn’t have any friends, he didn’t have any relatives, he was a loner that kept to himself and when he went missing from Florida nobody noticed! So the question is: who made that phone call? Who tipped off John McCormick? Who said to him, look into David Fry? Then when John McCormick goes to this journalist convention in Dallas, why is he there at the exact time that they are doing a three year anniversary on this investigation of this meaningless body that has washed up in the Trinity River. What causes the chills to run up and down his back and leads him to the totally unfounded conclusion that the body in the river is in fact Danny Fry, an accomplice of David Waters who murdered Madelyn Murray O’Hair. What leads a detective, a perfectly reasonable detective named Bob Bjorklund who is on a limited budget, to run an expensive DNA test on this body because of totally unfounded “evidence” that it may be Danny Fry? To this day if you asked John McCormick, who has since given his life to Christ in the wake of this event, he will tell you “it was an angle of God who called me that day.” Nobody wants Madelyn Murray O’Hair found, nobody wants justice for Madelyn Murray O’Hair……..except for God.
Stop and think with me for a moment. We worship a God who is going to do justice for everybody, even people that you and I think are utterly unlovely and unlovable and to be perfectly frank we are rather glad that they are gone. At the end of the day the person who did justice for Madelyn Murray O’Hair was the one whom she blasphemed on a regular basis, took his name in vein on a regular basis, and committed her whole life’s work to removing him as much as possible from the public arena. She was the one who set herself against God and heaven most high, the one who declared herself His sworn enemy and when she comes to a horrific fait for which no one cares about what has happened to her, there is one person who will do justice for her and that is Jesus Christ. Church, we worship a God who will see justice done no matter who has been the victim.
You are sitting here today and you are saying “Ok, you have got my attention pastor. What does any of this have to do about the cup of wine that Jesus did not drink?” You need to be aware that justice will either be done to you or it will be done by you. What I mean by that statement is you will be brought to justice in the same way that the killers of Madelyn Murray O’Hair were ultimately brought to justice. You will stand before a righteous and holy God in heaven who is so holy and so just that He will not let any crime go unpunished and He will not let any misdeed go unnoticed. He will not allow any tragedy to be unaddressed. He will correct everything, which means that even though you are sitting here today and you are saying to yourself “I am not as bad as Madelyn Murray O’Hair, I don’t wish that I aborted my child, I don’t swear and curse and blaspheme the name of God, I haven’t made myself a lifelong atheist committed to rejecting and pushing Him out of the public square.” Even if that is not you, you need to understand that if God was willing to do justice for her, He is going to do justice for you. You cannot escape it. He brought these guys to justice and He will bring you to justice. The only way you can be pardoned and forgiven is if you trust exclusively and only in what Jesus did on the cross. If you try to add anything to it you are still trying to cover up your crime through your own efforts.
The reason I make that statement is based entirely on this verse, Matthew 27:34 “They offered him wine to drink mixed with gall.” He doesn’t take that drink. Later on in the passage they offer him wine and he takes that drink. What you need to know what you need to know about gall/myrrh is that it is essentially a mild anesthetic. It is a very weak form of pain killer. You mix it with the wine and it increases its potency a little bit. It is the best that they had back in this day and age. We have compounds far more concentrated and effective with the 21st century medicine advances that we have access to today. It was an act of mercy. William Lane, in his commentary on the Gospel of Mark points out that when an individual was brought to be crucified the Jewish women would often mix this drink in order to dull the pain. Now, again this is the gospel of Matthew and it is written for you and me and it is written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is hanging on the cross. We know he is omniscient and we know that he knows all things which means that before they ever even offer this wine mixed with gall/myrrh to him, he already knows what it is that they are offering him. He knows that his actions on this cross are being carefully studied and scrutinized. He knows, it is in his mind, that someday maybe 2000 thousand years from now there is a man named Joshua Claycamp who is going to read this passage and I want this to stand out to him. He is aware of what is happening. As they are offering this to him he could just knock it aside, but he doesn’t even though he knows exactly what they are offering to him. They give it to him, he sips it so that the Gospel writers will notice that he took a sip of it, he holds it in his mouth, he discerns that it is wine mixed with a pain killer and he spits it out. There is only a little bit of pain that is going to be numbed. If it messes with his mind, his intellectual faculties it is not going to make him totally drunk or inebriated to where he is off his rocker and not aware of what is happening to him. It is a very mild pain killer. It offers only the slightest of advantages in terms of going through this ordeal of crucifixion. Yet, Jesus very consciously partakes of it and then he says nope, I don’t want it and he spits it out. This can only mean one thing. As Jesus is hanging there on the cross recognizing that he is baring in his body the wrath of God, he is eagerly trying to absorb every aspect of the suffering that he possibly can and denying himself every advantage and opportunity to even in the smallest way numb to pain.
No we see in Matthew 27:48 that one of them ran at once and took a sponge and filled it with, as Matthew comments, sour wine. The same comment is also made in Mark. Again, William Lane in his excellent commentary makes the suggestion that sour wine, contrary to popular myth which has been perpetuated throughout the church; this was not a cup of mockery. There are numerous records which show that sour wine was commonly drank by legionnaires serving in the Roman army. It was commonly given to individuals for a medicinal benefit to perk you up. We are not entirely sure what the ingredients of this drink were, but it is clear that this drink would revive you. It was more efficient at reviving you that water. They say sour wine, again we are not entirely sure why they would call it sour wine, but on some level it had electrolytes or some sort of beneficial properties beyond that of just plain water. If you were beginning to succumb to what was happening to you on the cross they would offer you this in order to revive you in order that you might not die just yet. Now, what is interesting is that numerous other accounts of crucifixions from this time period show the individuals on the cross would always take the first cup, they would always take the anesthetic, but they would always reject the second cup. In other words, they wanted to numb the pain as much as possible and as it drew time for them to die and as they were about to expire they would be offered this second drink in order to help them live a little longer and they would say no to that. They would say no to the second cup to bring their suffering to an end as quickly as they possibly could. What we see here from Christ is that He rejects the anesthetic. He is going to feel the pain as much as he possibly can and when they offer him the second cup in order to prolong his life, he does in fact drink that cup. He is going to take all the pain that he can whereas most individuals would reject the second cup in order to bring their suffering to an end as quickly as possible, he embraces that second cup in order to live as long as possible. What this means is that Jesus is on the cross actively seeking to absorb as much of the punishment and as much of the wrath of God as he possibly can. That is the meaning of this cup. That’s the meaning of what he is doing here. What that means for you and me is that there is one of two ways that we can be made right with God. Either we can embrace Christ and what he is doing here on the cross, absorbing the wrath of God or we can reject what Jesus is doing on the cross and we can seek ourselves to make us right with God which is never going to work. We can run from it, we can deny it, we can tell ourselves we don’t need this and religion is a crutch for other people and not necessary for me. But, justice will be done one way or the other. When we step back and we see here a man who is totally innocent being taken to the cross to bear the wrath of God in our place and then he takes steps to feel that as much as possible, there is no way we can minimize our own sin. We cannot say at the end of the day that what I have done is not that bad, or not that serious, or not that significant. If Jesus has to die and if in his death he has to take steps to make sure that he suffers the full weight of Gods furry then there is no way that you and I are ever going to escape. We will be done justice to or we will have justice done for us by Jesus Christ. There are two terms her that are often debated by scholars: expiation or propitiation. That’s the term that we are looking at as we consider this text this morning. To expiate, from the Latin “ex” and “piare” literally God needs to draw impurity away from a person. That is what expiate means, to draw impurity off of you. Theologians who subscribe to that think that what God is doing on the cross is that he is essentially just trying to take your sin away from you and to break the power of sin to purify you. Other theologians think it is much more significant than that, it is propitiate. The Greek word in fact is hilasmos. It is from Latin propitius which would be translated to favorable today. What we mean by that statement is that it is not that it is simply a matter of God trying to draw sin away from is and trying to break the power of sin, but it is actually something that needs to happen in order to secure Gods favor in our life. What we mean by that statement is that there is something in God that required him to do justice. He had to exercise his anger and his wrath against sin. He did that by punishing Jesus Christ in our place. Of course, propitiation involves elements of expiation because it is through the baring of God’s wrath on the cross that Jesus also simultaneously breaks the power of sin and draws it away from us. There are three ways that this word hilasmos is used in the New Testament. In Luke 18:1-13 it is used in the form of a verb in which the tax collector looks up to heaven and he says “God be merciful to me the sinner.” That word mercy is used from the Greek word group of hilasmos while this word means atone. How do you show mercy to someone if you do not first address their sin under which they stand condemned. The second time that it is used is in Romans 3:25. It is translated that God set Jesus Christ form as an atoning sacrifice. What that means is that Jesus is the one that is offered on our behalf to address Gods need for wrath. Last, but not least, it is used as propitiate which is a fancy theological word that I have already referenced. 1 John 4:10 the apostle John make the statement “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Again, that Greek word hilasmos is used. There is continuity with other religions of the day. You have all heard of the stories of these island people fearing the wrath of the gods so they take one of their children up to the edge of the volcano and they pitch him in, in order to calm the volcano and avert the disaster. So we see throughout world history, this need to somehow avert the god’s wrath and give them some other object to focus their anger on. In a lot of ways this is true of Christianity. God must exert his wrath against the unrighteousness and the wickedness of sin, but contrary to all the other world religions, God set himself forward as the object to receive his own wrath. There is no other way to quell the wrath of God or to satisfy his need for justice other than to trust in Jesus Christ.
Speaking of Madelyn Murray O’Hair, one of the statements that she made numerous times throughout her life was that her greatest fear was not in dying and going to hell, she didn’t fear that at all. She didn’t accept that there was a hell. What she feared most of all was that on her death bed a bunch of “christers” as she called Christians, would hear that she was dying and would gather around her and pray and that somehow it would be conveyed to the world that by some miracle she had converted to Christianity on her death bed. She absolutely hated the prospect of that. She feared is so much that she left detailed instructions in her will to make sure that such a thing never happened. She is famous for making the statement “Not that I think he exists or that I think he is real, but for the sake of you christers who constantly haunt me, I offer forth this one prayer – if there is a God out there, may he never ever allow any of you to reach me in my final moments on this earth.” God will do justice. Madelyn Murray O’Hair came to a faithful end as a result of the lifestyle of sin that she chose to embrace. God did justice for her and he granted her request. There were no Christians in the room that night. There was no one to offer her any final help. As we come to a conclusion this morning, if you are here today undoubtedly you have been told over and over again that Jesus is all about love and Christianity is all about acceptance. There are elements of truth to that, God does love you; we just read it. He loves you, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son” to propitiate his own wrath. This means that love has an edge to it. So, as we are gathered here this morning if you are a guest with us please understand that God is love, but love demands justice and the only way you can satisfy God’s demand for justice is by trusting in Jesus Christ and what he did for you on the cross. Do not live either implicitly or directly a life like that of Madelyn Murray O’Hair. Call out to Him now and ask for forgiveness which is freely available to you through what Jesus did for you on the cross.
Let’s pray. Father, if there are any hear today who do not know their need of justice we pray God that you would open their eyes and help them to see that they need to trust in what your son did on the cross. We pray God that if there are any here today who have these ideas that Christianity is all about love and it’s this sort of undefined puffy sort of feel good concept, we pray God that you would open their eyes to see that love requires that You do justice even for someone as vial and as horrific as Madelyn Murray O’Hair because You do love her. We pray God that they would see that You do justice to Madelyn Murray O’Hair by sentencing her to a punishment commensurate with her crimes, trapped for eternity in a place of judgment. We pray God that if there are any here today that they would know that they would be the recipient of justice if they do not trust in Your Son Jesus. If there are any here today who are still trying to make themselves right with you, we pray God that you would remove those illusions far from their mind and that you would help them to see that they need to place their faith in what Your Son did on the cross. God we pray you do that this morning. We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
The Gospel of Matthew is a story about a once and coming King. Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of David, the long awaited for Messiah. He has come once, and Matthew tells the story of His arrival, ministry, sacrificial atoning work on the cross, and His promise to return soon.