A Long Walk to the Cross
Study Guide, April 10, 2022
Pastor Clay Olsen
It is estimated that during Jesus’ years of ministry that He walked about 3,125 miles. That’s a lot of walking! And over the course of His life on Earth, the estimate is about 21,500 miles. That’s almost the circumference of the entire Earth, which is 24,900 miles. And of course, they didn’t have gel pad inserts or air-cooled memory foam for their sandals. Just good old hard leather. But how amazing to think about Jesus, the Creator of the Earth, walking in the fields and on the roads of the very Earth He created. And one day He is coming back to walk upon His Earth again!
But although He walked to many places and walked many roads, we know that the real walk that He was on was His walk to the Cross. And, right away, we think of His walk along the stations of the Cross, along the Via Dolorosa, which means ‘Sorrowful Road’. But in a very real sense His walk to the Cross started much earlier…much, much earlier. Let’s highlight some of the stops along the way and about Jesus’ long walk to the Cross. And if you listen carefully, you can hear His footsteps all through the Law and the Prophets. Let’s explore.
Although there are some differences in the final tally, one scholar, J. Barton Payne, has found as many as 574 verses in the Old Testament that somehow point to or describe or reference the coming Messiah. Alfred Edersheim found 456 Old Testament verses referring to the Messiah or His times. Conservatively, Jesus fulfilled at least 300 prophecies in His earthly ministry. The point being, the possibility of one person fulfilling all 300 prophecies is far beyond any normal chance or likelihood. The only explanation of the fulfillment of that proportion is a supernatural explanation…it could only be done by God Himself! But one interesting way to think about the prophecies of Jesus’ coming is to think of them as ‘footsteps’. Think of the prophecies of Jesus as ‘footsteps of Jesus’ coming’. Even now, the fulfilling of the prophecies of Jesus’ return are ‘footsteps’ as well. Sometimes it almost like we can hear His footsteps getting closer…closer to the return of our Savior and King!
The footsteps started very early, even before the account of Genesis, for it started with this:
Acts 2:23-24- “…this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” NASU The walk to the Cross began with a plan. And even though the things that godless men did to Jesus were all wrong, it was all right according to the plan. It was horrible and heart wrenching, but it was still necessary because of what one prophecy stop along the way to the Cross revealed to us: Isa 53:5-6- “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” NASU
How strange, yet unique, that Jesus is the only Person who was ever born that was born for the purpose of dying. He was the Passover Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world. Isaiah reveals that Jesus was spiritually and physically ‘pierced through for our transgressions’, for our sins, or rather, because of our sins. You don’t often hear the phrase, but we should hear it more – that, yes, Jesus died for us, but more, Jesus died because of us. Who is responsible for the death of the Son of God? Are you ready? You are…and I am…and so is each human being that has ever lived. Collectively and individually, we are responsible for the death of the Son of God on the Cross of Calvary. Our hands didn’t drive the nails that pierced our Savior, but our sins did. “He was pierced through for our transgressions…” One Bible version puts it like this: Isa 53:6- “We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on Him, on Him.” Message Bible
So Jesus died because of our sins, but He also died because of His love. What put Him on the Cross was our sins, but what held Him to the Cross was His love. He found a way to pardon our sins so that we could be forgiven the sentence of eternal death and instead be given eternal life through our repentance of our sins and our receiving of Him as our Lord and Savior.
But again, those footsteps began early on, very early on. Gen 3:15- “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” NIV This is the ‘protoevangelium’…the first gospel. This first prophecy declares that a human child would become the Deliverer, even having victory of the Devil himself. Only God can do that…and that is exactly who Jesus is: God and King and Savior and Deliverer. When God declared that revelation, it must have been like a thunderous footstep that shook the Garden of Eden.
Then, of all people, a Midianite soothsayer said this: Num 24:17- “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel…” NASU Balaam is the one that prophesied this. And Who did this ‘sanctimonious soothsayer’ say that he saw? Again, of all people, because of the prophetic vision that God gave him for this prophecy, this sanctimonious soothsayer saw a coming ruler. And he saw Him coming through the line of Judah and also then being granted royalty and rule as King over all. Balaam prophetically saw the coming of Jesus the King!
David also predicted the coming of the King, the coming of King Jesus. As a Scripture songwriter, David may have even had some music to it, making his version of ‘The King is Coming’ long before Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote their version of it. Look at this: Ps 2:10-12- “Now then, you kings, act wisely! Be warned, you rulers of the earth! Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. Submit to God’s royal son, or He will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—for His anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in Him!” NLT The Psalmist is calling for all the Earths kings, rulers, and judges to submit to the Messiah God and King. He knew that the Messiah would one day come to the Earth, but even then, David knew that the Messiah ruled over the Earth from Heaven. Friends, this call is still going out today…going out to our world. This is the timeless message we are to be sending to the rulers of our nation as well.
Now note, there is rightly so a separation of Church denomination from the State, so that no one denomination controls a government, but there never has been nor was there ever to be any separation of submission to the Messiah God from the State! God calls for every ruler of every government to submit to His sovereign rule as Creator and Lord of all the Earth. Every government on Earth is accountable to the Creator, and the only Messiah of the Earth. And like David, we are to call all kings, rulers, and judges to also submit to the authority of the Messiah God and King in how they govern and rule. For everything else is rebellion against God’s royal Son. And the result of rebellion is as the Psalmist declared – destruction. That’s why King Solomon also reminded us that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin destroys it. And ‘sin’ doesn’t pay any attention to any so-called separation of church and state…sin simply destroys wherever it exists and in whoever it exists.
God also expected everyone to pay attention to another ‘footstep’ of the coming Messiah in the fascinating timetable that Daniel gave of the end times. First: Do you know what time it is? Not by your watch, but by Daniel’s timetable? It’s the interim time between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel. Notice: Dan 9:24-27- “A period of seventy sets of seven (seventy weeks) has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times. After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.” NLT
Now, to unpack all of that requires several study times. But the point we are making today is that we are living in this interim period, also called ‘The Church Age’. We are living in between what happened at the end of the 69th week of Daniel and before what is yet to occur in the 70th week. (That would be a great question to ask people: “So, do you know what period of Earth history we are living in? We’re living between the 69th week and the 70th week of Daniel. And even if you get a blank stare after that, well, that’s a great time to share some Bible prophecy and about Jesus’ return to Earth.) But what happened at the end of the 69th week is that the Anointed One was killed. To be more exact, the Messiah was put to death at the end of the 69th week of Daniel. And without delineating the timeline, as we have done before, suffice it to say, from the issuing of the decree by Artaxerexes Longimanus in 444 B.C. to rebuild the temple to the time of the ‘cutting off’ of the Messiah, those 69 weeks of Daniel were fulfilled. In fact, history records that the timing of this prophecy worked out to the very day that the Messiah rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. And of course, just days later He gave Himself up on the Cross as our sacrificial atonement for our sins.
By the way, this is why Jesus charged the leaders with reminding them that they should have understood the time of His visitation. Daniel had even given them a precise timeline of His coming and of His sacrificial death as the Lamb of God! But that’s no surprise that they didn’t follow the Scriptures. Human nature has not changed. Much of the world is still ignoring God’s timeline for the Messiah and for the finish of the times of Men on Earth as we know it. Also remember, after the Church Age, there is one week left, or week of years…the 70th week, the seven years of Tribulation. So Daniel’s prophecy was a huge footstep of Jesus’ approach to the Earth in His first advent.
But then for today, there is another prophetic footstep associated with Palm Sunday. And it is found in Zech 9:9- “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” NASU Think about it: 500 years before that first Palm Sunday, the Prophet Zechariah not only stated that their Messianic King would enter Jerusalem to provide salvation for whosoever will…but he also states that He would enter Jerusalem on a foal of a donkey. And that is exactly what happened. Those who watched Jesus coming into Jerusalem and who knew this prophecy of Zecahariah, when they saw Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, they probably got major goose bumps right then… ‘spiritual goose bumps’.
Also, conquering Kings, Kings coming to conquer people didn’t ride foals of a donkey when they entered a city. They rode stallions, powerful horses, not humble donkey colts. But Jesus was first coming to conquer a different foe, or foes… the foes of sin and death. And you conquer those by dying…by dying a sacrificial death. And that’s exactly what Jesus did. And then, or now having conquered sin and death, the next time Jesus rides into Jerusalem it will be on a stallion. He will come again as the conquering King of kings and Lord of lords. Which means that now…now the people of Earth should be listening, not only for the footsteps of Jesus, but also for the hoofbeats of His coming. And of course, when that happens, we will be riding with Him, as His church returns with the Messianic King.
Well, that was only six of the prophetic footsteps foretelling the coming of our Messiah. We still have 294 to go. The prophetic promises of our Lord Jesus coming to give His life for us are simply overwhelming. The people of Jesus’ own day should have spiritually heard the prophetic footsteps of their coming Messiah, Jesus. But many did not have ears to hear, just like many people today. So many people of Earth have closed their eyes to truth, and covered their ears to understanding, and hardened their hearts to God’s royal Son, Jesus Christ. But we pray for them to open their eyes, and open their ears, and give their hearts to God’s royal Son…to Jesus as their Savior. And for all who have opened the door of our heart for our Messiah and Lord to come right on in to our hearts and lives…we rejoice over our Savior and we exult in our salvation. We have said, “Hosanna…save us…” and He has. Jesus has saved us and conquered sin and death for us.