The following is an except taken from the introduction to the new book Standing Near the Cross. This book takes a unique look at each person found on the pages of Scripture who dared to follow Christ up the hillside of Calvary to stand witness to the darkest hour of His earthly life. Born from a series of sermons Pastor Neal preached in his own pulpit, this book has been a blessing to many Christians already. Click HERE to learn more.
Calvary. Golgotha. Crucifixion. These words bring immediate thoughts to the child of God and even those vaguely familiar with Scripture. At the place of a skull the forces of Heaven and Hell gathered for a showdown. While Jesus could have called twelve legions of angels, He instead was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Man’s redemption was paid that day, and prophecies were fulfilled. The significance of this day cannot be overemphasized. In order for Christ to be resurrected three days later, He first had to die.
Christ’s Crucifixion was not a solitary event. Yes, He was crucified between two thieves; but there were many more present that day. The act of crucifixion was designed not only to be a cruel and painful means of execution but also to be a spectacle bringing as much shame as possible upon its victim. This means of death was used to serve as a warning to all who witnessed this barbaric punishment. It was not uncommon for crowds to gather including the victim’s family as they mourned the fate of their loved one. Often, the Crucifixion of Christ is represented by three simple crosses on a secluded hillside; however, the reality is that the crucifixion was not on some secluded hillside but before a great crowd that had gathered that day. The mob who had gathered before Pilate chanting, “Crucify Him!” no doubt had made their way to the place of crucifixion. Also present were family and followers as well as casual observers who unknowingly would be thrust into prominence on this fateful day.
One thing is for certain, the great crowd who assembled that day was not there by accident. Most importantly, Christ was there sent out of the love of the Father fulfilling His purpose for coming to the earth. It is also important to understand that as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give their accounts of the events of that day, we notice who else was there and the roles they played. This book is a study of these people. Some are seemingly insignificant while others are more prominent. Some, I believe, have been misjudged and misrepresented. Others have been overlooked, while some were themselves a fulfillment of prophecy. Regardless into which category they fall, they all speak to us today. My belief is that taking a closer look at those Standing Near the Cross does not draw our attention away from Christ but actually puts more of our attention on Him. Join me as we look closer at the friends and enemies, men and women, named and unnamed, who witnessed the suffering of our Saviour, heard His groanings, felt the earth quake, and watched the sky turn dark as the Spotless Lamb became the Sacrificial Lamb for us all.
To learn more about this new title from Berean Publications, click HERE.
Pastor Neal, through his preaching and his counseling, displays the compassionate heart of a pastor, follows the true leading of the Holy Spirit, and expresses a fervent desire to see lost souls come to know Christ. It is his ultimate desire to see the greater Jacksonville area reached for the cause of Christ and for revival to come to Northeast Florida.