The Cross: Enduring The Cross
Key Text: Hebrews 12:2
We are gathered today to remember what was done on a cross 2000 years ago. The story and the message of the cross have endured oppositions; perversions and general resistance; and stand as an ultimate display of God's love for His creation.
As we talk about this let us turn in our Bibles to Hebrews 12:2.
The Story of the Cross is well known all over the world:
It is well known His last supper with His Disciples.
We know of His betrayal by one of His close followers.
We know How Jesus was taken before Pontius Pilate; we know how he was accused of crimes He did not commit.
We know well the beatings and insults he received.
How he was helped by Simon to carry His cross.
How he was nailed to the cross and how He was further humiliated upon the cross.
I want us to look at this Good Friday is why?
Last Sunday night we looked at the significance of the Cross this morning I want us to look at why Christ endured all this?
Why did he who created the world (Col 1:16) He who was God; who was unequalled in all things; chose to endure this horror this humiliation?
To see this let us read Hebrews 12:2.
As we take time today to remember what Jesus Did for us let's look at why He endured the Cross; well firstly;
He did not need to be there (our sin lead Him there)
There was no personal need for Jesus to be on the cross. Let us remember that Jesus Chose to go to the cross; to follow the will of the Father because we had sinned.
It was there that Christ absorbed all the hatred of Sin and all the disgust of sin and made right with us.
The central reality of the cross is one of atonement (Jesus taking our place to appease God's hatred of Sin).
The central theme of the cross forces us to take into account that we need to be saved.
In this we see that Jesus was the innocent sacrifice for the sake of the guilty! And the simple reality confronts us with a deeper truth; Jesus simply did not need to be on the cross.
He chose the cross so that we could have hope!
The reason we call it Good Friday is because Jesus chose to take our place and die our death so that we who believe could live eternally with Him!
This is the Good News! "For God SO loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish be gain eternal life!"
There was no external reason for God to reach out to us except for His great love! He was in no way bound to redeem us from our sins; but He loved us and so chose to go to the Cross!
We have all done wrong in our lives; we have all messed up and this is the reason that we deserve the cross and not Christ.
But Christ Chose to take our place! He chose to be nailed to a tree so that we might inherit eternal life through His death!
You see Christ came to pay a debt He didn't owe because we owed a debt we couldn't pay.
As Charles Spurgeon says; 'I have a great need for Christ: I have a great Christ for my need.'
The cross forces us to recognize our desperate need; it forces us to see that we need Christ he does not need us.
This might force us to change the way we relate to Him; for too many God is simply the genie to call on to grant all my wishes or a lucky charm to get us through our difficult circumstances; Christ shows us on the cross that He is King that came to grant my freedom!
I cannot look at Christ on the cross and think highly of myself; I see the cross and recognize my dreadful state and see a great God who did it all to grant my freedom!
So again Good Friday causes us again to look at the cross and acknowledge the love of God and the grace of God. We see that Christ did not need to go to the cross he chose to. We also see...
He did not need to stay there (He chose to endure for our sake)
Hebrews 12 says that for the Joy set before Him he endured the cross scorning its shame!
Jesus did not need to stay on the cross; he did not need to endure it? He chose to because of the joy set before Him!
At any point being God he could have called thousands upon thousands of angels to His aid!
He could have used His divinity to rip apart the fabric of the universe and simply stop the agony and shame He went through.
If He had chosen to leave the cross; we would all stand condemned with no hope of salvation!
You see Jesus foresaw the joy that lay before Him; this would be the fact that He would be exalted again to the right hand of God; that he would be glorified because of this sacrifice. But more so He saw the joy of the creation itself and men and women like you and me who would recognize their need and turn in repentance to Him!
This joy would be the joy of people coming to salvation!
For this reason he endure the cross and it's shame!
The cross was obviously the pain that would be felt in His physical body; but it was also the dread of the Spiritual implication of the cross; that He would experience separation from the Father!
This would cause Him to cry out my God my God why have you forsaken me!
The horror that must have been felt as all the evil that has been done in the world was put on His shoulders to bare!
But He endured the cross!
And in fact scorned (or despized it) and its shame.
John Piper describes it this way;
Shame was stripping away every earthly support that Jesus had: his friends gave way in shaming abandonment; his reputation gave way in shaming mockery; his decency gave way in shaming nakedness; his comfort gave way in shaming torture. His glorious dignity gave way to the utterly undignified, degrading reflexes of grunting and groaning and screeching.
Jesus despised this!
In other words Jesus looked to this horror and pain and abandonment and says "I reject you!" I despise you" in comparison to the joy that lies before you are nothing!
And so he endured all this for us! He endured all this and now we have hope!
He endured the cross for our sakes so that whoever would believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life!
What more could be said! Our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ endured the cross and it's shame for His glory yes; but also for our salvation!
We know the story of the Cross well; I hope today you know the message of the cross well!
The message of the cross is a simple message; God loves; Jesus dies; I am set free!
And in light of this great message there is a great response we are to live like He did and we are to have...
A heart like His.
We must set our eyes on Him; for not only is He our saviour but He is our example!
The writer of the Hebrews tells us in verse 3 to consider Him so that we will not lose heart!
The world we live in is constantly against us and robbing us of our joy and hope; and so we must keep our eyes on Him! we must fix our eyes on Him!
Again it is Spurgeon who said;
There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross- bearers here below.
The cross invites us to live lives that endure hatred and scorn! It invites us to live with love in the midst of hatred; of Forgiveness in the midst of evil!
The cross stands against everything the world holds dear and makes them nothing!
And the cross stands against our own arrogance and self importance and brings them to shame; therefore we have nothing left but to live in honour of Him who died for us!
Matthew 10:38-39 says
38"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39"He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
As we look at the cross and how Christ endured it we see a beautiful picture and a wonderful example; The King of Heaven did not cling to His life but endured pain and death for the sake of those who hated Him!
So If he who was above all would endure for us; sure we the servants we the creation can endure for Him!
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This Easter I pray that our hearts might be changed that we might look to the cross and not just recall the story; but look to it and see the message; see what actually happened; Christ died for us! Christ endured for us!
May we then pick up our cross and with this message in our hearts endure for the world! May this Easter be one where the hope of the cross is spoken; where the love of God is experienced and where the grace of God is lived out!
Because you see Christ endured the cross for you!