Tony Campolo tells a story of preaching on Easter at his church in Philadelphia. He got up to preach to his predominantly black congregation – and he was “ON”! The folks were encouraging and hepping him along, and he got excited. He could hear some saying, “Help him Jesus!” And then he heard a woman say “Well!” He said, “When you a WELL, it makes your HARMONES bubble!” He finally finished, sat down, looked at Sr. Pastor and said, “Top that!” The Sr. smiles and says “pay attention son, cause the old man is gonna do you in!” And Tony says that’s just what he did – with one sentence – five words – “IT’S FRIDAY, BUT SUNDAY’S COMIN’!” “IT’S FRIDAY, BUT SUNDAY’S COMIN’!” So what?
QUESTION? What difference does it make whether it’s Good Friday or Easter Sunday? The difference is that Good Friday represents everything AWEFUL in life and Easter Sunday represents everything AWESOME in life.
We’re going to consider two elements of the Easter story – THE LAMB AND THE CROSS.
In Exodus 12, God enacted the original Passover. As you recall Passover was the night the Israelites were freed from their 430-year bondage to Egypt. The Passover sacrifice allowed God’s death angel to “pass over” the homes marked by the blood of a lamb, while killing the firstborn sons in all unmarked homes. The Passover sacrifice was a lamb – a one yr. Male – w/o blemish or defect. This perfect lamb was to be slaughtered, and its blood wiped on the doorposts and lentils of each home. QUESTION? What is the SIGNIFICANCE of the LAMB? By killing the LAMB, the Israelites were shedding INNOCENT BLOOD! The LAMB was the INNOCENT SACRIFICE for the sins of the people. The lamb was a SUBSTITUTE for the person who would have died in the plague! The LAMB had to be KILLED in order to get the BLOOD that would protect them. From that point on – the Hebrew people very clearly understood that for them to be spared from death, an INNOCENT life had to be sacrificed in their place. And I am ABSOLUTELY convinced that EVEN BEFORE that first Passover sacrifice – God was PREPARING the hearts of men for JESUS - the ULTIMATE PASSOVER LAMB! And Jesus knew His role -as Lamb of God. As early as Mt. 16:21 Jesus told the disciples what lie ahead – and He set his face on Jerusalem –– to be the final blood sacrifice for sin. By His SACRIFICE, JESUS BECAME THE LAMB OF GOD! SONG – WATCH THE LAMB.
We don’t know how many disciples were at the cross when Christ was crucified. We know there was one, I believe more watched helplessly from a distance.
In his book “Evidence that demands a Verdict,” Josh McDowell describes what Jesus went through on our behalf. It started with “a sleepless night with no food. Then Jesus endured the mockery of 2 trials; He was slapped, mocked, spat upon, and ridiculed with a robe, a scepter, and a crown of thorns. He had his back lacerated with the