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Summary: Good Friday brings us to a subject where men of all ages stand in awe, for it brings us to the cross. Ever since that awesome event on Golgotha's hill men have looked at the cross and thought, "Wonder of wonders that Jesus loved me."

I remember learning a poem when I was a boy, which you will no doubt recognize. The

first lines were, "Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are." I have been told

that this poem is out of date, for the scientifically educated modern child can say, "Twinkle,

twinkle little star, I know precisely what you are." Then they can go on and describe how

much oxygen, hydrogen and other elements compose the star. Because of the rapid advance

in knowledge, that which was mysterious and awe-inspiring to one generation may be

understood common knowledge to the next generation.

Good Friday, however, brings us to a subject where men of all ages stand in awe, for it

brings us to the cross. Ever since that awesome event on Golgotha's hill men have looked at

the cross and thought, "Wonder of wonders that Jesus so loved me." Certainly any believer

has experienced something of the feeling of the poet who wrote,

I wonder as I wander out under the sky

How Jesus the Savior did come for to die,

For poor on'ry people like you and like I.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

Martin Luther one day determined to understand the cry of Christ from the cross. He

sat down to meditate, and for a long time without food or drink and little movement he

concentrated on the cross. Finally, he broke his silence with a cry of amazement: "God

forsaken of God, who can understand that?" No one since has ever claimed to fully

understand, and we shall not begin to grasp it all, but if we cannot exhaust it, we can at least

examine it, and I trust go away with a deeper understanding of the meaning of the cross.

I. THE TEMPORARY TRAGEDY AROUND THE CROSS. v. 39-44

I use the word temporary because even the hate and evil of those who crucified Jesus

was forgiven, and they too were free to accept the pardon, which He purchased on that cross.

We first see those who passed by. The cross was on a hill near a main road going into

Jerusalem, and so many going to and from could see the cross. Many were passing by on the

way to the city, possibly even to worship in the temple. They would see Him who said,

"Destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up." Seeing Him they cried out, "Where is

your boasting now? Come on and let us see some of that power of yours. Come down and

show us." There was not a sign of sympathy as they went on their way totally unconcerned

about His suffering. It would have made no difference if they had seen Him in a ditch having

been beaten by robbers. They did not care, for how could His suffering affect them. There

was not a Good Samaritan among them.

People have not changed, for they are still self-centered, and only things that interest

them and profit them are of any concern. They do not see the sufferings of others. We have

to ask ourselves if we were on that road to Jerusalem, would we have been concerned? Are

we so wrapped up in our own problems that we do not see the burdens others are bearing?

John Wesley had to learn the hard way. He rebuked a man in anger for his small

contribution to a worthy cause. He knew the man had a good income and it angered him that

he gave so little. The man looked him in the eye and said, "I know a man who buys in the

market once a week and boils parsnips in water and lives on that all week." "Who is that?"

asked Wesley. "I am that man." Wesley responded, "I don't understand." The man

explained, "I made many debts before I became a child of God, and now my goal is to repay

them." Wesley thought only of his perspective, and he did not see from that man's

perspective. So it was for those who passed by the cross.

This tragic self-centeredness is seen even more clearly in their cry for Him to come

down and then they would believe. This is the height of self-centered pride. Man is dictating

the terms by which he will believe. Man is demanding that God conform to his will or he will

not believe. People still do this, and they say if God will do such and such, then they will

believe. Leslie Weatherhead tried this and when it failed he woke up to realize he was

reducing God to a magic rabbit's foot. He realized that God is not a cosmic slave who runs

our errands. We can thank God He did not answer that foolish prayer and come down from

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