Summary: The Cross of Jesus tells us things we need to know, but we’re not sure we want to hear.
Several years ago, I was driving through downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was a 4 lane, one way street that I had traveled several times before. I was going the speed limit (maybe a little faster) when I saw the light up ahead turn yellow. I thought to myself, "I can make that light if I just speed up a little…" and I proceeded to up my speed - just a tad.
Then I saw THEM. Stopped on either side of the lane I intended to "shoot through" were two police cars. Immediately, I put on the brakes and literally slid to a stop between them. Turning slowly to look at the police car on my right, I grinned sheepishly. He smiled back and then made the universal baseball sign of waving one hand over another: "Safe."
APPLICATION: There was something about those police cars that spoke to me of the improperness of my going thru the intersection, and of the questionableness of my stop. If it hadn’t been for those policemen I would cruised on through the light on the tail end of yellow warning signal. But these police cars... they declared something to me.
The cross of Jesus Christ declares certain things as well… and it isn’t always what we want to hear.
The cross of Christ confronts us with certain truths that we may find difficult to face. In I Cor. 1:22-24 we’re told:
"Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
Why does the world find the cross to be a stumbling block or dismiss it as foolishness? Because it declares things that the world doesn’t want to hear or accept.
I. The Cross declares that we are sinners (Colossians 2:21-22)
Romans tells us: "ALL HAVE SINNED..."
I don’t like to hear that I’m a sinner. I like to think of myself as a "nice person." If it weren’t for the cross I might be able to blithely convince myself I’m not such a bad person after all.
BUT, if I’m unwilling to face the cross and it’s message, I have to do something with the guilt that it exposes me to. I need to justify myself or I need to cover the sin.
ILLUS: An Indianapolis patrolman ran into trouble while investigating a routine traffic mishap. His problem began after he had interviewed witnesses, arrested one of the drivers, and written up the accident report. He suddenly noticed that the offending motorist was chewing on something that wasn’t gum. He was eating the report! The officer reached for the disappearing paper, only to get his hand caught in a bite that lasted about 2 minutes. Despite his efforts to retrieve the report, it was destroyed. But the delay was only temporary. The patrolman tracked down the witnesses again and recompiled the damaging evidence.
We may not be so brazen as the guilty motorist in covering our sins, but we all do it, just the same:
1. We make excuses for ourselves ("that’s just the way I am")
2. We point at other and cry that they were guilty too... (like the child who cries: "but he hit me first")
3. Or we compare ourselves with someone else: "I’m just as good as..." (Paul wrote that when compare ourselves with others, we prove that we are not wise)
BUT the #1 way in which we may try to deal with our guilt is to outweigh it with good deeds and actions.
ILLUS: (Take out a scales the type with two trays hung from a bar which is balanced on a fulcrum and say): "Most people visualize their lives like this scale. They know they do things of which they are ashamed (put a weight on one of the trays) and it makes them feel out of balance. So they attempt to compensate by doing good things (put a weight on the other tray so that the scales tips the other way). This goes back and forth, more weight being placed on each side - but none being removed. The weight and the guilt of bad deeds remains and periodically resurfaces to remind us that we are unworthy of God’s love for us.
II. Why do we feel driven to this "balancing of sin with good deeds?"
The Cross declares that there is a price to be paid for sin - there’s a cost. And that cost must receive restitution!
Romans 6:23 tells us "the wages of sin is death..." there is a price that must be paid.
God drove that into the minds of His people in the Old Testament with His strict requirement for animal sacrifices.