Summary: A sermon on the third of our Savior’s sayings from the cross.
If you and I had been in Jerusalem that Passover afternoon when Jesus was crucified, I wonder how near the cross we would have stood. It is one thing to sing, "Jesus, keep me near the cross," and it is quite another thing to actually stay near the cross. Roman soldiers were there because of duty. Others were there, however, because of devotion.
When we speak today of drawing near to the cross, obviously we are not talking about literal geography. The cross upon which Jesus died is gone and you and I cannot go outside the city wall of Jerusalem and stand near the cross. No, we are speaking about a spiritual position; we are talking about living with a sense of awareness of what Christ did for us at Calvary and what that can and should mean for our lives.
This third word from the cross helps us to understand what it means to live our lives under the shadow of the cross. Let’s think about each of the persons who, out of devotion to the Savior, drew near to the cross that day and what the cross possibly meant to each of them.
1. For Mary Magdalene, The Cross Was A Place Of Redemption.
Mary Magdalene had been delivered by the Lord Jesus Christ. She is mentioned in Luke 8:2 as a woman out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons. She had been in bondage to Satan, but had been delivered by the power of the Savior. No doubt, as she stood at the foot of the cross that day, she contemplated the depth of the Lord’s love for her as He willingly paid the penalty for her sin, so that she might be set free!
Some of you today also need to find a place of redemption. You are in need of a fresh start as was Mary. To you the Holy Spirit would say, "Draw near to the cross!"
Draw near to the cross and recognize that God came in human form in the person of Jesus Christ for one purpose - to pay the penalty for your sin and make possible a way whereby you might have forgiveness of sin, freedom from guilt and eternal fellowship with God!
None of us can go back to the beginning of our life and make a brand new start; but by the grace of God and because of the cross, we can start from where we are and make a brand new end.
No matter who you are or what you have done, when you come to the cross, you will find a place of redemption.
2. For The Wife Of Cleopas, The Cross Was A Place Of Resolve.
We know nothing else about the third Mary at the cross except that she was the wife of Cleopas. This, however, tells us something significant about her.
The fact that John mentions Cleopas by name, indicates that he was a person known to the recipients of John’s gospel. The recipients of John’s gospel were, in all likelihood, believers for whom John was seeking to pass down his Holy Spirit inspired recollections about the life and ministry of Jesus. That Clepoas was known to them indicates that he too, was a believer, perhaps of some renown.
If indeed, this is the case, the question arises, where was he, while his wife was at the cross? Our conclusion would be that either he was an unbeliever at the time, who later came to Christ by the time John wrote his gospel; or he was a believer at the time whose devotion was much less than that of his wife’s, but who later developed a great level of commitment to the Savior.
In either case, we can see how Clepoas’ wife, Mary, was a lady whose resolve to remain devoted to Jesus regardless of what others might say or do, eventually had a positive impact upon her husband. No doubt, as she stood at the foot of the cross that day, witnessing the lengths to which Jesus was willing to go for her sake, she was inspired to go to whatever lengths were required in living for His sake! For her, the cross was a place of resolve!
Perhaps the need some of you have today is for renewed commitment to live for the Savior. Perhaps you find that your family, your friends, or those with whom you work or attend school are not supportive of your devotion to Christ. To you the Holy Spirit would say, "Draw near to the cross!" Draw near to cross and find inspiration and motivation to keep on living for the one who died for you.
William Tanner, former president of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, tells the story from his boyhood in a small town in Texas. There, he would sneak off every week to see a display which an insurance salesman would put in his store window. This was during World War II and the salesman would put a different display about the war effort in his window each week. He himself had four sons in the war (all of whom returned safely). Once Tanner rounded the corner of the building and was greeted with the shocking sight of a picture which had been blown up to a size of about three feet by three feet. It was a picture of a soldier lying face down with his hel¬met blown off of his head, his arm outstretched, seemingly reaching for the weapon which laid just beyond his grasp. But the caption caught even more attention: "What have you done for your country today that a soldier should die for you tomorrow?" That’s a question we should still be asking.