Summary: During those last days of Christ, there are many who were close to the cross, yet chose to be far from Christ. Asks the questions, "How close am I?" Powerful closing illustration: True Story
Title: Close to the Cross, But Far From Christ? You Don’t Have to Be! 03/2004
Purpose: Asks the question: How Close Am I?
A. Open with personal comments about Mel Gibson’s The Passion
1. One of the most powerful and moving films ever.
2. My prayer is that we not get lost in the detail and miss the message
3. Excellent representation of the "feeding frenzy of man’s depravity." (Sin feeding on itself)
4. Violence was different and redemptive for in "slasher¨ movies there is an oppression and demonic sense. Not here.
5. Other comments
As I watched the scenes play out, I was struck once again as to how close they were to Jesus, yet, how far they were in realizing just who he was, and why he had come. It is something that we still see today. Even with all the criticism and skeptics, etc, let us not miss the real message of this film which transcends all of us. It is about a holy and perfect God coming to this imperfect world, to die for imperfect man who is in sin. For he willingly laid down his life. They did not take it. He laid it down, and he willingly took it up again.
Yet for all those who stood in the court yard that day, many were close to the cross, but far from Christ.
Question: How close are you willing to come to the cross of Calvary?
John 12:20-26 says, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."
Little did the disciples know what he actually meant by this statement. For now, the cost of discipleship has cost him his life"
John 12:24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
What does it mean to stand near the cross?
I. To stand near- sometimes means the steps will be painful
A. The cross throughout all of history. What was it"s meaning?
1. Mt. Moriah- (Abraham and Isaac) When a trembling father raised his knife to slay his son, only to have an angel hold his arm, and provide a ram caught in the thicket. (Genesis 22:9-11)
2. Serpent of brass: Moses was instructed to lift a snake upon a brass stake, and all those who would look upon it would be healed. (Numbers 21:8-9)
3. Passover Lamb: (Ex. 12:21) (1 Cor. 5:7)
4. Isaiah 53 ISA 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
The Old Testament led up with a great crescendo to the cross of Christ.
B. Part of the steps in discipleship and getting near is the willingness to take up the cross of Christ.
I am amazed that throughout the entire process, Jesus remains in total control of the situation around him.
a. During the arrest at the garden: Out of the darkness of sin, carrying flaming torches, Judas and the rest come to the true, Light of the World, Jesus, to arrest him.
b. Trial in the courtyard: Even through Peter’s denial
c. Whipped and tortured when at Pilate’s hearing:
John 19:10-11 10 "Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" JN 19:11 Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."
d. Presented for decision before the people.
C. Notice what painful steps Simon took in carrying the cross. Notice, that even though Jesus was suffering, while others cried out, Jesus still had enough compassion to say, v.28 Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. Luke 23:28
Why did he have to die? Because Love Costs
At Calvary something was happening to God by man, but something was also happening To man and FOR man by God.
What does it mean to pick up your cross and follow Christ? Why is it that the steps are painful?
a. Because there are no short cuts. (Jesus could have avoided the cross, while being tempted by Satan in the desert. He could have avoided it while in the garden. But he didn’t)