Summary: Far too many people are playing around the edge of faith and gambling with the cross
Gambling with the Cross
Good Friday Service
April 10, 1998
I. Poem by George MacLeod
A. We have come to commemorate the crucifixion: We need to put this event into perspective, focus needs to be on content not cosmetics - we want to look good, focus on christ rather than ourselves
B. The poem
I simply argue that the cross be raised again
at the center of the market place
as well as the steeple of the church,
I am recovering the claim that
Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles
but on a cross between two thieves;
on a town gabage heap;
at a crossroad of politics so cosmopolitan that they had to write His title
in Hebrew and in latin and in Greek...
and at the kind of place where cynics talk smut,
and thives curse and soldiers gamble.
Because that is where He died, and that is what He died about
and that is where Christ’s followers ought to be,
and what church people ought to be about
C. Have we forgotten why Good Friday is so Good?: Churches often want celebrate Easter without Calvary, it is easy to put the suffering of Jesus out of our mind, we focus on the greatness of his teaching, the wonder of his miracles, the power of His resurrection but do we really look at His suffering, do we really observe the truth of Good Friday or are we gambling with the cross,
I. The Game
A. Carrying the Cross
1. Jesus was no longer able to carry the cross: Jesus had suffered a terrible beating, he had gone through a Roman flogging, this alone would have been extreme punishment, a crown of Judean thorns were woven and pressed into His scalp, loss of blood and exhaustion, as he walked the way of sorrows - people would spit and hit the doomed individuals, Jesus was probably tripped and had fallen many times, now he was in a condition that he could no longer carry the weight of the cross
2. Simon of Cyrene: Simon was a foreinger, in from far away, traveled to celebrate the passover, many say - wrong place at the wrong time, he was forced to carry Jesus’ cross the rest of the way, a heavy burden to bear, the cross was covered with Jesus’ blood, Simon was covered too, Do we remebre the reason we were our crosses of gold or do we gamble with the cross
B. Weeping for Jesus
1. Women weeping and wailing: These people weeped for Jesus, symbolic of Jesus weeping as He entered Jerusalem, jewish people followed doomed criminals and weeped for their loved ones, Jesus had several crowds of people, those he had healed - blind men still walking with their canes, lame now walked alongside, women whom Jesus elevated to a place of importance were weeping
2. Jesus calls to them: Jesus calls to the people, not to weep for Him, weep for themselves, they had brought judgment on their nation, they would soon be destroyed by the Romans - scattered once again, Jesus called them to weep for their future and their children’s future, it would be one of intense suffering, Do we weep at the suffering of Jesus - what hurts Him should hurt us, are you gambling with the cross?
C. Gamble with the Cross
1. Jesus is crucified: Jesus finishes His journey to the hill of the skull, the soldiers laid the cross down, threw Jesus on top of it and nailed his hands and feet to the bare would with long spikes, they lifted the cross and dropped it into a hole in the ground, Jesus does not judge the soldiers - Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing, Jesus prayed for His executioners, He was hung between two theives, lowest of the low, do you take His forgiveness for granted? Are you gambling with the cross?
2. Roman soldiers gamble for His clothes: Roman custom was that the dying persons possessions were divided between the executioners, now as Jesus hung on the cross dying the soldiers cast lots for His clothes, they were gambling with the cross in sight, have you hardened you heart to the truth of God? Do you like to forget the sufferings of Jesus? Are you gambling with the cross?
II. The Mockery
A. Leaders mock His Divine Position
1. Religious leaders hurled insults: The leaders who should have seen who Jesus really was lost sight, they were now out for vengence to rid themselves of this rebel, they were not satisfied to publicaly humiliate Jesus but He had to die, as He was dying they were proud of themselves, they insulted Him with statement macking His power and divinity