Summary: The 4th message in the 7 week series Back To Christmas.
Nothing To Keep Us Apart
Back To Christmas (4)
John 19:17-19, 25-30
Several years ago in Newsweek Magazine there was an article on how different religions view Jesus. They used the views of Jews, Muslims, Hindu’s, Buddhists and Christians. The article concluded with these words: “Clearly the Cross is what separates the Christ of Christianity from every other Jesus. In Judaism there is no precedent for a Messiah who dies, much less as a criminal. In Islam, the story of Jesus’ death is rejected as an affront to Allah himself. Hindus can only accept a Jesus who escapes the degradation of death. Buddhists say the crucifixion does no justice to Jesus. The image of a benign Jesus has universal appeal. Most of the world cannot accept the Jesus of the Cross.”
NO – people don’t get the cross today and they didn’t get it 2000 years ago, that is why Paul wrote these words in the first chapter of this letter to the Corinthians.
22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. – 1 Cor 1:22-25
NOW - the Greek word foolishness suggests something that is publicly despised, and ignored because it is ridiculous.
NOW - a crucified Savior does not sound unusual to us… BUT - for a Jew in Paul’s day – it was a total contradiction of terms. It was like saying “icy cold flames or hot ice.” It would be like calling a pizza place and asking for a (small-large) pizza or asking for a (meat lovers- vegetarian) pizza.
A – crucified Messiah defied all Jewish reasoning; because every hope they had in a Messiah was for a strong and powerful king coming to defeat their enemies, driving the Romans to the sea, restoring the glory of Israel to like it was in the days of David and Solomon. THEY - wanted a powerful conquering hero and instead they got a stumbling block…
NOW – before we become too quick to point our fingers at them, Lets be honest enough to admit that is some ways we are not all that different. I MEAN – truth be told we find a Christ who is willing to (die on a cross for us and make our lives new, much more palatable then a Christ who calls us to die to ourselves and daily carry the cross of self denial.
• To the Jewish mind the cross was a contradiction…
• To the Roman mind a crucified God was weak
• And to the Greek mind the cross was just plain ridiculous and unsophisticated…
QUESTION – what is the cross to you? Max Lucado in his book No Wonder They Call Him Savior, says of the cross;
The cross rests on the time line of history like a compelling diamond. Its tragedy summons all sufferers. Its absurdity attracts all cynics. It’s hope lures all searchers…
My what a piece of wood! History - has idolized it and despised it; gold plated it and burned it; worn it and trashed it. History has done everything to it but ignore it.
That’s the one option that the cross does not offer. No one can ignore it! You can’t ignore a piece of lumber that suspends the greatest claim in history. A crucified carpenter claiming that he is God on earth? Divine? Eternal? The death-slayer?
UNDERSTAND - there is an awesome power in the cross of Christ. IT - is at the cross that sinners are convicted; the arrogant are humbled; the hardened are broken, the skeptic convinced, the weak strengthened and the repentant are forgiven… AND – the Christ-follower is given the pattern and power for living.
THIS MORNING – as we continue in our message series ‘Back To Christmas’ we will look at the death of Jesus and then talked about how that event is intended to shape and define our lives today, December 2, 2007.
BUT BEFORE – we go there let me ask you a few questions about where we have been so far in this journey.
• Have you spent anytime thinking about heaven since November 11 when we talked about His return. Have thoughts about one day being in the perfect world, the home you’ve always dreamed of. Have thoughts about the ultimate ‘happily ever after’ in a world with: no doubt, no worry, no debt, no fear, no sickness, no pain, no sorrow, no sin AND the forever presence of God. Has this soon coming reality… started to give you a before vacation attitude about this life? Start thinking about it – it will.