Summary: The Cross is a central focus of Christ’s story. But why? Why did Jesus need to die on the cross?
VIDEO – Session 7 – “Putting It All Together” (up thru the phrase “There’s No Middle Ground”)
OPEN: Richard Bandler tells one story about visiting a mental institution and dealing with a man who insisted he was Jesus Christ - not metaphorically, not in spirit, but in the flesh.
One day Bandler walked in to meet this man. “Are you Jesus?” he said.
“Yes, my son,” the man replied.
Bandler said, “I’ll be back in a minute.”
This left the man a little bit confused.
Within three or four minutes, Bandler came back, holding a measuring tape. Asking the man to hold out his arms, Bandler measured the length of his arms and his height from head to toe. After that, Bandler left. The man claiming to be Christ became a little concerned. A little while later, Bandler came back with a hammer, some large spiked nails, and a long set of boards.
He began to pound them together into the form of a cross.
The man asked, “What are you doing?”
As Richard put the last nails in the cross, he asked, “Are you Jesus?”
Again the man said, “Yes my son.”
Bandler said, “Then you know why I’m here.”
Suddenly you could see a wave of recognition sweep across the patient’s face. He stepped back and shouted: “No! No! I’m not Jesus. I’m not Jesus!”
APPLY: Isn’t that interesting…even a man in a mental institution understood that the cross was part of the story of Jesus. And he understood enough about what Jesus went through that, when faced with the same potential of pain in his own life, he had no intention of experiencing it. And neither would you or I
(pause…) But Jesus did. The cross is a central part of His Story.
Now there are people who are uncomfortable with the cross.
I have heard that there are churches that have begun to remove crosses from their bldgs.
I have heard of congregations that have moved the communion table out of the worship area
And there are still others who have tried to move the focus off of the cross… and onto Jesus as simply a good man, or a Great teacher, or a powerful religious leader.
The cross makes a lot of people uncomfortable, so much so that some have even tried to maintain Jesus hadn’t meant to be crucified. That he was simply a man who got caught in a tragic and fatal power play.
But only those who are dishonest can totally ignore the fact that the crucifixion was a central part of Jesus’ Story.
For example, if you look at the Gospels, you find that each of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke AND John - build toward the crucifixion. It was the ultimate focus of all they wrote.
In addition, you’ll find that – in the book of Matthew at least - again and again, Jesus warned His disciples of what was coming. Here in Matthew 16:21 (read along with me) “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Then later… “When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him…’” Matthew 17:22-23
And again… in Matthew 20:17-19 “as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified…”
And then one last time in Matthew we’re told that “When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away— and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Matthew 26:1-2
Again and again and again… Jesus told His disciples that He was going to be die on a cross. But (despite the fact) that the crucifixion was part of what Jesus had to do… it wasn’t something He really WANTED to do. Instead it was something He NEEDED to do
Turn with me to Matthew 26:36-44
“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’