Summary: A sermon for Good Friday.
"It Is Finished"
Today we come to the Cross.
Crucifixion was a terrifying death.
Some have said that if there was a likelihood that you would be arrested and crucified, it was better to commit suicide.
Crucifixions took place along the main thoroughfares where people would see them.
The criminal, after he was flogged, carried the crossbeam, which could weigh a hundred pounds.
Victims were often left hanging, or their bodies were taken down and left on the ground near the cross until the animals were finished with them.
The goal of crucifixion was to inflict the maximum agony for the longest possible time.
Victims could hang on the cross for days before they finally died.
In art or in movies Jesus is usually portrayed on a cross that towered over the people standing below, but Roman crosses were usually no more than six to nine feet off the ground.
Imagine someone standing on a chair right in front of you.
This was quite possibly how close Mary--Jesus' mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene and John were to Jesus as He hung on the Cross.
As they stood by for six hours, they could have touched His hands and looked up into His eyes.
We are told in Matthew that when Jesus was Crucified, the people passing by made fun of Him.
The religious rulers mocked Him.
And even the thieves who were crucified on either side of Him taunted Him.
Jesus hung bleeding, naked, dying and all the people could do was laugh at Him.
And yet, in Luke, we are told that as Jesus hung from the Cross, He prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."
That sums it up quite well, does it not?
"They do not know what they are doing."
In this world, we have a broken relationship with God.
Because of sin, we live in the darkness, lost, confused, scared, groping.
This world is not right.
It's damaged, broken.
We are damaged and broken.
But God came into our world, because God loves us; God has compassion on us.
Even though our love for God failed, God's love for us never fails.
Remember when Jesus was traveling through all the towns and villages, "preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness"?
We are told that "when [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."
Jesus has compassion for us--for you and for me.
"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."
Jesus prayed this from the Cross, while He was hanging in agony.
Jesus directed this prayer toward those who had arrested Him, flogged Him, crushed His skull with a crown of thorns, spat on Him, drove nails through His hands and feet...
...mocked Him as He hung in agony...
...passed Him by, showing Him no compassion, only derision and hatred.
If Jesus prayed that prayer for these people, what is Jesus willing to do for you and for me?
If Jesus was able to forgive the very people involved in His Crucifixion, are there any sins you have committed, I have committed--anyone has committed that Jesus is unable or unwilling to forgive?