Summary: Through the example of Jesus, we can get a good idea of what sacrifice will accomplish in your life.
April 9, 2000 John 19
Try to imagine yourself at Golgotha Hill on Good Friday. The cross is placed on the ground and you are thrown backward with your shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of your wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through your wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull your arms too tightly, allowing you some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place and fastened onto the upright set into the hill.
Your left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving your knees flexed. You are now crucified. As you slowly sag down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in your brain. You push yourself upward to avoid this stretching torment. But now you feel the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves of your feet.
As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through your muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push yourself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. You fight to raise yourself in order to get even one small breath.
What follows is hours of limitless pain: cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps; intermittent partial asphyxiation; searing pain as tissue is torn from your lacerated back as you move up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain within the chest as your heart cavity fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.
It is now almost over: the loss of fluids has reached a critical level; the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues; the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air.
Finally, you feel the chill of death creeping through your tissues. You welcome its approach. Such was the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for you and for me.
This is the time of year when we focus on the ultimate sacrifice ¡V when Jesus Christ, God¡¦s only Son, God Himself gave Himself for us in order that we might have life. For the next two Sundays, we are going to spend time examining that sacrifice, the events that surrounded it, and the results of that sacrifice. As we do, I want you to ask yourself this question: Jesus sacrificed everything for me in order that I might have life; what am I willing to sacrifice for Him and in order that I might worship Him and in order that I might help others to accept that sacrifice as payment for their sins? Before you are able to answer that question, you need to understand some more about sacrifice and what it will do in your life and your world.
1. Sacrifice means that you look out for the needs of others even when you are hurting. ¡§Here is your mother¡¨ (John 19:26-27)
Take a look at what Jesus was enduring at this moment in His life. [read verses 23-24] Not only was He going through excruciating physical pain, but He was also enduring extreme humiliation and extreme apathy concerning His pain. We don¡¦t like to think of Jesus being naked on the cross, but the verses here talk about the fact that the soldiers had stripped Him even of His undergarments. It was one final act of humiliation that they could subject Him too before He was gone. Then, while He hung there on the cross, they had the gall to argue over who was going to get His clothes. They had become so calloused to the event of crucifixion that they could feel no compassion for the one who was dying.
I don¡¦t know about you, but when I am in pain, I want other people to notice. I want other people to console me. I want to be the center of attention. Look at how Jesus reacted to His situation [read vs 25-27]. Instead of focusing on Himself, Jesus focused on making sure that His mother would be provided for. Joseph, Mary¡¦s husband and Jesus¡¦ earthly father, was probably dead by this time. It was Jesus¡¦ responsibility as the oldest son to take care of His mother and to meet her needs. Jesus knew that He was not going to be around to do this. He saw His mother weeping there at the foot of the cross, and He saw one of His disciples, probably John, standing with her. In the middle of all the agony that He was feeling, He had compassion on His mother for the agony that she was feeling and took the opportunity to communicate to John that Mary was to now reside in his home and was to be his responsibility. In the middle of His pain, He helped to ease the pain of someone else.