Summary: Christ’s death is evidence of his all-encompassing love for humankind; it is intended to stir the congregation to remember that Jesus loves them!
Sermon Objective: Christ’s death is evidence of his all-encompassing love for humankind; it is intended to stir the congregation to remember that Jesus loves them!
Jesus’ death is God saying that the way is open to us despite the attitudes we so frequently have had toward him. As Charles Wesley expressed it in his hymn:
’Tis mystery all! Th’ immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the first-born seraph tries
To sound the depths of love Divine!
’Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God shouldst die for me.
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).
23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25 It was the third hour when they crucified him.
26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.
27 They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left.
29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,
30 come down from the cross and save yourself!”
31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!
32 Let this Christ, 75 this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
Yes, indeed. Jesus’ death is God saying that the way is open to us despite the attitudes we so frequently have had toward him.
In the movie, August Rush, Freddie Highmore plays a young boy (August Rush) who is separated from his parents and desperately wants to be reunited. Robin Williams plays "Wizard" Wallace a man of the streets who exploits homeless children’ artistic talents from profit.
Wizard asks young August the question that often serves as his hook, "In all the world, what do you want the most?"
August’s answer? "Found."
To be found … that is the quest of humankind and that is what Jesus’ love on the cross provides for us all.
In a very real way Jesus Christ is the embodiment of love. He is love incarnate … love in flesh. Every action and every thought are exhibitions of God’s love … Agapé.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17, KJV)
Agapé is a term most Christians have heard from time to time. We know it as “Divine Love” in contrast to human love. We know it as sacrificial love. But there are other aspects to Agapé love that, when understood, expand just how much God loves us to such a depth that it is indeed overwhelming and incomprehensible. As the apostle said: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17b-19).
I have catalogued at least 8 core characteristics that describe and define Godly Love. I am not going to give them all to you this morning but there are a few that, in light of the cross, seem appropriate.