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Summary: The greatest shock may be in this picture of Calvary is that you might see your face in that crowd… your attitude, your experience with the cross, your activity around that cross but lacking any true meaning.

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INTRO: 1. In the past few weeks in our series "Encountering the Cross" we have again and again revisted the tramatic, devestating events that Jesus endured for us surrounding the Cross.

a. But, although the scene was gruesome, the atmospherearound the foot of the cross is far from somber.

b. The scene bore an almost ‘carnival’ atmosphere with crowds pressing in to get a better view and dozens of scenes taking place around that cross… mob mentality.

c. The clamor of so much activity, the extreme emotions.

2. If you could have taken a photograph of that hill called Golgotha that day… you would have been shocked by the chaos, by the busyness of the groups surrounding that scene, by the flippant attitudes that could be seen on the faces of those near the cross… but far from the blood.

a. Few of us enjoy having our picture taken.

b. Pictures remind of what we have not accomplished… few pounds hoped to lose.

c. Pictures are just too honest, remind us of not who we think we are, but what we really are.

d. The greatest shock may be in this picture of calvary is that you might see your face in that crowd… your attitude, your experience with the cross, your activity around that cross but lacking any true meaning.

3. How have you dealt with the cross?

a. Is it possible to get so close to the cross, yet miss the power and potency of the blood of the lamb?

4. America is probably one of the most ‘Christianized’ (not christian) country in the world.

a. Higher percentage of people in this country make a profession of being ‘Christian’ than almost anywhere.

b. Our cities are filled with crosses and steeples, as almost every brand of Christianity is offered.

c. We have more christian bookstores, television stations and ministries based in this country more than ever before.

d. The cross hangs around peoples necks with little consideration to what it means.

e. I offer this observation: We have become a nation surrounded by crosses, yet more and more distant from what it really means to us.

5. Is it possible to be near the cross, yet far from the blood?

6. This morning I want to introduce you to as many as five separate groups of people who where found around the cross, yet the cross made no difference in their life.

a. Religious, yet not redeemed.

b. Close, yet not changed.

c. Eye-witnesses, yet never seeing what was really happening.

7. Today, I call to account the condition of our hearts.

a. It’s not enough for us to shout Hosanna in the streets and throw our coats down in the streets. (Many who did also cried “Crucify Him!”)

b. We must find ourselves under the free-flow of the blood of Jesus Christ.

c. We must let Calvary transform our lives…transform our hearts…transform our futures.

8. Take a good look at this snapshot of Golgotha with me this morning and notice those who surround the foot of those three crosses.

I. THE GAMBLERS AT THE CROSS

Vs. 35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

a. In the sight of Jesus, they rolled their dice and gambled for the only thing of physical value he had.

b. The gamblers mentality is always to get ‘something for nothing.’

c. Always out to a shortcut for gain.

d. Never takes life seriously… only a game to them.

e. They rely on games of chance instead of acts of choice.

f. Are you playing games with life while the blood is just a foot away?

A. TOO DISTRACTED TO SEE CALVARY

1. Distracted by materialism.

2. They where more concerned with the value of his clothing than the value of the Christ.

3. Don’t be so hard on them, if your life is consumed by the same focus… more, more, more, more!

4. Where does God come into the equation.

5. My boat has already come in…it's called Calvary… the blood that built a bridge to everything I need.

6. Distracted by their own pleasure.

7. Their only treasure in life was their own pleasure.

8. We do live in a world pursing pleasure and losing everything of real value in their life.

9. Time to stop with the games and take a serious look at calvary.

ILL. A father and daughter were walking through a spacious prairie one day when they noticed in the distance, they could see fire all around them and closing in on them. They had nowhere to run. The father understood there was only one way to escape. He set fire to the ground near them and burned a large patch of the grass. When the huge fires would draw near, they could stand on this burned section and they would be safe there. The little girl was scared, but the father drew here close as they stood in the middle of that burnt patch and he said “The flames cannot get to us here. We are standing where the fire has already been.

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