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Near The Cross
Imagine we were present in Jerusalem on the day Jesus was crucified. I wonder if we would have stood at the foot of the cross?
We sing the great old hymn – “Jesus, keep me near the cross…there a precious fountain”, but how near the cross would we have been if we were there to witness Calvary?
In today’s text there were some people who stood near the cross.
1) Four Roman soldiers – they were there out of duty.
2) Four women and the apostle John – they were there because they loved Jesus:
a) Mary, the mother of Jesus
b) Salome (His mother’s sister)
c) Mary Magdalene
d) Mary of Cleophas
e) John, the disciple
So, the soldiers were there out of duty, and had no heart for Jesus. Many today go to church out of duty and call themselves good people and Christians and have no real heart for it all. Out of duty they wear the cross, hanging around their neck without true heart for the Son of God hanging on that cross.
Today's message is about these who were there out of love.
Most of His followers forsook Him and fled, and if they watched the crucifixion it was from a distance. We know that many went into hiding.
Would you have hidden, unable to see what was going on? Would you have watched from far away, gazing straight at that hill on the horizon? Or would your proximity to the cross have forced you to look up, because you were with Him all the way...so close that drops of blood spattered upon you?
If we were there at the foot of the cross, we would have heard things no one else did. Hammer on nails. The Centurion's whip. A dense thud as the cross was dropped into a deep hole. Intense, anguished moaning and screams of unfathomable pain. Mocking and taunting. Cursing and reviling. We would hear 7 statements from the Christ so profound we could ponder each for a lifetime. We would have heard one of the thieves express his belief in Jesus, and like him, we would have heard the Lord's affirmation that he was about to wake up in paradise!
We talk and sing about Kneeling at the Cross, At Calvary, Beneath the Cross, Lead Me to Calvary, When I Survey, and how There's Room at the Cross, and that There is a Fountain, and there's Pow'r in the Blood ... but what does it truly mean? In reality, I am not talking about a literal physical presence at the cross, though that's powerful to ponder!
I am referring to a spiritual position of proximity. I am talking about a special relationship to Jesus Christ. Let's consider these five people who stood near the cross, when Jesus was crucified, and try to understand what it meant to them to be near the cross.
1) Mary Magdalene - A Place of Redemption.
Luke [8:2] tells us that Mary Magdalene was a woman out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons. She had been in bondage to Satan for a long time. Those demons made her do horrific things. The devil was at work in her life to destroy her, wreak havoc, and wreck her physically, emotionally and spiritually. Mary was in a hopeless and helpless situation.
Then Jesus came along and cast out the demons. He delivered Mary from her bondage and set her free. Mary Magdalene was miraculously saved from her fearful dilemma. She was redeemed and bought back from bondage. She was delivered through a powerful encounter with Jesus.
When we talk about the deliverance that Jesus provided for Mary Magdalene I think of what Jesus said in Acts 26:18...
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
When a person trusts in Christ for deliverance from the bondage of sin, these same marvelous changes take place in their life. They go from darkness to light (mentally, morally, spiritually). They go from the power of Satan to the power of God (God takes control). They go from being guilty to experiencing forgiveness. They go from being spiritually impoverished to becoming spiritually wealthy (heirs of the Kingdom).
This is what Jesus did for Mary Magdalene. He redeemed her and bought her out of her miserable condition.
But, redemption is a costly thing. When Jesus delivered Mary Magdalene it cost Him something. Standing there at the cross she saw the price being paid. Jesus had to die that she might be spiritually redeemed and bought back from sin's bondage.
Yes, redemption is a costly thing: