Summary: There were all kinds of people at the Cross. What distinguished these groups of people? The condition of their souls, their spiritual heart attitudes. Around the Cross of Jesus, we can see people who demonstrated some contrasting heart conditions.
People At The Cross
1. A father and daughter we walking through a spacious prairie.
2. In the distance, they could see fire all around them. They knew they could not escape it.
3. The father knew there was only one way to escape: set fire to the ground near them and burn a large patch of grass. When the huge fire drew near, they could stand on this burned section and they would be safe because the grass had already burned there.
4. The little girl was scared, but her dad reassured her: “The flames cannot get to us here. We are standing where the fire has already been.”
5. May I suggest to you that this is an exact parallel to those of us in Christ.
6. We need not fear the wrath of God, because we are standing in Christ. And God’s wrath has already been directed toward Christ; we are safe in Him.
7. And the Cross is first and foremost about a loving Savior experiencing God’s wrath on our behalf so we can be forgiven.
8. Last week we spoke of Christ’s journey from Pilate to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, a Skull-shaped hill outside of Jerusalem.
9. Jesus was nailed to the cross at His wrists and feet; He was weak and fainting from abuse before they crucified Him, with criminals at either side of Him on their own crosses.
10. There were all kinds of people at the Cross.
11.What distinguished these groups of people? The condition of their souls, their spiritual heart attitudes.
MAIN IDEA: Around the Cross of Jesus, we can see people who demonstrated some contrasting heart conditions.
I. We See the Passersby Who Demonstrated Hard Hearts Toward Jesus (Matt. 27:36-44)
1. Some of these people chose to intentionally misunderstand Him
(1) shaking heads
(2) “You were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days…save yourself---come down off the cross
2. Others Understood Him Clearly---More Clearly Than Some Skeptics Do Today
(1) Teachers: He saved others, let Him save Himself
(2) Let Him come down from the cross--then we’ll believe
(3) A few days earlier, these men were afraid to arrest Jesus…they feigned teach
ability and tried to trap Him…now their hatred is no longer hidden…
(4) They understood clearly that He claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God a nd thus equal with God
(5) Ultimately, we all have to face that choice: Is Jesus Lord, Liar, or Lunatic. They thought He was a liar and referred to Him as “that deceiver.”
(6) It is totally absurd to think of Jesus as a good man but not God: He clearly claimed to be God and the Messiah; those who heard Him understood this because it was clear….if He is not God, He had to either be a horrible liar or insane….because His claims were clear (even more clear in the Jewish culture that in ours)
3. Although many modern unbelievers would not approve of the crucifixion, they identify with the crowd:
(1) He saved others….many believe that we are our own saviors…
(2) He will build the Temple in three days (John 2:19-21)…others do not believe He resurrected Himself….
(3) Millions agree with the mockers….s
4. Why this hard-heartedness? Jeremiah 17:9, 2 Cor. 4:3-4
Application: Is your heart hard? Many of us were there, but God softened our hearts and prepared us. Is the Holy Spirit bringing you under conviction? Only He can soften.
II. The Repentant Criminal: A Change of Heart (Luke 23:39-43)
1. As long as there is life, there is hope….I’ve seen people make a commitment to Jesus Christ in their 80’s---and their lives changed….
2. Here we see two hardened criminals….robbers who probably committed worse crimes during robbery, perhaps murder as well….
(1) initially they both joined in with the mockers…
(2) but something happened to one of them…all of a sudden, the truth hit Him:
Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah
(3) He rebukes his companion….
(4) “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your Kingdom…”
3. By referring to the coming Kingdom and confessing that Jesus had power as to who entered it, this criminal acknowledged Jesus as Savior….
4. Jesus response is awesome: I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.
5. Note the following wonderful, exciting truths:
(1) Jesus never wavered as to who He was…He was not a liar, for a liar would not have maintained His party line….we are down to two choices: Lord or Lunatic
(2) Salvation/forgiveness can be instantaneous…..repentance and faith can occur in a moment of time
(3) Salvation is not of works
(4) Salvation is not by rituals
(5) believers immediately go to be present with the Lord at death (no soul sleep)