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.
10. We need not fear the wrath of God that is coming upon this world…because God’s wrath has already been here on the shoulders of Jesus.
11. Materialism, worldly gain and pleasure, even success will be burned up…get your eyes back on what Christ has done for you.
II. THE SPECTATORS AT THE CROSS
Vs. 36 And sitting down they watched him there;
a. The life of Christ was filled with spectators…people looking for a good show.
b. So often our churches have become auditoriums for spectators.
c. The cry of the modern day church has become “Entertain me!”
d. It is shocking that when Jesus cried out, the crowd even discouraged the soldier from quenching his thirst because it got in the way of the show.
Vs. 48-49 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
d. But let me warn you that being eye-witnesses to what God is doing doesn’t mean you’re a part of what God is doing.
e. Millions have ridden church pews to hell…close to the cross but far from the blood.
A. TOO FAMILIAR WITH SCENE TO BE CHANGED
1. Many have grown so familiar with that scene called Calvary that it no longer stirs their hearts.
2. Maybe they where once drawn to the cross, but now they’ve slipped in the crowd of spectators… present yet not in his presence.
3. Those who have refused to take up their own cross and follow Christ.
4. I’ve discovered that if I want my life where God wants it I have to again and again see that cross as if I’m seeing it for the first time.
III. THE PASSERS-BY AT THE CROSS
Vs. 39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
a. These passers-by where only there temporarily.
b. The only reason they came across the cross is that it seemed to be on the way to where they where headed.
c. Their destination wasn’t the cross… it was something else that seemed more pressing, more important at the moment.
d. These are people who intentionally misunderstand the cross, because they don’t want to be inconvenienced with a delay.
A. TOO BUSY TO INVESTIGATE CALVARY
1. Quickly adopted the criticisms of the mockers because it was easiest and cost the least.
2. We want Jesus to save us, but with no cost to us…don’t want to surrender.
3. We rush through this life… if we’re not careful we’ll rush into eternity unprepared.
ILL. In a graveyard in Prairies Grove Arkansas there two odd tombstones. They are first odd because the people have yet to die. Sad to say their names are Strickland. Underneath their names in large letters is the word ATHEIST. Underneath atheist under Mrs. Strickland’s name is “I have cared for and loved many animals.” Woopy Doo! If that’s all you can say. And underneath Mr. Strickand it says “I am a busy man and I don’t have time for this.”
4. Can we live so blindly as to think that we can continue to ignore Calvary as if it is just another appointment in our date book.
5. If you miss every other appointment don’t miss your appointment with the blood of the lamb… you eternity counts on it.
IV. THE MOCKERS AT THE CROSS
Vs. 41-42 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
a. After all they had seen, they demanded evidence?
b. The mocker will never be proved wrong, because their will never be enough evidence.
c. You see the mocker will not see because the mocker refuses to see.
d. They cloaked their mockery in religious titles and clothing.
e. Of all the people that should have recognized Christ, they should have.
f. They had the biblical knowledge and the scriptural education.
g. Let me remind you this morning that biblical knowledge will not save you.
A. TOO CRITICAL TO SEE CALVARY
1. The critic can only see what’s wrong — never what’s right.
2. The mockers are the loudest ones there.
3. They seem to be loud, so they could drown out the words that came from Calvary’s cross.
4. You see they had come to realize that the word that came from his lips where far more potent and powerful than anything they could mutter.
5. Mockers have attempted for thousands of years to silence that cross…but it’s credibility and it relevance even to our times cannot be challenged.
1 Cor. 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
6. Will you be in the crowd that mocks away their only hope?
V. THE EMPLOYEES AT THE CROSS
a. To many there, this was just another day, another execution, another job.
b. They where payed to be there and to fill a specific responsibility.
A. TOO DETACHED TO SEE CALVARY
1. Too busy doing their job to take note.
2. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves numbly going through life just filling a specific responsibility blind to the truths around us.
3. If you’ll just open your eyes you can see that the cross and the blood is what Life is all about…dressed rehearsal for the life to come.
4. Their job was humiliation and they where good at it…desensitized to what they where doing.
5. But praise God the gospel of Mark tells us that one of them woke from his routine to take note that this day was like none other and this execution he’d never forget.
Mark 15:39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
6. Will you this morning see that cross a fresh and anew, like you’ve never seen it before?
CONCLUSION: These are not the only ones. There was those who stood at the foot of the cross who would embrace what that cross really meant. I want to be in that group. How about you?
What’s your attitude about Calvary? Is it merely historical or is it eternal?
In the midst of all the crowds and critics Jesus was still offering salvation to the thief on the cross.