Summary: A sermon for Good Friday.
“God’s Power Found in the Cross”
The cheering crowds from Palm Sunday are gone.
Now Jesus is alone, nailed to a cross, dying.
The robbers crucified with Jesus cruelly mock Him.
Those who pass by hurl insults at Him and shake their heads, as do the religious authorities who are watching.
In scornful sarcasm they say: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!”
Can you imagine the pain, the agony, the humiliation?
You know, even as Christians, it is much easier to love others, forgive others, seek the best for others when we are being treated well by others.
But when we are being harassed…
When people are bullying us, hating on us, falsely accusing us, shaking their heads in mocking derision at us…
…it is much harder to have compassion for them; to continue to love them or anyone for that matter.
And yet Jesus continues to love.
He continues His journey of dying for the sake of the very people who mock Him—for the very people who put Him to death.
And this includes you and me, of course.
And one of the most phenomenal things about all this is that from the moment Jesus decided to go to Jerusalem, through His trial and torment, right up to His dying breath, Jesus is in charge of the situation.
It may not seem like it to those of us on the outside looking in and that is because we are human beings…
…fallen human beings who, if we had our opportunity, would probably pulverize every single one of these mockers, head shakers, and murderers.
Most of us know what it’s like to be the brunt of a mean joke; to be bullied, to be turned on by friends.
Jesus knows what that is like as well.
But unlike us, He took on that role purposely.
The God Who created this entire, vast, eternal Universe humbled Himself so entirely that He became One of us and experienced all the temptations, the aches and the pains, the sadness, the darkness, the violence, the evil of this world in order to save us.
He is the Only Truly Innocent Victim to ever walk the earth.
And yet, look what Jesus signed up for:
The soldiers stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him and then twisted together a crown of thorns which they pushed down onto His skull.
They put a staff in His hand and laughingly kneeled down in front of Him saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!”
They spit on Him, and then bashed Him in the head, over and over and over again with the staff.
And when they nailed Him to the Cross, Jesus willingly succumbed to the most painful and humiliating death broken, sinful and twisted humankind could think up.
And just like we would have, in His place, He felt every blow, every taunt, every nail, the difficulty of breathing which comes from hanging on a Cross, the agony, the rejection and ultimately, death.
But again, Jesus is in charge the entire time.
He has the power to determine His fate; and this is the fate He has chosen.
When the soldiers come to arrest Jesus, it is Jesus Who comes out to greet them, not the other way around.
When Peter takes out a sword and cuts off a soldier’s ear in order to try and defend Jesus, Jesus tells Him to put away his sword.
Then Jesus even heals the soldier’s ear.
And so, in Christ’s arrest and crucifixion, we see the misunderstanding and the difference between our human understanding of power and God’s understanding of POWER.
For the point is made that the power of God is made manifest not in Jesus coming down from the Cross and obliterating His enemies, but in Christ’s enduring it.
Those who passed by Jesus as He hung nailed to the Cross yelled, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders had the same worldview: “He’s the king of Israel!,” they mocked, “Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him.”
And so, Jesus, hammers home the point: “Divine power is found in the midst of human vulnerability, not in transcending it.”
Deliverance is found in and through the suffering of Jesus on the Cross—not in avoiding it.
Strength is found in weakness.
Greatness is found in humility.
Life is found in death.
The central message of Christianity is that the Almighty Creator of the universe is a God of such love that He lays aside almightiness (at least in the way we would view it) to be with us and to be One of us and to die in our place.
There is nothing else like this in the history of human religions—a God Who takes on human frailty and vulnerability, a God Who goes all the way to show God’s love, all the way into the valley of the shadow of death to be with us.