Summary: An inductive sermon focusing people on the humility and servanthood of Jesus at the Cross.
THE CROSS AND THE TOWEL
Today is the day when we really begin to celebrate the Easter Season. Today is Palm Sunday in which Christians celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The people cut palm branches and hailed and praised Jesus as He entered the city. The week began with Jesus arriving to cheers and concluded with Him dying to jeers. Easter is all about the cross.
When I say "the cross"... what sort of things or ideas come to your mind? What sorts of things do we associate with "the cross"? [requires a few props]
Nails and hammer and wood = we associate nails, hammers, and wood with the Cross for obvious reasons. Jesus was nailed to the cross which was made of wood. If we were to visualize the events of the Cross, we would associate the sound of hammering and cries of pain as well.
The Cross is all about nails and pain. In fact, Psalm 22:14-16 describes some of what Jesus went through,
"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet." The nails and hammer remind us that Jesus was in physical pain on the cross. Jesus endured a most horrific manner of death on the cross that the Romans used for the worst of their criminals... and yet innocent Jesus was also killed in this way.
Isaiah 53:4-6 says, "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." You see the pain on the cross was for a very special purpose. Each of the flesh tearing nails that went in was for a reason. Isaiah reminds us that Jesus was suffering on the cross for us... because of our sin. Jesus died for you. He died for me. Jesus died for us all. 1 Peter 3:18 tells us that, "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God."
So, we associate nails, hammers, and wood with the Cross because Jesus endured pain and agony on the cross in order to give Himself as a sacrifice for us. We could not come to God as the Apostle Peter describes without Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross.
The colors red, purple, and white = As with many things in our world, we tend to associate colors with important ideas or events. When I think of freedom, the brilliant colors of red, white, and blue flash into my mind. We could talk about St Patrick’s Day and green becomes important. So it is with Easter! We associate three main colors with Easter.
We first associate red with Easter. Why red? Red is of course the color of blood and Jesus certainly shed His blood on the Cross. Colossians 1:19-20 shares with us, "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."
We also associate the color purple with Easter. Why purple? Purple is a color that is a color associated with royalty and was a special color in Bible times. Also, in John 19:1-3, "Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face." Jesus was wearing a purple robe as he was mistreated by the soldiers. The soldiers were mocking Jesus as the King of the Jews. Little did they know that they were beating, spitting on, and slapping the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
We also associate the color white with Easter. Why white? The color white is one of those colors in Scripture that symbolizes purity and holiness and righteousness. We see that especially in the Book of Revelation. We think of white at Easter time because Jesus was pure and holy and absolutely righteous. Jesus was innocent. In fact, Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, even confesses this in Matthew 27:4, "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." Jesus was perfect and did not sin His entire life. He was the perfect sacrifice on the Cross for us.