Summary: There were three people who were present during the trial & crucifixion who were profoundly influenced by Jesus; Barabbas, the Dying Thief, and the Centurion and his men. It was the Cross of Jesus that made the difference!
THE CROSS MADE THE DIFFERENCE
A. HUMOR: CALL FROM ALMIGHTY GOD
1. A pastor was working late on a Saturday night at the Almighty God Tabernacle. Around 10:00 PM he decided to call his wife before he left for home.
2. Although the pastor let the phone ring several times, his wife didn't answer. A few moments later he tried again and she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn't answered before, and she said that the phone didn't ring.
3. The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office. The caller wanted to know why the pastor had called him Saturday night. The pastor was confused.
4. The caller said, "It rang and rang, but I didn't answer." Then the pastor remembered the incident and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he had intended to call his wife and must have dialed the wrong number.
5. The man said, "That's okay. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide that night, but before I did, I prayed, 'God if you're there, and you don't want me to do this, give me a sign now.’”
6. “At that point my phone started to ring. I looked at the Caller ID, and it said, 'Almighty God.' I was just too afraid to answer!"
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.
1. Next week is Good Friday, the day we remember what Jesus did for us on the cross.
2. It’s because of the Grace of God that we are saved today. Heb. 9:22 Says “Without the shedding of blood there is NO REMISSION [from sin]!”
3. None of the world’s religions can save their adherents, because apart from the atonement by God’s chosen sacrifice there can be NO FORGIVENESS!
4. I want to touch on at least three people who were present during the trial & crucifixion who were profoundly influenced by Jesus. This message is entitled, “THE CROSS MADE THE DIFFERENCE”.
I. THE CROSS MADE THE DIFFERENCE FOR BARABBAS
A.FACTS ABOUT BARABBAS
1. Barabbas was a notable prisoner, (Matthew 27:16) the most famous criminal in custody.
3. When Barabbas woke up that morning, he was
a. supposed to be executed; last day to live.
b. brought to Pilate before a crowd; trick?
c. crowd chose him instead of Jesus!
d. He set free, Jesus to scourge & cross.
4. Jesus took HIS beating, HIS cross, HIS death. Barabbas should have died for his crimes, but didn’t.
B. NO LIFE WITHOUT DEATH
1. The only reason you are alive today is because something has died. Each time you eat, something has to die first.
2. We eat meats, & fruits & vegetables. So every time we eat, animals and plants have to die.
3. Every day that we live, we endorse the principle that life comes out of death.
4. Spiritually, the reason you can live is that Jesus died for you. There would be no life without His death! Thank God for the Cross!
II. THE CROSS MADE THE DIFFERENCE FOR THE DYING THIEF
A. REMARKABLE FAITH
1. In Luke 23:39-43, we find the conversation of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus. Like Barabbas, they were guilty of crimes and deserved to die and to miss heaven.
2. But one thief defended Jesus and said to Him, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied “Truly I say unto you, today you shall be with Me in paradise.” (42-43)
3. This is one of the most remarkable events in the Bible. As nameless agony engulfed them as they were hoisted up on crosses, impaled to their deaths, one man focused and trusted in Christ for salvation.
B. WHERE DID HE GET HIS FAITH? He’d watched Jesus!
1. WHEN NAILS DRIVEN, He himself had struggled. It took the 3 strongest soldiers to hold him down. He had cursed and screamed in pain. BUT JESUS didn’t struggle. He had only prayed; "Father, Forgive them...." ‘Who is this Man?’
2. According to historians of that time, it was common for crucified persons to shout at and curse the onlookers in their pain. But though the mob and chief priests laughed and jeered, Jesus didn’t revile back, but bore the insults with quiet Majesty.