Summary: Jesus dreaded the cross because of the weight of sin and separation from God that he would experience.
“The Dreaded Cross” David Owens
Text: Luke 23:26-49 2/29/04
A. As you probably noticed, I have titled today’s sermon, “The Dreaded Cross.”
1. The cross was truly something that Jesus dreaded.
2. Jesus did not go to the dreaded cross like a child facing something they dread with kicking and squirming and crying.
3. No, Jesus went to the cross like an adult facing a dreaded thing with courage and calm.
B. What was it about the cross that Jesus dreaded the most?
1. Was it the scorn, the shame, and the humiliation?
2. Was it the physical pain of crucifixion?
a. From what I have heard and read, Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the suffering of Jesus is indeed both accurate and graphic.
b. Jesus truly did suffer terrible physical pain.
c. Beginning with the scouraging and right through his last breath on the cross, there was nothing but unimaginable pain and agony.
3. Certainly Jesus dreaded both the shame and the pain of the crucifixion.
4. I in no way want to minimize those things today by not focusing our attention on them.
5. But to really understand the meaning of the cross, we must get beyond the physical suffering of Jesus, and understand the spiritual suffering that he endured and what it accomplished.
6. In order to understand these things about the cross, I want us to examine three events that took place during the last 18 hours of Jesus’ life.
SCENE #1- THE UPPER ROOM
A. The night before Jesus’ crucifixion, he met in an upper room and ate the Passover meal with his disciples.
1. During the meal, Jesus instituted a commemoration we call the Lord’s supper.
2. Luke 22:19-20, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ 20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”
3. Now if you know anything about Jesus’ ministry, you know that he was not much on ceremony.
a. In fact, much of the trouble he got into stemmed from his opposition to the traditional, man-made ritual and ceremony of the Jews.
4. Yet, here he instituted a ceremony.
a. He deliberately established an observance that is to have special meaning and is to be repeated by his followers for all times.
B. The ceremony is to be one of remembrance, but notice what it is that his followers are to remember.
1. We are to remember his death.
2. Paul said it this way in 1 Cor. 11:26, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
3. This of all the events Jesus could have chosen to commemorate.
a. He could have commemorated his birth, his miracles, his transfiguration, or even his resurrection.
b. But those are not the things he chose to commemorate.
4. Instead, he chose to commemorate his death, and he did so by initiating a ceremony that focuses totally on his death.
a. The bread we eat symbolizes his body.
b. And the fruit of the vine we drink symbolizes his blood.
5. These emblems are there to help us remember the body and blood that Jesus gave for us as he died.
C. Why did Jesus ask us to remember his death? Because there is nothing more central and important to the redemption of man.
1. So, the Lord’s Supper is a huge road sign that confronts us every first day of the week and points us to the centrality of the cross in our faith and for our lives.
2. God wants us to commemorate the death of Jesus over and over again.
3. His death on our behalf is something we must never take lightly, nor forget.
SCENE #2 – THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
A. After the meal in the upper room, Jesus went with 11 of his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane.
1. There in the garden, Jesus expressed emotions that can only be characterized as anxiety and dread.
2. Luke tells us that he was “in anguish” (22:44).
3. And that “sweat like drops of blood fell to the ground (22:44).
a. Luke’s use of the word “like” may suggest that the sweat merely fell as rapidly as drops of blood.
b. Some, however, propose that Jesus was experiencing a rare physcial phenomenon known as “hematidrosis” (he-mat-tid-row-sis).
c. This phenomena occurs under great stress and results in the rupturing of tiny blood vessels in the sweat glands which produces a mixture of sweat and blood.
4. Whichever the explanation, Jesus, while in the garden, was a man in acute emotional distress.