Summary: Our experience may alter the way we come to the cross but not the victory we have in it.
March 23, 2008 Easter Service
The Victory of the Cross
The Victory of the Cross
When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down, did ever such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown? Oh the wonderful cross the wonderful cross bids me come and die, and find that I may truly live. The cross is a symbol of transformation. Failure is turned to success, weakness to strength, death to life and victory is pulled out of defeat. In the power of the cross there is victory for mankind victory not just over sin but over death itself. This is great news because the victory that the cross freely gives us is one we could never get for ourselves. In the cross we are forgiven our sins and we receive life.
God is a righteous and powerful God. In His complete and total righteousness, in His majesty and sovereignty God is in His very nature good. God is in fact so good that He cannot be in the presence of that which is not good. He is a Holy God and there is none like Him. This Holy God created man in order to have a relationship with him. Yet man chose to deny God in efforts to make himself like God. So man chose that which was evil rather than that which was good, and sin entered the world. Now the wage of sin, is death and God who is righteous and good hates sin. All of those who sin deserve to die. It is the price that must be paid for our own wickedness. Yet God who is rich in mercy and abounding in love was willing to let us suffer the fate of our actions. He was not willing to let us pay the price for our sins. God then is faced with a dilemma. He desires to have a relationship with us but because of our wickedness He could not. Now God could not just ignore our sins because God is a righteous God whose nature demands justice. He is also a loving God whose nature demands mercy. So how can God satisfy His just nature while at the same time? God hates sin and cannot be around it…but God loves man and desires to be around them…so how can God be with man who sins if He cannot be around sin? The answer is the cross. Through the sacrifice of His Son, through the blood of the lamb the price of sin was paid. God’s righteous anger against sin and wickedness was turned away and His perfect solution to the ultimate problem made known. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross sin was overcome. Death was defeated it has been overcome. Through the cross…our sins were paid for. We were bought at a heavy price but now we are free. We are the children of God…we are saved.
The Cross of Christ is a symbol of victory transformed out of a symbol of defeat. The very change in the symbol shows the power of the transformation of the cross. For against all social, political, honorable, and personal forces at work in society, that which was the most shameful and offensive, that which was the source of defeat, became the greatest symbol of victory the world would ever see. But Easter isn’t really about the cross…it’s about the tomb. Turn in your Bibles to John 20.
We all look at life through different perspectives. The things that we have seen, the things we have experienced, and the things we have done affect the way in which we view life. Our own personal biographies and our testimonies change our perspectives of the world. These perspectives do not just affect how we see, but what we see. A woman who has been betrayed in by the men in her life will often times have a hard time seeing men as trustworthy. A man whose life has been characterized by disappointments and failures will commonly expect failures and disappointments in his future. Those who have been hurt by love find it hard to love. The things that have happened to us and the things we have done affect our perceptions. We are going to look at a few different perspectives of the tomb and I want you to look at these characters…and ask which one am I? I am convinced that if we look at these few characters each one of us will see a reflection of ourselves in one of them. Let’s look at the text:
Jn 20:1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. Jn 20:2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Jn 20:3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Jn 20:4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. Jn 20:5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Jn 20:6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, Jn 20:7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Jn 20:8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. Jn 20:9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Jn 20:10 Then the disciples went back to their homes, Jn 20:11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb Jn 20:12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. Jn 20:13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” Jn 20:14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. Jn 20:15 “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jn 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jn 20:17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Jn 20:18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.