Summary: To examine the different responses to Jesus on the cross and the reason for the cross. Good Friday sermon
Primary Purpose: To examine the difference responses to Jesus on the cross and the reason for the cross.
When we come to this time of holy week, we are all thinking about the cross and the fact that this was the day in which Jesus was crucified. One of the things that we must remember when we look at the cross is that Jesus went to the cross for all of us. It was for my sin and your sins that He went through what He did. Have you ever been to the Smithsonian? I went several years ago and looked at some of the paintings there. Some look so lifelike that you feel like you could reach out and touch them. There was one painting of the Half dome at Yosemite that I remember distinctly. I have been there and actually hurt my ankle near it. I soaked my ankle in the little creek that was near it because the water was ice cold. It completely numbed my foot. There was some other painting there of Jesus and the cross.
If you were to look at Rembrandt’s painting of the Three Crosses your attention would be drawn first to the center cross on which Jesus died. Then as you would look at the crowd gathered around the foot of that cross, you’d be impressed by the various facial expressions and actions of the people involved in the awful crime of crucifying the Son of God. Finally, your eyes would drift to the edge of the painting and caught sight of another figure, almost hidden in the shadows. Art critics say this is a representation of Rembrandt himself, for he recognized that by his sins he helped nail Jesus to the cross. (unknown source)
We see three men hanging on crosses in this story.
1. Our merciful Savior- Motivated by love and grace to redeem us. He even forgave the Roman soliders who had crucified him v.34 He demonstrated His love to us by taking our place. John Newton who lived from 1725-1807 wrote a poem about this. He said:
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp’d my wild career
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix’d His languid eyes on me.
As near His cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath.
Can I forget that look
It seem’d to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own’d the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help’d to nail Him there.
Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!
A second look He gave, which said
I freely all forgive
This blood is for thy ransom paid
I did that thou may’st live.
Thus, while His death my sin display
In all its blackest hue
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy
My spirit now if filled
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I killed.
John said it this way in John 1:10-12 The world did not receive him, but to all who received him, to those who believe in His name, he gave the right to become children of God.
A pastor named Stuart Briscoe told this story to illustrate God’s grace.
Many years ago when the children were small, we went for a little drive in the English countryside, and there was some fresh snow. I saw a field were there was not a blemish or mark on it. I stopped the car, and I vaulted over the gate, and I ran around in a great big circle striding as wide as I could. Then I cam back to the kids, and I said, “Now children, I want you to follow in my footsteps. So I want you to run around that circle in the snow, and I want you to put your feet where your father put his feet.”
Well, David tried and couldn’t quite make it. Judy, our over-achiever, was certain she would make it, but she couldn’t make it. Pete, the little kid, took a great run at it, put his foot in my first footprint and then strode out as far as he could and fell on his face. His mother picked him up as he cried.
She said to me, “What are you trying to do?”
I said, “I’m trying to get a sermon illustration.”
I said, “Pete, come here.” I picked little Pete and put his left foot on my foot, and I put his right foot on my foot, I said, “Okay, Pete, let’s go.” I began to stride one big stride at a time with my hands under his armpits and his feet lightly on mine.