Summary: This sermon takes a look at the cross through the eyes of the disciples and how the cross which was originally one of suffering and shame became one of rejoicing and elation.
How could they have been so wrong. One by one they each chose to leave everything and to answer the call to follow Jesus and become fishers of men. For 3 brief years they watched in anticipation as Jesus worked miracles and taught with authority. Peter even stated that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But now the unthinkable has taken place, and their joy has been replaced with despair as Jesus is brutally beaten and now lay hanging on a cruel wooden cross. To be disappointed in man is one thing, but to be disappointed in Jesus is the worst.
Now life has never looked as bleak to you as it did that day to the disciples but truth be told we all have dismal times. Perhaps yours discouraged this morning with your place in life and in society; or you distressed over a wayward family member who has left the church fold, or perhaps your grieving over the loss of a loved one, or you are anxious over a deep inbedded hurt that has been festering for years. What ever the reason, for the next few moments I want you to look to the cross of Jesus Christ and be consoled.
You know it’s amazing how an instrument of death that was originally one of cruelty, suffering and shame has now become a symbol of endurance, love, and hope. This past week I attended the funeral of Mr. Benny Mills who went home to be with the Lord this week, and during the funeral I couldn’t help but notice that in the Freeman Funeral home there is a large wooden cross hanging on the wall, and that cross is their to symbolize hope to grieving families. Is no wonder how Paul could look to the cross and say what he said in Galatians 6:14, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Now the disciples had heavy hearts when they originally looked at the cross, and I want us to look at the cross from their perspective; to think their thoughts and to feel what they felt…but in addition I want us to see the elation they received when they saw the cross a few days later.
Now originally the disciples were disillusioned by the cross. They were disillusioned. They were convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah and they had good reason to. They had saw one miracle after another. They saw Jesus change water into wine, give sight to the blind. They saw Him display His amazing authority over nature when He calmed the stormy sea, they saw Him cast out demons, heal the sick. They watched as Jesus was dramatically transfigured before their very eyes, and most recently, they had even seen Him raise Lazarus who had been dead for 4 days from the dead. The crowds had welcomed Him with great anticipation with the waving of palm branches and shouts of hosanah, and Jesus even confirmed His identity that He was the Messiah.
But the disciples had misconceptions on what the Messiah would do. They thought that the Messiah would be a political Messiah who would come and demolish the oppressive Roman Empire and restore the Mighty Kingdom of King David. And they were eager to be a part of that kingdom. Over and over they asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to establish Your kingdom?” They often argued about which one of them would be the greatest in the coming kingdom, with James and John asking for position of authority.
They had misconceptions due in part because they had completely ignored the Old Testament prophesies that said that they Messiah would be a suffering servant. That He would be like a lamb led to the slaughter, that He would be despised and rejected and would be betrayed into the hands of evil men. And no matter how many times Jesus would try to convey to the disciples that He was heading to Jerusalem to be crucified, the disciples never quite grasped it. Luke 9:44-45 “While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, "Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.”
So when Jesus took His disciples to the Garden to pray, and when He was arrested that night and by 9 am was hanging on a cross, they were not only in shock and dismay, but also they were disillusioned as well. You can sense this in the words of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus when they said, “We had hoped…that He would be the Messiah.”