Summary: According to a recent survey, a surprising number of people admitted that their Christianity would not be changed if Jesus hadn’t died on the cross. What importance was the cross to our faith?
OPEN: A little boy was not exactly happy about going to church on Easter Sunday morning. His new shoes were too tight, his tie pinched his neck, and the weather outside was just too good to be cooped up inside. As he sulked in the back seat of the family car, his parents heard him murmuring: “I don’t see why we have to go to church on Easter anyway. They keep telling the same old story, and it always comes out the same in the end.”
APPLY: Many wonder why there are so many Christmas and Easter Christians. People who only darken the doors on those specific holidays to hear the same old story again and again - but who never fully respond. I think it’s because, though it is the same old story, but they don’t understand it. They don’t understand its implications and importance. They aren’t the only ones.
ILLUS: I read of an informal survey a minister took of 100 Christians from several churches. He asked: “Would it have made any difference in your life as your are now living it, if Jesus had not died on the cross?”
45% said they did not think so
25% said they thought so, but not sure how
20% said it made all the difference in the world
10% said they had no idea.
What difference did it make that Jesus died on a cross? Many of these people didn’t know. AND as I prepared this sermon, I asked myself that question again and again…
I. What difference did the cross make?
One answer I came up with was "It fulfilled prophecy. It told me God had a plan."
In Luke 24 we’re told "He said to them, ’How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself."
In the Bible - all way from Genesis thru whole Old Testament prophets - there are over 300 prophecies. These prophecies declared:
That the Messiah was coming
What He was to do when He got here
How He was to die
And that he was to be sent to overcome death’s power
Some of the prophecies are obvious, others are subtle.
For example, one the more subtle prophecies was pointed out to me just this week:
Look at vs. 33. Where does it tell us that Jesus was crucified? (Golgotha).
What does Golgotha mean? (The place of the skull).
Now turn with me to Genesis 3:14-15… What does that tell us God was going to do to Satan? (Crush his head). Interesting isn’t it that the place where Satan’s head was crushed, was called the "place of the skull."
That was a subtle statement from God – now, let’s visit a passage where God’s more obvious:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.