Summary: At the cross God was 1) Giving us his Son, 2) Dealing with our Sin, 3) Planning our Future
? You’ll probably recognize this photo on the screen, which went viral this week. It’s the picture of a cross still intact and vibrant in the midst of the rubble of Notre Dame Cathedral. And it’s amazing that this picture has captured the world’s attention on Easter week, a week when we remember the cross of Jesus and his resurrection.
? Whatever you think of the Christian faith this morning, it’s difficult to argue against the impact that the cross of Jesus has made. Right across the world this morning, Christians from Sydney to Rio, from Alaska to Cape Town, will be remembering the cross, many with elaborate ceremonies where people walk through city streets carrying a cross just like Jesus did 2000 years ago.
o But the cross is not just a symbol. It’s a historical fact. All modern historians accept that Jesus of Nazareth really did die by crucifixion, in around AD33, under the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.
o The big question is ‘why?’ What is the cross all about? What was happening at the cross that has made such an impact of the world?
And these few verses from Isaiah 53 tell us. These verses are what we call prophecy. They are a prediction of the future. This passage was written 700 years before Jesus ever came, and it tells us what was happening at the cross.
At the cross God was
• Giving us his Son (v.10)
• The chapter as a whole tells us how horribly Jesus would suffer on the cross. He would not be recognizable as a human being.
? He would be despised and rejected. People would hide their faces from him. And eventually he would be led like a lamb to the slaughter. It’s pretty strong stuff but if you have seen Mel Gibson’s movie, ‘the Passion of the Christ’, you’ll know that death by crucifixion was about as brutal as it gets.
o So it’s shocking to read in (v.10) that God planned all this suffering for his own Son. ‘It was the will of the Lord to crush him. He has put him to grief.’
• Now that raises all kinds of questions about God. How can we believe in a God who planned the horrific death of his son? But John’s Gospel gives us a fuller picture. John 3:16 says ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only son.’
o The cross reveals the depths of God’s love. God gave us his Son at the cross, not because he didn’t love his Son, but because he loves us so much, and this was the only way to save us.
? God loves Jesus more than any father has ever loved a son. So God choosing to crush his own Son for us, shows the passion of his love for you and me.
? God isn’t some kind of monster. He is a passionate lover who was willing to sacrifice the person who was dearest in the world to him, so that he could rescue us. Divine passion flames from the cross.
And maybe it’s time that you and I thought again about who God is. Richard Dawkins calls the God of the Bible ‘the most unpleasant character in all of fiction.’ Many people think about that incredible painting of the final judgement, by Michael Angelo in the Sistine Chapel, where there is lightning and demons are dragging people down into the abyss.
If that’s your image of God, then you need to think again. This is the God who created our dazzling universe, with everything from starry constellations, to Mediterranean sunsets, and the delicate eyelashes on a new born baby – that God is not a villain.
? The very best things you enjoy in life are gifts from God.
And his supreme gift is God giving us his Son to die on a cross. Maybe it’s time we all re-thought our image of God. He’s not a criminal, he’s a creator. He’s not a fiend, he’s a father. He’s not a bully, he is beautiful. And he has performed the greatest act of love the universe has ever seen, giving us his Son to die on a cross.
At the cross, God was giving us his Son. Secondly, at the cross God was
• Dealing with our Sin (11)
• You’ve got to ask the question, ‘why did Jesus have to die on a cross for us? What’s the problem that needed such a drastic solution?’
• (v.10) tells us that Jesus was doing something for us on the cross that we desperately needed. It says ‘his soul makes an offering for guilt.’ At the end of (v.11) it says ‘he shall bear, or carry their iniquities’, which is another word for sin.