Summary: To preach this message, I showed the "Three Crosses of Golgotha" and named each cross. The title of the message became the altar call.
• The greatest picture of love ever displayed was when Jesus died on the cross. It was not because of His guilt, it was not the hammer, the nails, the crown, or the abuse that Jesus died, it was His love; it was the love He had for you and me. But never miss this critical part.
• He didn’t just die there for us, but literally He died in our place, for our sin. The nail, the pain, the shame of it all – should have been ours. A friend of mine wrote the song, “I Should Have Been Crucified” and that is the truth. It should have been me and you. Sin had to be paid for and Jesus did it when He had no sin of His own.
• The caveat is found in Luke 9:23 when Jesus pointedly tell us, “If anyone would come after me (which means ‘be my disciple’), let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Can anybody say, “OUCH?” In other words, you must deny self, die to self, & devote self. Today we seem to want to soften these words, Jesus does the opposite in Luke 14 when He says, “Whoever does not bear his own cross & come after me CANNOT (not may not but cannot) be my disciple.”
• (READ TEXT) Let’s take a look toward the hill called Golgotha. On this hillside that is said to be shaped like a skull we see three crosses. I bring this to our attention because all too often, we only visualize one cross, but there were indeed three.
• Crucifixion may well be one of the cruelest forms of punishment ever devised by man. While the Romans didn’t invent crucifixion they certainly raised it to an art form. If you study crucifixion, you discover that death was the ultimate outcome but not the only purpose. The inflicting of unimaginable pain & shame was the desire. For instance, the sedile (or seat) was a sharp piece of woods which the victim might rest his backside on – but would ultimately hurt like a knife in the skin of the victim’s backside. When they nailed a person to the cross, the legs were bent slightly and the arms were nailed slightly bent with the spike being driven between the radial & ulna bones around the wrist area. When he stood up on the nail the pain shot throughout the body and when you relaxed your knees to allow the pain to subside and the weight moved to the nails in the wrist – once again, the nerve endings shot throughout the arms & body. Excruciating best describes the ongoing pain for the victim.
• So now, as we face Golgotha consider these three crosses & the pain equated with a cross. Now consider Luke 14:27, “Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross & come after me cannot be my disciple.”
• As we view these crosses, I want to ask you, “What one is yours?” Our text gives us clues about each one. Let us ‘name’em & claim’em:
1. The Cross of Rebellion – As I read the text, this is the first cross I see mentioned. IN verse 39 he says, “If you are what you say you are save us.” Not surprisingly, this cross is the one who goes along with the crowd and the crowd always goes against Jesus. The people, the soldiers, and even the earthly rulers mock Jesus because they don’t get it, don’t understand.
• Now you get to the guy on the cross. On both of the side crosses were men that the Bible called “Criminals”. One gospel calls them thieves and another uses the word for murderer, but whatever word was used, these were not first time offenders. Now we read that the one (we’ll say on the left) began to verbally blaspheme Jesus. There are commonalities between this thief and rebellious people. First, he sounded like the devil. Look at those words, “If you ARE the Christ.” These are almost the exact words the enemy used on Jesus in the wilderness. (If you are the Christ, command these stones). These words have great similarity to the words of the serpent in the garden. Next, we see no admission of guilt. He’s not sorry for what he did – he’s sorry that he got caught. He didn’t want to make a change in his life; he wanted to get free so he could continue his activity. Next, we see no humility. Did you know that of all things common to man that the root of rebellion is Pride? Pride says, “I don’t need God because I can save myself.” The rebellious one chooses to believe in man & not in God. STORY: A man getting a haircut discusses with his barber the concept of God. The barber said, “I don’t believe in God.” The customer asked, “Why not?” The quick reply was, “When I see the sick, the poor, they hurting, the helpless, and those abandoned by man I know that if there were a God, he would do something about this?” While the customer could have pushed, he chose to back out, paid the barber & left. In just a few minutes he returned to the barber to say, “I have decided that I don’t believe in barbers.” The obvious question was, “Why?” The man said, “I just walked down the block and witnessed kids with long hair, men who needed shaving, and men who had unkempt hair. So barbers must not exist.” The barber retorted, “I’m here – they just don’t come to me.” And the man said, “About our discussion concerning God – DITTO.” The rebellious will never come to God.