Summary: The cross was the way God chose to be both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Christ.
Why the Cross?
Maundy Thursday 2014
We have just completed one of the most precious spiritual exercises which we engage in as a church body.
The Seder Supper is a powerful tool for reminding us that the work of Jesus Christ is not limited to the New Testament alone.
Christ is seen throughout the Old Testament in types and prophecies which all point to His coming work.
All of the feasts of Israel have their fulfillment in the work of Jesus Christ; and in the Passover Feast He is seen so clearly as the Lamb.
For those of you who are new to this feast, you had the opportunity tonight to experience an order of service quite different from any normal meal.
All of the food on the table, every cup and every dish, had specific significance.
The bitter herbs represented the bitter conditions of the Hebrews in Egypt; the Charoset represented the mortar which was used to make bricks.
And every word of blessing pointed to a special spiritual significance within the supper.
Now, there was a very important part of the meal that I am sure everyone noticed.
At a certain point in the message, a young person stood and asked four traditional questions:
Why is this night different from all the other nights?
Why do we eat only unleavened bread?
Why do we eat bitter herbs?
Why do we hold this Passover service?
This portion of the supper is filled with significance.
First, it reminds us of the necessity to teach our children about our faith so that it lives on in the coming generation.
Second, it reminds us of the inquisitive nature of the human heart.
We all have questions about our faith, and these questions are not necessarily wrong.
They remind us that we do not have all of the answers, and we should be continually seeking after truth.
In keeping with the tradition of asking important questions on Maundy Thursday, tonight I want to preach on a very important question; in fact, it may be the most important question that we could ever ask about our faith...
The question is simple: Why the Cross?
This night in history represents to us the time Jesus spent with His apostles before going to the cross.
The next day, they would see him drug away, charged as a criminal, and executed in a humiliating fashion.
And you must know that they were saying to themselves, “WHY?”
For much of the world, that question still resonates today...
Why the cross?
READ: Luke 22:39-46
Tonight, during our meal, we had the opportunity to enjoy a series of “cups”.
The traditional Seder has four cups which are associated with it.
The first is for Kiddush (קידוש), the second is for 'Maggid' (מגיד), the third is for Birkat Hamazon (ברכת המזון) and the fourth is for Hallel (הלל).
The Four Cups represent the four expressions of deliverance promised by God Exodus 6:6-7: "I will bring out," "I will deliver," "I will redeem," and "I will take."
These four cups would have been a part of the Last Supper which Jesus celebrated with His apostles.
In fact, it was likely the cup of blessing which Jesus consecrated with a new meaning - when He said take and drink, this is my blood given for you.
When we arrive at our text in Luke 22, this meal has concluded.
Jesus has instituted the new Holy Ordinance of Communion, and He has delivered His high priestly prayer.
Judas has departed to betray Christ, and He has led His disciples to the Mount of Olives, wherein He would pray to God in regard to the events which were about to take place.
He encourages His apostles to pray for strength, and He separates from them to pray for strength of His own.
It is during this prayer that a different “Cup” is mentioned.
v.41-42 “And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Up until this point in the evening, the “cups” had all represented a gracious aspect of God’s character: His deliverance, His redemption, His provision.
But this “cup” was different.
This cup is a dreadful cup!
This cup is a frightening cup!
This cup caused the Lord of Glory's sweat to mix with blood!
The “cup” Jesus is talking about here is the “cup” of God’s Wrath.
Throughout Scripture, we see references to the “cup” of God’s wrath.
Psalm 11:5-6 “The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.”