Summary: Our culture has lost its understanding of the Cross. We have forgotten "The Old Rugged Cross."
There is a word that I want to try and lift this morning which is found in 23 chapter of Luke’s gospel, beginning at verse 39. Would you stand for the reading of God’s word. (READ). Thus, for our subject this morning I invite you to join with me prayerfully and reflect on the words, Wisdom From The Cross.
Around the necks of hundreds of thousands in our society today are crosses of gold and silver. Many of them are beautifully decorated with precious stones - sapphires, rubies and diamonds. The people who wear them, in the majority, blissfully go on their way without even the vaguest understanding of the meaning of the true Cross. The Cross has merely become another item of jewelry. Yet, there were no jewels in the Cross which executed our Lord Jesus. Our culture has lost its understanding of the Cross.
We have forgotten that On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross.
So if you haven’t remembered; travel with me back into the corridors of time and the pages of history more than 2000 years ago; to a dreadful dastardly time in the history of humankind. When man was lost, baffled and tossed by every new wind that blew. It was a time called the Intertestamental Period: the waning moments of the old standing on the precipice of the new. The law was about to bow subject to grace. The old dispensation was prepared to be succeeded by the new dispensation. Those who had been looking for a great and shinning knight in armor that would lead the people of Israel to a golden age were dismayed and distraught. For the only hope they had was now hanging on a tree; with spikes in His feet and with nails in His hands. It was a time in history when Satan almost became our savior. When we were lost without any hope of being found. When we were looking for the Lord to speak a word but it appeared that even silence came from heaven on high.
Travel with me to that period in history as we re-enact the most eventful weekend that humankind as ever experienced
then or since. We cannot gather here in isolation of all that transpired during that dreadful weekend. This Sunday morning worship service and this weekend’s celebration of liberation and freedom don’t mean much if we don’t understand the crucifixion. And the celebration of the Lord’s Supper will mean nothing if we have not entered into the suffering of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Look at the paradox of the weekend if you will; it was ugly but at the same time it was beautiful. It was ugly because evil had seemingly had won out. Satan appeared to be in charge and good appeared not to be able to stand on its own two feet. It was ugly because, as somebody said, the sun refused to shine. The earth began to quake and we are told that everything that had life became listless on that dreadful Friday afternoon. It was ugly because it appeared that the darkness would never be disbursed by light. And it appeared that humankind would be lost in the vast quagmires of a sin that would never loose them
nor let them go.
But not only was it ugly but it was beautiful at the same time. It was beautiful because the Lord was teaching us what real celebration is all about. He wanted us to know that you can’t go up until you have first gone down. And He wanted us to know that you cannot really celebrate until you have first sorrowed. And that you cannot really understand living until you have determined what it means to die. And that the Resurrection means absolutely nothing if you have not determined what it means to go to Calvary’s awful hill. There were three cross there and most us are familiar with these three crosses.
The first cross was the cross of rejection. The theif who absolutely said “NO” to the “YES” of God. The second cross is that of reconciliation. For the other theif that was on the other side of our Lord and Savior said, “Lord, I see something in you. The proximity of our closeness has allowed me to feel something that I have never felt before. I’ve looked into your eyes and there is a gleam that has captured my spirit. There is something about you that makes me, even in this last moment want to cry out to you and say, Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!” And Jesus’ response was, “Today. Shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” And the final cross was the cross od redemption. Where Jesus died for the atonement for your sins and mine.