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The Way of the Cross

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The Way of the Cross brought victory in the Tomb.

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A Man of Faith

The new governor looks down from the podium at the people thinking about the legacy he will leave. He wanted to be seen as a great leader; tough but fair, an man of faith, a man who lived and governed by his convictions. That however was about to come into question.
The new governor looks down from the podium at the people thinking about the legacy he will leave. He wanted to be seen as a great leader; tough but fair, an man of faith, a man who lived and governed by his convictions. That however was about to come into question.
A mob had gathered in protest - angry and demanding action from the governor. He pondered what he should do. Send in the troops and risk being seen as a tyrant, or give in to the demands of the unruly mob.
He had not expected to deal with this so soon, and to this level. See, 5 days earlier, he had decorated the town square with several large banners, each one displaying a commandment. He believed this to be the most important commandment of all. As a politician, he understood there would be some opposition to politically declaring his faith, but as a man of faith he wanted the people to know that his belief in a higher power was sincere.
As a politician, he understood there would be some opposition to politically declaring his faith, but as a man of faith he wanted the people to know that his belief in a higher power was sincere.
At first hanging of the banners, he was relieved at the few insignificant insults coming from the small group. He dismissed them away, but on the second day the crowd had grown and continued to grow. The large and boisterous crowd began demanding the governor remove the offensive banners. Naturally however, the governor held his ground, thinking weakness was out of the question. Being the reasonable man he was, the governor addressed the people from the podium, encouraging them to follow his example and be people of his faith, telling them, “for it is in his name and by his grace that peace and prosperity will come to this untamed land.”
The protesters were not convinced, nor did they wanted share his faith. Soon others would come to join the protests, then more would come. Now after five days the anxiety was high, and the clear and present danger was real. The governor had to show them who was in charge. The troops hid behind the mansion walls in waiting. He figured the rebel rousers would likely scattered at the first sign of force. He knew many would resist and some would die, but it had to be done. He knew ultimately that history would remember him as a man of faith standing by his convictions, being fair but tough.
The troops move in, but the protesters don’t move out. They sit, daring the troops to physically kill them or remove them. The soldiers stood waiting on the Governors word, as he stares across the square from his balcony at the banners. He wondered again about his legacy then he wavered, calling off the troops. He removed the banners. His advisers praised him and his decision, calling him prudent and merciful.
He would be remembered today for this very incident, if it were not for one other one.
Another protest arose several years later. Another angry mob gathered making demands on the governor again. Another appeasement by the governor was about to happen again this time assuring his legacy and place in history once and for all.
This time no one was surprised at his actions. These citizens knew exactly what kind of man the governor was. He was a man of his convictions, yet one who would tear down banners with what he deemed to be the most important commandment in the world. “Hail Caesar!!”
If the crowd of people could get him to betray his own Emperor, who knows what else they could get him to do for them - this governor of Judea - this man called Pontius Pilate. (Taken From Mike Rowe’s Podcast “The Way I Heard It”)
If you are familiar at all with the scene before the crucifixion then you know what the people got Pilate to do.
Stand and Read the Text with me.
Mark 15:1-
Mark 15:1–15 NKJV
Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. Then Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered and said to him, “It is as you say.” And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!” But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled. Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion. Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!” Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!” So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.
Crucifixion on the cross was the normal penalty for political rebels. Crosses were well known in this Roman province of Judea. The streets leading into Jerusalem were lined with many of them and the dead bodies of Jewish Zealots, political enemies of the State. This is the backdrop and vivid illustration to Jesus teaching about the commitment required to be one of His followers.
Mark 8:3
Mark 8:34–35 HCSB
Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it.
Right after the scene in our text, Jesus would show His followers, those left hanging around, what he meant in that teaching.
The Via Dolorosa (Latin: "Way of Grief," "Way of Sorrow," "Way of Suffering" or simply "Painful Way"; Hebrew: ויה דולורוזה; Arabic: طريق الآلام) is a street within the Old City of Jerusalem, believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. The winding route from the Antonia Fortress west to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—a distance of about 600 meters (2,000 feet)—is a celebrated place of Christian pilgrimage.

The Way of the Cross

Or we might call the path He traveled “The Way of the Cross” because the cross is where Jesus purposely took upon Himself all the Grief of the Father over sin. On the cross He purposely took upon himself all the suffering as the humble Servant and Lamb of God for the sacrifice. On the cross Jesus purposely took on all the pain as the object of a Holy God’s wrath.
Or we might call the path He traveled “The Way of the Cross” because the cross is where Jesus purposely took upon Himself all the Grief of the Father over sin. On the cross He purposely took upon himself all the suffering as the humble Servant and Lamb of God for the sacrifice. On the cross Jesus purposely took on all the pain as the object of a Holy God’s wrath.
In v.23 of we see that Jesus refused to take the wine with myrrh. Now just reading that we may not think anything of that, but this was a time before the laws against cruel and unusual punishment. Before a time when a death row inmate received the drug to not feel the pain while he was dying. Myrrh was mixed with wine to dull the senses, but as David Jeremiah preached, not the senses of the criminals as much as the guards who had to stand there and hear the victims wailing and screaming over the pain involved in this slow agonizing death. David Jeremiah, says that he believes, as do I, that Jesus refused the drink because he wanted to feel the completeness of dying this representative death for us in his humanity. Since the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had determined to drink fully from the cup of suffering intended for Him. He determined to feel everything the cross would give him.
Transitional Sentence: On this Easter Sunday I want to show you the necessity of the cross, the inclusivity and exclusivity of the cross.
Transitional Sentence: On this Easter Sunday I want to show you the necessity of the cross, the inclusivity and exclusivity of the cross.
I. Jesus had to take up the cross because you and I could not.
This points to the necessity of the cross. It fulfilled God’s design in 2 ways.
It is shocking to historians that the Jewish crowd asked Pilate to crucify him. Pilate would have and could have turned him back over. Jewish methods of execution, according to commentators, was stoning (the adulterous women in , Stephen in ) or burning, beheading or even strangling. But God had eternally determined this would be the method.
Romans 5:6
Romans 5:6 HCSB
For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly.
Galatians 4:4-
Galatians 4:4–5 HCSB
When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
One of the clearest verses as to God’s design being the cross:
Galatians 3:13 HCSB
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed.
There are numerous OT prophecies, none more so than , pointing to the Messiah dying on a cross, so it was necessary for the fulfillment of Scripture. The necessity of Christ dying on the cross is also seen in God himself. I recently heard a sermon from a Texas pastor on the Gospel, and he made it into an acronym: G.O.S.P.E.L. The G is for God’s Character.
The Holiness of God permeates scripture. It is the only characteristic ever repeated in scripture. In Hebrew, the thrice repetition of the word Holy in shows the word as a superlative or supreme above all else. Holy describes the godness (not goodness) of God. God, who is Holy, is unapproachable and untouchable by anything sinful.
That is the O in the acronym. The offence of sin. We don’t have to look to far or too long around us to see that humanity is sinful, hey just spend some time scrolling through the news channels and Facebook. It is proof of and and point to the necessity of the cross.
says that we are children of wrath, and that’s because sinful people are the objects of wrath of a Holy God who must punish sin, but says that God is rich in mercy and doesn’t want to punish sin.
The cross is the central component of the Gospel. Everything written in the OT points us forward to requirement for the cross. The wrath of God is satisfied in Christ on the cross. The mercy of God was exemplified in Christ on the cross. The love of God was shown in Christ on the cross. Everything in the NT after the Gospel accounts point us back to see the results of the cross. That is the S in the acronym. The Sufficiency of Christ.
I want you to notice the mention by Mark in v. 21 of the sons of the guy who help carry Jesus’ cross. Most commentators say this comes from the High probability that his readers new the man and his sons personally because he became a Christ follower. I believe he did because he realized what was going on. See when you feel the full weight of the cross of Christ upon you spiritually, then you will ask His forgiveness and to take it for you.
The way of the cross made open the way to God. It says in Matthew’s account of the crucifixion that as soon as Jesus cried out and yield up his spirit, the veil in the Temple, separating the Holy of Holies (or the place of God and the mercy seat) from all else tore into.
II. The way of the cross is for anyone but it’s not for everyone.
This points to the inclusivity and the exclusivity of the cross.
We saw the exclusivity in the teaching of Jesus already from . Because Jesus was about to commit himself to His cross, then he would asked for that same level of commitment from those who would follow him. He would say elsewhere that those who would not give this level of commitment were not worthy to be one of his. Anyone can be saved, but not everyone is saved because they are not willing to turn from their sin to follow Jesus if it means giving up things in life they like. The gospel is not a call to a life of comfort and being served, rather it is a call to commitment and service.
We can see this inclusivity further on in
We can see this inclusivity further on in
Mark 15:39–43 NKJV
So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem. Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
Mark 15:39–41 NKJV
So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
Mark 15:39–41 NKJV
So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
This Roman soldier had just been a part of the group responsible for torturing and crucifying the Son of God, yet upon the death of Christ we see this man admitting to the truth about Christ. Do we know for sure if this meant he was converted and became a Christ follower? No, but the others mocked Jesus. Mark points out that this man recognized what the others had not.
This Roman soldier had just been a part of the group responsible for torturing and crucifying the Son of God, yet upon the death of Christ we see this man admitting to the truth about Christ. Do we know for sure if this meant he was converted and became a Christ follower? No, but the others mocked Jesus. Mark points out that this man recognized what the others had not.
Joseph of Arimathea is said to be a prominent member of the Jewish council that was just responsible for crying out to have Jesus crucified. This man, and Nicodemus, did not go along with it. They became followers of Jesus.
Mark does something at this point he had not done yet in his writing. He mentions women as followers of Jesus watching the crucifixion. You may find that odd, but the original readers of Mark would have took notice. As all the male disciples had fallen by the wayside, the women were in the background looking on. This inclusion of them in this gospel is a pointer to something new in the movement of Jesus, which contrasted strongly with the male domination of the Jewish society. Jewish society gave no legal status to the testimony of women, yet it was upon the witness of these women that the gospel was built and propelled throughout the world. The were the last to see him die, they were the first to see him risen.
From the inclusion of these people God reveals to us that on the Hill of Golgotha the ground is level around the cross. We see here a Gentile, a Jew, men, women. All can be saved. Take notice!! The cross is not the end!! It lead Jesus somewhere.

Victory From the Tomb

Conclusion: Normally crucified people would be left to decompose on the cross or thrown on a pile for the vultures, but we saw that Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb. The way of the Cross leads to victory from the tomb. Remember I said that the women saw Him risen. We are here today because Jesus is the risen Savior. The empty tomb is the proof and promise from God that He accepted the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for the sins of anyone who believed, repented and followed Him in faith.
Here we can find the P in the acronym. Personal Response.

Invitation to Respond

You must make a personal response of faith and repentance as these people, countless others in Acts and NT, and many of us already did. And received the end result of the way of the cross.
The E in the Acronym tells you why you must do it today. E is for Eternal Urgency. assures us we all have a date with death and then comes the judgment. If we face the judgment without the Sufficiency of Christ from the cross we die a second death, eternally. If you have not repented of your sins and sinful nature, Holy God is unapproachable.
Once we make that personal response of faith and repentance, we can expect God to do something in us. This is the L in the acronym. L is for Life Transformation. God will change you. God will make you holy. God will make you usable for the good works he talks about in .
Christian, you are a product of the Gospel. You celebrate Easter because of the Gospel. I just explained a great way to share the Gospel. Now respond by going and telling the Gospel. Make it your single focus. Make it famous in Union County.
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