Faithlife Sermons

Passover 2020 Message

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There is nothing more important than the cross. Why? It is the greatest act of friendship.

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The Cross of Messiah
Meditate on the cross as an act of friendship. Candor refers to vulnerability and transparency. Constancy means commitment. Keller paraphrased friendship this way, ‘Friends always let you in and never let you down. Friends always have time for you but don’t let you down.”
I. What could a profane poet into a person of praise?
a. De Profundis – the angry atheist C.S. Lewis
b. How did this one become the one who penned himself into the Chronicles of Narnia as Edmund. Edmund, the insecure little boy, why betrayed Aslan for the White Witch, Edmund for whom Aslan will give his life on the stone table and come back again as His greatest ally and friend.
c. This one said, “He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.”
d. He experienced the cross of Jesus as an act of overwhelming love.
II. The Cross is a very taboo topic.
a. I understand how it has been abused historically.
i. The long history of religious hatred and violence.
1. Christian Crusaders
2. Christian Nazis
3. Christian Violence wearing Crosses
ii. Defy the Abuse to see the real history of a unique act
1. - The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 5:30–32 HCSB
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
a.
Deuteronomy 21:22–23 HCSB
“If anyone is found guilty of an offense deserving the death penalty and is executed, and you hang his body on a tree, you are not to leave his corpse on the tree overnight but are to bury him that day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
b. The Cursed One by Men is the Blessed One by God
c. Tradition: Peter would not be hung right side up on a cross.
d. Archeology: the Jewish Sarcophagus with cross and possibly Shimon Bar Yonah name.
2. The Famous painter in Marc Chagall in 1939 understood this and painted the first Jewish Jesus in history by a Jewish artist.
b. I understand how it sounds very pagan
i. The cross is the place where God’s wrath is appeased.
ii. This the image of a blood-thirsty god.
iii. Never: God is Wrath contrary God is Long-Suffering even more God is Love.
1. Illustrate: A Wasp coming at an infant on a blanket. Mom swats it away. To the wasp that mother must be full of wrath. To the child that mother is full of love. Wrath is an effect of the protective side of love.
iv. Where does it come from: 12th century Anselm.
v. There was another voice in the 12th century, Abelard, who said the cross when rightly understood is a demonstration of the depths of God’s love.
c. I understood why other parts of Jesus life is preferred.
i. Moral Teachings
ii. Moving Moments
iii. Miracle of His Resurrection
III. There is nothing more important than the cross of Messiah.
a. - For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2 HCSB
For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
b. - For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:3 HCSB
For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
c. Emil Bruner said, “The scandal of the cross is that it denies God is wrath and says that God is love.”
Today, I want us to meditate on the cross as an act of friendship.
Ha-foke-bah
What do I mean when I say I want us to meditate on the cross as an act of fellowship? First, you have to do 90% of the work. This means you have to shift your focus to the cross as an act of friendship. Draw all your mental energies to this one idea. Second, this not a sermon like I usually preach. It is a meditation meant to help you experience the cross as an overwhelming encounter of friendship. Last, as an act of meditation let it reduce the stresses of life you are facing.
Criteria – shares life with you
I. “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C.S. Lewis
a. - During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Though He was God’s Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.
Hebrews 5:7–8 HCSB
During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Though He was God’s Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.
b. People who venerate the cross see a savior ten feet in the air, a kind of hero, different in the air. That is mistaken.
c. At the cross the standard criterion of friendship is met:
i. What? You too sought another way out? I thought I was the only one.
ii. What? You too had anxiety?...
iii. What? You too felt betrayal, pain, heartache, and the feeling that God had abandoned you?
d. If you met Jesus at the cross and tried to venerate him there I think he would say “stop.” There has been people who died more grandeur, noble, patriotic deaths.
II. Meditation
a. At the cross you find a friend and not a hero.
b. The cross replaces veneration of a Hero with friendship to the Holy One.
c. Read “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
Cure – A Friend acts for your well-being
I. Illustration: recently a friend of mind told me they had come in contact with someone who had COVID-19 and they were quarantined.
II. Scripture:
a. - He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds. For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24–25 HCSB
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds. For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
i. I want to return back to the discussion between Anselm and Abelard in the 12th century. You see for Anselm he thought that God was the object of reconciliation and the subject of reconciliation. In other words, God was an angry father who needed to be appeased in order to sit back down at the table. In the Scriptures, God is never the object of reconciliation He is the subject. The Actor, the one who though provoked goes to the offender seeking to restore the relationship.
ii. God as our friend wants to come to us and act for our well being. To do that he has to meet us in the condition we are in. The condition we are in, whether we like it or not is guilt.
iii. Guilt is real whether it is felt or not felt. When you break the Law and stand before a judge and a jury of your peers declares you guilty you can’t say, “But, I don’t feel guilty.” Guilt is established by breaking the law whether you feel it or not.
iv. When guilt is established it puts you under the curse of the Law. That is, it’s punishment, that is wrath.
v. Anselm makes it sound like God is blood thirsty because his honor, his law has been breached and until he gets blood he will not be satisfied.
vi. He is right that God’s honor has been married but wrong about the rest.
b. The cross shows that God is acting as our friend. Just as somebody who wants to help us has to travel there and enter into the conditions we are, so God wanting to help man came into this far country and put himself under the curse which the whole human race stands under.
i. The curse is not merely misery, it’s worse than that, it is being lost to God.
ii. When C.S. Lewis said in his poem, “I will not bow down to thee, I will not love thee.” What he was saying is that he could deal with his guilt on his own. He would not look to an estranged criminal on a cross for help. His moral self-esteem and since of self-righteous determinism kept him away. He wanted to be the creator of his own life. But, the guilt, the Turkish delight was too much for him to bear.
c. The cross showed us that we were sick from guilt and lost to God. The cross is not trying to appease a blood thirsty God, it is the greatest act a friend could do for another friend. Substitute his life in the place of another.
III. Meditation
a. At the cross you find a friend who cares for you and does not condemn you.
b. The cross eradicates guilt and offers the gladness of relationship.
Candor – A friend wants to include you and not exclude you
I. Illustration
a. Everyone wants a friend that will really include you in what they are really thinking and not exclude you.
b. This the very definition of vulnerability.
II. Scripture
a. , - No one has greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends…“I am no longer calling you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing. Now I have called you friends, because everything I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
John 15:13 HCSB
No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:15 HCSB
I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.
III. Meditation
a. At the cross you find a friend who includes you and does not exclude you.
i. Exclusion means cutting the bonds of friendship, pushing others away instead of drawing them near.
ii. When I was teenager me and a couple of my friends put on the boxing gloves from time-to-time and I my friend Jeremy from LA taught me a hard lesson about boxing. Keep your arms up are you will get a fist on the inside.
iii. On the cross, Jesus kept his heart open, his arms open to welcome you, to welcome even those who were cursing them.
b. The cross replaces exclusion with inclusion.
Consistency – never let you down
I. Illustration: Thomas Story
II. Scripture
a. - One of the Twelve, Thomas called the Twin, was not with them when Yeshua came. The other disciples were saying to him, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But he replied to them, “Unless I see the nail prints in His hands, and put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand in His side, I will never believe!” Eight days later the disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them. Yeshua comes, despite the locked doors. He stood in their midst and said, “Shalom aleichem!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe!” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
John 20:24–28 HCSB
But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.” Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
b.
III. Meditation
a. At the cross you find a friend who always has time for you and will not let you down.
b. The cross replaces insecurity with security.
So what was it that moved a man from saying the kind of things he said in his denial of God to being able to say, “The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start.” - Lewis, C. S.. Mere Christianity
It was the same thing that made Paul say - For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2 HCSB
For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
At the cross he met the truest of friends. Somebody who got him, wanted to his better, let him in and never pushed him out. In times like we are in it is easy to feel like have never been more alone. It is easy to feel the darkness, the anxiety, stress, the fear and to feel it alone. Even though we are alone, you have never been less alone.
The cross promises you that though you may feel alone, you are not alone.
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