Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Meaning and Response to the Cross of Jesus Christ

Summary of message: Peter Thomas at LBC on March 17th 2013.


Easter has many different meanings for people. The real meaning is often not perceived by people. One young boy who had had no Christian influence was amazed to see the big plus sign at the front of the first church he had ever entered!

The Meaning of the cross

A cross is symbolised by an X. At school if a child gives the wrong answer, eg 2+3=7, the teacher will mark it as wrong with an X.

Most children are captivated by the idea of a treasure map. On the map there may be an island with a sandy beach, a harbour for boats to anchor, a big tree, footprints leading away from the tree and a big X to mark where the treasure is buried.

When young people reach the age of about thirteen, they become attracted to the opposite sex. If notes or letters are exchanged they might conclude with an X, meaning a kiss or feelings of love.

As adults we can vote for our government representatives. We go into a booth and in complete secrecy mark a sheet of paper with an X, next to the name of the person we vote for. Meaning we choose this one, this one will have authority over me.

The cross in these examples means first that we live in a broken world full of mistakes, but there is a great treasure to be found. This treasure is the amazing love of God, but we are required to make a choice.

Four Responses to the Cross – Luke 23:26-43             

1.       Legalism (vs26)

This man Simon of Cyrene was made to carry the cross, he had no choice, it was forced upon him. Many will resent Easter because they also were forced into religion. We should be careful not to force religion onto our children. We can also force Christ onto one another through legalism – enforcing rules.

There is truth to die for eg the unconditional love of God and there is personal convictions about many issue. The questions were asked about whether the Gentiles should be circumcised (Romans 14, Acts 15). Learn to live graciously, rather than with man-made laws which lead to a false sense of security.

2.       Emotionalism (vs 27)

Some people can get caught up in the sufferings of the cross and over identify with sympathy and love for Jesus. But Jesus said, ‘Don’t do this’, meaning it’s not a tragedy. The greatest tragedy is the lost people. Yes the cross was excruciatingly painful but don’t be emotional and sentimental about it about this aspect- this is sacrifice at it’s greatest expression.

3.       Cynicism (vs35)

The people in the crowd stood and watched. They were manipulated by their leaders to be their and to cast the vote that condemned Jesus. They were uninvolved. Some mocked Him and hurled insults. People today are like this. They have an agenda which is to mock and deny who Jesus is eg Richard Dawkins, many TV shows, everyday life...

4.       Faith Response (vs 40)

The reponse from one of the crucified men is by faith. He knew he was guilty and admitted it. The cross was reserved for the most extreme dissenters in society, so he was being justly punished. He had heard Jesus pray to the Father, forgive them and he wanted this forgiveness and his request was granted.

And God removed His Spirit from the world while Jesus hung on the cross. For three hours darkness came over the land and Jesus cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’

The story is told of the Olympic diver who in the middle of the night decided to go to the high diving board to practise for the next day’s competitions. As he stood on the board and lifted his arms in the shape of a cross, he looked down. At that moment the moon shone through a window and he saw his silhouette on the bottom of the empty swimming pool. This saved him from plunging to his death. The cross saved him!

Let’s pray

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