When we see a cross whether its in a church or beside a road or on a piece of jewelry,
it reminds us that Jesus Christ died in our place.
Many churches have a cross on their steeple or inside their sanctuary.
What do you think of when you see the cross?
There are those who would say that question is of little importance, but it is the most important
question that you will ever answer because it has to do with the eternal welfare of your soul.
Once you know what the cross of Christ means, you will be able to see how important
it is to your soul.
The cross in the Bible tells us about that rugged, wooden cross on which the Lord Jesus was crucified.
The cross is where Christ died for a world of sinners.
This one word, "cross," stands for Christ crucified.
The message of the cross is a message of eternal importance.
This is not a subject on which many people would agree.
A person must be right on this subject, or he is lost for ever.
It is about heaven or hell.
It is about life or death.
Where a person will spend eternity hinges on the answer to this question:
"What do you think about the cross of Christ?"
The cross must be central in Christian preaching.
The cross is the power of God.
To focus on the cross is to focus on the power of God.
The cross is the very heart of the gospel.
"Without the cross there is no hope to take the place of despair.
Without the cross there is no heaven to take the place of hell.
Without the cross there is no justification to take the place of condemnation.
Without the cross there is no salvation to take the place of sinfulness."
The cross doesn't make sense to the world, because to the world the cross represents weakness.
To the world the cross means a man was arrested, given a quick trial, and executed.
The world in the early life of the church also had its objections to the cross.
There were different attitudes that many had about the cross.
Some thought of the cross as foolishness.
Some thought of the cross as a stumbling block.
To the Jews the cross was a stumbling block.
The cross was a scandal to the Jews.
It was repulsive to them.
It was disgusting for them to speak of a crucified Saviour.
To the Greeks it was foolishness.
To the Greeks it was a joke.
The Greeks sought after wisdom.
The Greeks were known for their great philosophers and their knowledge.
They had deified wisdom.
They worshiped at the shrine of science and knowledge.
Doesn't that sound familiar to us today?
There are people today who say, " Unless you can put it in a test tube
or in a mathematical equation, we will not believe it."
The Greeks could not rationalize the fact that God came down from heaven in a human body
and died on a cross.
They were saying, " If we can't understand it, we will not accept it."
So anything they couldn't understand, they just laughed it off.
There are people like that in our world.
They laugh at Jesus.
They laugh at the cross.
They make fun of Christians who believe the Bible and who witness and share their faith.
But the cross is not a laughing matter.
A person can laugh his way into hell, but he can't laugh his way out.
It is at the cross Jesus became the Saviour of the world.
It is Christ on the cross that is the power of God to all who are being saved.
The way a person views the cross determines whether that person is perishing or saved.
It is our response to the cross that determines whether we are lost or saved,
and whether we are headed for hell or heaven.
The way of the cross leads to death.
"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."
("The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard)
"There they crucified him." (Luke 23:33)
These four words sum up one of the most important events in human history.
"And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him."
Calvary is the Latin word for skull.
Golgotha is from the Aramaic word for skull.
Calvary was a cruel place.
It was a place of death, a place of pain, of suffering, and execution.
Calvary was a shameful place: "there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right
and one on the left." (Luke 23:33)
To many who stood nearby Jesus was just another criminal.
To the soldiers he was just another despised Jew in an occupied country who was to be eliminated.
The cross was a shameful place because Jesus was probably crucified naked.
The soldiers gambled for his clothes.
They divided them up, but one article of clothing had no seams.
It would probably ruin it to divide or cut it up, so they gambled for it.
Since his clothes were taken by the soldiers, it is likely our Lord was crucified naked on the cross.
Crucifixion was a terrible way to torture and kill a person.
Cicero, an ancient Roman author, had witnessed many crucifixions.
He said the victims often became raving madmen before they died from fever, thirst,
infection, pain, exhaustion, and other problems.
Sometimes the tongues of men on a cross were cut out to stop their terrible cries and screams.
It was one of the worst methods of punishment ever devised by mankind.
The position of a person on a cross made breathing difficult.
Cramps would set in, especially in the muscles of the arms.
In order to breathe a person had to push up with his legs and pull up with his arms,
and the nails would tear His flesh as it did this.
Slowly His strength would be sapped, but in desperation He would have to exert Himself
in order to breathe.
When they came to break the legs of those on the cross, Jesus was already dead.
The breaking of the legs would hasten death, but since His breathing had so difficult
Jesus probably died so quickly from the accumulation of suffering before and
during the cross that they didn't break His legs.
Sometimes, a scourging alone would even kill a strong man.
The suffering of Jesus was beyond horrible.
"See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."
-- Issac Watts
Christ's love is, "so amazing and so divine," that He bore our sins in His body,
And that He took the curse and the wrath of God upon Him.
It is in the cross that we know how dearly God loves us, in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.
It is on the cross that Jesus embodies the love of God for us most deeply.
Jesus took the consequence of the sins of all mankind on Himself.
He took our place.
He died our death.
This is exactly what happened on that old rugged cross.
"I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus,
Since I found in Him a friend so strong and true.
I would tell you how He changed my life completely;
He did something no other friend could do.
No one ever cared for me like Jesus;
There's no other friend so kind as He.
No one else could take the sin and darkness from me;
O how much He cared for me."
( No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus by C. F. Weigle)
The way of the cross leads us to Jesus as the only way of salvation.
Jesus is the only way of salvation.
There are many who claim that all religions the same.
Of course all religions are not the same!
Buddhism doesn't even claim there is a God.
And Hinduism says that everything is God...You are god...I am god.
The authority of Christianity is the Bible.
But Mormons take their authority from the book of Mormon and Muslims use the Koran.
Another essential difference is the fact that Christianity affirms the deity, death,
and resurrection of Jesus Christ whereas other faiths like Islam deny all three
of these Scriptural truths.
The major difference of Christianity is that Christianity proclaims a gospel of grace
and not of works.
Every other religion is based on people doing something.
People of other religions are told that they must earn the favor of God.
Some religions teach that people have to use a Tibetan prayer wheel,
or they have to go on pilgrimages or they have to give alms to the poor.
Or they have to avoid eating certain foods,
Or they have to perform a certain number of unspecified good deeds.
Some teach that they have to pray at a certain time in a certain position each day,
and some believe that they have to go through a cycle of reincarnations.
Someone has identified other religious systems as a do-it-yourself religion.
God's Word teaches us that God's gift of salvation through Jesus a gift of God.
The grace of God sets Christianity apart from every any other religion in the world.
No other religion proclaims a free forgiveness and a new life to those
who have done nothing to deserve it.
In fact because of our our sin, we deserve judgement.
In John 14:6 Jesus said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father,
but by Me."
This single statement is one of the most critical sentences ever uttered.
The way to God and heaven is through Jesus, so Christianity cannot be reconciled with
any other religion.
This uniqueness of Christianity is rooted in the uniqueness of Jesus.
Someone has written what other religious leaders have said:
"Follow me and I'll show you how to find truth."
But Jesus says, "I am the truth."
Other religious leaders have said: "Follow me and I'll show you the way to salvation."
But Jesus says, "I am the way to eternal life."
Other religious leaders have said: "Follow me and I'll show you how to become enlightened."
But Jesus says, "I am the light of the world."
Other religious leaders have said: "Follow me and I'll show you many doors that lead to God."
But Jesus says, "I am the door."
Only Jesus Christ is qualified to give Himself as payment for our sins because
He is the perfect Son of God.
Only Jesus performed great miracles that authenticated His claim to being God.
In the most spectacular demonstration of His deity, Jesus fulfilled His own prediction
by His resurrection from the dead.
After His resurrection He was seen by more than 500 people,
Jesus is the way, and as the Greek article emphasizes He is the only way!
Jesus lived to die that I might live.
Jesus said: "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
Jesus became poor that we might be made rich.
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes
he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Jesus left the splendors of Heaven and the fellowship of His Father to pay for our sins
with His own blood.
"He, Who knew no sin in Heaven, became sin's sacrifice for us on earth.
He, Who knew no poverty in Heaven, became poor for us on earth.
He, Who knew no loneliness in Heaven, was forsaken by His own Father for us on earth.
He, Who knew no separation in Heaven, was separated from all that was in Heaven
for 33 years for us on earth.
He, Who knew no hatred in Heaven, was hated of men on earth.
Think of how much Jesus gave up for us that we might have riches in Glory by Him!"
If Jesus had not ever lived, I would be destined to die without Christ.
If Jesus had not ever died, I would never have had an opportunity to live eternally.
One of the reasons Jesus came was to give His life for me and for you!
Mark 10:45 says, "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,
and to give his life a ransom for many."
"All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me;
All my heart was full of misery and woe,
Jesus placed His strong arms about me
And He led me in the way I ought to go.
Ev'ry day He comes to me with new assurance;
More and more I understand His word of love.
But I'll never know just why He came to save me,
Till someday I see His blessed face above."
(No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus by C. F. Weigle
The way of the cross leads us home to heaven.
"I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There's no other way but this.
I shall ne're get sight of the gates of light,
If the way of the cross I miss."
"The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home,
It is sweet to know as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home."
(By Jessie Brown Pounds)
"The Way of the Cross Leads Home" was inspired by a popular sermon illustration
often told during those years.
In the heart of heart of London was a place called, Charing Cross, and it was often
referred to locally as "the cross".
One day a London police officer came upon a lost child who was unable to tell
the policeman where he lived.
Finally, amid the crying and the tears, the child said,
"If you will take me to 'The Cross' I think I can find my way home from there."
It is believed that illustration led Jessie Pounds to write this hymn:
"I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There's no other way but this;
I shall never get sight of the gates of light,
If the way of the cross I miss.
The way of the cross leads us home to heaven.
As Christians our eternal home is in heaven.
Philippians 3:20 says, "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior,
the Lord Jesus Christ."
This world is not my home.
Hebrews 13:14 says, "For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking
for the city that is to come."
The NLT translates the first phrase this way: "This world is not our home."
And that reminds us of the gospel song: "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door,
and I can't feel at home in this world any more."
(By Albert E. Brumley)
Victor Hugo said that we spend the first 40 years leaving home, and the next 40 years going home.
We are born saying "Hello," and the rest of life is one long goodbye.
Friendships come and go, people move into our lives for a while, and then they drift away.
We move from house to house, job to job, church to church.
Heaven is our real home.
There is a story that I have read about a young business owner who was opening a new branch office,
and a friend decided to send a floral arrangement for the grand opening.
Due to a mix-up at the florist, the card that was attached said, "Rest in peace."
After complaining to the florist, the florist said,
"Look at this way somewhere a man was buried under a wreath today that said,
"Good luck in your new location."
As Christians we do go to a new location when we leave this one.
For the Christian, death is just a change of address.
The Bible says that when we get to heaven we will be "at home with the Lord."
Jesus said to the thief on the Cross, "Today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
Heaven is where Jesus is, and when we get to heaven, we will be with Him forever.
In 2 Corinthians Paul says that "We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed,
we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands."
2 Corinthians 5:8 assures us of that also when it says, "We are confident, I say,
and would prefer to be absent from the body and present with the Lord."
And 1 John 3:2 tells us what will happen when we are present with the Lord:
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:
but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
"O I want to see Him, look upon His face,
There to sing forever of His saving grace;
On the streets of glory let me lift my voice,
Cares all past, home at last, ever to rejoice."
( By Rufus. H. Cornelius)
I am looking forward to Heaven!
"Just over in Glory Land,
We'll live eternally.
The saints on every hand
Are shouting victory.
Their songs of sweetest praise drift back from Heaven's shore,
And I can't feel at home in this world any more."
(By Albert E. Brumley)
What about you?
The invitation of the cross is to you who are here without Jesus as your Saviour.
It is an invitation to everyone who is sick of sin.
Jesus was calling to all who are tired of being enslaved in the chains of powerful evil habits.
Jesus is calling to all who are fed up with the lying, the cheating, the adultery,
and the depression of a selfish life.
Jesus is calling all who are dead in their sins, and who are on their way to an eternity in hell
to come and receive forgiveness of all your sins and receive eternal life and have a home in heaven.
Jesus is the only way to heaven and life forever.
Christ has died for you.
He has made eternal life possible for you.
The choice is now yours.
If you have never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, this is your opportunity
to be saved from your sins.
You came here on your way to hell, but you can leave here on your way to heaven.
The decision is yours.
Will you accept him or reject him?
You don't know if you will be living tomorrow -- this could be your last chance.
If this is your last chance, it would be so tragic to be this close and die without Jesus.
Some years ago I read of a plane that left Asia bound for Chicago.
That plane crossed the entire Pacific Ocean flew high above the mountain ranges flew
over hundreds of islands, but then went down, and was completely destroyed -- all lives lost!
Almost is a tragic word -- terribly tragic.
Many years ago a crew ship that journeyed around the world had cruised all around the world
and was back in the home harbor in England.
The ship arrived at night and all the passengers were still on board when it was tragically rammed
by another great ocean-going vessel.
Many lives were lost including the captain.
The pastor of the captain had the task of informing the captain's wife and children
as they prepared for his homecoming that the ship had sunk -- the captain was dead.
One sentence uttered in anguish came from that wife and mother's lips:
"Lost, and so near home."
Almost home, but lost.
Repent rings like a fire alarm.
Today, God is urging you to repent of your sins and to trust Jesus as your Saviour and Lord.
There is "Room at the Cross For You."
"The cross upon which Jesus died,
Is a shelter in which we can hide;
And its grace so free is sufficient for me,
And deep is its fountain as wide as the sea
There's room at the cross for you,
There's room at the cross for you,
Tho' millions have come, There's still room for one
Yes, there's room at the cross for you."
(By Ira F. Stanphill)
"Behold the cross of Christ."
See how much Jesus loved you!
See what horrible of Jesus so you could have His great salvation!
For you His blood was shed!
For you His hands and feet were pierced with nails.
For you His body hung in agony on the cross!
Jesus loved you and died for you.
That gracious love of Jesus ought to move you to love Him.
I am praying that this will be the day of your salvation!
So come quickly!