He IS alive!
Read – John 19:1-30
Key Verse – And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him… (John 19:17-18a NKJV).
We are here tonight because of the cross… “that old cross, where Jesus suffered and died.” We think about it every Lord’s Day, for we have a symbol of it on the wall behind me, and we normally include the communion / Lord’s Table service in our worship, as we will do tonight. The cross and remembrance of it is central to that communion service.
But on this night – Good Friday – we find our thoughts even more laser-beam-like focused on the cross of Jesus Christ, for it was on this day… a Friday… nearly 2000 years ago now, that Jesus gave His life on the cross for you and me.
Now, there are a variety of things we might discuss concerning the cross:
We might talk about the message of the cross. Paul said it is our message… our only message**… the *sole topic of our preaching and teaching. *For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2 NKJV).
We might talk about the glory of the cross. We have nothing other than the cross in which to boast. It is our everything. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14 NKJV).
We might talk about the reconciliation that took place there on that cross. We who were at enmity with God were reconciled… restored a right relationship and standing with our Father God. and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (Ephesians 2:16 NKJV).
We might take that thought of reconciliation a step further, and talk about the peace that is our’s because of the cross. and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20 NKJV).
Look backwards in time. Can you see it? Can you see the cross? Can you see Jesus hanging thereon? What do you see there?
In my mind’s eye I can see it. I see Jesus hanging thereon… the crown of thorns pressed into His head, and blood dripping down His face. I see the nails piercing His wrists and His feet, and blood flowing from those wounds as well. I see blood dripping to the ground from the horrible lacerations on His back, resulting from the scourging and beating He had endured earlier at the hand of the Romans. I see guards at the foot of the cross gambling away His little bit of possessions. I see two other men crucified, one on either side, and I listen to them speaking to Jesus, and Jesus speaking to them. Several times I see Jesus lips move and strain to hear Him say some amazing things:
I marvel as I hear Him pray, Father, forgive them (Luke 23:34).
I wonder at His kind words to the thief, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise (Luke 23:43).
I choke back tears as I see Him, even in His dying moments, arrange for the care of His sweet mother, Woman, behold thy son (John 19:25-27).
I follow His upward gaze toward heaven as He cries in agony, Why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46).
I look around to see if there are any who will help when I hear Him whisper, I thirst (John 19:28).
I am amazed, and awestruck, as I see Him push himself up, and shout with all His might, IT IS FINISHED! (John 19:30)
And I fall on my knees in worship as I see Him do something nobody else could do… lay down His life voluntarily. Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46).
I see His head slump forward in death, and shortly thereafter a Roman soldier thrust a sword into His side, such that blood and water flow out of the wound and onto the ground.
I look on at all this and wonder… do you not wonder? It is such a unique scene in the history of the world. Nothing like it ever happened before or since, and nothing like it ever will happen again. Can you see it? What exactly IS happening on that cross?
A Man is Dying.
Here’s a truth for you to chew on for a minute – Jesus Christ was and is the very Son of the living God. He was born of virgin, without earthly Father, for as the angel told Mary, He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest…. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:32, 35 NKJV).
Of Him, Isaiah prophesied many years before His birth, For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV)
Jesus was and is the Son of the Highest, the Son of God, Mighty God, Everlasting Father.Jesus was and is God. 100%
But here’s another truth – He was something else. Jesus was and is man… 100%.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law (Galatians 4:4 NKJV).
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:8 NKJV)
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5 NKJV).
There are a lot of different names and descriptions given Jesus in the Bible. The apostle John, in his gospel, referred to Jesus as “the Word.” Notice what he said about Jesus: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-2, 14 NKJV)
He was God… He became man and lived on this earth. In doing so He never became any less God. He is 100% God and He is 100% man.
So when I look upon the cross, what is happening there? Well, a man is dying… that’s what’s happening there.
Flesh and blood, no different that you… no different than me… a man Who felt pain and every other human thing… no different that you… no different than me.
The man on that cross felt just as you would… hurt just as you would… struggled to breathe just as you would… bled just as you would… and died just as you would.
What is happening on that cross? A man is dying… but more than that:
A LAMB is dying.
Lot’s of men die. In one sense, the death of Jesus was no different. But in another sense… another WONDERFUL sense, His death was different. For He was not only a man… He was the LAMB… the one of whom John the Baptist said, Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
For thousands of years… the years described in the Old Testament, lambs had been sacrificed to atone for sin. Sin has but one penalty – death. All sin… regardless of whether we think it big or small, has but one penalty – death. That’s not my judgement on sin, it’s God’s. He is the One who said, The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18). He is the One who said, The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
From the moment Eve first sinned, and Adam first sinned, death has been a required penalty for sin. And also from that moment, God has accepted the death of a substitute as payment for sin. That’s why God clothed Adam and Eve with the blood stained skins of a substitute… that’s why lamb after lamb after lamb was slain in the Old Testament sacrificial system – because God accepted the blood of the sacrifice as a subtitute for the blood of the sinner.
But all those lambs were really just pointing to the day when the one Lamb… the Lamb of God… Jesus, would die once and for all sinners.
That’s what was happening on that cross. God’s perfect Lamb was dying as a substitute for you and me. “My sins demanded hell, on Him the judgement fell.”
Were you listening to the words as we sang a moment ago?
Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of (MY) sin.
(MY) Ev’ry bitter thought,
(MY) Ev’ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.
Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.
This, the pow’r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took (MY) blame, bore (MY) wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.
What is happening on that cross? A man is dying… a lamb is dying… for me and for you! Oh, and one more thing:
A Hope is Blooming.
O mighty cross,
what throne of grace
He knew no sin,
yet took my place
His sacrifice on Calvary
Has made the mighty cross
a tree of life to me!
A tree of LIFE! Everywhere that His blood fell, hope sprouted and bloomed.
Before the cross, there was only the looking forward to a future hope. Apart from the cross, there is no hope. But now, because of the cross… because the God Man died there… because the Lamb died there:
WE. HAVE. HOPE.
We have forgiveness of our sins in Him. We are no longer estranged from our God by those sins, for they are forgiven… He paid the debt… He died in our place… He was our substitute… He settled our accounts… He set us free… He finished it all!
Lifted up was He to die
“It is finished!” was His cry
Now in Heaven lifted high
Hallelujah! What a Savior
What is happening on that cross? A man is dying… a LAMB is dying… and hope is blooming.
Thankfully, the story did not end with the cross. Three days later, a day we will commemorate on Easter Sunday, the dying man lived… the dying Lamb rose from the grave… the hope got real, for because He lived (and lives), we can live too. Forever.
Hope. Do you have it?
The Bible says it is yours forever if you want it. Forgiveness from sin… salvation from Hell… life forever… yours, if you want it.
When Jesus cried out “It is finished” He meant it. Every piece of the puzzle was now in place. Every penalty was now satisfied and every debt was now repaid by that dying lamb on that cross. His part was done.
But if you want that hope, you have a part to play, too. You have to believe it, and you have to receive it. It is a gift to you, but a gift is only yours when you receive it.
What is happening on that cross? A man is dying… a lamb is dying… a hope is blooming… for YOU. And now, if you have never done so, you need to kneel in the blood at the foot of that cross, believe, and talk to Him, saying “Lord, I believe… I accept the gift.”
I mentioned earlier that the taking of communion is a picture of what happened on the cross. Before He died, Jesus told His disciples to do this as a memorial of His death on the cross. So we do it… often… and we will do it in just a few minutes.
The musicians can take their place now.
The elders can take their place now.
The quartet will sing one final song. At the conclusion of that song, all those who have received the gift of salvation are invited to make your way up the center aisle to the front to receive communion. You may partake right there, or you may go back to your seats and partake there. Let us remember what happened on that cross. The man dying… the lamb dying… the hope blooming.
And if you have not yet believed, do not take the communion – rather come and kneel at this altar where I or someone will pray with you, and help you receive the gift of salvation – the HOPE that blooms at the foot of that cross.
This will conclude our service, so once you are done, you may leave. Please only exit out the rear, and not to the side, so as not to disturb those still worshipping. And I ask that you not congregate and talk in the foyer, for that sound might also filter up and disturb those still worshipping.
Let us just quietly remember the cross around the Lord’s table, and then disperse.