took the Cross to Enable Us to Understand the Cross
Introduction (Gal 6:14)
A. When Jesus would bring up the subject of His upcoming death, the disciples shook their heads in disbelief that He would talk about such a subject.
B. To the people, the cross was an instrument of punishment, and death
C. To Jesus, it was the final solution
1. Hitler killed 6 million Jews as part of his final solution
2. Stalin killed 30 million of his own people
3. Mao Tse Tung also killed 30 million
4. But Jesus allowed men to cry out Crucify him, and then permitted them to carry out their wishes
D. Why? Because there is just something about that cross
1. Something that no one, not even Peter could get at first
2. Yet, in time, it was the reason the whole world got transformed
E. There was thousands upon thousands of crosses used by Rome to punish criminals, and ultimately Bible-believing Christians during the 500 years of the Roman Empire.
F. But only one has all my attention.
G. I love studying the cross, and the reasons for Jesus dying there. And I love preaching about the cross – not its wood, but rather its wellspring it released.
H. I have preached here now for seven years. No better way than God’s way. No better Book than the Bible. And there is no better message than the cross.
Message – There is Something About That Cross (Mt 16:21-27)
A. The Seriousness of the Cross (Mt 16:21) It wasn’t until Jesus died on the cross that anybody really fully understood the seriousness of death and hell!
1. Jesus took time to carefully teach His disciples what was ahead for Him
a. To explain His death in our place – a substitute
b. Constantly took them through the pages of the Old Testament
c. Used the obvious as examples (Jn 12:24)
2. Jesus was using terms like, murder, unlawful killing, execution
3. All at the hands of the religious
a. The elders – not some street gangs
b. The chief priests – the arch-bishops – not the aboriginal cannibals
c. The scribes – super-educated – not the highly impressionable
d. Just because someone is religious, does not mean they are not killers
4. You see, we all KNOW that the religious are the killers of history
5. Jesus was trying to teach all of us about the seriousness of the cross
a. That Jesus MUST die – a substitute
b. Not just that, but that He must die under the wrath of God
c. It would be the RELIGIOUS who would most wish His death
6. Anybody still want to be RELIGIOUS? Or rather a Christian? There are some people who still want to be religious. God is calling people to be Christian, and GOSPEL preachers – if only this world knew the difference
B. The Confusion of the Cross (Mt 16:22,23) It wasn’t until Jesus started talking about the cross that people had so much confusion – it was so clear-cut
1. The disciples thought the cross was only for sinners – hardened criminals – the ones who deserved to be there
a. And believe me, according to the Bible, some deserve to die – not because “I” think it, but because justice demands it
b. That’s why I am a Bible believer, and not a liberal
c. At least the disciples knew the fear of God, as did most people up until the last half of the 20th century (Lk 23:39-41)
2. The disciples were willing to protect the Messiah at all costs – great loyalty, don’t you think?
3. But as far as the Messiah was concerned, God thought differently
a. Jesus not only HAD to die on the cross
b. But Jesus WANTED to die on the cross!
4. When Peter says, “YOU WILL NOT DIE!”…
a. Jesus hears NOT the words of a Christian, a disciple, a man who loves God, or his fellow man. NO! Those are the words of the DEVIL
b. You see, all this “LOVE” emphasis, and “Let’s bring in a BETTER WORLD” junk is from Satan himself
c. We will NEVER have real peace, until the Prince of Peace rules and reigns in Jerusalem – and not in Rome!
d. Notice how all of this modern world is empty, devoid of God
5. The things that are pleasant, and wonderful to us humans, often are offensive and abominable to God (Isa 55:8,9)
a. Satan, and anything connected with the devil – including PRIDE – is filthy to God – very offensive
b. Sin that is pleasant to us for a season is filthy to God
c. All the focus on myself, my problems, my self-righteousness, and my potential is filthy to God
6. To most normal people then, the cross is going to be very confusing – they won’t see the purpose of the cross. Why all the death, and negativity?
7. They will end up passing by, wagging their heads, and saying, (Mt 27:42)
8. Yet, when the world is hungering for miracles, or wise words, God commands us to give them WHAT? The CROSS (1Cor 1:22,23)!!!
C. The Shame of the Cross (Mt 16:24). This is why the world hates the cross. It is a shame, and embarrassment. But it’s in that shame that we grow & develop
1. Crucifixion was awful
a. It was never like hangings, and the guillotines – they were clean comparatively
b. Instead, it was to humiliate, and crush the life out of the criminal
c. It was totally disgraceful
d. It was an instrument of death!
e. That’s why a Christian doesn’t wear crosses, or have stupid tattoos of the cross on their bodies, or any crosses in their home
2. Yet notice Jesus carefully calls all His disciples to Follow Him
a. That means learn from his every step – His every action and reaction
b. That means follow Him though the miracles, and victories
c. That means also follow Him through the Garden of Gethsemane
d. And then on to Calvary
e. When Jesus said unto His disciples to Follow Me, he didn’t say “only until it gets hard, or too rough, or until you get confused”
f. No! Christ called all of us, to go with Him, all the way
g. That’s what makes a person a real Christian – the fact that they follow the Lord Jesus Christ
1) He is one that follows after Christ, not one that directs him, as Peter now undertook to do, forgetting his place. A disciple of Christ comes after him, as the sheep after the shepherd, the servant after his master, the soldier after his captain; he is one that aims at the same end that Christ aimed at, the glory of God.
2) Not just through good and easy times
3) But through the struggles and obstacles
4) We are not to follow at a distance – but up, as close as possible
5) When we are very close to Jesus, the shame heaped upon HIM will also be heaped upon us
6) Where are the Christians STRONG in faith like Abraham today?
7) They are the ones that don’t just take up the blessings, and the miracles, but also their cross, and stand by the Lord Jesus!
3. Do you know why most “christians” don’t end up LIKE Jesus? It is simply because they won’t go all the way for the Lord!
4. EX: John Wesley. A lady once asked John Wesley that suppose he were to know that he would die at 12:00 midnight tomorrow; how would he spend the intervening time. His reply was, “Why, Madam, just as I intend to spend it now. I would preach this evening at Gloucester, and again in the morning; after that I would ride to Tewkesbury, preach in the afternoon, and meet the societies in the evening. I would then go to pastor Martin’s house, who expects to feed me there, and we will talk, pray with them as usual, and then retire to my room at 10 o’clock, commend myself to my heavenly father, lie down to rest, and wake up in glory!”
D. The Value of the Cross (Mt 16:24-26) Not until Jesus called all believers to take up their cross did anybody start to see the value of the cross
1. The cross strips away ME, and leaves Jesus only.
2. I almost missed this in my study of this passage. Notice the last words of verse 24, “and follow ME.”
a. The value of the cross is Jesus – not the symbolism, or the wood
b. When get ahead of Jesus, we will tend to go WAY OFF COURSE, and get way over-burdened
c. When we lag behind Jesus, we will miss God’s all sufficient grace
d. Sweet fellowship with God is obtained in staying close to our Lord
3. There are three groups that value the cross
a. God (Isa 53:10) because it was only there that sin met its match
b. The sinner – because there, judgment died – judgment due to them!
c. The saint – because there, life began
4. Not talking about our problems as our crosses. Not talking about earning our forgiveness and salvation
5. No – Christ is referring to gladly carrying three things in our relationship:
a. Its Shame (Acts 5:41), its embarrassment. Real Christians make the world upset – AMEN! That’s why Jesus is a curse word!
b. Its Message (1Cor 1:18; 2Cor 5:14,15) – It is HIS Cross!
1) That all are spiritually dead – sinners
2) That Christ had to DIE for you
3) That you MUST repent
4) That you need only Jesus
5) That once saved, you MUST live differently
c. Its Victory – it is our banner of victory – won there!
d. The unsaved try to carry two pieces of wood, and die in their sins
e. A Christian carries these three things, and transforms a world!
E. The Nature of the Cross (Mt 16:27) It wasn’t until Jesus died on the cross that anyone was able to fully appreciate the nature of the cross – the make-up of the cross – the fullness of the cross!
1. It was once-off, finished, completed (Rom 6:10; Heb 9:26,28; 1Pet 3:18)
2. The next time Jesus appears:
a. It will be in glory, not darkness
b. He will be seen alive, not dead, or dying
c. He will reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords, not crucified
3. EX: Redwood trees of California. Tourists to California stand in awe and admiration of the redwood tree. Something unusual happens when this giant of a tree dies, or is cut down. For years, sightseers in a place called Muirs Woods, near San Francisco were shown a stump of a massive tree that was a sapling at the time of king Solomon, 3,000 years ago. From the dead stump of that old tree, a bunch of young redwoods were growing. It is peculiar to the redwood that it does not produce any young trees until it dies. At the death of one, a number of smaller ones spring up around it, getting their start and nourishment from the dead stump. What a reminder this is of the tree of the cross. Not the wood itself, but the death there. Once cruel men had cut down Christ, and buried Him, THEN could countless Christians spring forth as he sprang from the grave!
4. So, when I am taking up my cross:
a. It is not something new, but something very old, and very embarrassing to this world. At least the true cross is.
b. It is not for ME to die on. No. I already died – June 15, 1980.
c. It is me carrying the cross of Christ today in my life as a friend, a servant, a follower, a SON, willing to lose in order to win
Conclusion - Application
Bible Baptist Church Blarney
29 Westcourt Heights
Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland