The Way of the cross Calls for Faith in Christ who hangs on the Cross
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning, and though we have in no way deserved Your goodness, You still abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul. Give us, we pray, Your Holy Spirit that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness toward us, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience.
On this, the 4th Sunday in Lent, we begin to see the cross in the distance and learn of its healing power of salvation by grace. As Moses raised a bronze serpent, Jesus must be raised up on a cross. The upraised serpent in the Old Testament lesson brought healing through the forgiving love of God. This took place simply by looking to the upraised serpent. The cross brings eternal life to those who look to the cross with the eyes of faith. The way of the cross calls for faith in Christ who hangs upon the cross.
Look and know that God loves you –
I. Look beyond the cross – the source of God’s love – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
A. The Father offered up His only Son although it was done through the sinful acts of others.
1. The 30 pieces of silver Judas received is quite a cheap price for God’s only Son. Equivalent to 120 days work – that’s 24 weeks - about ½ a year’s pay.
2. The cash spent to betray Jesus was recognized as blood money. It was currency, which had been compromised – so it couldn’t be placed back into the treasury.
a. It was the price of betrayal
b. At what price would we sell out a friend? Examples; taking a life over a pair of shoes may be an extreme act of violence. Betraying a secret to win another’s attention or admiration? Refusing to help because we didn’t want to get our hands dirty? Can we be charged with similar crimes against humanity?
3. Sin simply causes life to be cheapened and our integrity to be compromised.
B. The purpose of offering His son was the reconciliation of the world. Sin only cheapens life – Christ restores it to its original value. You have worth – real worth not based on what we see or value in ourselves but on what the Father determines to be of real worth.
Transition: We look to the one on the cross to see the source of God’s love. Look to the one on the cross who is giving you this worth!
II. Look to the One on the cross –Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, John 3:14
A. Sin produces nothing but sickness, and death. Israel rebelled only to have deadly snakes devour the people. Where could they go? What could they do? They were trapped – only the Great Physician could heal them. By placing serpent on a pole and lifting it up the people were drawn to it for restoration and life.
B. Likewise Jesus was lifted up on a cross. The cross was the supreme exaltation of Jesus – in being lifted up Christ draws all sorts of people to Himself - without any regard for nationality, ethnic affiliation or status.
Transition: We look to the one on the cross to see the source of God’s love. We look to the one on the cross who is giving you this worth. We look at the cross where there is a sacrifice of life for you!
III. Look at the cross – sacrifice for you – that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:15
A. The sacrifice of Christ on a cross was a sacrifice for a purpose that people might believe in Him. John will use the word “believe” 98 times in his gospel. John’s purpose was that his readers might believe and continue to believe in Christ and Him alone. People are not to believe in John the Baptist or their preacher or anyone else. To this day people are called to believe in Christ through the testimony and the message of the cross.
B. The purpose of such believing is to have eternal life. This life, which Jesus offers, is an infinitely high quality of life in living fellowship with God both now and forever. It is a life, which has no end. It is an abundant life – a life with purpose, and power.
The story is told that when Thomas Aquinas returned form worshiping at the foot of the cross, he said, “That which I have seen today makes all that I have written seem as trash! I shall not write another word!” Salvation comes simply in a look – a look at the cross and a look in faith. Certainly, the way of the cross calls for faith in Christ who hangs upon the cross.
Artwork by Ed Riojas, © Higher Things; - Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld ©WELS;