The Hour of Darkness

Series: Preacher: Date: March 24, 2013 Scripture Reference: Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; John 13-14; 16-19

These days one of the first thing a new company does once it is started is come up with a LOGO—some symbol that will become indelibly fixed in people’s minds. In fact, companies pay big money for a design team to develop the kind of logos that people will automatically associate it with their product. But they also want a logo that has a kind of heart appeal so that whenever people see it, they not only think of that particular company but they will want to buy whatever it is that this company sells. With that in mind, I’d like to borrow and idea from John Ortberg and use my VERY limited art skills to try and demonstrate this “logo principle.” I’m going to actually draw a couple well-known logos and I want you to try and guess the company they represent. Sorry choir—you’ll just have to listen to this.

Now, I’m warning you—my art skills are not good at all, but that’s okay because if my little test works even with my limited talent—it will prove these logos are powerful indeed! Ok—what company does his logo make you think of? (draw NIKE LOGO) Right! NIKE!  In fact, there’s a WORD that is associated with this little design. What is it? Right! “SWOOSH!” I guess that comes from the SOUND you supposedly make as you run by while wearing your NIKE shoes This logo is supposed to remind you that with the help of NIKE shoes you will always SWOOSH by your opponents in a race—SWOOSH on to victory! In fact, “nike” is a Greek word that means “victory.”  But the SWOOSH is a very compelling logo—it has come to be associated with winners! This is because the NIKE company always gets winners to endorse its product.

Here’s a second one. See if you can guess which company it represents: (draw MACDONALDS arches). RIGHT! MacDonalds!  This logo says,  “YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY!” It’s the home of Big Macs and of course, Happy Meals—-the MEAL OF GREAT JOY! I say that because when little kids see that logo their hearts beat kind of fast and they think, “If I could just have one of those meals, I’ll be happy!” And they usually are—until the happy meal toy breaks. Actually the only person happy meals make happy are the owners of MacDonald’s franchises because they sell billions of them!

OK, one more. What is this one?  (draw MERCEDES BENZ logo) Right! It’s the MERCEDES BENZ logo. And it’s kind of a “religious” logo because it inspired a song years ago that was a prayer. Do you remember its lyrics? “Oh Lord, won’t You buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all have one, I must make amends!” If you own one of these cars please don’t feel put down—they are great cars—which is why their sales have been so good over the years!  But for many people in our culture this logo is a sign of STATUS. I remember seeing an ad for these cars a few years back that said, “You can’t buy happiness, but now you can LEASE it.” Then there was a picture of a Benz.

 I bring all this up because today I want us to focus our study on OUR logo as Christ-followers. For over two thousand years now, the simplest expression of our faith has been this. (draw a CROSS). The clearest, most remembered, most widely recognized symbol of what the Christian faith stands for is two pieces of wood stuck together on which criminals were executed. Think of it. An instrument of death is our “corporate logo.” Why is this so?  What is so important about the cross of Jesus Christ? Why should it be our logo?  As we have just seen other logos convey messages like: victory, happiness, status. What about ours? What truth does the cross proclaim to all who see it?

Before we go any further let’s back up and summarize our reading in THE STORY over the past couple weeks—chapters that tell us about the ministry of Jesus, a ministry that led Him to the cross. Here’s a quick, compressed summary that serves as sort of a running start to our study this morning. After His baptism and subsequent three and a half year public ministry of teaching and doing miracles, the Gospel record says that Jesus resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem. According to the Bible, in that city He:

  • came face to face with his opponents (Matthew 21:15-23).
  • raised His critic’s anger by chasing the money-changers out of the Temple for a SECOND time (Matthew 21:12-13).
  • revealed spiritual truth to the people (Matthew 21:28-25:46).
  • and spent quality time with His disciples (Matthew 26; John 14-16).

Later that week in Jerusalem:

  • one of His twelve original followers, a man named Judas, betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26:47-49).
  • As a result, Jesus was arrested (Matthew 26:57).
  • and was put through several mock trials (Matthew 27).
  • after which He was condemned to die on a Roman cross(Matthew 27:22-25).

This brings us to our text for this morning.  I’ll be reading from Mark 15:22-39.

Mark 15:22 – They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”).

23 – Then they offered Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He did not take it.

24 – And they crucified Him. Dividing up His clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 – It was nine in the morning when they crucified Him.

26 – The written notice of the charge against Him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.

27 – They crucified two rebels with Him, one on His right and one on His left.

28 – And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “He was counted with the lawless ones.”

29 – Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You Who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,

30 – Come down from the cross and save Yourself!”

31 – In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked Him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but He can’t save Himself!

32 – Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him.

33 – At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

34 – And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”)

35 – Then some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, He’s calling Elijah.”

36 – Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave Him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down,” he said.

37 – With a loud cry, Jesus breathed His last.

38 – The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

39 – And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how He died, he said, “Surely this Man was the Son of God!”

Now—one thing we must understand in our study of our “corporate logo”—one thing we must understand about the cross of Christ—is the fact that this, the MANNER of Jesus’ death, is CENTRAL to the Gospel we are commissioned to share. So it’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of Jesus’ cross in the New Testament. I mean, Jesus’ crucifixion is not a secondary theme in the Bible—it is the core. In fact, the English word, “crucial” comes from the Latin for cross, “crux” which reminds us that the CRUCIAL accomplishment of Christ occurred on those cross beams.

You know, if you read the biography of any famous person, even if their death was a prominent story—-I’m thinking of people like: Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, Jr.  If you read about their life you see that their death, even though it was by assassination, is only a tiny part of their biography. But it is different with Jesus. Here’s why I say this. Within a few decades of Jesus’ life, four biographies were written about Him and the story of His death takes up a disproportionate amount (about one third) of each of these biographies. So the Gospel writers understood the centrality of what happened on that cross and the world must understand this as well for, as Ortberg says, “2000 years after it happened, Jesus’ death is the most important, most remembered death in the history of the world.” Listen: everything in Jesus’ life leads up to—everything points to—everything AIMS at the cross. It’s almost as if these two rough wooden timbers were literally the “cross-hairs” of His life.

And the rest of the New Testament continues this emphasis on the cross.  For example, the earliest PREACHING in the book of Acts focuses almost completely on the cross. In 1st Corinthians 2:2 Paul told the members of that church that he, “resolved to know NOTHING except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” He told the church at Galatia, “May I never boast except in the CROSS of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Galatians 6:14) In 1Corinthians 1:22-24, Paul summarized the heart of the New Testament message by saying, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach CHRIST CRUCIFIED a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who have been brought through the CROSS to new life in Christ, the CROSS is the power and wisdom of God.”

Well, since our “logo”—since the cross—is so central to our faith, I want us to spend our time together this Palm Sunday morning answering three basic questions about it:

  • First, how did Jesus’ death on a cross come about?
  • And then second, that was His crucifixion like?
  • Finally, what did it mean? What reason is there for Jesus to die like that?

Let’s get started.

(1)   How did it happen? How did Jesus end up dying on a Roman cross?

I mean, was the death of the Founder of the Christian faith just another incident in the long history of men and women who died for a worthwhile cause? Was Jesus just one more honorable man killed because He bravely went against the flow? The answer to these questions is a resounding “NO” because the Bible affirms the fact that Jesus’ crucifixion was not merely something done TO Him; it was something done BY Him. As Jesus Himself said in John 10:18, “No one takes My life from Me. I lay it down of My own accord.”

I love MOST of what John MacArthur writes and says but I disagree with the title of His book he wrote a few years back that deals with Jesus’ crucifixion.  He called it The MURDER of Jesus. I know what MacArthur was getting at but his title is just not correct because Jesus was NOT a helpless murder victim. At any moment, He could have called legions of angels to His defense but He CHOSE not to. In accordance with the Father’s will, He GAVE His life. He ALLOWED the soldiers to beat Him and lead Him through the streets and then nail Him to that wooden cross.

So, Jesus was NOT a defenseless victim of fate; He was NOT a pitiful martyr.  No—Jesus’ death was a necessary PART—in fact, it was at the CORE—of God’s foreordained plan. As Revelation 13:8 says, Jesus Christ was, “the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world.” In his sermon on Pentecost Sunday Peter said that Jesus was, “nailed to the cross by the hands of godless men and put to death by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.” (Acts 2:22-23) In Matthew 20:18-20 Jesus pointedly told His disciples that what was about to happen was no mistake. Do you remember His words?  He said, “Listen guys. We are going to Jerusalem.  The Son of Man will be turned over to the leading priests and the teachers of the law and they will say that He must die. They will give the Son of Man to the non-Jewish people to laugh at Him and beat Him with whips and crucify Him. But on the third day He will be raised to life again.”

So Jesus wasn’t trapped by the Jewish religious leaders of His day.  He didn’t get caught in the garden that night because of a lack of caution on His part. Jesus wasn’t SURPRISED that He was arrested and crucified. No, Jesus died on purpose. In fact, the WAY Jesus faced His death—the way He resolutely marched to Jerusalem leaves no doubt.  He had come to earth for that moment and He knew it. We see this illustrated in the crucifixion scenes of Mel Gibson’s The Passion. Remember? In that powerful film once Jesus finally arrived at Golgotha, He willing CRAWLED over to His cross. No one had to force him…No soldier had to drag Him there—because Jesus’ death was no accident.  It was God’s loving plan all along.  That’s how it happened.  That’s how the Son of Almighty God “ended up” on a Roman cross. Ok—next question:

(2)   What was it like? What was it like for Jesus to die on that cross?

What kind of death was crucifixion? Well, this is an understatement but death on a Roman cross  was a long, agonizing, ugly way to die. Brian Harbour tells of the president of a stained-glass window company from Memphis, Tennessee who visited a church to take measurements for windows which were to go on each side of the baptistery. The company president was discussing different options for the designs of the windows and asked the pastor, “Would you object if I put a SUBTLE cross in each of the windows?” Well, I know what this designer was suggesting but to me somehow the words “subtle” and “cross” just don’t seem to go together because there was nothing subtle about the cross on which Jesus died.  I mean, what happened on the cross was not a pretty thing—it wasn’t something you could look at as being unobtrusive. No—His death on the cross was a stark, shocking, horrific thing. In his book, Jesus of Nazareth, Joseph Klausner, the learned Jewish scholar, wrote,  “Crucifixion is the most terrible and cruel death which man has ever devised for taking vengeance on his fellow man.”

The Romans, who “perfected” this form of execution, shared his opinion It was such a horrible death that it was actually illegal for a Roman citizen to be crucified so the Romans didn’t use it on themselves—but they used it extensively on their enemies. The book of Acts mentions Judas the Galilean, who appeared in the days of the census that was held at the time of Jesus’ birth. The historian, Josephus, tells us that Judas the Galilean founded the Zealots. Well, after a few years of fighting against the Romans Judas was defeated. Judas and two thousand of his followers were captured and crucified. The thousands of crosses that held their bodies were all left standing in the Galilean countryside which means Jesus would have seen them and probably other Roman crosses, when He was a child.

For the Romans, crucifixion had a two-fold purpose.  First, it was a form of death that was designed to MAXIMIZE THE PAIN a condemned man would suffer. They tweaked crucifixion in ways that made it possible to drag out this agony over many days. Second—it was a way to MAXIMIZE THE PUBLIC HUMILIATION of the person being crucified. Crucifixion was a way of sending a message to all who saw all those crosses what would happen to anyone who dared go against the power of Rome, which is why they left Judas and his zealous followers hanging there.

Crucifixion was a VERY painful death, and I know it is uncomfortable but I want you to understand something about the pain that Jesus experienced on the cross for you and for me. I know you’ve heard me describe it before but our memories are short and it is important that we revisit this aspect of the cross today, so here goes. In many cases, as was the case with Jesus, the condemned man was first beaten. They would use a whip with leather straps and small pieces of metal or bone attached to those straps, which were designed to cut into the flesh.  It would cause bleeding that was so profuse that if the centurion in charge didn’t calculate carefully, the man would die before he even got to the cross. But after this beating, as I said, the cross would be placed on that man’s back and he would carry it through the town to the place of execution. There the cross would be laid down on the ground, and the condemned man would be laid on the cross. And the soldiers would take a spike.  They would take his left hand and put it just below the wrist and drive it in through the wrist and out through the palm into the wood of the cross and then do the same to the right hand. Next they would take his feet, right foot against the cross, left foot in front of it, and either bind them or, as it was in Jesus’ case, take a spike and drive it through the arc of both feet…into the wood of the cross after which they would raise the cross, and settle it into a hole in the ground or rock. From then on the condemned man would have to raise himself up in order to exhale. This would of course place his full weight on the nail that went between his feet, ripping the nerves between the metatarsal bones in his feet, causing searing pain. When that became unbearable, and he had to inhale, he would sag down, which would place all the weight on the nails between his wrists, causing searing pain. The Romans deliberately left the arms and the legs of the crucified man slightly flexed so that the victim could do this for a longer period of time as a way of prolonging the agony. He would be left like this for hours, exposed to heat or cold, the skin on his back lacerated by the movement up and down a splintered cross, a back that had already been beaten, while he struggled for breath.  Death by blood loss or suffocation could take hours or days. This is the physical suffering of an average criminal on a cross. This is what the cross was like for Jesus.  This is what was going on when He looked down from that cross—looked down at  the soldiers who had put Him there and the mobs that were taunting Him. This is what was going on when He prayed, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34)

But here’s what I find interesting. The gospels actually say very little about Jesus’ physical suffering on the cross. For example, in the Gospel of Mark it simply says, “And they crucified Him.” (Mark 15:24) John Ortberg points out that the reason for this—the reason the Gospel accounts say almost nothing about Jesus’ PHYSICAL experience on the cross is because the writers knew that His DEEPEST suffering, His MOST SIGNIFICANT suffering, was utterly unique.

Here’s the difference between what Jesus went through and anybody else on the cross. He experienced a form of SPIRITUAL suffering that you and I can only dimly imagine, a suffering that made his physical suffering almost inconsequential. Think with me about this. The Bible says that on the cross He Who knew no sin—never experienced guilt, never a moment’s shame, never the pang of regret, He Who knew only pure innocence throughout His entire existence. JESUS—Who KNEW no sin—BECAME sin for our sake. To begin to understand what this was like for Jesus, think for a moment about the darkest thing you have ever done—that thing you are most ashamed of. You have done something like that. I know you have because we all do things like that. We all have done things—myself included—that if they were flashed up on the screens it would cause each of us a great deal of painful humiliation.

So what is that sin in your life? What is the darkest, most horrible thing you have ever done?Maybe you’ve betrayed a marital vow in deed or in your mind. Maybe you went through an abortion. Maybe you did some act of deceit that caused you to lose a job or a friendship. Maybe you have a habit, that if other people knew about it, you would be VERY ashamed and your whole life has been about keeping this habit a secret. I don’t know what embarrassing memories are in your minds right now but I know they are there because we’ve all done shameful things.

Well, take a moment to remember the sense of pain over that thing you did—that action that you would give anything to undo. Now imagine experiencing the weight of that sin and countless other sins that you’ve committed, some of which your conscience is too dulled even to remember or notice. Add to that not just the guilt of your sin, but the guilt and pain and shame and regret, the destructiveness to the soul of every sin ever committed by every fallen human being who has ever lived; every act of physical abuse, every one, every murder from Cain and Abel right down to today and into the future; every seduction, every betrayal, every deception, every genocide. Think about the Holocaust in Germany. Think about the genocide in Rwanda. Think of the horror of the things that were done in Cambodia during the Komerouge. Think about the other sins that have been done down through time…every mean, spiteful word, every greed-driven business deal, every sacrifice of integrity, every shabby lie. Imagine feeling the horror and despair of all of that sin—IN ONE HEART—the only pure heart that has ever beaten…and imagine experiencing the judgment and anger of a righteous God toward all of that sin, all of that awfulness—directed at you.

Now—think about this: in His whole life Jesus had never experienced anything other than perfect intimacy with His Father—He had never experienced anything but joy-filled, delighted, servant-filled love and community with his Father through all eternity. Jesus had never known a single moment of what it’s like to be lonely. Well the Bible says that on the cross all that changed. We know this because as He hung there Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)

And, you know, none of us know what that would feel like. None of us know it is like to be wholly forsaken by God. Yes, some people know what it feels like to estranged from God or distant from God. But no one knows what it’s like to be wholly forsaken by God. I mean, even people that shake their fists to defy God experience good gifts from Him. Think of it. Even though they reject Him, God wakes them up every morning. He gives them breath to breathe and food to eat. He keeps their hearts beating. So, on the cross, Jesus experienced something we can only imagine, and that is the horror of what it would be to be utterly forsaken by God, complete spiritual darkness, spiritual aloneness, utter forsakeness, utter abandonment, utter hopelessness.  That’s why in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said, “My soul is in anguish. I’m sorrowful to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:28) He knew what was coming. So Jesus’ physical suffering—as horrific as it was—is nothing compared to this kind of suffering. Yes, He was mistreated by the authorities. He was mocked by the crowds. He was abandoned, deserted, betrayed by His best friends.  But His real suffering was a spiritual suffering that you and I can hardly imagine. This is what the Bible means when it says, “He redeemed us from the curse by becoming the curse for us.” (Galatians 3:13) That’s what the cross was like for Jesus. Our Lord experienced supernatural suffering and guilt that people will never know in this life so that they can experience a supernatural healing and forgiveness they could never earn. And this leads me to our last question.

(3)   What did it all mean? Why did Jesus die like that? Why did He go through that suffering?

I want to quickly share four statements that I believe will help us answer this question.

A. First, Jesus died the way He did to ILLUSTRATE the results of sin.

I mean, Jesus’ cross showed how ugly…how horrific our sins really are. You know, more and more in our world these days we whitewash sin. We cover up the consequences of immorality. Plus, since our culture believes there is no difference between right and wrong—people think that “sin” if you want to call it that—is really no big deal. I mean, drink yourself drunk at every happy hour, enjoy an extra-marital fling, live together before marriage. Embrace hedonism in Las Vegas for a weekend and don’t worry about it—no harm is done.

Look at the plots of prime time television; go to most popular movies and you’ll have to admit that we tend to “clean up” sin. In essence we “nice-ify” it—but people, sin is not NICE. It always hurts us. It always pays us back with pain and death.  It’s hard for us to see this because we live in a fallen world—but the fact is sin is an UGLY, FILTHY thing. And, if you want an illustration of the ugliness of sin.  If you want to SEE how bad sin really is—all you need to do is look at the cross of Jesus. The reason His death was so BRUTAL is because on that dark day, He bore on His body the BRUTAL consequences of the sins of all mankind.

One of the games Sue and I play with our granddaughter is, “Where did it go?” When she drops something from her high chair or throws a ball under the couch, we ask “Where did it go?” She will innocently shrug her shoulders and repeat the question, “Where did it go?” And it’s a lot of fun finding where it went. She’ll say, “Here it is!” Well, there’s a sense in which adults act innocent and play this same kind of game. They think, “I sinned but that’s it. It didn’t go anywhere. Where did it go? No one was hurt?” But that’s just not true. As I said, sin DOES hurt but it doesn’t just hurt the people involved. The Bible SAYS WHERE sin goes. Every sin goes to the cross. That’s where all sin winds up. All the brutality, all lies, all the lust, all the selfishness, all the gossip, all the greed, all the pride, all the theft, all the murders, all the abuse—all of it was poured out on Him that day. Whenever you begin to think of sin as harmless, picture the cross in your mind. Remember that it was OUR sin that put Jesus there. That is the shattering reality which the cross represents. The cross illustrates the final product of our disobedience against God.

B. A second reason Jesus died on the cross was to REVEAL the unlimited love of God.

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London has a life-sized marble statue of Jesus, writhing in anguish on the cross.  The inscription on the statue declares: “This is HOW God loved the world.”  And that inscription is right!  The cross is the clearest revelation of God’s love.  As Romans 5:8 says, “God commends His love toward us IN THIS.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I mean, Jesus died in the way He did, to show us the extent to which God’s great love would go.

If Jesus had refused the cross—if in the end He would have decided to come down from the cross—well, then there would have been a limit to the love of God—a point beyond which the love of God would not go. But He didn’t. So the cross reveals there is NO limit. Jesus died for ALL of us because God loves ALL of us that much!

In his book Doubting, author Alister McGrath shared the following story: “An aunt of mine died some time ago, having lived to be 80 or so. She had never married. During the course of clearing out her possessions, we came across a battered old photograph of a young man. It turned out my aunt had fallen hopelessly in love as a young girl. It had ended tragically. She never loved anyone else and kept a photograph of the man she had loved for the remainder of her life. Why? Partly to remind herself that she had once been loved by someone. As she had grown old, she knew that she would have difficulty believing that, at one point in her life, she really had meant something to someone—that someone had once cared for her and regarded her as his everything.  It could all have seemed a dream, an illusion, something she had invented in her old age to console her in her declining years—but the photograph proved otherwise. It reminded her that it had not been invented; she really loved someone once and was loved in return. The photograph was her sole link to a world in which she had been valued.”

Well, for you and me the cross is like that photograph. We can look at our LOGO as Christians and be reassured that something that seems too good to be true—something that some might say we invented—really did happen.  God really does love us!

C. A third reason Jesus died on the cross was as PAYMENT for our sins.

You see, Jesus did not simply die.  He died FOR US!  As 1 Peter 2:24 says, “It was OUR SINS which Jesus bore on the cross.” E. V. Hill tells of an evangelist who preached at his church one night.  The evangelist’s message was on the judgment of God. He said, “All of you who drink, get on out of here!  You’re lost!”  Some of the people got up and left the sanctuary and milled about in the church foyer. Then he said, “All of you who smoke, get on out of here.  You’re lost!”  Half of the congregation got up and left. He continued, “All of you who gossip, get on out of here.  You’re lost!” And some more left. Then he said, “All of you who think adulterous thoughts, get on out of here.” And the rest left. Finally, when the evangelist was through, E. V. Hill walked up to the pulpit and shouted at the top of his voice,  “All you folks out there, come on back in. It was just for such as you that Jesus died.”

Well, this preacher had it right didn’t he! That horrible day when the innocent, sinless, Son of God, hung on that cross, suspended between Heaven and earth, He took on Himself the sins of all mankind. He paid it all. He paid for OUR sins with His precious blood. In fact, do you remember Jesus’ last words?  “IT IS FINISHED!” These three words are a translation of the Greek word, “tetelestai” and back then it was a banking term that meant “paid in full.” So, when Jesus cried, “tetelestai” He was saying that the account for mankind was settled, the debt for man’s sin was wiped out, the payment for mans’ sin was made in full. And please note—Jesus did not cry, “I am finished.” but rather, “IT is finished!”  This was not a cry of failure but a cry of victory—a cry of completion! With His precious blood, Jesus paid it ALL.

D. A final answer to the WHY of the cross is this.  Jesus died there as an INVITATION.

He hung on that tree on the top of a hill called Golgotha as an invitation to all mankind to return to God. With the cross, God was saying as He did through Isaiah, “Come now, let us reason together! Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) In John 3:14-15 and Revelation 3:20 Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;.so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life…Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in.” Gypsy Smith, an outstanding evangelist from another age, once expressed this truth in the following words.  He said, “I am not afraid of the cross.  I know that men used to come there to die, but since Jesus died they come there to live.” He’s right! Two thousand years ago the perfect Son of God died a painful death on a shameful cross for sinful mankind. And when He cried, “It is finished!” He was announcing a new highway that leads into the presence of God.  He invites you to enter that way today.

Let us pray.

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