"Good Friday 2007"
The Crossroads of the Cross
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
April 6, 2007

 

Jesus knew what He was getting into. He knew what crucifixion was all about. Not only was He God… as so knew about crucifixion by default… but He knew about crucifixion because He saw it as a child.

Let me set the stage. Jesus grew up in the town of Nazareth. Here it is on a map, in Northern Israel. And at the time, the Roman Empire was in charge. All of Israel was under their rule.

Now, Nazareth was not that big of a place. It was just a small community. In fact, just six kilometers north of Nazareth was a major city… the city of Sepphoris. So Sepphoris was the city, and Nazareth was kind of a suburb of it.
Picture 1 – The city of Sepphoris
Picture 2 – The view from Nazareth

Well, when Jesus was just a boy, around the age of 11, a man named Judas the Galilean led a rebellion against Rome. He and his followers invaded the royal armoury at Sepphoris. And the Roman vengeance was swift and sudden. Sepphoris was burned to the ground, its inhabitants were sold into slavery, and 2000 of the rebels were crucified on crosses which were set up along the roadside as a warning for others who might feel tempted to rebel.

Now, Jesus had most likely witnessed this mass execution. It wasn’t that far away from where He lived. Plus, what was the occupation of the adopted father of Jesus? What did Joseph do? He was a carpenter. And there’s speculation that Joseph was probably employed to help rebuild the city of Sepphoris after it was destroyed. And Jesus, being 10 or 11 years old, would have traveled back and forth with his father to learn the family trade. So Jesus probably walked right by those crosses and saw the men who were crucified there.

And Jesus had probably seen others who had been crucified as well. It was not an uncommon sight in the first-century Roman Empire.

Jesus knew what crosses were all about. And He knew that’s how He would die. He could see what was coming down the road for Him and how He would be nailed to a cross Himself. For Jesus, the cross meant rejection, humiliation, and total submission. A lot of people today wear crosses as jewelry and don’t think anything of it… But for Jesus, His cross meant that people would laugh at Him and scorn Him. It meant that He, the Son of God, would be viewed as a criminal. It meant physical, mental and emotional anguish. Jesus had all the qualifications of Deity… He was God. But as Lynn read earlier, He gave up all His rights and comforts as God for the cross.



I want to show you a video here this morning that recaps the week leading up to the crucifixion. That was a very turbulent week in the life of Jesus. He went from being praised and hailed as a king on the Sunday to being executed as a criminal by Friday afternoon.


Video – Crucifixion scene from "The Hope" (ChristianAnswers.net)


Okay, right near the end of that, it talked about how God is a God of Justice. And because of the evil that had entered into Creation and into the human race because of our sinfulness, justice had to be served. Sin had to be punished. We had individually and as a race rebelled against God. Sometimes we rebel in big ways, sometimes in small ways. But none of us is innocent. All have sinned. And the punishment for this rebellion… the punishment for this treason… is death. That’s what we deserve. That’s what God’s justice demands.

Hebrews 9:22 (NLT)
For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.

But God is not just a God of justice. He’s also a God of love. And it was that love that led God to come to earth as the man, Jesus, so that He could come and serve the death sentence in our place. That’s the extent of His love for you and for me. On the cross that day when Jesus was crucified… that’s when God’s demand for justice and his desire for love intersected. They met at the crossroads of the cross.

The Cross is the Crossroad where God’s Justice and Love meet

On the one hand you have the Justice of God, and on the other hand you have the mercy of God. And the two came together on the Cross. Jesus, who by His very nature is God, became a baby, grew up and died on a cross in order to serve our sentence. So the demand for Justice was met, and instead we can enjoy the merciful love of God.


But here’s the thing – it’s our choice. We choose whether we will accept that Jesus served our penalty or not. Everything’s already been done… there’s nothing else that can be done or needs to be done. Jesus took care of everything, and all that’s left is for you to decide if you will accept what He did or reject it. Will you accept that what He did He did for you, or will you reject Him.

You see, the Cross was a Crossroad for Jesus, yes, but it’s also a crossroad for you.

Look at it this way… When Jesus was hanging on the Cross, He was between two criminals. They were being crucified alongside Jesus. And there was no disputing that they were guilty. They didn’t claim innocence… in fact, they admitted that they deserved what they were getting.

One of them heckled Jesus. He mocked Jesus. Right in the midst of his own suffering, he chose to throw insults toward Jesus.

But the other criminal… He spoke up in defense of Jesus. He said to the other guy, “Who do you think you are? You are a common criminal… just like me. We’re getting what we deserve. But this man… He has done nothing wrong!”

And then he recognized Jesus as the Messiah… and he asked Jesus to remember him when He entered His Kingdom. And what happened? Jesus told that criminal on the cross that they would be together that day in paradise.

That criminal had made some bad choices. He wasn’t a good guy. Yet on his cross, he made one good choice that made all the difference. He made the choice that, what was left of his life, he was going to give it to Jesus.


That’s your crossroad, too. Which criminal’s example will you follow? Will you join with the criminal on the side that heckled Jesus… made fun of Him… insulted Him… and ultimately rejected Him? Or will you join with the criminal who recognized his sinfulness and chose to receive the forgiveness of Jesus and follow Him?

The Cross is the Crossroad where You Reject or Receive Jesus

That’s your crossroad… will you reject Him, or will you receive Him?

 

 

 

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