An exposition of Luke 23:44-46. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday Morning, April 12, 2009.
It stands at the center of our faith. It crystallizes the essence of the ministry of Jesus. And yet, in the two thousand year history of the church, there has never been a time when the significance of the cross, the centrality of the cross and the question of the necessity of the cross has been so controversial. D. A. Carson has suggested that two thousand years of pious Christian tradition has “domesticated” the cross. It is a common fixture with which we have become comfortable. People are no longer concerned with questions like, “How can I be reconciled to God?” No longer are we asking, “How can I escape the judgment of God?” In fact we are questioning whether there is any need to be “delivered” from anything.
Sure, we still sing about the cross. We hang on to the “language” of the cross but it has been emptied of its meaning. It is retained as a part of our cultural heritage but we have “outgrown” its old fashion notion of a bloody sacrifice appeasing a wrathful God. Such notions are repulsive to many. Yet I would suggest that the great need of our day is a return to the preaching of the cross. We must return to a solid, biblical understanding of the cross of the Lord Jesus. We must return to the cross and force ourselves to remain there and drink it all in. We must see the horror and the agony of the cross. We must hear the sounds of the cross; the angry shouts of the mob, the cutting, sarcastic attacks of the religious establishment, the agonizing taunting of our Lord’s fellow victims and the tender, compassionate words of the dying Savior. We must tremble in the darkness and be startled by the shout that ended it all. For only then will we begin to see the beauty of the cross.
The apostle Paul said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus.” Why would he say that? What would cause George Bennard to write, “I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown?” What would possess a man to cherish and cling to an instrument of death? Just one thing, he looked at it long enough to see its beauty. And once you see its beauty you are never the same. Our text this morning is found in the 23rd chapter of Luke’s Gospel.
Text: Luke 23:44-46
By this time in Luke’s account we have marveled at the beauty of Jesus’ life, the power of his words and the extent of his authority. We have watched him face his lying accusers with grace and dignity. We have witnessed his tender and compassion from the cross.
And now he enters behind the veil to atone for the sin of the world.
Thesis: The beauty of the cross is tied directly to the wonder of His mission.
Why did Jesus come? What was the purpose of his earthly life? He came to die.
He came to give his life a ransom for many. He came to perfectly fulfill the righteous demands of God and to atone for sin. On the night of his birth the angels declared, “Unto you has been born a Savior.” Mary and Joseph were told to name him “Jesus” for he will save his people from sin. We cannot separate his cradle from his cross.
From our text let me give you three reasons why we should glory in the beauty of the cross.
- We should glory in the fact that He became sin for us. (23:44-45a)
- We should glory in the fact that He secured for us an unlimited access into the Father’s presence. (23:45b)
- We should glory in the fact that He sovereignly laid down his life for us. (23:46)