The Importance And Power Of The Cross
Summary: In this message Jesus emphasized the importance of the cross. This message sees the cross as the dividing line between the judgment of God for Sin, and the grace of God for those who are in Christ.
WHEN I AM LIFTED UP --THE POWER AND IMPORTANCE OF THE CROSS.
Do you remember the words of some of those beautiful hymns of the faith?
“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
“Would you be free from your burden of sin? There’s power in the blood! Power in the blood!”
“There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins …”
“When I See the Blood, I will pass, I will pass over you.”
“O, the blood of Jesus … it washes white as snow!”
“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.”
We have come to a time when words, hymns, and even Scriptures like these are disappearing from churches and Christianity.
It is no longer popular to speak on topics such as the blood, and suffering of Christ, heaven, hell, salvation, being true to the word of God, or other such topics that are vital to the Christian faith.
But today as we continue in our messages from the Gospel of John, we come to the twelfth chapter, and in this chapter, Jesus addressed the matter of the cross and his sacrificial death on the cross.
Jesus not only mentioned this topic but declared the importance of the cross
THE CROSS WAS ALWAYS A STRUGGLE FOR JESUS.
It was a struggle when Satan tempted him with an alternative plan.
Satan challenged him on his deity (verses 3-4)
If Jesus was really God, it would not be a big deal to turn stones into bread.
After forty days of being without food, Jesus was certainly hungry and would have loved to have had a nice biscuit.
Satan challenged him with power and the kingdoms of the world. (Verses 5-8)
The very reason Jesus had come into this world was to establish the Kingdom of God in this world.
Satan made it so easy.
Just bow down one time and Satan promised to give him all the kingdoms of the world, and Jesus would not have to go to the cross to achieve his goal and plan.
The lies of Satan always sound good, but they are only empty lies.
The cross was a struggle when Peter declared Jesus should never go to the cross.
We know that Peter was blind to the plan of God and did not understand the necessity of the cross.
From Peter’s perspective, Jesus was too popular for the cross to be an option.
The plans which Peter had for Jesus did not include the cross.
Jesus rebuked Peter for the words that represented the great temptation Jesus faced from the beginning to the end of his ministry.
That temptation was to avoid going to the cross,
If there was a way other than the cross, the human side of Jesus wanted to take it
Even on his final night before the crucifixion, Jesus wrestled with thoughts of the cross.
His struggle was so great that his blood vessels were bursting under the pressure; Even so, He declared “Not my will, but yours be done.
Knowing the terribleness of the cross He still surrendered himself to the plan of God, for he knew there was no other way for man to come to salvation, then through the cross, and the blood of Jesus.
Our Lord surrendered to the will of God, but He still struggled with the cross.
Even here at the end of Jesus' ministry, the cross was a major challenge to Jesus.
The nearer He came to the cross, the greater was His desire to avoid it.
THE CROSS WAS THE DIVIDING LINE BETWEEN THE JUDGMENT
OF GOD AND THE GRACE OF GOD.
The cross became judgment on the world.
Several years ago, the Gaithers wrote the hymn: “It is Finished”
The words of the first verse of that hymn go:
There's a line that is drawn through the ages
On that line stands an old rugged cross
On that cross, a battle is raging
For the gain of man's soul or it's loss
That song is exactly the description of the Cross.
It is a line that has been drawn through the ages and the fate of man’s soul depends on which side of that line we live our lives and anchor our souls.
The eternal destiny of each person depends on our view of Jesus and the cross.
The cross would be the means of dethroning Satan as the ruler of this world.
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ dethroned Satan and took away his power.
Today’s text prophesied of the dethronement of Satan.
That prophecy was merely a few days before Jesus would die as a sacrifice for all mankind.
It was an event that at the time was still future.
But then we look to:
Paul made the declaration that the cross was the specific point of time when Satan and the demons of hell were defeated.
When the trumpet sounds and Jesus returns to this earth Satan will be thrown into hell for all of eternity, but the day of his defeat came over 2,000 years ago with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
When Paul wrote Colossians about thirty years had elapsed since the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
What Jesus prophesied in John 12 as a future event, the apostle Paul declared as reality when he wrote to the church at Colossae.
The cross, and more importantly the Resurrection stripped away Satan’s power against Christians before the throne of God.
The term “devil” means accuser.
The accuser lost his power on the cross.
Because of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross, the accuser no longer has the power to accuse us of our sins before God.
He can still accuse us and can bring up to God every sin we have ever committed, but as a child of God, the blood of Christ is more than adequate to deal with every sin.
The cross of Christ and the resurrection from the grave took away all the power that Satan could have against us.
Wherever the Gospel of Christ has gone, the powers of Satan have been diminished.
Every soul living in the power of the cross, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, has received deliverance from the power of Satan.
Through Jesus Christ and his victory, the only power Satan has in our lives is the power we are willing to give him.
I want you to let that truth sink in.
--Satan’s greatest power is the power we give to him.
Years ago Flip Wilson used to excuse sin by saying: “The devil made me do it.”
Brothers and Sisters, statements such as that are lies from the devil himself.
If we are children of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ Satan has no more power than what we are willing to give him.
People can open themselves up to satanic powers by unfaithfulness to God, fortune tellers, drugs and alcohol, immoral living, Ouija boards, seances, and many other things.
But any of these are invitations for Satan to come into our lives.
It is giving him power over our lives that otherwise, he would not possess.
THE CROSS IS WHERE JESUS WOULD DRAW ALL MANKIND TO HIMSELF.
Jesus had to be lifted up to draw all men to God.
Today there are Christians and churches who want to dismiss the cross and the blood of Jesus.
Even in some of our own churches, something as sacred as the “Lord’s Supper” has become merely “something we do” without emphasizing the sacredness and importance of what Christ has done, and why he has done it.
There are those who think those details are a little too ugly and unpleasant, and truly they are.
Yet as ugly as was the bloody sacrifice, and death of our Lord, it is the only way for our salvation.
Jesus would draw all men to himself, but each one must choose the darkness or the light.
Jesus said, “when I am lifted up.”
Those words referred to the cross.
Jesus was declaring that his being lifted to die on a cross was the only thing that would bring salvation to the world.
If there had been any other way, Jesus would not have gone to the cross.
He only went to the cross because there was no other way for man to go to God.
It was the cross, and the blood of Christ alone that dealt with the issue of man’s sin.
The Light would seem like the obvious choice.
At least we would think it would be the obvious choice.
And yet if it is the obvious choice why are there so many who choose to live apart from Christ, and the life and light that come through him?
Perhaps the answer to that question is in the next words of our Lord in our text:
The darkness is deceptive.
If we do not choose to walk in the light, the darkness can overtake us.
Jesus makes it clear that the darkness can overtake us.
When we accept a little bit of sin, it does not take long before sin will overtake us.
A little bit of sexual fantasy can soon lead to sin that overtakes us.
A little bit of the love of money can lead us to choices, and values that can take over our lives.
A little bit of the use of alcohol and drugs can lead to an addiction that controls us.
A little bit of missing church can lead us to not miss it at all.
A little bit of what this world has to offer can lead us to a life that is overtaken by forces of darkness that desire to overtake our souls.
Jesus said in John 12:35 that the one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
While that is a description of our physical world, it also describes a spiritual truth.
Friends, there are many today who are walking in the darkness, and because of this do not know where they are going either in this life or in eternity.
The cross and Jesus Christ are the dividing line.
In verse 36 Jesus challenged the people of that day, and the people of the present age to “believe in the light that you may become sons of light.”
In the first century, the solution Jesus offered is the same one he offers to us today.
Come to the light of Jesus Christ.
In verse 46 Jesus said: “I have come into the world as light so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness
If you are in the darkness of sin, won’t you come in faith to the light of Jesus Christ?