THE CROSS STANDS FOR GOD'S LOVE

SEEN IN THE SUFFERING OF CHRIST

Based on the Bible Reading from Matthew 26:59-68

 

INTRODUCTION

 
 [*] The news coming out of Bosnia, Serbia and other war-torn
 countries in recent times, has made us sick to the heart, when we
 have realised the horrific mass slaughter of men women and
 children, and the hatred that has caused it!
 (a) Over these past years, we have seen very graphically
 portrayed on our television screens, the events in Northern
 Ireland, showing the viciousness and evil that can come through
 hatred!!
 [b] We have all seen the so-called 'peace process' develop, and
 endure it's ups and downs. We have seen that those who have lived
 by violence, have absolutely no notion of giving up the weapons
 of violence; weapons which obviously can be taken up again, if
 they don't manipulate the 'peace process' for maximum concession
 in their direction!
 [c] I remember a Roman Catholic Priest in Belfast, said he saw a
 parallel between the terrible hatred and violence of that time,
 and the happenings in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion!
 (d) In our Bible reading, we see the hatred of man being vented
 on Jesus! Let me remind you of part of the reading, as translated
 in the New International Version:
 "`He is worthy of death' they answered. Then they spat in His
 face and struck Him with their fists. Others slapped Him and
 said, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?'" (Matthew 26:66-68)
 (c) It reminds me of one of the solos I have often sung, where it
 says, "They spat upon the Saviour, so pure and free from sin,
 they said, `Crucify Him, He's to blame'!"
 The song goes on to say, "He could have called ten thousand
 angels, to destroy the world, and set Him free!"
 BUT HE DIDN'T - AND THE REASON HE DIDN'T, WAS
 BECAUSE OF HIS LOVE FOR YOU AND ME.
 (d) If He was to provide our Salvation, there was no
 alternative! It had to be through suffering, and through
 sacrifice!
 (e) I remember a few years ago, as I meditated upon the
 sufferings of Christ, I was struck by the suffering caused by His
 extreme loneliness, when all had forsaken Him - why even on the
 Cross, He felt His Father God had forsaken Him!!
 Some of the words of the song I wrote at that time entitled
 'Lonely Calvary,' says,
 "Of friends forsaken, that had been by His side, now some had
 deserted, and some had denied...."
 

POINT

 
 (a) Jesus Himself said, "Greater love hath no man than this, than
 a man lay down his life for his friends."
 Here we see the willingness of sacrificial love in Jesus giving
 Himself for a world of lost sinners.
 (b) In John 3:16, we find within the verse known as the "Gospel
 in a Nutshell", these words, "God so loved the world that He
 gave His Only Begotten Son!"
 This shows us the loving willingness of God the Father, to give
 as the New International Version puts it, "His One and Only
 Son."
 Little wonder, we read, "GOD IS LOVE" We spoke of this in
 Our morning meeting when dealing with LOVE.
 AS WE SEE THE EVENTS SURROUNDING CALVARY UNFOLD,
 COULD WE EVER DOUBT THAT OUR GOD, IS IN VERY
 ESSENCE - LOVE???
 (c) Can we even begin to comprehend the magnitude of the fact
 that, "God showed His Love towards us, in that while we were yet
 sinners, Christ died for us!"
 (d) Have we heard parents say to children on occasions, "Don't do
 that, Jesus doesn't love bad boys and girls." Oh IF THAT WERE
 TRUE, WHAT A SORRY STATE MANKIND WOULD BE IN!!!
 Thank God, HE LOVES US IN SPITE OF OUR SIN!!
 "CHRIST JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD TO SAVE SINNERS",
 SAID THE MAN WHO BELIEVED HIMSELF TO BE THE CHIEF
 OF SINNERS  THE APOSTLE PAUL!
 (e) The Baby born in Bethlehem's manger, WAS A LOVE CHILD!! -
 GOD'S LOVE CHILD, to bring HIS LOVE in the form of SALVATION,
 to a world of lost sinners!
 (f) John Newton, who wrote many hymns including "Amazing
 Grace", had been an evil slave-trading sea-captain, until, his ship was
 caught in a terrible storm, and was badly holed in the side. He
 feared he was going to meet his maker, and through this
 experience became a Christian, and later entered the ministry.
 He never ever lost his sense of wonder in how God could love such
 as he, and even when an old man, his dying words, were words of
 wonder as to how God could love HIM! He obviously felt along with
 the Apostle Paul that he was the "CHIEF OF SINNERS".
 

CONCLUSION

 
 (a) I wonder HOW PERSONAL you feel the sufferings of Jesus are to
 YOU!!
 (b) This is not just an event of history! We speak, in the words
 of the Apostle Paul of "THE SON OF GOD, WHO LOVED ME
 AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME."
 (c) I trust you will feel the words echo in your heart,
 "I LOVE HIM, BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED ME."
 
 MEETING PLAN
 (Songs from Salvation Army Song Book)
 Song 114 Jesus came down my Ransom to be (Tune 864)
 Prayer Chorus - as song above
 Prayer
 Song 49 O it's as high as the sky (Tune 609)
 COLLECTION & ANNOUNCEMENTS
 BAND
 TESTIMONIES & CHORUSES
 SINGING COMPANY
 LIFE WAVES MIME AND DRAMA GROUP - 'Love in any language'
 SONGSTERS
 MESSAGE
 Song 44 Don't assume that God's dismissed you (Tune 668)

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