Bible Reading: John 12v 23 - 36.
Text v32, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
Title : The Cross of Christ.
If you or I were to receive a message from her majesty the Queen, I'm sure we would tell everyone about it, we would also read it, cherish and keep it as a special memento.
Well in the words of our text we have message that is greater than that from any earthly monarch, for these words are from the lips of Him who is King of Kings & Lord of Lords.
Yes this message is from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
It is said of Christ, " that never man speak like this man." This means that there are no other words to be compared with those that have fallen from the lips of Christ. That being so then we all would do well to hearken to the message of Christ in this verse.
These words were spoken by Christ following his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and just a few days before His crucifixion upon the cross of Calvary. Such words are really a testimony to the power & importance of His death upon the cross. In this testimony Christ reveals 3 important truths regarding His atoning death upon the cross. It is these same truths that I want us to consider tonight.
1. We see the rebuke of the cross.
We see this in the words, " will draw all men unto Me." . and from the use of this Word "draw" we see the truth that man by nature is at a distance form God and this is the rebuke of the cross. Yes Christ's death upon the cross was to take place because man is afar from God. This is a truth that is highlighted throughout the scriptures.
Ephesians 2 v12 & 13, "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: v13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Here Paul is speaking to the Christians in Ephesus and he was reminding them that they were once a far from God. This is true of all men in their unsaved & unregenerate state. Unsaved friend this is your condition before God tonight. Outwardly your life may appear religious to others but as far as your relationship with God is concerned you are a far from God
This is how it is with every one of us in our unsaved condition. Isaiah 53 v6, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;." This is wonderfully highlighted by the Lord himself in Luke 15 when he tells of the lost sheep, the lost coin & the lost son and by these 3 great parables He was highlighting this awful truth that man by nature is lost, separate, estranged from God.
This is what the hymnwriter had in mind when he said, "I was once far away from the saviour just as vile as a sinner could be.
Now the reason from man being at a distance from God is due to his sin by nature & practise. Is 59 v2, "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you,." Sin is the breaking of Gods law. 1 John 3 v4, " sin is the transgression of the law."
It is also the coming short of Gods glory & standard. Romans 3 v23, "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." It is wonderfully & scripturaly defined for us in Answer. 14 of the Shorter Catechism which says, "sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God. "
Sin is something that all of mankind is guilty off. All are sinners except Jesus Christ the Son of God. Romans 3 v10-13. "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Friend this is the reason for you being afar from God, its because of you sin by nature & practise.
In light of this you may ask how far am I away from God. Well measure your life against the perfect life of the Son of God and then you will begin to see the distance that exists between your & your maker.
We read of Christ in the scripture and it says, He had no faults, no blemish, His lips were without guile, he perfectly kept the10 commandments, he went about doing good, Heb 7 v26, For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; He is the impeccable God man, and there is not one of us who can truly say that our life measures up to the standard of Christ.
In light of comparing our lives with Christ we all must say with Peter in Luke 5 v8, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Friend please also understand that the final out come for you if you die in your sin is one of eternal separation on hell. Christ warns you of this in Matthew 25 v41, "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"
In this year that lies before you may have plans & prospects, well if you were to die in your sins tonight., then this prospect of hell would be your awful reality for ever & ever.
Yes from our text we see the rebuke of the cross- a rebuke that warns you of your lost condition.
2. The Prediction of the cross.
Note the words, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
Now there is a sense in which these words can be applied to the faithful preacher of the gospel.
Every faithful preacher, evangelist, minister, Sunday school teacher, youth or children's worker must seek to exalt & uplift Christ in their service for God. Yes child of God in all your witnessing & service for the Lord make much of the person & work of the Lord Jesus Christ. However it must be said that this is not the principal meaning of these words.
No, the principal meaning of these words is that Christ is actually predicting his own death & the manner of it. Of course we must say that Christ's death was the most important that this world has ever witnessed. His death, was one of crucifixion whereby He was nailed to a cross suspended between heaven & earth at that place called Calvary outside the city wall of Jerusalem.
Now in thinking about the death of Christ we can say that it was foretold in scripture. Genesis 3 v15, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Also the scripture tells us that it was a death that signified the curse of God upon the victim. Deuteronomy 21 v23, "And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;)
Yes when we think of these words we see that the death of Christ was no accident, it was planned by God and when Christ hung upon the cross the wrath & curse of God was poured out upon him.
Also in pondering Christ death we must say that it was one of deepest ignominy & shame. Philippians 2 v8, "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. In deed it has been rightly said, "no other man ever humbled Himself so greatly.
Friend when you view Christ upon the cross, you view one who left the highest glory of heaven to become the lowest of the low on earth.
Also we can say that Christ's death was done in a most public fashion so that none could deny that it took place. It was viewed by both Jew & Gentile alike, this is why the superscription "Jesus of Nazereth the King of the Jews " was written in Hebrew, Greek & Latin. John 19 v19 & 20 says, "And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin."
Also it must be said that the death of Christ was the greatest act of self devotion that this world has ever witness. For Christ went willingly to this cruel cross. He emphasised this to Peter in John 18 v11, "Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? This world has seen some great acts of love & devotion but there is nothing that can compare with the love & devotion of Christ in going to the cross. The hymn writer says, " There is no love like the love of Jesus never to fade or fall."
Now you may well ask why did Christ partake of such an awful death. Well you find the answer in 1 Timothy 2 v5, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;." He died upon the cross to bridge the gap that existed between you & God as a result of your sin.
1 Peter 3 v18, "says, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:."
He died upon the cross so that you could find a way back to God from the dark paths of your sin.
Yes as you think of these Words of Christ you see the great prediction of the cross.
3. The Power of the Cross.
Note again the final words of Christ in our text when he says, "I will draw all men unto me. "
Here he tells us that by His own death sinners will be drawn to Him & to God. Now in speaking about this power we can say that-
It is one of attraction. When a person is ill & they know it, they will a. make their way to the doctor, likewise when a person sees and feels their need as a lost sinner they will be drawn to Christ for salvation.
This is what happened with the dying thief for in Luke 23v42, " Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom."
This is how it was with the hymn writer, "nothing in my hand I bring, --simply to thy cross I cling, --naked come to thee for dress, ---helpless look to thee for grace, --foul I to that fountain fly, wash me saviour or I die."
And such words are the testimony of many of you who are saved, in seeing your need you fled to Christ for salvation and found no disappointment. John 6 v37 say, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Friend are you concerned about you state as a lost sinner before God, then flee to Christ and trust him as saviour. In Matthew 11 v28 Christ says, " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
It is one of elevation
When a person comes to Christ for salvation & trusts in him he is reconciled to God, 2 Corinthians 5 v19," God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,." That person's life is changed daily by the grace of God. In 1 Tim 1 v12& 11 Paul says, And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.."
He is set on the narrow road to everlasting life in heaven. Psalms 23 v6," and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Friend what the Lord has done for others He can do for you. In coming to Christ as a repentant sinner & trusting in Him for salvation, you will find peace with God, power to live for God & a home in heaven.
This power is one that is all sufficient- note the phrase, "all men.". The sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is sufficent to save all men & from whatever their sin. 1 John 2 v1" And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
Proof of this is scene in the great multitude of people that will be in heaven. Revelation 7 v9," After this I beheld, and, loo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindred's, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
Whoever you are & what ever your sin is, let me say that there is an all sufficient remedy from your sin.
I John 1 v7 declares, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
The puritan Richard Baxter testified saying "I thank God for that word whosoever, If God said there was mercy for Richard Baxter , I am so vile a sinner that I would have thought he meant' some other Richard Baxter, but when he says, Whosoever, I know that includes me the worst of all Richard Baxter's. "
Perhaps you have been thinking about your need to be saved, yet the devil has kept you back for coming to Christ. He has held you back by saying you will never keep you salvation or there is no hope for you for you have committed some awful sins. Well donít listen to the lies of Satan. There is hope for in Christ, for through him all your sins can be forgiven and you can be kept unto eternal life therefore may you come to Christ & be saved. Amen.