Welcome to ReCreate Ministry. Our mission is making and growing authentic followers of Christ. C.J. Mahaney said “Unless you see yourself standing there with the shrieking crowd, full of hostility and hatred for the holy and innocent lamb of God, you don’t really understand the nature and depth of your sin or the necessity of the cross.” What does love mean to you? If I asked you for an example of love, what would you tell me? Would it be some romantic gesture for your significant other? Would it be something you did for a friend in need? The movie The Greatest Showman is about the famous P.T. Barnum. The movie depicts how P.T. was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to give his family a better life, which leads to him creating what would come to be known as the Barnum and Bailey Circus. His love for his wife, and his desire to give his family the best life possible even causes P.T. to push away those closest to him as he pursues his dream of making a name for himself, and he realizes that the life he dreamed of as a child has a price.
This week, we are starting a new series called Love Does. Over the next 5 weeks, we are going to be looking at what love means. The basis for this series comes from the book Love Does by Bob Goff. In the book, Bob tells some amazing stories about what happens when you stop trying to plan things out and just go love people the way Jesus did. He spends the whole book talking about how love is an action instead of a thing, and about what happens when you live that way. This week, to celebrate Easter, we are going to be talking about what love did, because I believe that Jesus was the ultimate example of love, and that His death and resurrection is the best example of love the world has ever seen. The first message is split into two parts, and today, we are going to talk about Jesus’ death, and what it means for us today. Then, on Sunday, we will look at the resurrection, and talk about how Jesus defeated death and set us free.
Our passage this week comes from John 19:16b – 30 (NIV), which says “So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him with two others – one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. The chief priest of the Jews protested to Pilate, ‘Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’ When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for the each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. ‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’ This happened that the scriptures might be fulfilled which said, ‘They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.’ So this is what the soldiers did. Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” My first point is this:
Jesus was the perfect example of love. Everything that He did in His life showed this. The way that He treated people, especially the people most of the world treated as outcasts. In His life, Jesus had dinner with tax collectors and prostitutes, touched lepers, and gave hope to those who had none. His death was the ultimate example of love. John 15:13 (NLT) says “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. How many people do you know who would be willing to die for you? I don’t know about you, but my number isn’t very high. That’s not to say that I don’t have great friends or family, but I don’t know very many people who would willingly give themselves up to die for me. As crazy as it may sound, though, that’s the life Jesus calls us to live.
Philippians 2:5 – 8 (NIV) says “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and become obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Jesus spent His life giving us examples of how we should live, but His death was an example for us as well. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that we are to put ourselves in harms way. What I am saying is that we are to love others so much that we consider their lives worth more than our own. It is a sacrificial love, and it is a love that requires us to value others more than our own lives. Jesus’ death was the perfect example of this kind of radical love. That brings me to my second point.
Jesus didn’t just die for a few people. He died for everyone. That’s the good news of the gospel. It wasn’t an act of love for people from a certain region, or people who dressed a certain way. Jesus died for everyone, and paid for the sins of the whole world. John Stott said “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.” We are all responsible for the cross. There is no one sin that is more responsible for Christ’s death than another. Romans 3:23 (NIV) says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” None of us is innocent, but God didn’t hold that against us. Instead, He sent His Son to pay for it. That brings me to my last point.
The word finished can also be translated as accomplished. Jesus’ death paid our debt, all of it. Luke 23:44 – 45 (NIV) says “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” The curtain was torn from top to bottom, showing the world that the ultimate sacrifice had been made, and that we now had a direct line to God. We no longer have to go through the rituals of the past.
Galatians 2:20 (NIV) says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Jesus’ death set us free and forever paid the debt that we owed. That’s how much God loves you. Think about it for a second. He sent His perfect Son to die for YOU. For ME. For all of us. Let’s thank Him for that.
We are thankful on this Good Friday for Your love. You love us so much that You were willing to send Your only Son as a sacrifice on our behalf. Lord, we know that we did not deserve such an act of love, but You showed it because we matter to You. Father, thank You that You love us no matter what. Help us to love others the way that You love us. It’s in Your Name we pray.
I know that this was a short message, but I wanted to leave you with the words of Bob Goff. “Darkness fell. His friends scattered. Hope seemed lost. But heaven just started counting to three.” It’s Friday, and it may seem dark, but Sunday is coming…..