AN EMPTY CROSS—AFTER THE RESURRECTION (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Today is the 1st Sunday of May, Communion Sunday and we can look and see an empty cross. What about the symbol of the cross today? Is It usually with Jesus on the cross or an empty cross. Ours should show an empty cross—he arose. Jesus looked beyond the cross. We have burdens that seem like crosses and we must look beyond the painful situations and anticipate a miraculous conclusion that God will bring us through. Jesus carried his cross alone when His disciples had left him, and just a few including his mother and John, a beloved disciple, remained. There were some of his enemies, and even religious leaders who mocked him. But Jesus’ death was a sacrifice to save us and to reconcile us to God. He said, “I come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly. More abundantly. He saying I have more to give beyond hat you already have. What does that look like? Blessings. Blessed in the field, blessed in the house, blessed going in and blessed going out, everywhere my feet step, my hands touch. Let me touch this—effective change. Great joy—John 16:23-24, And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. They didn’t realize Jesus’ betrayal was in the plan of God. He said, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” This was God’s plan all along. Scriptures tells us this in Gen. 3 – And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah also wrote, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.” Matt. 8:17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” Because he lives, things in your life have been made better. People see the change in you and now desire change. Its all because of the cross. Apostle Paul says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” In the last few days before His Death when it was not time for his arrest and judgement, Jesus would appear and disappear which teaching along the way.. That’s our example. Teaching as we go. James 5:16 declares, The effective, [k]fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. As Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem, he knew He was going to be betrayed by someone close to him. He would be rejected—even by Peter (I know him not). When we become committed to lifting up Jesus, we will be faced with opposition, betrayal and rejection. Again JESUS knew the plan. This was more than just a physical struggle, it was a spiritual struggle. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but spiritual wickedness in high place—those around you and those who seem to have positions above you. It always a battle of God against Satan. But Jesus knew that beyond the cross was victory. There may be some crosses in your life that you must endure, but began to look past where you are to the victory that will be yours. Romans 5:12 states, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” But in 1 Corinthians 15:22 states “As in Adam all die, so as in Christ all will be made alive.” So in Christ, we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17 and the blood of Jesus washes it clean. Ephesians 1:4 says, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love. Also in Christ you have received the gift of righteousness according to Romans 5:17 and Philippians 3:7-9. We’ve received the gift of rightness and been made perfect in Christ according to Hebrews 10:14b, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” We’ve been made whole, complete, perfect, and righteous in our spirit, but sometimes we choose to walk after the flesh. Many Christians are struggling, struggling to find the abundant life not realizing that because you were crucified with Christ, that you’re new creations, that you’re identified with Christ, that you’re one with Christ and that Christ is all that you need. But instead of seeing that – we’re struggling with self to obtain victory over sin and temptation, when in fact, Christ already died that we may obtain it. We’re living according to our expectations rather than according to fact that’s its already taken care of. According to the Word of God we are more than conquerors. We’ve experienced some trials, heartache, brokenness, humility, loss or lack, and sometimes seemingly stuck. Jesus needed to pray in his moments of crisis in the garden. He fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). We must have some nevertheless in our lives. If Jesus had to pray, what about us. The word said, Then an ANGEL from heaven came and STRENGTHEN him. (Luke 22:43). God has dispatched angels all around us to assist in our dilemma. When we submit to God’s will, he’ll give us the strength to accomplish the task, fulfill our purpose, reminding us “you’re not alone!” With renewed strength and determination, Jesus steadfastly faced His death. ” Our battles are won when we make the decision to do, to press on, to endure. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. When you find yourselves weakening in your faith, think of how Jesus, his sacrifice. You remember, he could have called 10000 angels and come down from the cross but He focused on what was to come. He said, “I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38 – NIV). He also tells his disciples, “The Son of Man must suffer many things,” He said. “He must be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then Jesus said to all of them, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. That’s our task. Salvation is free gift but along this journey is suffering and hardship. We must be a living sacrifice. A living sacrifice is not merely our mortal, human life, but the life which is alive from the dead. It is resurrection life. A living sacrifice understands that it’s not I, but Christ who lives in me. As a living sacrifice we can say like Job, “all my appointed time I’m going to wait for my change to come.” Jesus bore his cross for us and we must bear our cross, to overcome and move forward to carry the gospel, the good news of Jesus. There is hope. (Lam 3:18-23). And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS. Remember that hymn, “Great is Thy faithfulness O God my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not.
As Thou hast been thou forever will be. Great is Thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see. And all I have needed thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me. UNTO ME. Lord, you’re so faithful and we remember that old rugged cross and on today we remember and thank you for redemption, salvation, healing, overcoming power, being made alive in you.