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Sermon – 4/13/03 –
The Cross - Matthew 20:27-28


The Cross

Whoever wishes to be first among you, shall be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28)

A man named Joe Wagner, wrote an article for "Reader's Digest" magazine, about a little girl who was at the auction of her grand-champion lamb.  The bids reached $5.00 per pound and she began to cry.  At ten dollars, her arms were tight around the lamb's neck.  The higher the bids, the more she cried.  Finally, a businessman bought the lamb for more than $1,000.00, but then donated the lamb to the little girl.  The crowd applauded and cheered.  Months later, Mr. Wagner was judging some statewide essays, and read one from a girl who told about the time her grand-champion lamb was auctioned.  She wrote: "The prices got so high during the bidding, that I started to cry from happiness.  The man who bought the lamb for so much more than I ever dreamed I would get, returned the lamb to me; and when I got home, Daddy barbecued the lamb which was really delicious."

The "love" offered by this world is all too often like the story of the little girl.  She seemed to be FILLED with love for the lamb, but her true motivation was not love.  She saw the lamb from the perspective that it could do something for her, and was content that the lamb was sacrificed for her enjoyment.  So much of what is called "love" is like that – We all know that a man often ”loves" a girl until he gets what he wants, and then he leaves to "love" someone else.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, was in eternity, but came here because of His love for you and me.  His thoughts were not for Himself, but about you.  He became an infant, a child, and a man, dying a terrible death, not because He needed to die, but because you need to live.  He became our Substitute, taking upon Himself our sins and sorrows, in a way that no one else could.  As the Scripture says, He gave “His life” for you.

In the book "Illustrations of Bible Truth," we learn what Pastor Harry Ironside heard from a preacher when he was nine years old: "Pioneers making their way across one of the central states, were traveling in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was slow. One day they were horrified by a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie. It was evident that the dried grass was burning fiercely and coming toward them rapidly. They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to return before the flames were upon them. One man understood what could be done. He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them. Then when a space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it.  As the flames roared toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror, 'Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?' The leader replied, 'My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!'”  Ironside continued, “What a picture of the believer, who is safe in Christ!"  We are SAFE at last, because of what HE has done.

The judgment upon humanity that fell on Jesus Christ, was like a fire from God that would destroy us, but it was directed at Him instead!  He died the death we should have died, so we might live the life we would want to live, if we even knew it existed!  It’s important to understand His death, because it changes EVERYTHING for you!

I have received messages on the internet, containing a quote that was said to be from the U. S. Attorney General, which is as follows:  “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sent His Son to die for you.”  Interesting!  To be right with God, is not some act you perform, but instead, it’s about what HE did for you.  Too often “religion” is about our works, when in fact, we should thank Him for what He has done.  Look at Jesus and you will see that He is all about GIVING.  He willingly gave His life for you.

Someone sent an email about “A preacher who was invited to deliver a sermon in the chapel of a college for the deaf.  He noticed that on several occasions during the sermon, the sign-language interpreter, in a very graceful way, would point to the palms of her hands.  Later he learned that pointing to the palms of the hands is the sign for Jesus Christ.”  Jesus spoke to us from eternity, before His birth, through the prophet Isaiah, with the words, “I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands (Isaiah 49:16).  Indeed He has, and also on His feet, His side, and in His heart.  He died that you might live.  We needed to be bought back from the powers of sin and death that held us, and the price is fully paid, because Jesus Christ died in our place.

Whoever wishes to be first among you, shall be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28).  We typically do not have even the desire to be the “servant” or “slave” of anyone else.  HOW to do it is fairly simple: we are to love the ones we serve.  Selfishness lessens in the face of love.  But then the question:  How do I love when there is no love?  How do I love someone I don’t like?  How do I love the person who hurt me?  At first glance, love in such a setting is not possible, but the answer is found in what He did for us.

Look at what Jesus did for you; understand that He died a terrible death in your place, and because of that, you will never be the same.  To receive Him is to fall in love with the One who died for you.  The more you know Him, the more you will love in return.  And the more love we have, the more it affects how we treat others.  Love is contagious.  Love is wonderful and powerful.  True love comes from God in Christ.

True love is when the little girl’s tears are for the lamb and not for what she can take from it.  True love is when Jesus Christ died so that you might live.  True love is giving ourselves to Him, right now.

Lord, make the cross of Christ alive to me.  Let me understand that when You died, it was for me.  Help me to trust in You and love You – forever.  I trust in You, now, Lord Jesus.  Thank You for being my “Servant” to the point of dying in my place.  Help me, Lord, that I may learn to love, learn to serve.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

    Ron Beckham, Pastor
    Friday Study Ministries

Tel: (562) 688-5559
    PO Box 92131
    Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
    "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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