Focus on the Cross
One of the most amazing passages of scripture is found in John 13, when Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. The scene is set; John 13-17 is the Upper Room discourse where Jesus is less than 24 hours away from being put to death. The passage begins with a declaration: that Jesus, knowing His time was coming to an end, and that He was leaving this world having loved His own to the fullest, that He acts on that love. It is the greatest act of love that has ever been displayed in human history.
The passage says that Jesus got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After He poured water into the basin, He began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. Following a brief dialogue, He returns to the table and asks them a single question, a super important question that we all need to wrestle with today and in our lives. This question has major implications for all of us: “Do you know what I have done for you?”
After Jesus does this amazing task of washing the disciples’ feet, He asks them, “Do you know what I have done for you?” This question is loaded with tension; it begs for a response. This question points to something much deeper taking place in that moment, something that Jesus is illustrating beyond the humble act of washing the disciples’ feet. In that moment, Jesus is more than just a humble servant doing a humble loving task. He is demonstrating His identity as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53; the one who would be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.
Through this single act, Jesus transformed the Upper Room into the Holiest of Holies, the most sacred place that no ordinary person could enter, the place where sins were atoned for before a holy and righteous God. Jesus is demonstrating the cross; He pulls the disciples into the unfolding beautiful narrative of our redemption and the cleansing that would come through His death once and for all with Jesus Himself being the temple and the sacrifice that would be hung on the cross.
The foot washing is a precursor to what would be accomplished on the cross. It’s a sign of the mystery of God being revealed in the redemption of all things through Christ. He is demonstrating the cross, foreshadowing the place where human brokenness, sin, suffering, and death find defeat; where fear is extinguished and hope is ignited. The outward act of foot washing points to the inward cleansing of His blood through the cross. Jesus is demonstrating what He’s done for us on the cross by this one act of washing His disciples’ feet.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8
He took upon Himself flesh, becoming fully human in order to be the full representative for humanity. With His flesh He bore our sins and with His blood He cleansed us from them. After declaring it to be finished, He ascends back to heaven where He is now seated at the right hand of God.
Today Jesus is asking this same question, and this is what we need to wrestle with today as we move toward the resurrection: Do you know what Jesus has done for you? Have you experienced the cleansing power of Christ personally? Have you experienced the cleansing power of Christ secured through the cross? Has He washed you?
In this passage, Peter tells Jesus that He cannot wash him. Jesus responds, “If I don’t wash you, you can have no part with me” (John 13:8). In order to be in relationship with Jesus, to be a son or daughter of Christ, you must have relationship with Him through His cleansing and His washing. If He has washed you, this is the time to reflect and rejoice in the beauty of Christ’s saving work on the cross because He deserves all the glory. We should celebrate what Christ has done for us on the cross by washing us.
If you don’t know that today, then your job is to repent and to believe and to put your trust in Him and accept this perfect love that He poured out on the cross for you. This is the precursor to the resurrection, this is how we experience Christ through the resurrection – through His blood, through His life that He has shed for you and me. As we continue in worship, focus on the beauty of the cross. God has taken something that is so horribly tragic and given us life.
Welcome to our Easter celebration. We are so glad you are here, whether you have been here a hundred times or this is your first time. Some of you might be here because this is family tradition on Easter. Some of you may have walked by this morning. Some of you came here because you love Jesus and you follow Him and you wanted to come to celebrate and express that love you have for Him and praise and worship Him. Some of you may not be sure about Jesus and wonder who He is and what the big deal is.
Easter is the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The Bible tell us that Jesus lived a sinless life, meaning He never offended God in a thought, word, or deed (unlike us). The Bible tells us that all have sinned and offended God at least once. But Jesus went through His whole life and never offended God. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. Jesus went through His whole life and never offended God, and then out of obedience to His Father and because of His great love toward us, He said He would die for us. Jesus, looking at us before we were ever born, knowing everything that we would think, do, and say, said He would die for us. All of our sin was placed on Him on the cross and that’s when He cried out “It is finished.”
The resurrection happened three days later to confirm and seal His authority over sin and death. Jesus took our sin upon Himself; to prove His authority over sin and death, He rose from the dead and that’s what we celebrate today. Whether or not you believe in the person and work of Jesus personally, it’s a historical fact that there was a person named Jesus and there’s no other person or event in the history of the world that has greater impact than Jesus.
Today is March 27, 2016 or AD 2016. What happened 2016 years ago? AD stands for Anno Domini, Latin for “year of our Lord.” BC stands for before Christ, renamed before common era, and AD has been renamed common era. Something happened over 2000 years ago that divided the history of the world – Christ’s birth. His birth was significant enough to become the centerpiece of the modern-day calendar.
The calendar was developed in the sixth century (525 AD), when the entrance of Christ into the world was recognized by Rome as the turning point of history, and our calendars reflect that. When Jesus came into this world, He changed the world, and when He died, He changed eternity.
His birth and crucifixion are historical facts. There was a child born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, who became a political or religious figure with a significant following and was later crucified. This has been established by many extra biblical sources and individuals from various backgrounds. We know Jesus existed, so the question remains: What are we going to do with this person of Jesus?
Who did Jesus say He was and what did others say about Him? This is the one of ways we validate a person’s authenticity – we compare what they said with what they did, and look at the consistency of those statements throughout time.
Our current presidential race is made up of candidates destroying each other with the inconsistencies of their positions, present and past, to cast doubt on their future. Every candidate is in the process of making claims or promises of what they will do when elected to the very powerful position of presidents. All of them have changed positions on one issue or another. We look for the one candidate who aligns with what we believe and is consistent, someone we can trust. But given their track record, that is difficult.
God ordained for us that the words and actions of Jesus be preserved, debated, studied, and verified so that we can see what He said and what those close to Him said about Him. Does He stand the test? We’ll start by looking at what Jesus said about Himself.
Who did Jesus claim to be and what did He claim to do?
Jesus claimed to be Messiah – He claimed to be the Savior, the Christ (Luke 4). Throughout the history of the Jewish people, God promised them a Messiah who would free His people from their bondage forever and rule and reign as their King. Many thought the Messiah would be an earthly king, but it was far more than that. In the synagogue, Jesus read a passage of scripture that predicted the coming of the Messiah, then sat down and said “Today this is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21).
Jesus claimed to have the authority and power to forgive sins – Jesus claimed to have God’s authority to forgive sins and He healed to prove it. In Mark 2, the paralyzed man was brought to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and the crowd thought He would simply heal the man as He had done many times before. But instead He said, “Your sins are forgiven.” The teachers immediately thought, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:1-7).
When Jesus forgave the man, that was a more difficult thing than to simply heal his body. Jesus knew in a short time that He would bear all of that man’s sins on His body. Jesus knew the cost of forgiving our sins yet He still forgave him, and to prove His authority, He also healed the man. Jesus was essentially saying that physical healing was not the man’s greatest need in life. The paralyzed man’s greatest need was to know his Heavenly Father.
Jesus said that He did not come to judge the world but to save (John 3:17) – Jesus did not come to set a moral standard for us to follow and that He would judge us by. Jesus came because there was already a moral standard (the law) that we failed to meet. He came to save us from our own rebellion against God.
Jesus said He did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28) – Jesus did not come to be served, to get or to take from us, but to give to us. He gave His life to buy our freedom from guilt, shame, and the wrath of God that is due us because of our rebellion.
Jesus asks us to give Him our lives, but that is not for His benefit – He wants our lives because that’s what is best for us. There is no risk here – we know how much God loves us because He’s already shown us the ultimate of His love by dying for us while we were His enemies.
Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life and no one could go to the Father except through Him (John 14:6) – There is only one way. If you are seeking peace, love, contentment, acceptance, you’ll find those things in Jesus. Pursue Jesus because in Jesus you find life, in Jesus you find the way, in Jesus you find the truth.
Jesus claimed that He would die rise after three days (John 2:19) – He said that if the temple was destroyed, He would rebuild it in three days.
Jesus fully intended to go to the cross – Jesus predicted His own death and resurrection. He said no one would take His life from Him but that He laid it down willingly (Mathew 16:21-28; John 10:14-18)
These are some of the things that Jesus said and promised. There is no middle ground with Jesus; we either choose to follow Him or we don’t; we’re either His friend or His enemy. If Jesus was lying, then He was not a good teacher, a prophet, a moral compass, or someone we should honor. If He was lying, then we can flat-out reject Him. But ff Jesus was telling the truth, then we should listen to what He said.
What did others say about Jesus’s death and resurrection?
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Paul said that the Gospel is the most important thing:
1. Christ died for our sins
2. He was buried (confirming His death and fulfilling prophecy)
3. He was raised from the dead
4. His resurrection was confirmed by Cephas, the twelve, by 500 at one time (most who were alive at the writing of this letter) by James, by all the apostles, by Paul. Paul named specific people who physically saw Jesus after the resurrection, meaning that if there were any inaccuracies, there were plenty of people still living to refute them.
Peter said that Jesus bore our sins in His body that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). Paul said that He who knew no sin was made to be sin so we could be made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). John writes, “This is the promise which HE HIMSELF, Jesus, made to us: Eternal life” (1 John 2:25).
John also writes of Jesus in the gospel named after him:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5, 10-14
Our political candidates are seeking power, honor, control and position, all making promises so that we will elect them. Jesus is different – Jesus has position of authority and power. He lacked nothing, needed nothing, He was rightly worshiped, and He came to us not to take from us but to give His life as a ransom for many. He came to serve. He humbled Himself to become a part of His own creation that we might be able to identify with Him as our great advocate and intercessory.
Jesus does not want anything from you because He needs you or me. He wants us. He wants us to know Him and our Heavenly Father. He wants us to experience all those things that sin and condemnation keep us from. This is not about heaven or hell; this is about restoring us into right relationship with our Heavenly Father. Easter is all about Jesus making a way through the cross and resurrection.
Through the resurrection:
- We see the divinity of Jesus (Romans 1:4)
- We see the sovereignty of Jesus (Romans 14:9)
- We experience justification (Romans 4:25)
- We our born again (1 Peter 1:3)
- We will also be resurrected because of His resurrection (Romans 8:11)
Without the resurrection of Jesus, we have no reason to gather, we have no hope… But there was a resurrection and He is alive today and it is good news. Hallelujah, He is alive!
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; Romans 10:9
If we confess with our mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. Christ came because He wants you to know Him. If you came this morning as a lover of Jesus, we hope the reminder of all that Jesus is and some of the promises He made encourages you this morning. If you came here this morning and had some questions or felt distant from Jesus, we hope this is a good reminder that He has not forgotten you and He is not far from you; He wants to be in fellowship with you. His grace is sufficient for all our sin.
If you came here this morning and you’ve never had a relationship with Him or believed on Him, the idea of believing is trusting what Christ said and did on the cross for your salvation. You’re going to trust that what He did is sufficient and accept and receive His grace. This morning if your heart is being stirred to follow Jesus, if the Holy Spirit has been prompting your heart, another way to confess is to do something, so we invite you to come forward so we can pray for and encourage you.