The Horror Of The CrossSeries: Probing The Passion
THE HORROR OF THE CROSS
Sermon By Terry Siverd / June 12, 2022 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
Welcome to those who are joining us online - - we're grateful for your interest in the study of God's word.
Over the next four Sundays I want to share with you a brief sermon series that I am titling, “Probing The Passion.”
I want to apologize for not being in attendance for our Sunday morning Bible classes of late.
Mornings are difficult and with very little stamina, I'm having to pace myself. Thank you for bearing with me.
Some of you may remember a lesson that I presented on the white board (midweek study last winter).
That lesson evoked feedback from several, urging me to share this again in a larger setting.
From a text that might be categorized as one of Paul's hard sayings, we read these sobering words
recorded In 1Cor.11:27. Paul writes this warning: Whoever eats the bread or drinks the
cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
I think Paul's primary concern here had to do with the church at Corinth communing in a divisive way.
Factions on multiple levels (cf. 1Cor.1:11f and 1Cor.11:17f) were creating disharmony during The Supper.
They were failing miserably in judging the body rightly, which Paul deemed to be disgraceful.
Read the context and you will see this clearly.
Anytime we attempt to commune in The Supper without cultivating love and unity among the entire body we sin.
This is a subject that needs considerable attention, but this is not the specific focus of this particular mini-series.
As to the practice of the first-century Christians, Acts 2:46 notes: Every day the continued to to meet
together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their home and ate together with glad and sincere hearts...
Acts 20:7 states, on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul (preached) to them.
Paul's exhortation regarding their offerings (1Cor.16:1-2) point to the importance of the first day of the week.
While we reflect on the passion of the Christ each and every Sunday, I fear that our meditations are sometimes shallow.
The thrust of our reflections are often well intended, but they do not probe deeply enough.
Our New Testaments speaks of The Body and The Table and The Bread and The Cup.
There is something about The Table of the Lord that is vital to the development of our faith.
Since this weekly undertaking was/is so CENTRAL, it's important that we try to discern its meaning more fully.
I know this sound severe, but sometimes I fear that our time at the Table borders on being a nod and wink.
It is very important that we guard against hollowing out that which is hallowed and holy.
To illustrate the point I am trying to make, think with me about The Table.
In listening to the words spoken by others as we commune, what seems to be the overriding emphasis?
We can start here by asking, What was the real HORROR of the cross?
Typically, we think of adjectives like “wondrous” describing the cross. Or we think of the beauty or glory of the cross.
This morning I want us to contemplate the HORROR of the cross.
To ask this question is not just to chase after something that intrigues us. It is more than an academic exercise.
Luke's gospel (Lk.22:39f) provides a glimpse of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane
on the night before His crucifixion. Jesus knelt and prayed, Father...
let this cup pass from Me, yet no My will be Thine be done (vss.41-42).
Vs.44 states, being in AGONY He was praying very fervently; and His sweat become like drops of blood.
The text further reveals that an angel from heaven appeared to Him strengthening Him (vs.43).
In seeking to answer this question, more often than not our attention is directed to the Lord's pain and suffering.
In particular, we underscore the physical and mental pain and suffering of Jesus during the Cross or the Passion.
Sleep deprivation … scourging (beaten unmercifully) … mocked repeated … struck in the face …
His fleeing of His disciples … having to carry His own cross … reviled and spat upon … he crown of thorns …
the nails … the spear … the cumulative torture of the cross itself … the weeping of His mother and others … etc.
Occasionally we hear ones presiding at the Table who go beyond these elements by alluding to the shame of the cross: clothed with nothing but a loincloth … put to death in the midst of thieves (insurrectionists and murders) ...
a so-called “king” with un-loyal and unfaithful followers - - Mt.26:56 notes, Then all the disciples left Him and fled.
In no way do I mean to diminish the pain and suffering of any and all of the above.
The anticipatory anguish, the whip, the crown, the nails, the physical torture and mental and
emotional aspects of the cross event were indeed horrible in and of themselves, but
if we were to inquire of Jesus what it was that caused Him the severest agony, or THE GREATEST HORROR,
I am convinced that His answer would not include any of these things.
The answer to the question “what was the horror of the cross” is found in the word FORSAKEN.
This word addresses the most important aspect of the cross - - the spiritual dimension.
In the Old Testament we encounter this thought in words from Isa.53:3 / He was despised and forsaken of men.
This prophetic utterance was spoken concerning one known as “the suffering servant” (i.e., Jesus - - cf. Acts 8:35).
Matthew's gospel contains this word “forsaken”, but there it is cast in a different light. Yes, Jesus was forsaken by
His disciples, but Matthew uses the very words of Jesus (ipssisima verba) to convey the real horror of the cross.
In Mt.27:45-46, we read: Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon the all the land until the ninth hour.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying,
'Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani?', that is 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?'
This prayer is not about Jesus' apostles and othere disciples who had forsaken Him.
Here is the answer to identifying the true horror of the cross.
These words of prayer, spoken by Jesus the Son to God the Father are recorded in a bi-lingual manner:
Why have YOU forsaken ME?
The horror of the cross was that it rendered Jesus to be God-forsaken.
Isaiah speaks of one SMITTEN OF GOD (Isa.53:4).
One of the secondary definitions of “smitten” is: to affect sharply with deep feelings.
Way back in the mid-1970s I became so smitten by/with Jeannie that after a brief kiss, I walked right through the shrubs.
The primary definition of “smitten” is: to inflict a heavy blow...to afflict retributively; chasten or chastise.
I seldom give assignments as part of a sermon, but here is your's for next Sunday. Spend some time meditating on
Why would the loving Father smite and forsake His only-begotten and dearly-beloved Son?
If we can answer this question in a truly biblical way it will increase exponentially our appreciation of the cross.
And subsequently, it will transform and deepen our thoughts every Sunday when we gather 'round The Table.
You must not miss next Sunday's sermon, which I have already titled, Becoming Sin For Us.
It is a sequel that will both broaden our understanding of the cross and deepen our love for God.
Next week's sermon will offer us some much-needed insight into the mysterium tremendum,
a word coined by a German scholar in the early 20th century to speak of the holiness of God - - a tremendous mystery.
I would also like for you to think of hymns that help to nurture our understanding of the cross.
The songs that we sing as a church go a long way in shaping our thoughts as we surround the Table each Sunday.