Approaching The Cross

Author: Jill Gentle Date: Sunday, August 10, 2014 Campus:

The questions and transcript are below.


Part One:  Approaching the Cross (5th Oct 2014)


New series – The Cross and JC dying on the cross.  Looking at it over the next month or so.  Looking at why did JC die on the cross, what did it mean to us today, what should I ‘do’ with the knowledge of Jesus’ suffering a horrible gruesome death on the cross (is it something to be celebrated), should I remember the cross in my prayers, should I wear a cross, should I make a symbol of the cross?  No rules – but there is no doubt about the significance of the cross in our lives and our thinking, as a Christian.    The dome at St Pauls Cathedral is built in the shape of a cross.

Why a cross? It’s a significant part of what we believe, but why? Why not a manger, or a carpenters bench on which he worked as a carpenter, or the boat from which he taught and carried out miracles or the stone when it was rolled away and not found there, or the apron used when washing the disciples feet to symoblise service and humility.  Why the worst form of death / torture (e.g. electric chair).

Questions - We have discussed how this series will look, but if you have any questions….  Park your questions with us and they can be considered for future weeks.  Write, email, text, speak, discuss in UG, etc.  Not just about what we want to say, but about what you want to hear.

Communion: Have communion today (i.e. bread and wine to remember Jesus dying) so this whole talk will really be preparing us for communion.   Please feel at home.  Whether we have taken communion many times or never or this will be the first time – it’s good to know what it means and what we are doing when we have communion. 

Weird phrases: We hear lots of weird phrases around the church don’t we – Jesus died for your sins, you are covered in the blood of the lamb, you are cleansed in the blood of Jesus – all this talk of blood even sounds a bit gory.   Sounds a bit weird doesn’t it?  Doesn’t make sense in our human brains.  All this talk of death and blood with a God who is so kind?

Why focus on remembering Jesus’ death? One thing that strikes me about Jesus is that he did some amazing things whilst he lived – so why do we remember his death?  The cross is because we do it to remember that JC died.  JC is not only remembered for his life, but also his death.  When we think about people who have died – Mandella, people in our own family – we celebrate their life.   We hold a ‘celebration of life’ service, not a ‘celebration of death’ service. People are not often remembered for what their death achieved, but more about what their life achieved.  Jesus is remembered for the significance of his life and the significance of his death, that he was killed and that he died (and we know there was a happy ending to, because the Bible tells us he came back to live 3 days later…)

In summary, we will look today at:

What the cross can mean to us, so many years later?

How can Jesus’ death be relevant to us today?

There are several more weeks on the topic of The Cross – email your questions or write them on the hub or talk to someone (novel idea).  UG this week – what would you like to see discussed from the front on the cross?

ORIGAMI – We are going to make a cross (keep hold of it – we will use it at the end…)

Story One – Jesus is face to face with us…

A revelation I had about 10 days ago.   Stopped in my tracks in my walk with God – we have those moments when you are reading the Bible/praying and you suddenly have a new revelation about something you have not seen or heard before. 

I was praying with another couple of ladies (sozo prayer time = saved, healed, delivered).  From the Greek word to save or to deliver.  Model of prayer used to help develop your relationship with God.  Sometimes, when we pray, words pop into our head and certain images come into our mind. 

Anyway, when I imagine Jesus in my minds eye, I seem him looking down at me.  Sometimes have an image in my head of JC when I am praying – not quite sitting on the clouds, but definitely higher up than me.  He is a bit higher and I am a bit lower.  He is a bit bigger and I am a bit smaller.  Anyway, during this prayer time on this particular day, Jesus wasn’t above me,  the image I had in my head was of Jesus and I being face to face.  He was a similar size to me, he as a normal person and he was eye to eye face to face equal with me.  This blew me away.  Jesus looked like a friend. He was able to relate to me, to come alongside me.      John 15v15 – Jesus said I no longer call you my servants but I call you my friends. 

I asked the people I was with that this was strange to me, because I had always seen Jesus in a sort of hierarchical way – above me.   We then looked at what the Bible said about this – Ephesians 2

Ephesians 2:6 “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”

The above shows that Jesus raised us up to be near to him.    You are not lower than him you are the same as him.  He raised you up.  The only reason we can be raised up is by the cross…

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Jesus is our friend.  We now have a relationship with Jesus.  The cross is central to our belief.  Through what happened on the cross, we can have a friendship and a relationship with Jesus.  That is important for us to grasp today, isn’t it?

Billy Graham was 95 years old last year.  American evangelist.  Started in the 1940s ish.  Did his first crusade when he was 29 yrs old.   Did over 400 crusades.    This is what he said is key and central to his belief in God…

Billy Graham clip

Billy Graham recorded that on his 95th birthday.  “The most important thing to remember is the cross”.

Summary -  So far, we have seen that:

The symbol of the cross is used by Christians all over the place.  The Bible tells us that only because of what happened on the cross can Jesus be our friend.  Billy Graham puts the cross at the centre of everything. 

Story 2 –True story about a spade

Imagine a row of 100 people here. Hot.  Afternoon.  After a hard days construction work = manual labour. building a bridge.   All men.  Slaves.  Tatty dirty clothes and rags on.  Look impoverished.  All look hungry.  All look underweight. Many look ill, weak, helpless and hopeless.  In their eyes is nothing.  Emptiness.  No hope.   Even hatred.  Many have sores and bruises on their legs and arms.  Cuts.   Covered in mud and sweat.  All men.  Many quite young.

All the people are slaves.  Working in a PoW camp.  Bad conditions, terrible treatment, beaten, killed, insufficient food, sent to do physical construction work every day, get disease, sickness, ill, injuries, they have all see 10, 20, 30 and more of their co workers (friends) die.  Not really friends – no one even wanted to be friendly.  They all hated being there and they hated each other.

It’s the time of WWII (1940s) and these men have been captured.

Their tools are counted every day by the guard in charge of them.

On this particular day, there are 99 spades.  One person has broken, lost, misplaced, hidden, forgotten,  a spade.  One spade is missing.

The guard demands that the person who took it should own up.  Step forward. 

Guard is getting more and more irate.  Frustrated.  Losing patience. 

No one stepped forward.  No one in the squadron budged. 

The guard ranted and raved at the 100 slaves.  Worked himself up to a state.

Suddenly pointed his rifle at the 100 people and said “I will kill you all if no one steps forward”

He wasn’t joking – all these men had seen many of their fellow slaves friends killed, beaten, shot.

Finally, one man stepped forward and said I DID IT

The guard shot him.  Died on the spot.  The one who stepped forward wasn’t the kind of person you would think would steal a spade.

Next, everyone as usual went to wash their tools were counted by the guard and then washed and recounted by the slaves.  Slightly more sombre feel in the camp, but people had learnt to have no feelings.

In the re-count there were 100 spades.   There had been a mistake. 

It transpired that the spades had been incorrectly counted by the guard the first time.  There had been a mistake.  There was no spade missing.  The man who stepped forward did so, as he didn’t want to see everyone die. 

He stepped forward to save the other 99 men.  He didn’t want to see the others die.  Nobody had stolen a spade on that day.  He stepped forward to avoid all 100 having to die.

The story goes on to say that this news spread through the PoW camp like wildfire.  An innocent man had been willing to die to save the other slaves.  Up until this point, no one had looked out for anyone else.  Everyone was focused on self.  This incident had a profound effect.  The men began to treat each other like brothers.   Attitudes began to shift in the camp.  With no prompting, prisoners began to look out for each other, rather than themselves.

That man never knew that him stepping forward transformed attitudes and behaviour in that pow camp. 

Ernest Gordon

This story was seen by Ernest Gordon and was written in his book “Miracle on the River Kwai”.  Born and bred in Glasgow.  A British Army Officer, from Scotland, serving in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.  Ernest fought with the British in Malaysia. Captured by the Japanese during WWII (1942) and assigned to building a railway bridge over the River Kwai in SE Asia for 3.5 yrs (PoW)

His book is about his experience in the PoW camp.

Before he went he didn’t have any particular belief in God.  When he came back, he studied theology and went to the Uni of Glasgow and ordained as a vicar of the Church of Scotland in 1950 at the age of 34 yrs old.

During the 3.5 yrs, 16,000 PoWs died and 100,000 local labourers, building a railway bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand.

That story changed this man’s life.  He saw a sacrificial love that he had never witnessed before.

The book goes on to say that ‘sacrificial love has transforming power’ and talks about Ernest Gordon’s sceptic to believer. 

Jesus and the spade story

That story is a great illustration to help us think about Jesus dying on the cross.

Jesus stood forward and died, so that we might have life and live life to the full (John 10:10)

Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it to the full.

If all of us were in that line, JC would have looked at each one of you with love in his eyes and stood forward.

Jesus stepped forward and died because he didn’t want to see everyone else die.

Jesus stepped forward to die because he wanted you to have access to a life full of freedom –

Jesus has stepped forward to put to death….

People having to live in sadness or depression or feelings of ‘I’m not good enough’

Difficult marriages with hurtful words, that are not building up but breaking down.

Abusive relationships which hurt and have lingering effects for years and make people lose sight of the amazing potential God has for them.

Guilt of something you did years ago, that you can’t forgive yourself for.

The repercussions of being bullied or spoken harshly to as a child or you were told you were no good – alone with no one there to help or protect us.

Jesus has stepped forward to put to death the stuff in our life that holds us back.  That gets in between us and God.

When he died, he took all that with him, the moment he stepped forward.  He said give it to me, I will take it to the cross with me.  He died for all of us.  How do we know this – the Bible tells us this…

Romans 6v6 – You have been crucified with Christ

In fact, if there had been just you and Jesus, Jesus would have stepped forward because he wanted to see you live your life to the potential that he has for you. 

Because he loves you.  Jesus loves you.  Like Billy Graham says.  He loves you.  You alone were worth dying for.

I’m just going to have a drink of water

I’m dying for a cuppa, I’m dying for the loo, I’m dying for some chocolate.  Jesus says – I am dying for you to have life – life in all its fullness.   He is dying for you to have life.  He can’t wait for you to have life.  He is dying for you to have life.  He can’t wait for you to have life.  Give all the stuff that holds us back to Him – He will restore you, make you new.  Be repentant and Jesus will give you freedom back.

I’m dying for you to enjoy your marriage.  I’m dying for you  to love yourself.  I’m dying for you to speak to your dad again after years of broken relationship.  I’m dying for you to feel happy about the way you look.  I’m dying for you to be the wonderful you I created.  I’m dying for you to live life and live it to the full. 

In fact, he did.  He did die for all that stuff.  God has done his bit.  We have to do our bit.

Romans 6 v 11-12 “Do not let sin….”  Don’t let it! 

Do not hold on to those things which we know are wrong – we have a choice to make…  Bad words you have spoken to someone, bad thoughts towards someone, lies you have told to get back at someone, junk from the internet or tv you have filled your mind with, the sexual sin you’ve been involved in, the addictions that have bound you and kept you from living life to the full as God intended for you.

Write on your cross

Write on the cross something about you that you wouldn’t want anyone to know (not something like your weight or your salary or what you voted in the last election – the things that british people don’t talk about).  Something quite significant in your life.  Fold it up.

Hand it to your neighbour.  Just give it to them.  Swap papers with them.

That’s what we have to do to Jesus.  He has done his part.  He stepped forward.  We have to play ours.  He stepped forward and died on the cross, so there is the opportunity of new life, there is access to a life free of guilt, sin, addiction, feeling bad about the past, free of feeling worthless. 

But we have to now step forward and say sorry and turn away from the bad things in our lives.

Come and make your cross a reality in my life.  When Jesus stepped forward – he gave us the chance of new life, a new start.  He is our friend – face to face and eye to eye. Jesus is saying I’m dying to be your friend.


Tear up the paper  and put your cross in the bin at communion, whilst playing the song “Calvary”.


Questions for Union Group Discussions

Think about any questions you have about Jesus and his death on the cross – things you don’t understand or things you want to know more about.  In light of this discussion, what would you like to see included in this series on “The Cross” over the next few weeks?  Please send any thoughts to the church office.

The sermon talked about giving to God those things that hold us back in our lives and the sin in our lives.  What does this look like?  How do we ‘give things to God’?  How do we practically lay things at the foot of the cross?

What would have happened if there was no cross?  How would this have affected your life?


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Grand church of the world is here for the USA. All the options of the church and are visited for the embracing of the goals for the humans. The sign is played for the preacher of the church for the good norms and values for the citizens.