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Levi Lusko - X Marks The Spot


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Two places in your Bible, John Chapter 19 and Isaiah 53. And we're going to read versus one through four from John 19, and then we're going to jump into Isaiah 53 in just a little bit. But here's what we read in John's gospel. It says, "So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. And they said, "Hail, King of the Jews"! And they struck Him with their hands. Pilate that went out again and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him". And then in verse 15, "They cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him"! Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King"? The chief priest answered, "We have no king but Caesar"! Then, he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then, they took Jesus and led Him away. And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and to others with Him, one on either side and Jesus in the center".

We're in a series of messages we've called creed, and we're taking some time to sort of figure out what the load bearing walls of Christianity are. If we're calling ourselves Jesus' followers, we're saying, I believe in Jesus. We're singing that song. This series is trying to answer the question, what does that mean exactly? Like what do we believe about Jesus? Because there's a million words in this Bible, and in order to have a succinct understanding of what the Christian faith is, we have something called creeds. And creed is just a Latin word that means I believe. So when you say creed, you're actually just saying I believe, and you're just really articulating what is it that we believe. And out of all of the creeds, because there are a ton of them, we're looking at the earliest version of the creed that really articulates the Christian faith, and it's known as the Apostles' Creed.

And we encouraged you at the beginning of the series, and if you are just jumping in now, we're super glad to have you. This is week three. Week three of the series. All the messages you can get on our website and on our YouTube page, so you can catch up. But we said at the beginning it'd be cool if you memorized it. Maybe just got your family together, or your spouse together, hey, what? You want to talk about a date? If you're dating somebody? Hey, want to get together and memorize the Apostles' Creed? I'm telling you, that is a bedrock of a kicking relationship right there. But to start us off, I wanted to recite it. But instead of you hearing me recite it, I thought it'd be maybe more impressive to have my daughter come up here. This is Daisy Grace. Come on, let's hear it for Daisy! Daisy Grace, who is eight, is going to from memory say the Apostles' Creed.

- Hi Daisy.
- Hi.
- How are you?
- Good.
- All right. Go ahead, baby.

- I believe in God, the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Born of the Virgin Mary, He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day, He rose again. He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and is coming again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, The holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

- Amen indeed. Amazing. So good. Come on. Daisy Grace. Nailed it. How sweet is that? All right, so if she can do it, that's all I'm saying. But, actually, she's like the smartest in our house, so that's not like if she can do, it's like she got it before I had it. But the part we're going to look at this week in this installment of the series is right here, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. And the title of my message, if you'd like to take notes in church, is X Marks the Spot. Jot that down. X marks the spot. Do you remember when Christians were freaking out because people started calling Christmas Xmas? Do you remember that? That was before they started freaking out because the world started calling it like happy holidays and season's greetings. You know what I'm saying? This was maybe earlier, where it's like, you know, Xmas.

And like I remember like a lot of Christians really up in arms about that. Maybe you're here. If you are, play cool. Play cool. If that stresses you out, play it cool. Because Christians are like, they're trying to delete Christ from his own birthday! They're trying to get rid of Christ from Christmas. And, you know, let me just say this. On the whole subject of us freaking out about the world doing certain things, I think that we have, as Jesus followers, we should have the relaxed confidence that comes from knowing that God's in charge. Like the relaxed confidence. Like we shouldn't be so jittery, you know? Normally, I don't say this, but, you know, maybe switch from caffeinated to decaf sometimes. Like I do think sometimes with Christians, there's this is up in armsness about everything. Like this sky is falling because it's season's greetings or happy holidays. I think at the end of the day, if I read the back of this book correctly, He wins in the end. So, I mean, I think, along the way, we could just, all right, but that's a whole different sermon on us and culture, but I remember specifically when I was hearing a lot about that. Can you believe it?

And I remember I would post just on stuff back in the day, like Merry Xmas. And I would get this, how long do you have? I don't need group therapy just from anything I post on the internet, but, you know, you write Merry Xmas, and it's just like this quick, don't you dare say Xmas. And I don't ever really respond to haterade, but what I would say if I did respond to a comment like that is this, that X has historically been shorthand for Jesus and the cross. So that's what I would say. Xmas actually, you see, X is actually a cross. Just so we're both clear on that. It's two intersecting lines that cross in the middle. So an X is a cross, but X has been, throughout history, a shorthand way to describe Christ because, in Greek, Christ starts with a letter that looks to us like an X, because in Greek, if you want to make a ch sound, that's actually a letter called chi, which looks like an X.

So Xmas is Christmas, and the cross is at the center of it. So maybe it's more spiritual than any other way to say Merry Christmas. And if you freak out about happy holidays, holiday means holy day, so like just chill out for a second. But, OK, so all I'm trying to say is X stands for Jesus. X stands for Jesus. But what does X stand for? In math, x stands for the unknown. X stands for a variable that you're trying to figure out. It's something they are trying to understand. So in algebra, and I don't have a lot that I could bring to you by way of illustrations from algebra, but I can tell you that x stands for what you're trying to figure out or the unknown. So that's appropriate as we just kind of begin this conversation about what it means that Christ was crucified, what it means that Jesus died on the cross. Why? Because X, or the cross, is simultaneously one of the most recognizable symbols in the world, right? I mean, a cross is one of the most, you know exactly what that is when you see it.

When you see it on a building, when you see it on a Bible, when you see it on a necklace, when you see the cross in art, you know exactly what that is. When you see the emoji of the cross, you know that's a cross. That's a cross. So it's up there with like the McDonald's logo, probably, and the Apple logo, as far as like just logos that you see in life in the world. But at the same time, it's perhaps one of the most misunderstood symbols that you could possibly ever see as to its exact meaning. But it is crucial, crucial for us if we're Jesus' followers to have a clear understanding of what the cross is, of what the cross means. It is crucial that we understand what the cross is and what the cross means. It is crucial that we understand what the cross is and what the cross means. What is it? It is Crucial. Do you know what the word crucial comes from? From the cross. The word crux, in Latin, just means cross, and both our words in English, crucial and crux, actually speak of the cross.

When we say something is the crux of the matter, like oh yeah, it's great, great, but what's the crux of the matter? What we're saying is what's the cross of the matter. When we're talking about Christianity, what's the crux of the matter? You guessed it. The cross. The cross is the crux of the matter, meaning if we don't get the cross, we don't understand Christianity. If we don't understand the cross, we don't understand Jesus. If we don't understand the cross, we misunderstand completely the nature and scope of what He came to this earth to accomplish. And it's been said, oh, He just came to give us some good teachings and give us His miracles, and what an inspiring example. He wanted us all to wear a bracelet around that would ask the question what would Jesus do. No, no. He said it Himself best when He said, I came to suffer and to give my life as a ransom for many. The reason Jesus came, the crux of the matter, it's crucial that we understand what He came for was, well, X marks the spot. That's what He came for.

If we're calling ourselves followers of Jesus, the crux of the matter, the heart of the issue, at the end of the day, the irreducible minimum, is the cross. Paul put it this way when he spoke to the Corinthian church. He said, I just committed among you not to even know anything except for Christ and Him crucified. Because he knew Corinth was a city full of wisdom, and sophistication, and excess, and the who's who, and the what's what. And Paul, by the time he was 20, had the equivalent of two PhDs, just so we're clear. Paul could throw down if you want to use some big words, right? By the time he was 20, all right? But when he got to Corinth, he just recognized that people loved big argument, loved to get into a big heady philosophical debate. He said, I'm not even going to talk nothing except for Christ and Him crucified because that's what this thing is all about. It's the old rugged cross.

Four things I think that you need to know about the cross. Number one, it's anchored to a fixed point in history. When we say the creed, we actually now say someone's name. We've already said born of the Virgin Mary, so we talked about a person. We spoke about her last week, and we maybe cleared up what we think about Mary scripturally. But now, we need to address this dude who shows up now. Suffered under, what's his name? Pontius Pilate. Now this is really a big deal. There's a lot that could be said, and I've preached over the years. I was actually looking back all the different times I've preached about Pilate, and preached from John's gospel, and preached through.

I spent one time 10 weeks in a row just preaching about the cross, and, you know, lots of things can and should be said about this guy. I mean, you think about the tragic decision he made to wash his hands of the decision of Jesus or so he thought. He called for water and, dramatically, famously, he washed his hands of the decision about Jesus, not understanding the way to be forgiven of sins is not with water. It's actually by the thing he was trying to clean off of his hands, the blood of Jesus. I'm telling you something there. There is more cleansing power in one drop of Jesus's blood than all the waters in all the oceans on all the world. I'm telling you something. Forgiveness doesn't come from getting rid of Jesus, but embracing Jesus.

And so a lot should be said about Pilate and could be said about Pilate, but what I want is leave you with, because we're talking about foundations here in the series, is the fact that by introducing his name, those who wrote this creed and the apostles really essentially did is they preached, and preached, and preach, and preached. And what they preached was condensed down to this sticky, sticky statement, the creed, that would be so easy for even an eight-year-old to walk away with an understanding of what Christianity at the end of the day is all about. They were anchoring it to a specific point, a fixed point in history, which is distinct from legend, isn't it? When you're making something up, what do you say? Well, how does every Star Wars begin? A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

If you were making this up, that's how you would tell the gospel story. A long time ago in a country far, far away. That's not how this reads. Under Pontius Pilate. We can figure out who that dude was. Get on Wikipedia. He lived from 30, he was the fifth prefect of Judea from 26 A.D. to 36 A.D. So we know exactly when he reigned. He was under Tiberius, the emperor of Rome. And when this was being preached and when this was being communicated in the early days, people could go and check on this stuff. You see what I'm saying? And by specifically saying, this is when Jesus died, this was happening politically, here's where it took place, it was a challenge to anybody who said, I don't believe that. I don't believe in it. They're saying, go look into it.

Matter of fact, one time, Paul was standing before a king, and he was talking about Jesus. And he was talking about the cross, and he said, you've heard of this stuff. Don't pretend like you haven't. These things were not done in a corner is how he put it. These things were not done in a corner. It was done openly and publicly. It was done right over there. So go look into it, dig into it, and that is to say, our faith invites investigation. We're saying, here's where it took place. Look into the records. Look into the manuscript evidence for the New Testament. There are over 5,000, by the way, from just 70 years after Christ. I mean, look into it. Compare that to the manuscript evidence for The Iliad and the Odyssey. Look, compare that to Julius Caesar's Gaelic Wars and the fact that you have as far as 1,000 years separating the oldest manuscript from when it was written.

With Jesus, it's 70 years, and we have over 5,000 manuscripts of these documents, the New Testament, that when compared, they are almost identical in like 99.5% of issues. And the differences we do have come down to really spelling, punctuation, and slips of the pen. So I mean we're talking about the fact that we have a faith that you can look into, that holds up to scrutiny. I'm telling you something. We don't have a faith to be ashamed of and treated like it was some sort of myth like Paul Bunyan. This is anchored in a specific point in history. He suffered under who? Pontius Pilate, the fifth prefect of Judea under the reign of Emperor Tiberius in the Roman Empire. This is when this happened. This is who was in charge, and this is how it all went down.

That's the first thing you know about the cross. It was a specific event that actually happened. Second thing. Jot it down. It was the most shameful and painful death imaginable. To die in the cross was to die in the most painful and shameful death a human could devise. I pastored a church once, and in that church, there was a Brazilian sandalwood guitar type wood that was in a cross that was on the platform. And at one point, we were moving things around, and some people were saying, could we do this to the stage? Could we do this to the environment? And they said, oh no, no, no. The people who gave that cross, they are big givers. And if you get that cross, they are going to leave. Everyone's going to be mad. You will have so many problems if you move that cross because it was this piece of art. It was attached to someone's gift, and it was this beautiful, precious thing.

And they were talking about how hard it was to get people's hands on the wood that was purchased for that. I got a whole sermon on that too, but let me just say this about the cross. It wasn't a beautiful piece of art. It was an exotic wood imported from Brazil. When we're talking about the cross, we're talking about a way to put someone to death that was as barbaric as any you could possibly conceive of. It was originally invented by the Persians around 400 B.C. or so, but it was perfected by the Romans. When I say perfected, I mean they had a lot of practice. By the time Jesus Christ was ministering in Israel, it's estimated that around Judea no less than 30,000 people had been put to death by crucifixion.

Just in one fell swoop when Jesus was a little boy, Herod the Great died. And at the time that he died, there was a big rebellion that sprang up in Galilee. And to quench the rebellion underfoot, they crucified 2000 people just in Galilee, and that lines up historically during the time period when Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would've been coming back from Egypt. So you can imagine them coming back with this little dude from Egypt to grow up in Nazareth, and some 2,000 people on crosses dead or dying all over the place. One person said it's no exaggeration at all to say that Jesus Christ lived his entire childhood and life under the shadow of the cross. It wasn't some isolated thing.

That's what they did for Jesus. They cooked it up just for him. It was a way that Rome sent the message, we're in charge. You see, Israel was an occupied country, and they kept the peace by making an example of anybody who defied Rome in any way. But it was against the law for a Roman citizen to be crucified. It was considered beneath any Roman citizen, so it was what would happen to slaves and what would happen to rebels. And it was meant to cause a person to die in the slowest possible, most shameful public ridicule type of way imaginable. And, of course, it involved nails through the hands and nail through the feet, and it was always preceded by whipping, or as it's been called to be lashed with the Roman flagellum, which was a whip that had leather lashes 18, 24 inches long with bits of bone, bits of glass, or a little pieces of nails embedded in the ends.

And they would rake it across the back over and over again, causing sometimes internal organs to be exposed, sometimes eyes would be gouged out, sometimes just the act of being whipped would actually take the person's life, and so they would endure that. But then nailed to the cross, they would be raised up in the air. And then began the slow death by suffocation. You see, when all your weight's on those injuries, you can't breathe properly unless you push yourself up, which means standing on the nail that's between your feet. And so you'd have to go now slide your way up the cross.

Now, remember your back is torn apart, and it's on this rough wood that last week someone died on, right? This wasn't some, like they didn't throw the cross away and get a new one. They would, with a crowbar, pry out the nail, and the next person, while likely still stained with the blood of the previous person, is now being used. And so you have this person. It could last for days, days, going up and down, and they always chose to crucify in the most conspicuous places because they wanted as many people as possible to have to see it, to set the maximum fear, the tone of fear. If you mess with Rome, this is what's going to happen to you. And that's why Jesus's cross, they would always put the crime on the top of the cross, and Jesus's, we're told, was in three different languages, right? It's like when you go to Disneyland. They're saying the instructions in Spanish. A lot of people are listening to the instructions.

So you have at a thoroughfare where major roads go by the crucified person hanging on to dear life as he just suffered there to breathe and just people are coming and going. Someone said it would be like seeing in between a Starbucks and a Safeway someone hanging from a noose struggling to breathe. That's what Jesus endured. This specific point in history in the most shameful and painful death imaginable is what he endured. Third thing you know about the cross is that Jesus's cross was vicarious, voluntary, and victorious. Vicarious, voluntary, and thirdly, victorious. What does vicarious mean? It means in place of someone else. We would talk about a parent maybe living vicariously through their child as they go to study abroad for a year, or go on some epic trip, or accomplish something.

You know, in a good way, I'm living through you in this experience. When we talk about the cross, we're literally talking about Jesus doing something on our behalf. We get to vicariously live through him because on that cross he vicariously experienced something on behalf of us. in fact, Corinthians puts it this way. On the cross, God made Him, who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Our sins that we've all committed, they all have, what the Bible describes, as the wages of sin, which is death, deadness on the inside. And that deadness that separation from God is what Jesus was experiencing on the cross, which is why the physical pain, as bad as it was, the physical as horrific as it was for Him to be going up and down the cross for hours in mind numbing pain. That paled in comparison to what He was actually experiencing that caused Him to cry out, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

By the way, the only time in Jesus' entire life He didn't call God the Father. He called him God. He always called Him my father, my father, my father. But on that day, He called the Father God, showing distance, showing separation. Why? Because He was experiencing what it's like to be separated from God. Someone said He experienced hell on our behalf on that day at that moment for each one of us because hell is not just a place. Really, at its essence, hell is being separated from God, cut off from God, to whom to know is to know life eternal. So in that moment, what He recoiled against, what caused it to be worse than sweating drops of blood, and having his back whipped, and nails put into his hands was being separated from God. And He did that for you. And He did that for me.

It was vicarious. He was treated like we deserved to be treated so that we could be treated like He deserves to be treated. That's what it means to be a substitute. It should be me, and it should be you, but He paid a price He didn't owe because we owed a debt we couldn't pay. It was vicarious. But it was voluntary too. You see, no one made Him do this. In fact, as He died on the cross that day, there were people jeering at the bottom who were shouting out, if you are the Christ, if you really are God's anointed, then come down, and we'll believe you, completely misunderstanding that the reason He stayed up was because He was the Christ. He could have come down at any moment.

In fact, in His earthly life as he spoke about the cross, that was one of the themes that came up again, and again, and again, that He was doing this with no gun at His head. He was doing this because of a reason, a very specific reason, that we'll talk about in a moment. But in John 15 put it this way. He said in John 10, rather, not 15. 10. "No one takes my life from me. I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again". Listen to me friend. It wasn't nails that held Jesus to the cross. It was love, love for you and love for me. So it was vicarious. He did this not for any sin He committed. He did this for sin we committed. It was voluntary, but lastly, it was victorious. He accomplished something. It was a transaction that was made. It was a debt that was paid. It was a victory that was won on that day.

And we're told that specifically again and again throughout the Bible that on this day, there was a great victory. On this day, there was a great celebration. On this day, what the enemy thought he accomplished was turned around and used to accomplish something else. Now, to understand that, you have to understand a little bit about the history. You see, this was the same place geographically that Abraham, and the great test of Abraham's faith, where he was told, offer your son up to me. And when he was willing to do so, God stopped him and said, you don't need to offer your son up. It was a test. He said, God will provide Himself as a sacrifice. And on the same exact mountain, where Abraham didn't need to offer up his son, God was showing, I'm willing to give my son. I'm willing to give myself.

We're willing to do what Abraham would not be able to do, and that is to provide this payment, to provide this restoration, to provide this way of salvation, this way of escape. So there was a fulfillment of that. But, then, historically as well, we know that David, when he took the city of Jerusalem and made it the capital of the nation, he brought with him, this is a little bit gory, so hang on for the ride. It is not what they're teaching in Sunday school. He brought with him the head of Goliath the Philistine that he had removed from his shoulders way back long ago in 1 Samuel 16. He kept it, and legend says he buried it at the same exact spot where Jesus Christ died on the cross. You have to understand. It's symbolic, but it's also appropriate because at the cross, Jesus Christ cut the devil's head off with his own sword, just like David did. Because David killed Goliath with a slingshot, but he cut Goliath's head off with Goliath's own sword because there was no sword in the hand of David.

And so it is when we talk about what Jesus has done, the Bible says, through death, He destroyed the one who had the power of death. That is the devil. You see, as He hung there on the cross, the devil thought He had defeated Jesus. Turns out, that was actually the weapon that Jesus came to defeat the devil with. He crushed the head of the devil. He defeated the one who all our lives has had power over us, who talked us into sinning, and then condemned us for our sin. So it was vicarious, it was voluntary, but it was victorious. And that victory, that celebration, that ring out through the corridors of heaven and hell alike the moment that Jesus Christ died with the thundering words, it is finished. And the Bible says that there was a celebration over the enemy, a celebration over the dark one, who thought he won the moment Jesus Christ left. And that took place when Jesus descended to the dead.

Now, that phrase means two things. It means, number one, that Jesus died all the way because it actually means descended to Sheol, as the Old Testament would refer to it, or as the New Testament would call Hades, which is as distinct as distinct from Gehenna, which is what always Jesus talked about as the part of the afterlife that involves suffering. Gehenna would be what you and I would describe as hell. In the New Testament before Christ died, hell was just what they said as all of the afterlife. But there were two compartments in hell before Christ died. There was where the righteous who believed in Jesus went and the unrighteous went. And Jesus Christ, the Bible says, when he died he descended to the dead, meaning he died all the way. It means he wasn't Princess Bride talk of mostly dead. He left his body.

So descended to the dead means he died all the way, leaving his body, and his spirit went to where dead people go, the afterlife. But then, the Bible actually tells us Jesus promised to the thief on the cross, today, you'll be with me in paradise. And there was a promised bringing of those who from the Old Testament to the beginning, who believed in God, who believed through faith, just like we are, because no one in history has ever been saved except by faith in Jesus. But they were saved on credit because he hadn't made, it was layaway. You see what I'm saying? He hadn't made the payment yet, so Him coming to the afterlife and sort of plundering the grave in that way was Him getting the souls of all those who believed in God's promises all through the Old Testament and bringing them with Him to paradise, which is where the thief on the cross showed up just a minute ago just as all the buses were arriving from Sheol.

Hello, somebody. And the thief just shows up. He had just seen Jesus die and now welcome into paradise, and the Bible says for everyone who believes in Christ today and dies absent from the body, present with the Lord in a place called Paradise. Why? Because of the victory that was accomplished at the cross. Now, X. We began with X. The cross. X is a symbol for the cross. It's a symbol for Jesus, but X is also a symbol for the unknown and for the thing we're trying to figure out. And that's why we spent the last 15 or so minutes trying to get our heads theologically around the cross. What does it mean? What are the implications of it? So those two things should frame what has represented our time together. It's the unknown, and it's Jesus. We need to make it our goal to understand who Jesus is and what the cross is all about. But if we are pirates, an X would be the thing on the treasure map we would use to mark where the treasure's at.

And I believe that that's essentially accurate as well. That because of what Jesus accomplished on our behalf, because of what Jesus did in the spiritual realm, because of His perfect, sinless life and the payment that He made on the cross for you and for me, the X is, in fact, the place, where the treasure's at. X marks the spot. All the things you're looking for in life, all the things in life that you're making your little dotted lines going around trying to find, the things you're looking for, the things you don't understand, I'm telling you, they're at the X. They're at the rugged cross. X marks the spot. What you're looking for, hungry for, searching for, X marks the spot. But if you go to the X, it's only good if someone put some treasure there.

And I'm telling you something. If you go to the cross, if you go to this gospel message, Christ and Him crucified, I'm going to you, you're going to find what was left for you there. You're going to find that treasure buried for you by Jesus. Three quick things that I think that Christ put into this treasure that's there standing under the cross. Number one, forgiveness. That's the obvious one. Someone said one time, forgiveness is our greatest need because guilt is our biggest problem, and all of us have a guilty conscience. All of us have done things that are wrong. And in the cross, we find not just forgiveness. We find so much more than that. We find forgiveness, yes, in that we're pardoned for our sin, but the gospel message of substitution and this vicarious atonement is so much bigger than that.

I've spent all week long just absolutely blown away preparing for this and just really hoping that God will explode over your heart like it has in my heart. You have to understand, when we talk about Jesus hanging on the cross and paying for all of our sins, that's only half of the substitution. You see, because He was willing to stand before God like you should, you now get to stand before God like He does. So what that means is, like in a soldier vocabulary, this isn't just like you're no longer going to stand at a court martial for crimes that you committed. You've been pardoned of those things. But now, you're going to get the Congressional Medal of Honor. That's a better description of it. You're not just not going to answer for your charges, your sins that you've committed before God, but you also are going to stand before God and go, I'm not going to be a faced with charges.

That's great! God's like, yeah, but come to the medal ceremony because I'm going to give you the Congressional Medal of Honor. You're like, I didn't do nothing. That's all right because all I see on you is what Jesus did. All I see on you is the righteousness of Jesus. So forgiveness, but so much more than forgiveness. There's also wholeness. Wholeness. We get to be made whole as we were created to be bearing the image of God, stewards over creation, not worshipping created things, but worshipping the creator God and having a part in the universe that makes sense with the design that God gave to it. This is what the cross speaks of when it speaks of God through the cross reconciling all things to Himself.

You see, our plan the gospel to get us to heaven is true, but not enough because that's just part of the story. Where the Bible ends is back on this planet, back here in bodies living forever on this planet restored to the perfection of Eden without anything that sin brought to the table. And our parts now in the story is to be a part of God releasing that glory back into the world as He originally put it. In fact, Colossians 1:20 puts it this way. "And by the blood of his cross, everything and heaven and Earth is brought back to its original intent, restored to innocence again"! And through the cross, we have the assignment that God has given to us of helping other people see the beauty and the majesty of Jesus and His love for each of them.

2 Corinthians says, "God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing". When you wake up tomorrow, what God wants to be on your heart as you work, and as you live, and as you play, as you do business, in everything you do to see it being a part of the assignment that you could help other people understand the power and the love of God in their life. So what is the cross? It's vicarious, voluntary, and victorious. It's where the treasure's at. X marks the spot.

And then, lastly, fourth point, it was predicted ahead of time specifically. And this is really important, and we keep coming back to this because it is so important and so satisfying, I think, intellectually for those who have doubts and to understand why do we believe these things. A big part of it is because of the way the Old Testament prophecies ring true in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. For example, Isaiah 53 tells us this, speaking before Jesus ever showed up on this earth. It's been called the greatest Old Testament description of Our Lord's death.

He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weakness he carried. It was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. Beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's plans to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all, the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone, but he was buried like a criminal. He was put in a rich man's grave, but it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made in offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.


And this detailed description that is like reading John's gospel all over again was written 700 years before Jesus was born. And yet, every meticulous detail, buried in the grave of a rich person, surrounded by criminals, again, and again, and again, and again, and again, 700 years before Christ. Go to Jerusalem. You can go to the museum, and you can see with your own eyes a copy of Isaiah's gospel from 150 years before Christ was born. 150 years. Now, you only have to make a bet two minutes before the fight starts, all right, to be right, to win. And you can literally, there is this scroll so old. It's not a copy of a scroll that old. There's this scroll 150 years before Christ was born. It was found in 1947 by two shepherds somewhere near the Dead Sea.

They were throwing rocks. One of them went into a cave, broke a piece of pottery. They went inside and found all these long scrolls rolled up. They started playing with it like it was a stick, and they were using it like a cane until someone realized what they had. It has been called one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of our time. And it's literally in a museum right now. 150 years before Christ, a copy of a book, oh and by the way, when they compared it to the copies that we were using at the time, copies of copies of copies, it was almost identical in every way. They say like 99 point something percent, the same as the one. The Bible that you have has an Isaiah that's the same as the one that was in Jesus' Bible, and it's the same as the one that Isiah wrote. And it's been verified by historical find after historical find. But the point is, this thing that we're celebrating, God called his moves out ahead of time, and you can have confidence in believing.

And you should look into it if you have more questions about that. Now, how is this week preparing for this message about God the Father, who loved the world so much that He sent His son? And those two are both a part of this. Let's not have the idea that God's this angry vengeful God who just wanted to fry us all and send us all to hell. But someone was like, no, dad, they're awesome. I promise. No, I'll die for them. That's not the picture. And anybody who's ever held their own child in their arms understands that. This cost God just as much. This cost the father just as much, maybe you could argue more pain that this was their plan from the beginning of the world. That God loved you so much He was willing to see His son suffer like this. That the son loved you so much that He went through with this. It was the love of the Father and the Son working together at the cross that day through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

All of God loving you so much, this was what happened. As I was prepping this message, I was sitting by a fire, and I was writing this talk. And I opened up my phone just for a minute, and I saw like many of you saw this week this video from Tennessee of this father who came home from war to surprise his son. He was 10 months overseas, a staff sergeant in the army. His son was at a Taekwondo practice and sparring with the instructor. And part of the practice was to blindfold the son and have him spar with the instructor without his use of sight, and it was all prearranged at a certain point for the sparring partner to step out. Son has no idea his dad's come home from war, and the dad's going to step in and begin sparring with his own son. And this, I'm literally writing this message, God the Father loves you, and this is what I see.

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Give me a second. I felt like for someone today God wants you to understand, and all your objections, and all the reasons why you're unwilling to give your heart to God, and all your objections to Jesus, and the suffering you've experienced, and you're fighting because you're angry about these injustices. You don't understand, and these things that have happened, and these hard things you've been through. And I feel like what God just wanted you to understand is you're fighting against your father. So here's why you should go to the cross: to get treasure. And here's why Jesus was willing to go to the cross, because you are His treasure.
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