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Watch 2022 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Complete the Cross

Steven Furtick - Complete the Cross

Steven Furtick - Complete the Cross

We are in the middle of something, and that's where God is. That really blesses me to know that. Waiting for the finished product until I can have joy, have peace, trust God, and be happy doesn't sound very promising to me, but if God is an ever present help in times of trouble… That's one thing the Bible says about God. If he'll walk up to me in the middle of a storm, if he'll be with me in the middle of the fire, if he'll split the sea so I can walk through it and drown my enemies behind me, I can keep moving forward with the faith that God has my back in every situation. I think the idea of process has really been challenging us, and celebrating our progress rather than awaiting our perfection is revolutionizing… Autumn and I talk every week. She has been in our church 11 years, and she's like, "I never have seen Jesus in the way that I've been seeing him in this series". She grew up… She's such a church girl, y'all. I mean, seriously. She has Leviticus memorized in Hebrew. She's like, "It's just opening my eyes". That's the revelation factor.

Today, I want to talk about revelation in the context of relationship. Please write this down. The greatest pain and pleasure you will experience in your life will be in the context of relationship. One of the words Jesus spoke from the cross is commonly called the word of relationship. We're going to deal with that today, but I've been using a flashback technique. I try to be creative in the way I present the Word. I don't know if it makes sense to everybody else, but just ways that make it exciting for me, because I figure I ought to like my own sermons. If nobody else does, I'll subscribe to the podcast. I've been looking at Luke 24, these two people. One is called… We call him Cleo. His full name is Cleopas. He has an unnamed traveling companion. They're going the wrong way to a no-name village called Emmaus. I mean, it has a name, but you can't find it.

If you go to the Holy Land today, they'll say, "We think this is where Emmaus was," but they don't really know where it was. It wasn't some major metropolitan area where commerce happened. It was where they lived. They were going back from the scene of the cross, where they had watched their hope extinguished and had watched the one they thought might be the one die, and they were burying their dreams along the road when the one whose death they were mourning walked up right beside them, and they didn't know it. So they're walking back the wrong way, and there's this whole thing about why would Jesus follow people who are headed in the wrong direction. Why would he leave the 99 righteous to find the one? Why would he come for the sick and not stay with the well?

I think that's one thing we misconstrue about God's presence in our lives, that he's going to be with us as long as we're doing what he told us to do and going where he told us to go, and yet we're surprised by the grace of God busting up in the middle of our conversations and our hopeless situations and chasing us down to the wrong destination so he can turn us around. When they got where they thought they were going, they saw who Jesus really was, and I think they saw it in his scars when he broke the bread, which is an everyday event. You eat every day. God is often found in the common parts of our lives. Seeing where he had been wounded and now seeing his scars, which were the greatest demonstration of his strength that proved his resurrection, they had their eyes opened, and he was revealed and recognized by them in that moment. One thing I didn't point out that I think is very important… I'm going to read the text and emphasize certain words and see if you can find the theme.

The Bible says in verse 32 that after they recognized Jesus… You know, you have these moments where you're like, "Oh yeah, that was God". "Oh yeah, that was God who had him break up with me. He was broke. God was looking out for me". But sometimes you don't see it on the road; you only realize it in reverse. You see their picture 10 years later, and you're like, "Oh, thank you. Mother Mary". They're like, "Oh, that was him. That was the one we were crying over, but he's not dead; he's risen". Look at this. I'm going to emphasize certain words. Verse 32: "They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?'" Are you noticing anything? Okay, one more verse to make sure you get it. "They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together…" Their revelation of Jesus was completed not in the context of their conversation with him but in the context of their conversation with each other.

This message is called Complete the Cross. It is meant to confront some of the things we say in church that sound spiritual but really make no sense in real life, things like, "All I need is Jesus". "As long as I have Jesus, I don't need anybody else". I understand the spirit of that, that he is the most important, and "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you," and "When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up". I know those Bible verses too, but even Jesus needed a team. It is significant, I think (maybe you don't think so), that he revealed himself to two people, and they talked with each other, and it was in talking with each other that they figured out who he was. For all of us who think all we need is God and Jesus, the last time I checked, the cross had two beams. This one is the main one. We have to get that right, but it's not a cross until it does like this.

Sometimes the reason we like to say things like, "All I need is Jesus" and "All I need is God" is because as long as we keep the context of our relationship limited to an invisible God, we don't have to deal with people. We can kind of manipulate our image of God into somebody who is comfortable for us to relate to. Then you'll start saying things like, "Well, nobody else gets me, but God does". You're all this. That's awesome, and I love it, but I want to talk a little bit about this, the relationship that is a little bit harder. To do it, I want to remember what happened on the cross. I wonder when Cleopas and his unnamed companion are walking back… The Bible says they got up and turned around. They thought it was the end; it was really the beginning. They had watched Jesus die on the cross. Watching him die, they thought, "This is it," but heaven is watching and saying, "No". When he said, "It is finished," that was just the beginning.

Come on. I need somebody who traveled six hours or more to know that where you are right now is not the end of what shall be in your life. I feel like preaching to somebody who has your head hung down. You've been in Emmaus long enough. You have a round-trip ticket. They turned around and went back, and the Bible says the road they walked was seven miles. We've been using each of the seven miles to represent a different word Jesus spoke from the cross. There were seven of them. The word of forgiveness: "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do". Or the word of salvation: "Today you will be with me in paradise". I wonder if they were having a flashback of what happened on the cross. That's not a bad thing to do, by the way, to have a flashback every now and then to strengthen your faith, to remember what really happened on that cross. I mean, what really happened, beyond the crown of thorns that marked his brow, beyond the sign that Pilate put above him in three different languages that said, "King of the Jews," the title he used to mock him, which was actually announcing him.

Sometimes the insults people will say about you are the greatest compliment they can give you. I mean, beyond that, what really happened on the cross, what happened down in my soul when my shackles fell off, when my shame was nailed to those beams, and the chastisement that brought my peace was upon him on the cross. On the cross. That's where my sin is. On the cross. That's where my mistakes are. On the cross. That's where my second guessings and second givings are. That's where all of my regrets are redeemed. On the cross. That's where I hung all of my fears, all of my doubts, and all of my failures. It happened on the cross. I wonder if they reflected on the road on what happened on the cross, and I wonder now in the light of his resurrection if they reflected on his death differently, to know that what had caused them to hang their heads and walk away was actually the greatest proof of his love.

When I need to know that God loves me, I don't look at what's happening in my life. I flash back to what happened on the cross. That's where it was settled. That's where it was nailed down forever. He's always good, and he does good. He showed it to me on the cross. On the cross. That's where that thing the Devil is tormenting you with that's down deeper than anybody else can see should be hanging. It shouldn't be hanging around in your heart and soul. It should be on that cross. I feel kind of old-timey today. I don't feel very modern today. I feel like going and putting my eyes on the middle man, the one who hung there because he loved me, the one who could have dispatched 12 legions of angels but hung there on that cross for me. It was his love that held him there on the cross. So that's the first picture. I wonder if they remembered what happened on the cross, because they were actually at the cross. Maybe not actually in the general vicinity, but they were at the cross.

I've heard sermons and seen movies about what happened on the cross, and sometimes it makes you feel kind of sentimental. Sometimes it makes you feel kind of sick. What happened on the cross went far beyond what a film camera can present in 24. What happened on the cross is the release of the freedom God wants to produce in my life. I think there's something to be seen… Not just what happened on the cross but who was at the cross. I mean, we know who was on the cross between two thieves, but at the cross. To get a clear picture of this, you have to do a little bit of study. Don't worry. I already did it for you, so I'm going to tell you. You don't have to look anything up. I looked it all up this week while you were doing your real job.

It was interesting, because I was putting together what Matthew said, what Mark said, what Luke said, and what John said. They're all telling the same story but from a different perspective, and they're describing the cross. When it came to exactly what happened at the cross, Matthew didn't have a lot to say, because he wasn't there. He was there for the fish and the loaves, so he can tell you about that. He was there for that water-walking thing, where Peter got out of the boat, because he's kind of crazy and isn't content to just sit in the boat. He has to do something special and spectacular. He was there when Peter almost drowned himself and Jesus gave him CPR, but when it came to… Isn't it funny how the cross will thin out a crowd? It was really loud on Sunday when Jesus came into Jerusalem. I mean, deafening. They were crying out something. They were saying, "Hosanna". It means "save now," and that's what they wanted him to do: to save now. But when he died, it deferred their hope.

So as he hung there, the crowds that were there to be fed and taught by his hand were kind of quiet at the cross, kind of quiet where he died, kind of quiet where he suffered. It was really loud when he was teaching. "Preach, Jesus"! Can you imagine Jesus' front row? "Blessed are the poor in spirit". "Preach, Jesus"! I mean, if the Word was preaching the Word, that would be kind of cool to witness. It would probably be exciting. I'm just saying. You'd probably shout. You'd probably jump up. But when he came to his cross, the crowd wasn't so loud. Oh, by the way, something Peter proves to us is that those who are the loudest are not always the most loyal. When it comes to the cross, Matthew tells us something so disturbing. I imagine it must have hurt him to write this, because Jesus had done so much for them. They really believed in him, and I think they really wanted to follow him, but they could only go so far, and then he came to the cross. The cross is confusing, because it's not supposed to end like this. The cross is confusing, because if he really is who he says he is, how can he be hung up there to die in this kind of humiliation?

Matthew says that at the cross everybody deserted him, all twelve. Remember, he had a team, a really big team…until it came to the cross. Sometimes circumstances in your life will show you who was really with you because they loved you and who was really with you because there was something they got from you, and the moment they don't get from you what they wanted from you… That's really painful. That's a hard thing. Some people will be with you… What's the saying? "They'll ride with you in the limo, but they won't take the bus when the limo breaks down". I don't know who said that. I think that's from the book of Oprah. It's a good one. Matthew says they all left him. Here's what's interesting. There's one disciple. His name is John. I love John, because he gave himself a nickname. There's a lot to love about John. At the Last Supper, when Jesus is telling the disciples, "You're all going to leave," Peter is like, "Not me! I've got you, bro"!

John isn't saying much, but John saw himself a little differently. Here's what he called himself. How many of you have a nickname that your friends call you and stuff? How many of you gave yourself a nickname? John is so confident he gave himself a nickname. Let me tell you what he calls himself when he writes about himself in the gospel according to John. How's this for a nickname? "The one Jesus loved". So not, "Hey, I'm John". "Hey, I'm his favorite". I love John. It's a certain kind of confidence that he has. He doesn't need to say much with his lips to prove his loyalty. He's just there. When John writes his gospel, he's like, "Hey, wait a minute, Matthew. We didn't all run". He describes for a moment who was at the cross, and it's not who you would expect. You're looking for Peter at the cross, but Peter isn't at the cross. He couldn't get past the courtyard. The moment it became scandalous to stand with Jesus and Jesus didn't do it like he thought it ought to be done, Peter started cussing people out.

Maybe you're looking for Andrew at the cross, because Andrew was Peter's brother. He's the one who came and got Peter and said, "Hey, you have to meet this man. He's amazing". And he was amazing…until it came to the cross, and then Andrew was absent. On the day Jesus did what he came to do to begin with, he's calling the roll, and no one is present. That's a bad day for the teacher when the whole class is gone. The loneliness of hanging there all alone… No Bartholomew. No Nathaniel. When I read it, John tells us who was at the cross. There are soldiers gambling for his garments at the foot of the cross, everybody grabbing what they can from him, just like they did while he was living. Just grabbing what they wanted from him. Just like sometimes we come to church and just grab what we want from God. Just grab a goose bump, grab a word. "Oh, I came to get a word". But when it came time to… It was kind of quiet. "Nathaniel! Andrew! Simon the Zealot! James, Son of Thunder! John"! "Here".

Don't you appreciate the people who are just there? It's not who you expect. It's not even the loud ones. Look at who's at the cross. John tells us, because he was there. Matthew can't quite tell us, because he wasn't. Again, he can tell you how delicious the bread was, he can tell you how delicious the fish tasted, but John tells us who was at the cross. I'm going to give you something right now. God gave me something to give to you. You're about to be set free from some things you didn't even know had locked you inside of yourself. You are about to get something from God that is going to release you to love like you haven't been able to love and enjoy the life he died to give you. John says, "Near the cross of Jesus…" Remember, he's on the cross, and now let's see who's at the cross. First of all, his mother. The one who carried him now had to watch him carry her cross that she deserved that he did not.

I think there's a whole message… Maybe I'll preach Mother's Day on this verse one time, because it would be a great Mother's Day Scripture. What kind of strength does it take for a mom to stand there and watch her son die? Completely unable to do anything about it. Just standing there. It says, "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother…" It does not record one word she spoke, but she stood with him. Sometimes the greatest testimony of your loyalty is not what you will say to someone but how you will stand with them. We all have a cross. We all have seasons we will go into that will divide those who are loud from those who are really loyal. Who I see at the cross isn't who I expect to see at the cross. Here's Mary, the mother of Jesus. There's her sister, there's Mary the wife of Clopas, and there's Mary Magdalene. She had a rough life. Jesus really helped her. He cast some demons out of her that nobody else had been able to deal with. That created a kind of loyalty within her. She was like, "Even if all I can do is stand here and cry, I'm not leaving".

Could you get there with God? "Even if all I can do is stand here and wait to see what will become… You can't run me off. You've been too good to me and done too much for me. I'm not going anywhere. You have the words of eternal life. I'm staying near the cross". John tells us, "When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved…" John says, "That's me". "…standing nearby, he said to her, 'Woman, here is your son.'" Watch this. He looked at the disciple whom he loved, the self-proclaimed favorite, and gave him a job. "Here is your mother".

Let's skip the fact that none of us in the room would be able to put aside our own selfishness enough if we were suffering like that to think about anyone else. You know when you're going through something you don't ask anybody how their day is, and if you do, you really don't want to know, and you hope they don't answer you. All you can really handle is… I'm telling you, when you're going through something… You really need to watch for this, because I went through something a couple of years ago with my dad, and somebody gave me good advice. They said, "Don't tell a lot of people what you're going through. Find a few people you can tell what you're going through. Most people are going to ask you. They really don't care". That would have been worth your trip to church today, just to know they really don't mean, "Tell me all about it". They really don't. They see you coming and they dodge you, because your knees have been hurting six months, and it's all you talk about. Your sore back is all you talk about.

How hard it has been with your kids… Most people don't want to know all that, because they have their own stuff. They have their own things they're dealing with. To me, the presence of mind of Jesus… I want to be more like this, because I'm really not here yet, nor am I in the vicinity of this kind of Christlikeness. He was able to look to the needs of others while he died for them. Not after he got up. While he's bleeding for their sins he says, "Hey, look out for her, and you look out for him". He's doing in his death what he did in his life: bringing them together as he dies. "Hey, John. I need you to do something for me. Look out for her". And, "He's your son". That's crazy. Isn't that crazy? I would have been up there… I would not have even seen John standing at the cross, because I would have been so mad at Peter. I would have been so mad at Andrew. Don't even get me started on Judas. I would not have seen John, because I would have been making up my plan for how I was going to get back at Judas.

Sometimes we don't see those who are with us because we can only think of those who left us. I want to declare over your life today God will always leave a John at your cross. You have who you need. You have what you need. If they left you… Who was that for? Be honest about it. You have been so upset about the encouragement you're not getting from somebody you are tripping over the encouragement of 16 other people because you're mad at Bob. Well, what about Bob? If Bob left the cross, reach out to John. There's a John at your cross. I feel something happening in your heart right now. That just set you free. You don't have to worry about who left. If they left, they're gone. If John is at the cross… Besides, why would Jesus be mad at Judas? He needed John to be there at the cross, but he needed Judas to get him to the cross. This is a hard one.

You might have to realize that some of the people you hate the most actually helped you get to the place where you needed to be to do what God called you to do. Do you believe that? Can you receive this? This is a hard saying. This is the kind of stuff Jesus would say and people would just walk away, but Jesus wasn't cursing Judas. It took Judas. It took a broken heart. It took a betrayal. Some of the people who left you were teaching you to love the people who are still there. It took that. It doesn't justify what they did, but maybe I'm going to get mature enough one day where I can be like Jesus and I won't miss John, cursing Judas. I'm going to say this about six different ways before I close to make sure you get it, because that's my message. It takes two. "I wanna rock right now". Touch somebody and say, "I'm not internationally known".

See, when you got it like this… Jesus so knew who he was, and he had so received the affirmation that could only be given in the baptism at the Jordan. "This is my Son, and I am pleased with him". No matter who wasn't there, he was so convinced about who was that he could look at John and look at Mary and give like that. When you really get it like this, when you wake up in the morning and know that God has blessed you to see another day, you will not be needy anymore. I'll say it just like that. You're too needy, and you're too blessed to be this needy. I'm just telling you what God told me. You think it's hard for you to hear? I had to hear it all week. God kept me up all week getting this message ready for you. He said, "I need for your validation not to be in somebody else's mouth. I need your validation to be in that cross. I need you to be complete in that cross".

So if you don't get it from your mom, if you don't get it from your daughter… Sometimes people are giving you all they can give you. They can't give you anymore, and if you don't get it like this, you will never get it like that. You need to set some people free today from not giving you keys to your freedom that they don't hold. You have to release some people from the expectation of perfection. They can't be everything to you. Even John couldn't get him down. All he could do was stand there. I don't want to look to people to do for me what only God can. I don't want to be grabbing for garments at the foot of the cross. If I got it like this, I can give it like that. Whoever this is for, you've been trying to get affection from the wrong direction. You've been reaching for validation in all the wrong places. You're not going to get it like this. That's where you give.

That's where Paul said, "If there's any comfort from being united with Christ…" He's drawing a cross. He's saying this to the Philippian church. You can look it up. It's Philippians 2:1-2. "If there's any encouragement from being united with Christ…" Somebody say, "I got it like that". That's the part we're good at in church. "He forgave me. He saved me. He loves me. He accepts me". Paul says, "If you got it like that, any comfort from his love…" How many are comforted by the love of Christ in your heart today? If you got it like that… "…having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind". I love this next instruction. "…then make my joy complete".

If you got it like that, give it like this. I want to wake up this week and see all of my shame, my need on that cross. I want to receive all of my validation at that cross. I want to carry whatever cross God has given me and not resent the people who didn't give me what I thought I needed. I am complete in that cross. I don't need you to tell me that I'm loved. Maybe it's time for me to tell you that you're loved. Maybe I've lived my life doing this long enough. Maybe it's time to live like he died. At the cross there is John. On the cross there's Jesus. In the cross, here's us. That's where our strength is, not in what people say or don't say.

Do you feel the release in that? When I receive it, I can release it. "God, show me who to encourage today. I don't need anything from you today. Here, I got mine at the cross. I got mine in the presence of God. In his presence is the fullness of joy. I am complete in him. I am the righteousness of God. I am complete. I don't need you to complete me. I am complete in the cross of Jesus Christ. Where he bled it's still flowing today, and it's flowing through me".

Come on, give him 60 seconds of praise for the cross! At the cross! I got it at the cross! That's how I know I'm loved. I got it at the cross. The world didn't give it, and the world can't take it away. Receive this ministry. God is trying to get you to release what you have received. You've been doing it the wrong way. You've been trying to… Receive it; release it. Receive it; release it. Receive it; release it. Receive it from him. Don't try to receive it from them. They are unpredictable and have their own stuff and their own reasons. Receive it; release it.

If you receive this word, lift your hands. Lift them high like you have a Father who loves you and made up his mind about you and isn't trying to decide whether or not to accept you on the basis of your performance. Somebody say, "My righteousness is in the cross". Keep your hands stretched. This is how you live. This is how you get it. This is how you get it. This is how you get it. Not when a group accepts you, not when a promotion comes. This is how you get it. You're going to go into this week with something to give. You're going to go into this week knowing who you are. Lift your hands.
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