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The Fathers Love Letter To You
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John 19:16-37

THE OLD RUGGED CROSS MADE THE DIFFERENCE

Intro: This is a very special time of the year for those of us who know the Lord Jesus Christ. To me, it is far more special than Christmas. As we approach the time when we will celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead, it is a time for believers to think about the things that really matter in life. The things that make life worth living and the things that have shaped us into what we are this morning.

For me, it is a time to remember the cross. It is a time to remember that 2,000 years ago, God loved me so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross so that I might be saved. It is a time for me to remember that, while my upbringing, my education, and my experiences have contributed to who I am, it was the cross os Calvary that made the difference in my life. If you are saved, you will have to make the same statement today!

This morning I want to take you back to that day when Heaven died for earth. I want to take you back to Calvary and show you why the old rugged cross made the difference. If you are saved, I hope you will remember what Jesus did for you that day and I pray that you will fall in love with Him all over again. If you are lost, I want you to learn today that the cross of Calvary can make all the difference in your life now and in your eternity later. As we travel back to that time long ago, and look at a message that is as fresh as today, I want to preach on the subject, The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference. Allow me to make a few observations from this text that tell how and why The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference.

I. V. 16-18 THE TRIP TO THE CROSS

A. V. 16 The Plan Of That Trip - Pilate delivered his prisoner to the cross, but God was fulfilling and ages old plan by delivering up His Son, 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8. Calvary wasn't an accident, it was a divine assignment. Designed to purchase salvation for sinners.

B. V. 17 The Place Of That Trip - "The place of a skull." A place associated with death in the minds of the people of Jerusalem. Yet, it was a place prepared by the Father Himself (Ill. The foreknowledge and planning of the Father!) A place designed to host the death of the Lamb of God.

C. V. 17, 18 The Pain Of That Trip - Verse 17 tells us that He carried His cross to Calvary. The other Gospel writers mention that a man by the name of Simon of Cyrene carried the cross for Him. There is no contradiction! He left Pilate's judgment hall carrying the cross. Simon was recruited along the way to help. John's words bring to mind the symbolism of the cross. Jesus was bearing upon Him the sins of the world! That cross was more than wood. It represented the heartbreak, the pain, the slavery and the debt of sin. That's what Jesus was carrying that day!

When they arrived at Calvary, verse 18 reminds us that Jesus was crucified. They nailed our Lord to the cross with spikes through His hands and His feet. (Ill. The agony of that experience! Isa. 53:4-5; Isa. 52:14.)

D. V. 18 The Power Of That Trip - Verse 18 records that Jesus was "in the midst" of two thieves that day. Friend, when Jesus gets in the midst, things begin to happen! Luke 23:42-43 tells us that one of those thieves came to faith in Jesus that day and was saved. The other died lost, because he rejected Jesus. The truth of this verse is that Jesus can not be avoided. Just like those thieves, every person in this room will make a decision concerning Jesus Christ! He cannot be evaded or avoided. You will decide!

II. V. 19-24 THE TESTIMONY OF THE CROSS

(Ill. Two events occurred at Calvary that day that gave loud testimony to what was taking place.)

A. V. 19-22 The Testimony Of The Writing - Ill. Pilate's sign. Written in Hebrew, the language of religion; Greek, the language of philosophy and culture (Greek was also the language fo the common man!); and Latin, the language of law and government; the sign told all who might have passed by that Jesus was The King of the Jews. The cross of Christ became a giant Gospel tract for all who were passing by.

The importance of this is that Jesus is pictured as a universal Savior. That does not mean that He will automatically save everybody, but that He will save anyone who will come to Him by faith regardless of their social standing or background. He is the Savior of "whosoever will.", John 3:16; Rev. 22:17.

B. V. 23-24 The Testimony Of The Wager - Ill. The seamless garment. The soldiers gambled for it just as the Scriptures has predicted, Psalm 22:18. The picture in this garment is special. First, the seamless garment was to be worn by the High Priest of Israel as part of his ceremonial dress, Exodus 39. This was to remind him that he was going into the presence of God without blemish and without flaw. This was picture of the Lord Jesus and what He was about to do as our Great High Priest, Heb. 9:24-28; Heb. 10:12. Second, just the night before, Israel's High Priest had rent his own garments in the presence of Jesus. This was forbidden by the Law, Lev. 21:10, and was a picture of the end of the High Priestly system in Israel. Also, when Jesus died, we are told that the veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom, Matt. 27:51. This is also a picture of the end of the Old Testament system. When Christ died, He was the only one Whose garments were not torn! This si God's way of picturing for us that the old system had forever passed away and that we now have a new High Priest. He alone is qualified for the job! Thank God, He is even in Heaven this morning carrying out that job for you and me, Heb. 7:25.

III. V. 25-30 THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS

(Ill. Lest we are left to think that Calvary was a place of death and suffering only, we are given three statements made by the Lord while He hung on the cross. These statements teach us the truth that Calvary was a place of triumph also.)

A. V. 25-27 The Triumph Of Compassion - In the midst of His dying hour, with His enemies reveling in His death, and with a little band of faithful followers at His feet, Jesus took the time to make provision for His mother. There are many truths here, bu the one that I want to point out is that even in death, He did not forget others! He was dying to save men and He remembered His mother that day. He made sure that Mary would be taken care of for the rest of her life.

His actions are symbolic of the fact that through His death, those who receive Him enter into a new relationship with God. One in which they too are taken care of forever, John 10:28. He may not have mentioned our names, but we were in His heart and on His mind that day!

B. V. 28-29 The Triumph Of Connection - The next statement from the Lord was "I thirst!" Ill. His agony and the conditions He had endured that day! It is ironic that the One Who created the streams, the creeks and the river, the One Who filled oceans with water, was thirsty that day!

Surely His body was thirsty that day, but there is far more in view here! If you take all the conditions of Calvary into account. If you consider the darkness, the pain, the isolation, the separation from the Father and the physical thirst, Luke 16:24, you get a clear picture of Hell. When Jesus was on the cross, He was enduring Hell on earth. He was suffering our Hell so that we might enjoy His Heaven!

Don't misunderstand me, there is a literal burning Hell where the lost will experience pain, torment, thirst, isolation and separation from God forever. That is true! It is also true that Jesus endured all the torments of Hell while He hung on the cross for you and me. He endured Hell for countless billions of humans in His six hours on the cross that day! He took your hell for you, so that you wouldn't have to! All you have to do is come to Him and be saved!

C. V. 30 The Triumph Of Completion - The final word recorded by John is "It is finished." The is a translation of the Greek word "tetelestai". It is in the perfect tense which means something that took place in the past which had present abiding results. It could be translated this way, "It stands finished and always will be finished!" In other words, Jesus is saying it is "Done!"

This was a common word in that society. It was used by slave who had completed and assignment given to him by his master. He would report back, "It is finished!" It was used of an artist who had completed work on a painting. He would step back and say, "It is finished!" It was used by a merchant who had sold merchandise on credit when the bill had been paid in full. He would write in his ledger book, "Tetelestai! It is finished!"

When Jesus used this word from the cross, He was saying, "Father, I have finished the assignment I was given! I have applied the last strokes to the picture of salvation, it is finished. I have paid the penalty for sin. It is finished!" Thank God, our salvation rests upon the finished work of Jesus on the cross! It is finished! It is done! To be saved, I have to do nothing but lean on what He has already done for me! There is nothing left for me to do!


(Ill. young man, after a revival service, came up to the visiting evangelist and they were getting ready to put up everything for the night. The young man had left after the invitation, under conviction, he had returned at the conclusion of the service and went up to the evangelist and he said, "Sir, what can I do to be saved?" And the evangelist hardly even lifted up his eyes from the work he was doing, he said, "I'm sorry, Son, you're too late." And the boy said, "Surely, surely, that can't be. Surely I'm not too late. You're still here. Won't you tell me what must I do to be saved?" And the evangelist stopped what he was doing, looked at him, and he said, "I'm sorry, Son, you're too late. Jesus did everything necessary for you to be saved 2,000 years ago. All you have to do is just receive His finished work for your salvation.")

(Ill. That is a major part of the good news of the Gospel! It is finished! Are you trusting in the forever finished work of Jesus and nothing else? It's too late for you to do anything else!)

IV. V. 31-37 THE TREASURE OF THE CROSS

A. The Treasure Of Accomplishment - Did you notice that the death of Jesus took place just like the Old Testament Scriptures had predicted it would? His legs were no broken, Psa. 34:20. His side was pierced, Zech. 12:10. In fact, over 300 precious prophecies were fulfilled to the letter during the birth, life and death of Jesus. He accomplished the plan of God for lost humanity so that we might be saved from the penalty, power and presence of sin! He did just what His Father had said that He would do!

B. The Treasure Of Atonement - Verse 34 records the precious truth that when Jesus died, and they pierced His side, blood and water both ran out. This indicates that He was dead before they pierced His side with the spear. Doctors who have studied the death of Jesus and the record of Scripture have concluded that His heart probably burst while He was on the cross. When it did, the platelets and the serum in His blood separated. When they thrust in the spear, blood and water came forth. Jesus literally died of a broken heart! Broken hearted for you!

My friends, that blood which flowed that day was precious blood! It was the blood of the atonement. That blood, and that blood alone, is the price that satisfies God and opens the door of Heaven to those to whom it is applied. There is only one means of salvation! You must be washed in the blood, 1 Pet. 1:18-19. Nothing else that you do and are in life matters until you are washed in the blood, Heb. 9:22. How does one get washed in the blood? When you look to Jesus by faith for your soul's salvation, His blood is counted as the payment for your sins. In other words, the blood is applied and you are saved by grace. The atonement we have through the blood of Jesus is a treasure that is priceless in its value to the human soul!

C. The Treasure Of Access - When that spear was thrust into the side of our Lord, it opened the way to God for all who will come by faith! If you will only believe, the way to God has been opened. The way to Heaven has been paved with blood. Now, there is access to God for "whosoever will". Have you come to Jesus by faith? The door is open for you today, John 10:9!

Conc: Notice what verse 30b says about the death of Christ. It says that He "bowed His head and gave up the ghost." Now, when people die they rarely bow their heads. In fact, it is far more common for people to raise their heads to try and get just one more breath. Not Jesus! When He knew that God the Father had been satisfied and that the price of salvation had forever been paid, He willingly allowed His spirit to leave His body, John 10:18. He died only when He knew that He had opened a perfect way for you and me to be saved!

As we bring these thoughts to a close today, I want to ask you a question. Has the old rugged cross made the difference for you? Have you cast all your hope of heaven upon what Jesus did that day? Are you trusting His death for you as the payment for your sins? Or, are you still trying to do it yourself? Friend, you can't, and you will never be able to provide salvation! It has already been finished! All you have to do is believe!

Does the truth that Jesus did all of this for you move your heart? Are you keenly aware that you need to be saved today? Would like to be free from your sins? Would like to be sure that you will miss Hell and go to Heaven when you leave this world? If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes". Then you need to move from where you are and come down to where I am. We will take the Bible and show you how to get to God. The old rugged cross can make all the difference for you, but only if you will receive the finished work of Jesus as your own. Will you do that right now?



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