Sermon by Dr. E. Dale Locke
Lenten Series, Week 3 – The Cross
Lent is a time for introspection, a time to prepare our heart and renew our commitment to Christ. In this Lenten sermon series, we are looking at some of Jesus’ most difficult moments on earth to see what we can learn from how He handled them.
Week 1: Jesus and the desert of temptation – Jesus defeated temptation privately before beginning His public ministry.
Week 2: Jesus and the Garden of Gethsemane – In times of great anguish, our own strength will not be enough. We need friend, and we need God.
Today: Jesus on the cross – Before we can really celebrate the resurrection at Easter, we have to acknowledge that there has been a death.
- Ice breaker: Pastor Dale started out talking about “brand loyalty.” Do you have any favorite brands that you are loyal to? If so, tell us what it is and why you love that brand.
- In the context of talking about “brand loyalty” Pastor Dale said, “We are people of the cross.” What did he mean by that kind of brand loyalty? How do we live that out?
Read Philippians 2:1-11:
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Read Hebrews 12:1-3:
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
What questions or comments come to your mind as you read these two passages?
- What do these two passages tell us about Jesus’ experience of death? How was it unique?
- In Hebrews 12:2 it says that Jesus scorned the shame of the cross. What does that mean, and what motivated Jesus to do that?
- List all of the ways you can think of that Jesus sacrificed and suffered in order to make salvation possible for you.
- In God’s original plan, death was not supposed to be part of human experience, so death is unnatural, painful and difficult for us. It was human sin that brought death into this world. What does it express about God that He was willing to experience death Himself, even though it was our fault that death is part of our world?
- Pastor Dale said, “Be careful about sin, because sin has the power to kill you twice.” What did he mean by that?
- Read Hebrews 12:3 again: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Take some time to “consider Jesus” and what He has done for you. What comes to your mind?
- Both of these passages urge us to “imitate Jesus”. What aspects of Jesus’ life can we imitate in our world today?
- Pastor Dale pointed out that Jesus didn’t use the word “Christian.” Instead He asked people to “follow Him”. How is it different when you understand that the Christian life is actually about following Jesus – not just about “being a Christian”? What are the implications of following Him?