Looking Toward the Cross

Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus said, "Listen, we're going up to Jerusalem, where all the predictions of the prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true. 32 He will be handed over to the Romans, and he will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon. 33 They will flog him with a whip and kill him, but on the third day he will rise again." Luke 18:31-33 NLT

At the height of His ministry and mass appeal, Jesus shocks His disciples by telling them He was headed to Jerusalem to face mockery, cruelty, physical brutality, humiliation, and death. The disciples were stunned upon hearing this. Verse 34 states: “But they didn't understand any of this. The significance of His words was hidden from them, and they failed to grasp what He was talking about.”

These disciples were expecting an earthly Messiah and couldn’t bring themselves to picture Jesus being tormented in this way and being put to death, especially on a cross. This was a death reserved for the worst criminals of that day. How or why would the Messiah die a cruel death like this?

Sadly, many people find themselves in the same predicament as the disciples. They won’t or can’t understand the significance of the death of Jesus on the cross and fail to grasp its meaning. They struggle with the how and why of the cross as well.

In the above passage, Luke explicitly states that the things that were going to happen to Jesus were all predicted hundreds of years earlier by the Old Testament prophets. Nothing that He was going to face was going to take Him by surprise. Everything they predicted would come true, to the smallest detail, including the manner of death on the cross.

On March 8, we are beginning a sermon series leading up to Easter called “Looking Toward the Cross.” We will examine four Old Testament prophecies and Jesus’ own prediction about His impending death. The Old Testament prophets were looking to the cross. Each has specific details about the death of Jesus.

The very first prophecy in Genesis 3:15 describes the enemy (Satan) of Christ (her Seed) “bruising the His heel” as He crushes the “head” of the serpent.

Psalms 22 begins with the cry of Jesus from the cross: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” What follows this cry in the Psalms is a description of the mockery and humiliation of Jesus, including “casting lots” for His garments. It also provides an extremely accurate description of the physical agony on the cross: “they pierced My hands and My feet.”

The Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah beginning in 52:13 through chapter 53 portrays the beating of the Servant so severely that he could not be recognized. The prophet tells us that we are healed “by His stripes.” Not only that, but even more surprisingly, He was being punished by God for our sins.

Finally, in Zechariah 13:6, the Messiah is asked where He obtained the wounds in His hands. His reply: “I was wounded in the house of my friends”. The Messiah would experience betrayal from one of His own and His disciples would scatter when the Shepherd is “struck.”

All of these prophecies were fulfilled by the death of Jesus on the cross, just as they and Jesus predicted. It is our hope and prayer that we will all look toward the cross and what Christ did for us. It is our prayer also, that we would point others to look toward the cross as well to find meaning in the how and why of the cross.

I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor.

Jeff

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Durham, NC 27712

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