Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Climbing Calvary

"And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha." John 19:17
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Could you walk a mile? Sure you can. Could you walk a mile carrying a piece of wood weighing as much as 100 lbs? Maybe you could. Could you walk a mile, carrying a piece of wood weighing as much as 100 pounds and then climb a steep, rocky hill with it? I doubt that you could. But you know what, Jesus did.

After hours of beating and flogging, spitting and slapping, railing and riving, the Roman soldiers hoisted a wooden cross on Jesus' shoulder and prodded Him into marching out of the city walls of Jerusalem. It may have been just the crossbeam, which would have weighed 100+ pounds; or it may have been the whole cross, which would have be at least 300 pounds. They marched Jesus towards a hill the Bible calls Golgotha, the place of the skulls, which is also called Calvary. The exact location is greatly debated, but He likely had to walk at least a mile outside of the city. The gospels, except for John, mention a man named Simon who was ordered by the guards to help Jesus carry this cross. We're not sure if he carried it all part of the way, or helped to carry it all of the way. Nevertheless, Jesus bore His own cross.

It took enough for Him to make it to the hill, but then He had to climb it, with cross in tow. The Romans believed in crucifying on a hill just outside the city so all coming in and going out would see. So step after step, stumble after stumble, legs wobbling, blood and sweat running into His eyes, Jesus walked up that hill. He pushed through the pain and made it to the top, because He knew it was what He had to do.

Here, I won't go into details about what happened next. You know the story. If you don't feel like you fully understand how hard it was for our Savior, you should watch The Passion of the Christ. But, it just really grabbed my heart this morning thinking about how Jesus went through so much so that He could give so much. I mean, seems like if He was going to have to die, He shouldn't have had to suffer before it. Seems like if He had to be crucified, He wouldn't have to climb a hill to where it was going to be done.

But I realize that what Jesus went through physically is a picture of what those who will follow Him will go through spiritually. Sure, compared to what Jesus went through so that we might be saved, we have it easy to receive that salvation. But it's still hard. I mean, its more than just showing up to church, and coming down to the altar and saying that you believe. That's what happens on the top of the hill. But it takes a lot to make it to that hill. Long before I ever made it to the altar about 15 years ago, I had to struggle with bearing my own cross of sin. My shame had beat my to a pulp and my regret had whipped many stripes on my soul. So by the time I knew I needed a savior, meeting Him on Calvary was easier said than done.

That's why now, when I see those who I know want the Lord in their life, but struggle to come to Him, I understand. I know that climbing Calvary is not easy. I know that it's hard to kneel and pray when you're carrying so much on your shoulders. I know it's hard to have faith when so many have broken your trust. I know it's hard to find hope when nothing good can be found in the life around you. But, now that I have made it up on my Calvary, I want to tell you if you are in the midst of that same struggle....Jesus is there waiting, and ...It is worth the climb!

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