One of the great questions of history is, “Why in the world did the early Christians adopt the cross as their main symbol?” Do you realize why that is so odd? On the cross, Jesus died at age 33 in agony, abandoned by everyone in his life. All the other founders of religions died old and “successful.” For example, Buddha lived to be 80 years old and achieved enlightenment. And Muhammad lived into his 60s during which he united all of Arabia under one faith. There is a vivid contrast with the picture of Jesus. Why in the world would anyone look at Jesus dying on a cross and say, “That’s the life I want to live. That’s the one I want to follow. That’s the faith for me”?
On the night before he died, Jesus gave his disciples the explanation of the meaning of his death in the upper room. When it was all over, they remembered it and they accepted it. It changed them. If you see what Jesus says to them and you take it in, it will change you too. There are four things which are life-changing about Jesus’ death: 1) it is the center of history; 2) it is the foundation for a radically new, profoundly different community; 3) it is the solution to the great mystery; and 4) it is appropriated personally.
This sermon was preached by Dr. Timothy Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on April 6, 2003. Series: “The Meaning of Jesus Part 3; Seeing Him.” Scripture: Luke 22:14-34; Deuteronomy 26:5-9; Deuteronomy 16:3; Luke 2.
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