How To Approach Jesus

I. INTRODUCTION
The title of the Communion this morning is “How to approach the Cross”.
We are going to examine a passage in Luke 23 and talk about how to approach the cross

LUKE 23:26-46
26As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30Then ” ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ‘ 31For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” 36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

WE ALL APPROACH JESUS FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES AND BACKGROUNDS. BUT REGARDLESS OF WHO WE ARE, HE STAYS THE SAME!

II. SIX CHARACTERS

IN THIS PASSAGE WE SEE SIX DIFFERENT CHARACTERS THAT APPROACH JESUS.

1. SIMON (CURIOUS)
His distant curiosity was turned into involuntary participation.
He was forced to approach Jesus.
This “viewer” was coerced into Serving Jesus.
This casual follower was compelled to intimate contact with the cross of Christ.
What was Jesus’ response? He accepted this man’s service. In fact, he placed his name in the Holy Scriptures.

2. WOMEN (HUMANISTIC)
They felt bad for Jesus. They felt sad for Jesus.
Their eyes were on this present world and its suffering.
What was Jesus’ response? He reminded them of the truth. He called them to think of the spiritual battle.

3. SOLDIERS (CALLOUS)
Their hearts were so hard that they couldn’t tell apart death/torture from childish games.
What was Jesus response? He prayed for their sad souls that the Father would somehow find the compassion to forgive them.

4. RULERS/LEADERS (INFLUENTIAL)
Power & Influence can blind our hearts.
Sometimes we can have very little patience or empathy with those who appear weak in our eyes.
What was Jesus response? He kept quiet. He had no need to prove anything. In fact, the crucifixion WAS the proof.

5. FIRST CRIMINAL (GUILTY & BITTER)
He hurled insults at Christ.
Sometimes when we feel pain, we project our self-hatred on everyone around us – even God.
This man had so much self-hatred and bitterness towards the mess he had made of himself that he couldn’t even bring himself to be humble even on a cross.
What was Jesus’ response?
No accusations. No anger. No frustration.
In fact, he REMAINED HOPEFUL – that this man would change his heart and repent.

6. SECOND CRIMINAL (GUILTY & HUMBLE)
Matthew tells us that both men hurled insults originally.
Yet Luke points out that one criminal got humble.
What was Jesus’ response? He gave him eternal life!

III. HOW ABOUT YOU? HOW DO YOU APPROACH JESUS?

ARE YOU THE CURIOUS SEEKER?
Someone who realizes that you are in over your head?
You never planned on actually caring a cross. But here you are!

(SHARE)
That’s me! I was curious and interested. I called myself a Christian. But I never planned on my life completely revolving around Jesus.
Then I attended a Bible Talk in Lewis Lansford’s house – led by David Lewis. He read the medical account of the crucifixion in that group – and it changed my life!

ARE YOU THE HUMANIST?
Someone focused on the sad death of this poor man?
Jesus warns you to think about your own sad death if you don’t follow him.

ARE YOU THE CALLOUSED PERSON?
Do you feel so messes up by sin that your conscience is seared?
Take heart that Jesus prays for you! You are not beyond hope.

ARE YOU SOMEONE WHO DRIVEN BY THE NEED TO INFLUENCE OTHERS?
Are you someone who finds it difficult to empathize with the weak and needy?
I often like to give my opinions.
These guys liked being influential, but they no longer were allowing their own hearts to be influenced by what they were witnessing.
Even the Centurion was moved by what he witnessed in how Jesus died.
But these men no longer allowed themselves to be influenced – even by the cross.
I see this as a warning for you and for me.
Guard your heart – and observe the cross.
Read about it over and over till it sinks in.
And leave room for God to move.
Let the cross influence you.

ARE YOU THE GUILTY & BITTER?
Someone who hates himself and God so much for the mess he’s in.
Just look at the other criminals around you who have repented and been forgiven.
They are all around you in this room!

ARE YOU THE GUILTY & HUMBLE?
Then praise God that your heart got soft.
Now keep praying that it stays soft.

PERSONAL SHARING
Now someone will share about how she approached the cross.

IV. PRAYER
Bread
Fruit of the Vine

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