The Attraction of the Cross

March 8, 2020 ()

Bible Text: John 12:20-33 |


The Attraction of the Cross | John 12:20-33
Brian Hedges | March 8, 2020

Turn in your Bibles this morning to the Gospel of John, John 12. While you’re turning there, let me relate a story that I remember reading years ago. It was a story about a church (I think it was somewhere in New England) that had above its front door an inscription with these words, “We preach Christ crucified.”

On the front of this church was a vine growing, kind of an ivy that was growing on the walls, and nobody seemed to notice that over the years this ivy, this vine, began to creep over some of the words on the sign, so that the word “crucified” was covered, and it just read, “We preach Christ.”

Of course, eventually the vine grew and it covered “Christ,” and it just said, “We preach.”

It was something of a metaphor for what was happening in the church, where the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified gradually was eclipsed. They were talking about Jesus, but not the cross; but eventually even Jesus was left out.

So often that can happen in the church, and it can happen so subtly that we drift away from the message of the crucified Savior, the message of the cross. Yet we know that right at the heart of the Christian faith is the message of the cross. You remember that the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2 that “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified,” and in Galatians 6 he said, “May it be that I boast in nothing except for the cross of Christ.”

One of the ways that we can keep from drifting from that focus on the cross is by studying the Gospels, because when we study the Gospels together the cross is constantly coming into focus. In fact, someone once said that the Gospels are not really biographies of Jesus; instead they are passion narratives with extended introductions, because about half of the Gospel narratives tend to take place in the last week of Jesus’s life, and what is leading up to the cross.

We’ve been seeing in the Gospel of John, in this short little series we’ve been doing in John 11-12, we’ve been seeing the turning point. We’ve been seeing the events that actually lead to the cross, we’ve been seeing the turning point in this final week, or leading right up to the final week of Jesus’s life. Last week we looked at the triumphal entry, when Jesus rides into Jerusalem, and this morning we’re picking up, also in that narrative, some of the passage that we looked at last week, but I want to dig in a little bit deeper to some of Jesus’s words in the latter half of this, in John 12. We’re going to be in John 12:20-33.

It’s really about the cross.

That becomes pretty clear as we work through this passage. The word “cross” doesn’t appear, but by the end it’s pretty clear that Jesus is talking about his impending death and what’s going to take place in that. So I want to organize our thinking this morning around the cross, and I want you to see three things in this passage:

I. The Necessity of the Cross
II. The Achievements of the Cross
III. The Attraction of the Cross

I. The Necessity of the Cross

Okay, first of all, the necessity of the cross. We’re going to pick up in verse 20, and let me just read verses 20-22, because this gives us the setting. This is just right after, chronologically, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

Verse 20 tells us, “Now among those who went up to worship at the feast [this is the Passover] were some Greeks.” So these are non-Jewish people. “So these [the Greeks] came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.”

Here are non-Jewish people who come to Jerusalem during the Passover. Perhaps they were God-fearers, maybe they were those who worshipped the God of Israel without being Jews themselves; but they’ve heard about Jesus, they’re interested in Jesus, and they come looking for Jesus.

I don’t want to pass over this too quickly. It’s interesting to me that when they come to Philip, Philip goes to Andrew, and Andrew then comes to Jesus and tells them about it. You’ll notice in the Gospels that Philip and Andrew are almost always doing this. They are pointing people to Jesus, bringing people to Jesus. They have this evangelistic heart. I wonder how many of us are Philips and Andrews ourselves, where we are seeking to bring people to the Savior.

Well, that’s what they do. They tell Jesus about these Greeks who wish to see them. But Jesus’s response is really interesting. In fact, we don’t even know if Jesus saw them. It doesn’t say that he saw them. Instead, what we have is an extended reflection here of Jesus on his own life and the time of his life, and it shows us something about the necessity of the cross.

Jesus's hour

I want you to see what Jesus says in verses 23 and 24. This has to do with his “hour.” “Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.’”

Do you remember maybe 20 years ago when it became really common for businesses and even for people to write mission statements? Remember this? It was kind of the buzz in the business world, was writing mission statements. People still do that. Maybe you’ve written a personal mission statement.

Well, right here you see Jesus’s mission statement beginning to unfold. He says this is the hour for which he was born. If you were to ask Jesus’s mission statement, it wouldn’t have had anything to do with success in the way we term it today. He essentially said (in fact, this is a quotation from another passage) that “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to [give his life as a] ransom for many.” That’s what he came for. He’s talking about his hour, he’s talking about the reason for which he has come. He says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

But then he gives a picture of what this glorification is going to look like, and it’s going to be as a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, and this is what’s coming in Jesus’s life.

Now, if you’ve been tracking with us at all in the Gospel of John you know that this word “hour” is a key word in the Gospel. It starts even all the way back in chapter 2, and you can kind of trace how Jesus describes the hour through this Gospel, and how it hasn’t come, it hasn’t come, it hasn’t come; but now you have the turning point.

In chapter 2:4, at the wedding of Cana in Galilee, when Mary his mother comes and tells him they’ve run out of wine for the feast—remember what Jesus says? He says, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” What did he mean by that? Well, he was looking ahead to this climactic point in his life when his glory would be most fully revealed.

In chapter 7:30, people are trying to arrest him, but no one can lay a hand on him, because, it says, his hour had not yet come.

You have the same thing in chapter 8:20, when he had spoken words in the treasury of the temple. He’s taught them, but no one can arrest him. They want to, they want to get rid of him, but they can’t because his hour has not yet come.

But now we get into John 12, and Jesus says the hour has come. What is the hour? It’s the hour to be glorified, but he will be glorified in only one way: he will be glorified through the cross.

This is confirmed in chapters 13 and 17. Chapter 13 says, “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come—” notice this “—to depart out of this world to the Father—” again, looking to his death “—having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

Then one more passage, chapter 17:1. This is right at the beginning of Jesus’ great prayer that encompasses all of John 17, what we sometimes call his high priestly prayer. Notice what Jesus says. “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.’” Then in John 18 he is betrayed, in chapter 19 he is crucified.

It was necessary, in other words, for Jesus to be crucified in order to fulfill his mission, the hour for which he had come into the world; in order to be glorified and in order to glorify the Father. Jesus’s hour points to the necessity of the cross.

Jesus's distress

Not only that, you see the necessity of the cross in Jesus’s distress in verse 27. Look at this. He says, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”

Now, this is, I think, important, for us to just pause for a minute and notice what Jesus says when he says that he is troubled. One of the commentaries tells us that this verb is a “strong verb that signifies revulsion, horror, anxiety, and agitation.” Jesus is distressed! He says, “My soul is troubled.” He’s looking at the cross, because this is the hour for which he has come into the world, and he’s troubled by it. He’s anxious about it.

In fact, this is the same word that Jesus will use when he speaks to his disciples in John 14:1 and he tells them, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” but Jesus’s heart is troubled right here. Jesus is distressed.

It’s so important for us to grasp this, because it reminds us of the truth of Jesus’s humanity. There was an ancient heresy called Docetism. You don’t even know what that word means, but essentially it taught this: it taught that when Jesus came to earth he didn’t really have a human nature; he was really God in a phantom body. He was kind of like God in a man’s suit. The closest parallel might be, actually, the Superman mythology, you know? Superman. He looks like one of us, but he’s not really one of us. He has all these superpowers, he’s basically invincible, basically invulnerable.

That is not what the Bible teaches about Jesus. He wasn’t just God in a man’s suit! He was truly God, but he was also very man of very man. He had a true human nature.

I like the way Calvin put it. Calvin said, “Christ put on not only our flesh, but also our human feelings.” He put on our human nature. He took the whole human nature to himself. That’s why he says that he is troubled, because he knows what it is to be touched with human emotions.

In fact, I want you to get this: does this remind you of another time when Jesus says he is troubled, just a week later in Gethsemane? Do you remember this? It’s actually less than a week later; just a few days later. This would be Thursday night, and he’s in the garden of Gethsemane. His soul is sorrowful, exceedingly sorrowful, and great troubled.

I want you to get this: not only in his soul troubled here, but it is a recurring dread. Now, there are some scholars who would look at this and they would say, “No, John here is just giving us his version of Gethsemane, and there are discrepancies in the two accounts, but they’re essentially the same thing.”

But I don’t think you can do that if you take these words at face value and you look at the chronology and you look at what’s going on. He’s not in a garden. He’s not praying in a garden. This is probably on Palm Sunday, it’s not on Good Friday; and his soul is troubled here. That means it was a recurring distress that he felt, and he felt it most acutely four days later, when he’s in the garden.

Why is this so important for us? It’s important, first of all, for our salvation, because as one of the church fathers, Gregory of Naziansus, put it, “That which he has not assumed he has not healed, but that which is united to his Godhead is also saved.” Naziansus was defending the truth that Jesus had not just a human body but a human soul, and he said that he had to have a human soul in order for the human soul to be redeemed. Only by being fully incarnate in our human nature could Christ redeem our human nature, save us, and heal us.

It’s important for that, and it’s important because it shows us the pattern of how we also are to handle suffering. We don’t do it with some stoic defiance against any feelings of emotion; no, like the Man of Sorrows himself we express our troubles, but we entrust our distresses to the Lord.

Jesus's prayer

We see Jesus doing that in verse 28 in his prayer. Look at his prayer in verse 28. He says, “‘Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered, but others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’” So evidently some people heard something, but they couldn’t make out exactly what was going on. “Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not mine.’”

This is one of only three times that we know of as recorded in the Gospels when God actually speaks audibly to Jesus. Do you remember the first time? It’s at his baptism, when he’s baptized in the Jordan River and the Father speaks, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The second time was on his transfiguration, when Jesus was transfigured before three of his disciples up there on the mountain. Again, the Father speaks, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

Here the Father speaks again and says, “I have glorified my name, and I will glorify it again.” It’s exactly the confirmation that Jesus needs as he approaches the cross that he dreads.

Why does he dread the cross? I mean, many martyrs have gone to their death with smiles on their faces, with peace in their hearts—even among non-Christians! Socrates drinking the hemlock; he does it with complete peace. But here’s Jesus, and he’s dreading the cross, he’s distressed; why? It’s because of what will take place on the cross. It’s because of the judgment he will bear. It is because of the sins that he will bear and the punishment of those sins. It’s because of the mighty conflict before him. It’s because of what he will achieve on the cross.

II. The Achievements of the Cross

That leads us to the second point. We see the necessity. It’s necessary for the glory of God. This is why Jesus came into the world. Now we see what it achieves.

Here I just want to focus on verses 31-32, and I want you to see three achievements of the cross. This is Jesus himself explaining what’s about to happen. Notice this is impending. He’s right upon it. He says, “Now is the judgment of this world. Now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” Now, because the hour is come. The now is speaking about the cross that he’s about to approach.

Then verse 32, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Then John the apostle gives us commentary to clarify what’s going on. Verse 33, “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”

This is a prediction of the cross. Jesus is telling us that he’s going to the cross, he’s going to be lifted up, and he tells us three things that he will achieve through the cross. Let’s look at each one of these quickly.

(1) First of all, the judgment of this world.

“Now is the judgment of this world.” What does that mean? How is it that the cross is the judgment of this world? I think it is so in two senses.

It is, first of all, the judgment of this world because when Jesus was crucified, the world was essentially rejecting him. It was rejecting its Creator. You remember how, earlier in the Gospel of John, we read that light has come into the world, right, but the darkness has not responded to this light. The darkness has rejected the light. Men love darkness rather than light. They rejected the light. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but there is this theme throughout the Gospel of John where Jesus comes, he comes to his own but his own do not receive him. He comes as light into the world, but the darkness rejects the light. People love their deeds, the deeds of evil, rather than the light, so they hide from the light. They’re rejecting Jesus.

In doing that, what are they doing? They’re saying something about their own wicked hearts. The world when it rejects Jesus pronounces judgment on itself, and when Jesus was crucified it was showing the evil and wickedness of the world. This was the most heinous act that has ever been committed in all of human history. The most terrible form of violence against the most innocent and worthy person who’s ever lived. In doing so by crucifying him, the world was pronouncing judgment on itself.

But I think there’s more to it than that, because on the cross the world was judged in the person of the representative for the world. Jesus comes not only as God’s representative, but as ours.

Listen to what Bruce Milne says in his excellent little exposition of the Gospel of John. He says, “The cross judges the world, and within that lies the judgment of every one of us. But in the wonder of the divine love of God, the Son comes not simply as the representative and agent of the Father, but as the representative of God’s rebellious subjects. In the cross he reveals not only the guilt which makes judgment necessary, but in place of the guilty he bears the judgment for us.”

So here you have substitution, where Jesus bears our judgment. The cross is the judgment of the world, because Jesus himself bears the judgment that we deserve, as he dies on the cross.

(2) Secondly, you have the conquest of evil.

Notice the next phrase. “Now is the ruler of this world cast out.” Who is the ruler of this world? We know from other passages he’s talking about Satan. Satan is the ruler of this world. Satan is described as the god of this world in 2 Corinthians 4, described as the ruler of this world in both chapter 14 and chapter 16 here in the Gospel of John. I think here he’s talking about Satan as the god of this world, the ruler of this world, and how through the cross Jesus wins the decisive victory over him. Satan is cast out. The word cast out is the word that’s often used in the Gospels for exorcisms, when Jesus would come and he would exorcise demons. But now he’s saying Satan himself is going to be exorcised, he’s going to be cast out. The ruler of this world is going to be cast out.

This shows us one of the important truths about the cross, one of the important truths about the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.

Throughout history there have been different theories of the atonement. There have been some people who have emphasized the substitutionary aspect of the atonement, that Jesus died for our sins. That’s certainly biblical. We believe that with all of our hearts.

There are some people who have emphasized the exemplary nature of the atonement, that Jesus died to be an influence upon us, to show us the love of God, to be an example to us. Scripture teaches that as well.

There have been many who have emphasized what’s called the Christus victor theme, the victory of the Christ. It’s the warfare theme, it’s the idea of the King who comes to battle for us and defeats the evil one. That’s certainly here in this passage.

The church father Irenaeus put it this way. He said, “The work of Christ is first and foremost a victory over the powers which hold mankind in bondage: sin, death, and the devil.” Well, we see that victory as Jesus comes to the cross in order to cast out the ruler of this world. He defeats the evil one. He defeats Satan.

(3) The exaltation of the Son

The third thing we see in the achievement of the cross is in verse 32, when Jesus says, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” This is the exaltation of Christ, the exaltation of the Son.

I think there is here an intentional double meaning in that phrase “lifted up.” It’s been used a couple of other times in the Gospel of John, but it really owes its background to Isaiah. As we’re going to see next week, there are all kinds of themes from Isaiah running through John 12. I think right here it’s an echo of Isaiah 52:13, which is the beginning of that fourth and final servant’s song. We know Isaiah 53, “He was wounded for our transgressions,” right, “he was pierced for our iniquities.”

That song begins in Isaiah 52:13 with these words, “Behold, my servant shall act wisely. He shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.” But notice what being lifted up entails in verse 14. “As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations.”

The servant of the Lord will come and he will be exalted, he will be lifted up, but his appearance will be marred. People will be astounded. Why? Because he’s going to be pierced, he’s going to be wounded, he’s going to be crucified. Because of that, many nations will be sprinkled, will be atoned for.

I think that’s being echoed right here, so that the lifting up is both the exaltation of Christ and it is the crucifixion of Christ. In fact, it is exaltation through crucifixion.

To confirm that, just look at one more passage, John 3:14-15. You remember this? Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus in John 3, and you remember what he says? He says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Do you remember how the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, the brazen serpent? Do you remember that story from the Old Testament? God’s people murmured against him, so as judgment God sent these poisonous serpents into the camp, and they’re biting people and people are dying. They’re languishing, they’re sick, they’re dying, and they need a remedy! What’s the remedy? God tells Moses to make a serpent of brass and to put that serpent on a pole. It’s a symbol of both their sin and their judgment, but when the people look at the pole—all they have to do is look—if they’ll look at the pole, if they’ll look at the serpent on the pole, they will be healed.

It’s an amazing type of Christ: Christ crucified, showing us our sin, showing us the judgment we deserve, and yet we look to him and we are healed. So Jesus is exalted, and he is exalted through crucifixion.

Again, to quote Bruce Milne, “The elevation onto the cross is to be understood as the exalting of the one who reigns.” Listen to this. “The cross is a throne; his crucifixion is his coronation. He reigns from the tree.”

What does the cross achieve? The judgment of this world, the conquest of the evil one, and the exaltation of the Son.

III. The Attraction of the Cross

Thirdly, I want you to notice the attraction of the cross. There was a book written in the 19th century by Gardner Spring, a great preacher, called The Attraction of the Cross. That’s a wonderful phrase, isn’t it? I’m drawing it out of verse 32, where I just want to focus for these last few minutes on this simple phrase. Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth [in crucifixion] will draw all people to myself.” “I will draw all people to myself.”

Spurgeon said, “Let it not be forgotten that the power of the gospel lies in that which certain persons count to be its weakness and reproach. Christ dying for sinners is the great attraction of Christianity.”

This is a mystery, isn’t it, that God establishes his kingdom, but he does it through the cross. The cross, on the one hand, is a stumbling block to people. It’s an offense to people. It is the stumbling stone. People stumble over the crucified Messiah. How can a King be crucified and be victorious? Yet that’s the mystery of the gospel.

The mystery is that while it is an offense to some, it is an attraction to others. Jesus says, “When I am lifted up from the earth in crucifixion, I will draw all people to myself.” What does he mean? Let’s just take that apart.

What does that word “draw” mean? It can mean anything from dragging a net across a shore to drawing someone by wooing them to yourself. I think that’s the connotation here. It is the magnetic pull of Jesus as he draws people to himself.

You remember in John 6:44, where Jesus says, “No man can come to me unless the Father who has sent me draws him.” The Father is drawing in John 6, but now it’s Jesus drawing in John 12. It means to be wooed to Christ, to be attracted to Christ. It shows us something about how the Gospel works. Listen: it’s not so much that people are driven to Christ; they are drawn to Christ.

You know, the law can shows us our sin, the law can show us what we ought to do, the law can show us our condemnation, but the law can never save us. The law drives us, but only the gospel draws us. We are drawn when we see the crucified Savior.

Here’s one of the best illustrations of this I know. Do you remember the stories about David Brainerd? He was that missionary to Native Americans that Jonathan Edwards knew. Jonathan Edwards wrote a biography of him and edited his diaries. If you’ve ever read anything in the life and diaries of David Brainerd, it’s so moving. Here’s a man who died of tuberculosis when he was a very, very young man, and he literally spent his life to take the gospel to these Native Americans.

But there’s a place in his journals (I think this was in 1745) where a revival broke out among the people. He had been preaching to them, but listen, he’d been preaching law, he’d been preaching on hell. It would scare them, but they wouldn’t quit drinking. They wouldn’t change! But one day he preached, he said, “Not a word of terror, but on the contrary, I set before them the fullness and all-sufficiency of Christ’s merits and his willingness to save all that came to him, and thereupon pressed them to come without delay.” He said, “Many people were deeply affected.” It was preaching Christ, it was preaching the cross; that’s what brought the change.

It reminds us of what our message must be. Our message is the crucified Christ. That’s what draws people.

Notice that it is Christ himself who draws. He says, “I, when I am lifted up, will draw…” Then notice who it is he draws. It says, “I will draw all people to me.” All people. What does that mean?

Well, in the context, remember that the Greeks have just come. In fact, I’ve noted this many times in this series, that there is this thread running through the Gospel of John that Jesus is the Savior of the world, he is the Lamb who will take away the sins of the world. He is the Good Shepherd who will bring sheep who are not of this fold, not of the Jewish fold; he will bring them in. He’ll bring in the Gentiles.

I think when Jesus says, “I will draw all people to myself,” he means all people regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity; Jews as well as Gentiles. He means all people without any distinction. It shows us the universal appeal of the cross of Christ. It’s not just for one group, it’s not just for one tribe, it’s not just for one gender, it’s not just for one socio-[economic] demographic of people; it is for all. “I will draw all people to me.”

Then notice how he draws: he draws by being lifted up. He draws through the cross. Is it any wonder, then, that Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1, “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God”?

Finally, one more thing. How does it change us? How does the attraction of the cross change us?

Spurgeon preached a great sermon on this, and I can’t resist. He preached a sermon that was just called “The Great Attraction.” I read it yesterday; it was so good. In his second point, he asks a question. He says, “In what direction does the cross attract?” This is his answer. He says, “In one word, it attracts toward everything that is good and blessed. No man,” he says, “was ever enticed to evil by a crucified Savior. The motions which are properly excited in the soul by the doctrine of the atonement must always be towards goodness. The preaching of the cross does no mischief, its sacred stream bears no man towards the rock of ruin, but its tendencies are everywhere and at all times towards man’s best and happiest estate.”

Then he expounds it in this way. I won’t even give you quotes, I’ll just give you his headings. He essentially shows that the cross draws us from despair to hope. It draws us from fear to faith. It draws us from dread to love, dread of the wrath and judgment of God to love the one who loved us and gave himself for us. It draws us from sin to obedience. How do you get people to stop sinning and start obeying? Through preaching the cross. He draws us from self to Jesus, and he draws us from earth to heaven.

In other words, the cross has this magnetic, attractional power to draw us to Christ, to draw us out of ourselves into the Savior, to draw us from our sins to holiness, to a life of love and obedience and devotion to God; because when we see Christ crucified and the Spirit opens our minds and our hearts to receive that truth—when we see it, when we believe it, it changes our hearts.

You know, even on a natural level, we know the power of self-sacrifice. I didn’t write any of this down, so I may get some of the details wrong, but did anyone see the movie a few years ago, the war movie, called Hacksaw Ridge? Did you see that movie? It’s my favorite war movie.

It’s about this guy who’s a conscientious objector during World War II. He doesn’t want to fight, he doesn’t want to carry a rifle. He was a believer—Seventh-Day Adventist, but he was a believer, and he has a conscientious objection to war. But he wants to go in as a medic. They finally let him. He goes in as a medic, and he goes to—I think it was Okinawa; it was one of these islands in the South Seas.

The Allied troops are just being devastated; they’re just being massacred. They’re up high on this plateau, this cliff, and everybody leaves, but he keeps going back, and he keeps going back, and he keeps going back. The line in the film, he’s going back to get more people, and he’s praying, and he says, “Lord, help me save one more. Help me save one more. Help me save one more.” You can’t watch that without crying, because you’re so moved by the self-sacrifice!

But listen, that is nothing compared to the self-sacrifice of Jesus, who died on the cross to save sinners. That’s why it’s so attractive. That’s why the distinguishing, main attraction of Christianity is a crucified Savior, and it’s why we must never cease to preach—not just preach, but preach Christ; and not just preach Christ, but preach Christ crucified.

Let me ask you this morning, have you been drawn by the attraction of Christ and his cross? Do you see why the cross was necessary and what the cross achieved, and will you this morning, if you never have before, will you respond to the crucified Savior, the one who died for sinners? Will you respond in faith and in repentance? Will you look to him and be saved? Let’s pray.

Gracious Lord, we thank you for the cross, we thank you for your love that led you to the cross. We thank you for all that you accomplished on the cross. We’ve only scratched the surface of it this morning. We thank you for the magnificence of your good and gracious and loving heart. It astounds us, because when we look at ourselves, we don’t see anything worthy of that kind of love. We thank you just the same. We thank you that you chose to glorify yourself through loving and saving and redeeming sinners like us.

Father, I pray right now for any who do not believe, that today would be the day where it makes sense, things click, and where the cross becomes irresistibly attractive. I pray for all of us who are believers this morning, that our hearts would be freshly wooed by the dying love of Jesus, and that even as we sing about this love, as we celebrate this love, as we come to the Lord’s table this morning, that we would do so with our hearts moved and affected. May we not just be passive observers or spectators, but instead may we be participants in this grand drama of redemption. May we see that it was for us that you died. It was my sins that nailed you to the tree. May we see that your death was the price of our redemption, and therefore you are worthy of all of our love, all of our devotion, all of our worship. Everything we could ever offer to you, you are worthy of it, and may it be the glad offering of our hearts.

So draw near to us we pray in these moments. May this be a time of real fellowship in our hearts with you, we pray, Lord Jesus. We pray it in your name, Amen.