"A Victorious Mountain"

Preached by on February 16, 2014
— From the series,

"I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary." It is a wonderful song. But the name we are more familiar with is Golgotha. It was here on a "hill" outside of Jerusalem that the price for sin was paid.

A Victorious Mountain

 (Luke 23:33-43)

Introduction:

A.  It was outside the city of Jerusalem.  It was a hill.  It was a place to execute those who committed crimes worthy of public death.  The Hebrew and Aramaic wording is “Golgotha” and the Latin word is “Calvary.”  They all mean the same – place of the skull.

B.  Why in the language of the Greeks and Hebrew was it called such, we don’t know.  It was a place just off the road.  It was intended to be public and to cause those killed there to face shame and reproach.

C.  There are death’s that are worse in pain and suffering than crucifixion.  So way is this hill far away so important to us?  Because the man who hung on that cross was dear and precious to us.  That makes all the difference in the world. It wasn’t just the person on the cross, it was what the person on the cross did.  The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is of first importance to us as Christians.  It is the core of the message of the Bible.  If there is one sermon we need to hear, it the sermon of the cross and the empty tomb.

D.  Because of Jesus and that hill far away we are victorious.  We have become greater than that what we could have on our own.  As Paul would write, “May I never boast, except in the cross of Jesus Christ.”

I.  The Old, Old Story

A.  Jesus knew this day was coming.  He spent time in prayer with his father asking for any other way to save mankind.  But there was none.  Judas, with a kiss, handed Jesus over to his enemies.

B.  First was a trail before the Jewish court in which Jesus admitted his deity as the Son of God.  That was enough for them to shout that he was blasphemous and to call for his death.  But they could not kill him legally.  For that it would take the Roman seal of approval at the hands of Pilate.

C.  So these religious leaders hired liars to stand up in that court and falsely accuse Jesus, but even Pilate saw that Jesus committed no crime and as a just man.  But keeping people happy was more important than truth and the life of one man.

D. “On a hill far away stood and old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.  And I love that old cross where the dearest and blest for a world of lost sinners was slain.” (verse 1)

E.  It was not just a simple death.  He had already been spat upon, mocked and flogged with a whip.  He had already been humiliated and treated as criminal, but now, to make his punishment known, Jesus would be forced to carry his own cross to the Place of the Skull (our hill far way).  “O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, has a wondrous attraction for me.  For the dear Lamb of God, left his glory above to bear it to dark Calvary.”  (verse 2)

F.  Once at Calvary Jesus was placed upon the cross and spikes, probably about 7 inches long were nailed into his hands and feet to hold the weight of his body while he slowly suffocated to death.  That hill so far way held more than a person.  It held my sin.

G.  Peter would write of Jesus and the cross, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; his wounds you have been healed (1 Pet. 2:24).”

H.  “In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see.  For ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.”  (verse 3)

I.  There, hanging between two thieves, Jesus would cry out seven statements.  He would call upon God to forgive us for acting out of ignorance.  He would cry out to God as he felt alone.  He would show his humanity of thirst and his love for his mother.  He would forgive a thief and finally he would die.

J.  “To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, Its shame and reproach gladly bear.  Then he’ll call me some day to my home far away, where his glory forever I’ll share.”  (verse 4)

 

II.  Why The Importance?

A.   The story of the cross is far deeper than just a beautiful song.  On the cross we find someone willing to die for those of us who don’t deserve it.  Paul would tell the church in Rome, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6).”  Understand that Jesus didn’t die because you were good enough.  Jesus didn’t die when you were powerful enough to do it on your own.  Jesus died when we were without power, when we were ungodly and did so to demonstrate love.

B.  On that cross the love that was shown was in the form of forgiveness.  To the world, the cross is foolishness.  But to us the cross is forgiveness.  The blood on the cross can save a thief.   The blood on the cross and save a murderer.  The blood on the cross save the addict, the liar, the gossip, the drunkard – me.  I deserve that cross.  “The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).”  But the Passover lamb, the Lamb of God, was slain to forgive my sin and to welcome me to come home through faith, obedience, repentance, and by dying to self and being born again.

 

III.  A Victorious Mountain!

A.  Mount Calvary has a sadness connected to it, because of our sin, but it also a victorious mountain.  It is there that sin was defeated.  What Satan may have thought was his victory, was really his defeat.  What many of us treat like a defeat is really our victory.

B.  Paul will “glory in nothing but the cross.”  Does that sound like a defeat or victory?  I am saved.  I am set free from the bonds of sin and death.  I am victorious over that which was destroying me – because of what happened on Mount Calvary.

C.  Too often we look at a tombstone and see both a birth and death date.  But when we look at Jesus we see an empty tomb.  Jesus died on that cross, was buried in a tomb but the power of God could not be held in the earth.  The stone was rolled away and death was defeated and Jesus came out the victor leading all of us who walk in his foots through the same process.

D.  In humble faith I see my own sinfulness and repent before God, but God doesn’t leave me there.  As I develop that depth of love with him I see that that he paid the price for my sin on the cross and therefore I confess and make him Lord of my life.  The only way to do that is for me to be transformed.  So I willingly die.  I die to me.  I surrender because of the love that is seen on the cross.  I die to self, am buried with him in baptism and rise up from that water like he did from the grave a new creation.

 

Conclusion:

A.  “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down.  I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for crown.” (chorus)  That hill far away is a victorious mountain for you and me.

B.  Will you exchange the cross for a crown?  Will you find the power, forgiveness and victory over death today?  You know the song.  You have listened to the words during this message.  But today, you can make it personal.  Won’t you come, as we stand and sing?