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Nailed to the Cross
Colossians 2:11-14
Skip Heitzig

Colossians 2 (NKJV™)
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Palm Sunday Messages

The crucifixion was a visual and aural experience; to realize that we are responsible for it helps us grasp the impact of Christ's sacrifice for us. As we look ahead to Good Friday, we learn about the significance of Jesus' crucifixion and are encouraged to leave all of our sins and burdens at the cross.

A week before He was crucified, Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, fulfilling prophecy and presenting Himself as the true Deliverer. These messages, given a week before Easter Sunday, will help prepare your heart to celebrate Jesus' death and glorious resurrection.

Outline

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CONNECT QUESTIONS

  1. What did God reveal to you in this passage?

  2. Is there anything that applies directly to you or to someone you know? How can you take aim at changing a negative behavior in a biblical way?

  3. Who was this passage originally directed to?

  4. How does this passage apply to believers?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Typically, our services are text-based and expository
    2. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a very visual experience
      1. It would be a shock to see
      2. It would be gruesome to hear
    3. We want to bring tension and emotion back into the cross to personalize it and help us relate to the fact that the Son of God died for us
    4. "Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us"—John Stott
    5. It's only when we're aware of our sin that we're grateful we have a Savior
    6. The cross is a universal symbol of the Christian faith
      1. We can blame the Roman soldiers, Pontius Pilate, the Jewish leaders, the crowd, or Judas for the cross
      2. But we have to look in the mirror to get the full picture
      3. Who's responsible for this? I am—we are
      4. 1 Corinthians 15:3
    7. Not only are we responsible for the cross, but the cross was the plan of God from the very beginning; John 10:18
  2. Colossians 2:11-14 (New Living Translation)
    1. Paul talked about two rituals: Jewish (circumcision) and Christian (baptism)
      1. Both were visual reminders of a reality
      2. These ceremonies acted out what these groups believed in
      3. Circumcision symbolized the cutting away of the fleshly life and desires
      4. Baptism spoke of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ
    2. When Jesus Christ came, He did what no religion or ritual could ever do: He got rid of the guilt that comes from our failure to keep God's law
    3. Paul had an ancient practice in mind
      1. When someone owed somebody a debt, there was a legal certificate or charge of debt, handwritten and signed
      2. This note stood in the way between the lender and the borrower
      3. Life wasn't quite right between the two until the debt was paid off
      4. Once the debt was paid, a public notice was made that it had been paid
    4. The point is that Jesus Christ came because we owed a huge debt, and He paid it
    5. Jesus Christ paid the bill—and even left a tip
      1. He died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead
      2. He conquered death and promises new life to anyone who believes that His work is enough
    6. The Law just pointed a finger at us
      1. We've broken all Ten Commandments—if not outwardly, then inwardly
      2. The Law says, "You owe God a debt that you can never pay"
    7. "It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things; but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion"—C.S. Lewis
    8. "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow"—"Jesus Paid It All," Elvina M. Hall
    9. "At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away, it was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day"—"At the Cross," Isaac Watts
    10. We want to provide a way for you to visually and audibly connect with this
    11. The Bible calls Jesus Christ our advocate, our defense attorney (see 1 John 2:1)
    12. Write down a sin you need to confess, and we'll nail it to the cross
  3. Closing
    1. Take a good look at the cross, but not in a way that would break your heart; realize that in Christ doing that for you, it's done, it's over, it's finished, it's paid in full—and it's cause for rejoicing!
    2. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)
    3. Because of the cross, we're right with God
    4. We don't have to live beaten down and ashamed; we can live with confidence because of what He did for us

Figures referenced: John Stott, C.S. Lewis, Elvina M. Hall, Isaac Watts

Cross references: John 10:18; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:11-14; 1 John 2:1

Transcript

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Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.

Skip Heitzig: I was there that day. That day that that man was crucified, I was there. I've seen many an execution just like it many times before. In fact, we Romans, we have crucified thousands upon thousands of people all over. Anyone that would seem to pose a threat to the Pax Romana the Roman peace, that enforced peace that we have brought around the world, anybody who would threatened that, well, we have ways of dealing with quickly and, we would say, justly. It happens to be one of those unsavory duties of us Roman soldiers. Some actually like it; they take out their aggressions and their frustrations every time there's an execution; but not most, and not me, and certainly not this time.

First of all, it's a miserable spectacle to watch a man bleed out, sometimes lasting for several days, fighting for each breath, gasping and groaning hour after hour. But this man was different. This execution was different. I've heard many a man hanging from a cross say many things, usually words I couldn't repeat here. But this man looked up to the sky and said to someone, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing." And I thought, " 'Forgive them,' who says that while they're being killed?" Even one of our own centurions, when it was all over, said something that made me nervous. He said, "Truly this man was the Son of God." I heard him say that, "the Son of God."

He didn't say "a son of the gods"; he was very particular, he was very singular: ". . . the Son of God." It made me nervous because I thought, "If this was Son of God, where is he now, and what's coming next?" Well, you can tell by the cross up here at church today that it's a very different service from our typical weekend service. Typically what we have you do is, "Turn in your Bible to . . ." and it's very textually based. It's an expository message and rightfully so. We take the text, we engage the mind, we explore the principles, we find out what God says, and we seek to apply them to our lives. Why this service? What are we doing here today?

Well, the cross of Christ, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a very visual experience. It was something that you would see as well as something that you would hear. It would be a shock to see it. It would be gruesome to hear the groans of a man being killed. What we want to do is bring a little of that tension that brings emotion back into it. You can see before you a wooden cross. In a moment you're going to hear with your own ears as nails are put through this wood just to get a flavor of what that was like, and all of that to personalize it---all of that to help us relate to the fact that the Son of God died for me. He did it for me as we just sang, "He did it for me."

Dr. John Stott, John R. W. Stott who's now in heaven and pastored the All Souls Church in London, England, at one time, said, "Before we can ever begin to see the cross as something done for us, we need to see the cross as something done by us." It's only until we are aware of our sin, when we are aware of our sin, are we grateful that we have a Savior. So we have this symbol. It is a universal symbol. The cross everyone knows around the world is a symbol of the Christian faith. We're not ashamed of the cross. We're not ashamed of the gospel. But when we see it displayed like this, so overtly, so openly, so visually, we ask a question: Who is responsible for this? Who did this to Jesus?

Well, we could say the Romans did it. It was Pontius Pilate. It was those Romans soldiers. They did perfect crucifixion. It was they who actually performed the deed. We could point the blame and say, "They did it." Or we could look at the Jewish leaders, the high priest Caiaphas, the priest Annas, the Sanhedrin. They gave the ruling. They manipulated government so that that could happen. So, we could blame the Romans, we could blame the Jewish leaders, we could blame the crowd. The crowd unanimously said, "Crucify him! Give us Barabbas! Crucify him!" They chanted that. Or we could blame Judas. He was sort of the mastermind behind it all selling Jesus out to all of those authorities.

But we have to look in the mirror to get the full picture. Who's responsible for this? You're looking at him. I am. I am. We are. Jesus died---First Corinthians 15 plainly says, "He died for our sin." We put him on that cross. "Before we can ever see the cross as something done for us, we need to see it as something done by us." But we need to carry it a step further, because not only are all those, including ourselves, responsible for this, but this was the plan of God from the very beginning. Jesus said it plainly in John, chapter 10, "No one," he said, "No one takes my life from me. I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down and to take it up again."

So Jesus gave himself for our sins. I'm going to read a section of Scripture to you this morning that this will then visualize. It's out of the book of Colossians in chapter 2. Let me, before I read it, just sort of set the scene and what was in Paul's mind as he wrote this letter to the church of Colossae. In this particular section he talks about two rituals: one a Jewish ritual and the other had become by this time a Christian ritual. The first was circumcision; that's the Jewish ritual. The second is baptism; that's the Christian ritual. Both of these ceremonies were visual reminders of a reality. It's as if these ceremonies acted out what they believed in.

First of all, circumcision: the cutting away of the flesh symbolized the cutting away of the fleshly life, the fleshly desires. Second, baptism: putting a person in water, burying them, so to speak, momentarily, and bringing them back up out of the water. It speaks of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. We identify with that, and we bring up the person so they can walk in newness of life. That's the thought of it. Those two rituals are in Paul's mind as he writes this, but then he adds something else. When Jesus Christ came, Jesus did what no religion, what no ritual could ever do. He removed guilt, all of the guilt, the burden of guilt that we walk around with that crushes so many people.

Jesus took the guilt that comes from our failure to keep God's law. And he took that guilt with him when he died and got rid of it. Let me read the text. It's out of Colossians, chapter 2, beginning in verse 11. The verses will be on the screen, because I'm reading out of the New Living Translation today. "When you came to Christ, you were 'circumcised,' but not by a physical procedure. It was a spiritual procedure---the cutting away of your sinful nature. "For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted in the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

"You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross." When Paul wrote this, he has, I believe, in his mind a practice that was done in the ancient Greek world. When somebody owed somebody a debt, there was a legal certificate of debt, legal charge of debt. It was handwritten and it was signed. So when you took out a loan or you owed somebody a lot of money, there was this note that stood in the way between the lender and the borrower.

And life wasn't quite right between you two until the debt was paid off. The debt stood in the way and it was a public declaration. Once that debt was paid a public notice was made that the debt has been paid and the debt was now canceled. There is no debt. It's gone. It's removed. And it was posted that way: "Paid in full." The point that Paul is making is that Jesus Christ came because we owed a huge debt due to our failure, due to our sin, and Jesus paid the debt. Jesus Christ paid your bill. He paid the bill and he even left a tip. He died on the cross, was buried, and he rose from the dead conquering death and promising new life to anyone who would believe that that work was enough. Finished. Done. Completed. Paid in full.

The law just pointed its finger at you. Ever read the New Testament---I'm sorry, the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments? And it says, "Thou shalt not . . . Thou shalt not . . . Thou shalt not . . ." It just says that over and over again ten times: "Don't do this. Don't do that. Don't do this. Don't do that." And when you read it, you go, "Did that. Did that. Did that. Did that. Broke them all, if not out outwardly, certainly inwardly." It points the finger at you. It says, "You owe God a debt that you can never pay." And that's what this cross is all about. C. S. Lewis once wisely wrote: "As far as we know, it costs God nothing to create nice things; but when it came to rescuing rebellious wills, it cost him a crucifixion."

As the hymn says, "Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe; sin had left its crimson stain, he washed it white as snow." It's paid in full---the cross. One of the great hymnwriters Isaac Watts talked about the cross in his song "At the Cross": "At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away, it was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day!" Let's pray together. Lord God, Father, Creator of heaven and earth, the One who gave us our very breath, the One who sent his only begotten Son the Lord Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, the second person of that blessed Trinity, who sent him to this earth.

We thank you, Lord, for this plan, the plan to send a Lamb slain from the very foundations of the world into this world to deal with the disease that plagues every single human being that has ever been born, and that's called sin, transgression: things we failed to do or things that we deliberately do that are wrong. There are so many, and Jesus paid it all---all. We're thankful, Lord, that you've included us in your plan, that we have been brought to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And those of us who are redeemed, we participate in this just like circumcision, just like baptism. We want to participate visually, audibly, in the finished work of Jesus Christ on a cross 2,000 years ago.

We enter into this Holy Week, this being Palm Sunday, and as we march toward Good Friday, and then Resurrection Sunday, I pray that our hearts, our lives would become unburdened as we bring our sins before you to the very place they were nailed to, in Jesus' name, amen.

Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.

For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.

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Almost half of the gospel of John is dedicated to Jesus' final week on earth. With that much Scripture dedicated to the topic, we must pay attention. In this Palm Sunday message, we look at Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and discover the difference between practicing a religion and having a relationship with Christ.
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There are 7 additional messages in this series.