THE OLD RUGGED CROSS MADE THE DIFFERENCE
Intro: This is a very special time of the year for those of us who
know the Lord Jesus Christ. To me, it is far more special than
Christmas. As we approach the time when we will celebrate
the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead, it is a time for
believers to think about the things that really matter in life. The
things that make life worth living and the things that have
shaped us into what we are this morning.
For me, it is a time to remember the cross. It is a time to
remember that 2,000 years ago, God loved me so much that
He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross so that I might be
saved. It is a time for me to remember that, while my
upbringing, my education, and my experiences have
contributed to who I am, it was the cross os Calvary that made
the difference in my life. If you are saved, you will have to
make the same statement today!
This morning I want to take you back to that day when
Heaven died for earth. I want to take you back to Calvary and
show you why the old rugged cross made the difference. If
you are saved, I hope you will remember what Jesus did for
you that day and I pray that you will fall in love with Him all
over again. If you are lost, I want you to learn today that the
cross of Calvary can make all the difference in your life now
and in your eternity later. As we travel back to that time long
ago, and look at a message that is as fresh as today, I want to
preach on the subject, The Old Rugged Cross Made The
Difference. Allow me to make a few observations from this
text that tell how and why The Old Rugged Cross Made The
I. V. 16-18 THE TRIP TO THE CROSS
A. V. 16 The Plan Of That Trip - Pilate delivered his
prisoner to the cross, but God was fulfilling and ages
old plan by delivering up His Son, 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev.
13:8. Calvary wasn't an accident, it was a divine
assignment. Designed to purchase salvation for
B. V. 17 The Place Of That Trip - "The place of a skull."
A place associated with death in the minds of the
people of Jerusalem. Yet, it was a place prepared by
the Father Himself (Ill. The foreknowledge and planning
of the Father!) A place designed to host the death of
the Lamb of God.
C. V. 17, 18 The Pain Of That Trip - Verse 17 tells us that
He carried His cross to Calvary. The other Gospel
writers mention that a man by the name of Simon of
Cyrene carried the cross for Him. There is no
contradiction! He left Pilate's judgment hall carrying the
cross. Simon was recruited along the way to help.
John's words bring to mind the symbolism of the cross.
Jesus was bearing upon Him the sins of the world!
That cross was more than wood. It represented the
heartbreak, the pain, the slavery and the debt of sin.
That's what Jesus was carrying that day!
When they arrived at Calvary, verse 18 reminds us
that Jesus was crucified. They nailed our Lord to the
cross with spikes through His hands and His feet. (Ill.
The agony of that experience! Isa. 53:4-5; Isa. 52:14.)
D. V. 18 The Power Of That Trip - Verse 18 records that
Jesus was "in the midst" of two thieves that day.
Friend, when Jesus gets in the midst, things begin to
happen! Luke 23:42-43 tells us that one of those
thieves came to faith in Jesus that day and was saved.
The other died lost, because he rejected Jesus. The
truth of this verse is that Jesus can not be avoided.
Just like those thieves, every person in this room will
make a decision concerning Jesus Christ! He cannot
be evaded or avoided. You will decide!
II. V. 19-24 THE TESTIMONY OF THE CROSS
(Ill. Two events occurred at Calvary that day that gave loud
testimony to what was taking place.)
A. V. 19-22 The Testimony Of The Writing - Ill. Pilate's
sign. Written in Hebrew, the language of religion;
Greek, the language of philosophy and culture
(Greek was also the language fo the common man!);
and Latin, the language of law and government; the
sign told all who might have passed by that Jesus was
The King of the Jews. The cross of Christ became a
giant Gospel tract for all who were passing by.
The importance of this is that Jesus is pictured as a
universal Savior. That does not mean that He will
automatically save everybody, but that He will save
anyone who will come to Him by faith regardless of their
social standing or background. He is the Savior of
"whosoever will.", John 3:16; Rev. 22:17.
B. V. 23-24 The Testimony Of The Wager - Ill. The
seamless garment. The soldiers gambled for it just as
the Scriptures has predicted, Psalm 22:18. The picture
in this garment is special. First, the seamless garment
was to be worn by the High Priest of Israel as part of his
ceremonial dress, Exodus 39. This was to remind him
that he was going into the presence of God without
blemish and without flaw. This was picture of the Lord
Jesus and what He was about to do as our Great High
Priest, Heb. 9:24-28; Heb. 10:12. Second, just the
night before, Israel's High Priest had rent his own
garments in the presence of Jesus. This was forbidden
by the Law, Lev. 21:10, and was a picture of the end of
the High Priestly system in Israel. Also, when Jesus
died, we are told that the veil of the Temple was rent
from top to bottom, Matt. 27:51. This is also a picture
of the end of the Old Testament system. When Christ
died, He was the only one Whose garments were not
torn! This si God's way of picturing for us that the old
system had forever passed away and that we now have
a new High Priest. He alone is qualified for the job!
Thank God, He is even in Heaven this morning carrying
out that job for you and me, Heb. 7:25.
III. V. 25-30 THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS
(Ill. Lest we are left to think that Calvary was a place of
death and suffering only, we are given three statements
made by the Lord while He hung on the cross. These
statements teach us the truth that Calvary was a place of
A. V. 25-27 The Triumph Of Compassion - In the midst
of His dying hour, with His enemies reveling in His
death, and with a little band of faithful followers at His
feet, Jesus took the time to make provision for His
mother. There are many truths here, bu the one that I
want to point out is that even in death, He did not forget
others! He was dying to save men and He remembered
His mother that day. He made sure that Mary would be
taken care of for the rest of her life.
His actions are symbolic of the fact that through His
death, those who receive Him enter into a new
relationship with God. One in which they too are taken
care of forever, John 10:28. He may not have
mentioned our names, but we were in His heart and on
His mind that day!
B. V. 28-29 The Triumph Of Connection - The next
statement from the Lord was "I thirst!" Ill. His agony
and the conditions He had endured that day! It is ironic
that the One Who created the streams, the creeks and
the river, the One Who filled oceans with water, was
thirsty that day!
Surely His body was thirsty that day, but there is far
more in view here! If you take all the conditions of
Calvary into account. If you consider the darkness, the
pain, the isolation, the separation from the Father and
the physical thirst, Luke 16:24, you get a clear picture
of Hell. When Jesus was on the cross, He was
enduring Hell on earth. He was suffering our Hell so
that we might enjoy His Heaven!
Don't misunderstand me, there is a literal burning
Hell where the lost will experience pain, torment, thirst,
isolation and separation from God forever. That is true!
It is also true that Jesus endured all the torments of Hell
while He hung on the cross for you and me. He
endured Hell for countless billions of humans in His six
hours on the cross that day! He took your hell for you,
so that you wouldn't have to! All you have to do is
come to Him and be saved!
C. V. 30 The Triumph Of Completion - The final word
recorded by John is "It is finished." The is a translation
of the Greek word "tetelestai". It is in the perfect tense
which means something that took place in the past
which had present abiding results. It could be
translated this way, "It stands finished and always
will be finished!" In other words, Jesus is saying it is
This was a common word in that society. It was
used by slave who had completed and assignment
given to him by his master. He would report back, "It is
finished!" It was used of an artist who had completed
work on a painting. He would step back and say, "It is
finished!" It was used by a merchant who had sold
merchandise on credit when the bill had been paid in
full. He would write in his ledger book, "Tetelestai! It is
When Jesus used this word from the cross, He was
saying, "Father, I have finished the assignment I was
given! I have applied the last strokes to the picture of
salvation, it is finished. I have paid the penalty for sin.
It is finished!" Thank God, our salvation rests upon the
finished work of Jesus on the cross! It is finished! It is
done! To be saved, I have to do nothing but lean on
what He has already done for me! There is nothing left
for me to do!
(Ill. young man, after a revival service, came up to the visiting evangelist and they were getting ready to put up
everything for the night. The young man had left after
the invitation, under conviction, he had returned at the
conclusion of the service and went up to the evangelist
and he said, "Sir, what can I do to be saved?" And the
evangelist hardly even lifted up his eyes from the work
he was doing, he said, "I'm sorry, Son, you're too late."
And the boy said, "Surely, surely, that can't be. Surely
I'm not too late. You're still here. Won't you tell me what
must I do to be saved?" And the evangelist stopped
what he was doing, looked at him, and he said, "I'm
sorry, Son, you're too late. Jesus did everything
necessary for you to be saved 2,000 years ago. All you
have to do is just receive His finished work for your
(Ill. That is a major part of the good news of the Gospel!
It is finished! Are you trusting in the forever finished
work of Jesus and nothing else? It's too late for you to
do anything else!)
IV. V. 31-37 THE TREASURE OF THE CROSS
A. The Treasure Of Accomplishment - Did you notice
that the death of Jesus took place just like the Old
Testament Scriptures had predicted it would? His legs
were no broken, Psa. 34:20. His side was pierced,
Zech. 12:10. In fact, over 300 precious prophecies
were fulfilled to the letter during the birth, life and death
of Jesus. He accomplished the plan of God for lost
humanity so that we might be saved from the penalty,
power and presence of sin! He did just what His Father
had said that He would do!
B. The Treasure Of Atonement - Verse 34 records the
precious truth that when Jesus died, and they pierced
His side, blood and water both ran out. This indicates
that He was dead before they pierced His side with the
spear. Doctors who have studied the death of Jesus
and the record of Scripture have concluded that His
heart probably burst while He was on the cross. When
it did, the platelets and the serum in His blood
separated. When they thrust in the spear, blood and
water came forth. Jesus literally died of a broken heart!
Broken hearted for you!
My friends, that blood which flowed that day was
precious blood! It was the blood of the atonement.
That blood, and that blood alone, is the price that
satisfies God and opens the door of Heaven to those to
whom it is applied. There is only one means of
salvation! You must be washed in the blood, 1 Pet.
1:18-19. Nothing else that you do and are in life
matters until you are washed in the blood, Heb. 9:22.
How does one get washed in the blood? When you
look to Jesus by faith for your soul's salvation, His blood
is counted as the payment for your sins. In other
words, the blood is applied and you are saved by grace.
The atonement we have through the blood of Jesus is
a treasure that is priceless in its value to the human
C. The Treasure Of Access - When that spear was thrust
into the side of our Lord, it opened the way to God for
all who will come by faith! If you will only believe, the
way to God has been opened. The way to Heaven has
been paved with blood. Now, there is access to God for
"whosoever will". Have you come to Jesus by faith?
The door is open for you today, John 10:9!
Conc: Notice what verse 30b says about the death of Christ.
It says that He "bowed His head and gave up the ghost."
Now, when people die they rarely bow their heads. In fact, it
is far more common for people to raise their heads to try and
get just one more breath. Not Jesus! When He knew that God
the Father had been satisfied and that the price of salvation
had forever been paid, He willingly allowed His spirit to leave
His body, John 10:18. He died only when He knew that He
had opened a perfect way for you and me to be saved!
As we bring these thoughts to a close today, I want to ask
you a question. Has the old rugged cross made the difference
for you? Have you cast all your hope of heaven upon what
Jesus did that day? Are you trusting His death for you as the
payment for your sins? Or, are you still trying to do it yourself?
Friend, you can't, and you will never be able to provide
salvation! It has already been finished! All you have to do is
Does the truth that Jesus did all of this for you move your
heart? Are you keenly aware that you need to be saved
today? Would like to be free from your sins? Would like to be
sure that you will miss Hell and go to Heaven when you leave
this world? If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes".
Then you need to move from where you are and come down
to where I am. We will take the Bible and show you how to get
to God. The old rugged cross can make all the difference for
you, but only if you will receive the finished work of Jesus as
your own. Will you do that right now?