Archive for April, 2012


As we look at all we have “Because of the Cross”, we need to remember three Principles of the Cross:

1. The Cross is the Wisdom & Power of God.

  • The Cross reveals the Heart of God, His delight in mercy, justice and righteousness.
  • At the Cross we partake of the unfailing love of God, the justice of being made right with God, and the Righteousness that is in Christ whereby we have victory over sin, over Satan and over death.

2. The Cross is opposed to the wisdom and power of man.

  • The cross requires humility. The cross strips man of all rights and powers. The Cross reveals the foolishness of man’s attempts at standing and self-righteousness.
  • Man says to love yourself first, seek for yourself first. Instead of submitting to God’s love, We are our own person, we are OK as we are, we can do as we please as long as we don’t hurt anyone. Instead of submitting to God’s Justice, Man emphasizes your own accomplishments, your own standing, your own right to live as you see fit. Instead of depending upon God for our righteousness, Man emphasizes works, riches, possessions as justification for the way he lives.

3. The Cross represents the Perfect Blood Sacrifice required by God

  • God declared that life is in the blood. The only way for sinful man to enjoy life with Holy God is through a blood sacrifice for our sins. The Cross is that perfect blood sacrifice.

We have seen the Principle of the Cross with Adam and Eve, and how Cain quickly established Man’s wisdom in opposition to the Cross. That Opposition grew until we read:

 Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

So God called Noah to build an ark. God saved His creation by a worldwide flood, and the earth was transformed, and Noah and his family went forth to re-populate the earth. This new world was established with the Principle of the Cross, for Noah took of the clean animals and sacrificed them to God.

Kingdom of Man Rears its Sinful Head (NIMROD)

In the Dispensation of Noah it did not take long for the wisdom and power of man to rear its ugly head in opposition to the Cross. Mighty men came along, led by Nimrod, the mighty hunter of men, and directly opposed God. They built a Tower that was reaching to the heavens, so they could worship themselves and insure a place of refuge should God ever decide to flood the earth again.

God confounded the wisdom and power of man, and the languages of the earth were born, and the kingdom of man became fragmented.

In the face of God’s wisdom and power, man corrupted the Principle of the Cross, and began to sacrifice to gods of their own making. They worshipped ‘idols’ and engaged in religious worship in opposition to the Creator God Jehovah. They offered sacrifices as He demanded, but with hearts devoted to the kingdom of man. They created god’s of their own design, god’s whom they could worship as they chose. The altar of sacrifice had been corrupted by man to honor the god’s of their making, instead of the Making God!

It was among these idol worshippers in the “Ur of the Chaldees” that Jewish tradition has a young man named Abram working in his father’s idol merchant shop. This young man was about to receive a special call for Creator God. This is the beginning of the Patriarch Dispensation.

The Calling of Abram

Genesis 12:1-9 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran (best meaning ‘to tarry’). And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar (mizbeah) to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.

We know Ur of the Chaldees was a ‘hotbed’ of idolatry for two reasons:

1. Abraham’s father, Terah according to Joshua 24:2, worshiped idols. Jewish tradition refers to Terah as an idol maker. Ur was an idolatrous city worshiping many different Gods such as the god of fire, moon, sun and stars. Sin was the name of the chief idol deity of Ur. Ningal, was the wife of the moon-god, Sin, and was worshiped as a mother God in many other cities. Ur was a evil and sinful city as can be seen in the worship practices of the moon-goddess, Ningal.[1]

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.

2. Ur ‏אור‎, which means flame or fire of the Chaldeans, from the worship practiced there. Scholars say the people of this area were worshippers of fire, and there is evidence of fire sacrifices to various gods.[2]

Abram rejected the many god’s of his father’s, and followed the call of the one and only True God. Abram’s journey to Canaan was marked by humility resulting in the altar of sacrifice. At the Oak of Moreh God appeared to Abram and told Him, “To your offspring I will give this land.”

So which is it: Plains, encampments, oaks or terebinths? Different translations have served to obscure the great truth of this passage.

Plains and encampments, I think, can be dismissed immediately. They do not fit other passages using this expression. They cannot possibly be the correct translation of elonei mamre. That leaves oaks and terebinths. I’ll take oaks.

Here’s why. In the first place, while “oaks” is the oldest translation we have of elonei, “terebinths” is the most recent. The Septuagint rendition may represent a genuine tradition passed down from the time the book of Genesis was composed. Moreover, terebinths, whose small leaves indeed smell a bit like turpentine when crushed, may have an impressive-sounding name, but they are not very impressive in appearance. The terebinth is an evergreen shrub that rarely grows to more than 7 or 8 feet and is found all over Israel. The common Palestinian oak, on the other hand, develops into a tall, stately tree. A whole forest or grove of such trees, now seen in only a few places but less rare in Abraham’s time, is an impressive sight indeed. Certainly these could be a landmark worthy of mention in God’s Word.

Would the Bible have bothered to point out that Abraham was sitting by some perfectly ordinary shrubs? In my thinking, the mighty Oak wins this match against the insignificant terebinth.[3].

Evidently there was a significant tree in a grove of trees at Moreh near Shechem. The Hebrew moreh is derived from the verb yarah, “to teach,” “to direct,” and indicates one who directs, or gives oracular answers.[4]  Picture a place known for receiving direction or oracles from God.

Now it was here that God first appeared to Abram, and confirmed to Abram that this was the land that God was giving him. No doubt Abram had seen the Canaanites, and had seen their vileness and fierceness. Perhaps he doubts were running rampant in his mind, doubts about the voice he had heard calling him. In the midst of those doubts, Abram saw God by that majestic tree. There God renewed His promise to Abram. As soon as God went away, Abram built an altar (place of sacrifice) unto God.

Can you picture Abram, a former idol worshipper, seeing Jehovah God? This was no wood carving, no stone object. Abram saw the Living Creator God. In the presence of God there are no doubts, there is only hope, there is only His love. Abram was so in awe of God that his first reaction was to build an altar and offer a sacrifice to God. Sinful man had met Holy God at the tree. At the tree Abram offered himself to God.

Does that sound like anything familiar to you?

It is before this significant tree that an altar is made, sacrifice performed, and Abram’s life, family and possessions are committed to God’s Promise. Here we see the principle of the Cross in establishing Abram’s possession of the Promised Land.

This appearance of God was significant, for just as God walked with Adam in the cool of the evening, so now God appeared to Abram in the coolness of the shade of the Oak Tree of Moreh. When ever God begins something new, His presence is all over it!

The Oak Tree of Moreh was near Shechem

There are 3 references to the Oak tree(s) of Moreh at Shechem in the Bible. Plus there is one more subtle reference worth noting.

1. Genesis 12:6-7

“Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.”

God called Abram out of the kingdom of the wisdom and power of man. He called Abram out of the land of idols and manmade gods. He called him to a new land, to form a new nation that followed Jehovah, their Creator God. He called Abram to follow God’s wisdom and power, and submit to the principle of the Cross. When Abram saw God, he submitted and sacrificed.

You are familiar with his life. Along this journey Abram made mistakes. He lied, he resorted to following the wisdom and power of man in having a baby boy Ishmael. Still, God blessed him, for God had set His Name upon Abram. Instead of being Abram, his name became Abraham, father of a great nation.

Finally, God gave him that promised son, Isaac. As we will see in later writings, the Principal of the Cross was upon Isaac, and upon Jacob. But for today, we are camping under the Oak of Moreh, near Shechem.

Abraham’s grandson had returned to the idol loving land of his great-grandfather. There he met his wife(s) and labored for his uncle, Laban. Jacob was a man who fit in well with the kingdom of Man. He was crafty, deceitful, proud and boasting. God still blessed him, because God had promised Abraham. God issued a call to Jacob to return to the Promised land, and face his estranged brother Esau. God was there when the brothers met. Jacob and his family were spared the wrath of Esau. And Jacob continued on, making a stop in Shechem.

Genesis 33:18-20 Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and camped before the city. He bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel. (Meaning “El, the God of Israel”)

Even though Jacob offered sacrifices to God, the God of Israel, he was still living in the kingdom of man. He was still living by his own wiles. His heart was divided. (Notice he did not say “My God!”) Jacob had to learn a costly lesson before he could go on to the House of God (Bethel). Chapter 34 sees the chastening hand of God upon his Jacob and his family. At Shechem, his daughter Dinah was raped by the prince of the land (Shechem). What follows is deceit upon deceit, as Jacob’s sons plot to avenge their daughter, and the leaders of of Shechem plot to take Jacob’s livestock and possession. In a clever plot indicative of the treachery of their father, the sons of Jacob murder the men of Shechem, plunder their riches and livestock, take the women and children, and bring dishonor upon the house of Jacob.

Genesis 34:30-31 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.” But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?”

In Genesis 35 we see that Jacob makes a decision to wholly follow God. Once again, the Oak Tree at Moreh plays a significant role.

2. Genesis 35:4

Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.

God spells out the problem He had with Jacob. Sure, Jacob professes belief in God, even honoring Him with an altar and sacrifices. But Jacob’s heart was divided. He loved the Kingdom of Man, with its idols and riches. He was a “double-minded” man. His life in the land of idolatry had tainted his already flawed soul. Jacob and his sons were even dressing like the idol loving people of the land, thus the reference to the “rings in their ears” and their garments.

Bethel was the “House of God” Bethel was the place of God that Abram pitched his tent, built an altar of sacrifice to God, and where he called upon the Name of the Lord! There is salvation in the House of God!

Genesis 12:8 Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD.

God appeared to Abram, and he sacrificed to God. He continued on to Bethel, in the heart of Canaan, and pitched his tent, and called upon the Name of the Lord. You can almost see the progression of his heart. He answers the call of God, yet decides to tarry a while in Haran. After the death of his father, he decides to move to Canaan, and stops at Shechem. There he sees his Creator God. He submits and sacrifices. But you get the feeling he is not all in yet. But he travels further into Canaan, and decides to pitch his tent on a hillside at Bethel, the House of God. Abram has made a decision. He is all in. There is no turning back. His tent is pitched, and He cries out to God!

We see the Principle of the Cross at work in his life, and we will see why he did what he did with Isaac next week.

As with Abram, God called Jacob to come to a place of decision. What will Jacob do? Will he come to God with everything, depend upon God for everything? Is he ready to forsake the crafty kingdom of Man and give himself 100% to Jehovah God? There is no use going to Bethel if your heart is divided. God is a jealous God. He wants all of us. Jacob can’t deceive God like he did his father, like he did Laban. God could see Jacob’s heart, that it was divided.

He can offer as many sacrifices to God as he wants, but unless his heart is given 100% to God, it does no good. This is what God means when He says it is better to obey than to sacrifice.

Here at Shechem, in spite of the pain of his heart over Dinah and his sons, Jacob makes a decision to follow God fully. He and his household obeyed God and put all of the idols and their precious possessions at the foot of the Oak tree.

This is what we do at the foot of the Cross!

Fast forward a few hundred years. Jacob died in Egypt, and the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob escaped the slavery of Pharaoh. It had been 400 years since they had been in the promised land. God used a meek man to lead his people from Egypt. Now in Deut. 11 Moses is addressing the people.

3. Deuteronomy 11:29-30.

“It shall come about, when the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, that you shall place the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. “Are they not across the Jordan, west of the way toward the sunset, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oaks of Moreh?

Moses has shared the Law of God with his people. He has detailed all the blessings God promises to those who wholly follow the Lord. He instructs them to go to the Oaks of Moreh, and stand upon the two mountains there, Ebal and Gerizim. There they are to dedicate themselves to following God and His Word completely, and they are to acknowledge the blessings and cursing associated with that commitment.

The account of that event is given in chapters 27 and 28 of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 27:4-8 And when you have crossed over the Jordan, you shall set up these stones, concerning which I command you today, on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster. And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones. You shall wield no iron tool on them; you shall build an altar to the LORD your God of uncut stones. And you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God, and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God. And you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.”

One by one the Levites read the Blessings and Curses of the Law

Can you hear them:  ‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ (Deuteronomy 27:26)

And all the people shout, ‘Amen!’

The vibrating, thundering chorus of two million of voices shouting ‘Amen’ in unison to the terms of the covenant, from hill to hill, echoed powerfully in the streets of Shechem below. The Oaks of Moreh were shaking in response. They were witnesses to this momentous occasion.

The Jordan river signifies death to the wisdom and power of man. When Israel passed over the Jordant, they were symbolically announcing that they were dying to life in the wisdom and power of the flesh, and were now living in the wisdom and power of God and His Word. They were embracing the Principle of the Cross. This was so important, that at the end of Joshua’s life, he had the people return to this spot and reaffirm their commitment to following God’s Word.

Covenant ratified one more time…

At the end of his life, Joshua called for Israel to assemble again — at Shechem. The solemnity of the occasion cannot be expressed better than by its simple yet inspired biblical description:

Joshua 24:1 Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God.

Joshua recounted God’s faithfulness from the time of Abram’s calling until He gave them the Promised Land. He solemnly impressed upon them the importance of keeping faithfulness with God and his covenant. Listen as Joshua brings the point home:

Joshua 24:14-15 “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

The people responded that YES! They would serve the Lord! Joshua tried to tell them they were not able to serve the Lord:

Joshua 24:19-21 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the LORD.”

So Joshua told them: “Now then, throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” (Joshua 24:23)

So Joshua took a large stone and placed it under the Oak by the sanctuary of the Lord (in Shechem). That stone represented their decision to yield their hearts totally to God! This is what Abram had done! This is what Jacob had done! This is the Principle of the Cross!

Joshua 24:24-27 The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice.” So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, so that you do not deny your God.”

That stone was not the only witness. The Principle of the Cross was there at Shechem in the form of the Oak tree of Moreh. Eight hundred years had elapsed since Abram first built an altar under the Shechem oak tree. The original oak tree had probably given way to an offspring. But the mention of the ‘sanctuary of the Lord’ confirms this Oak tree was probably near the altars built by Abram and Jacob, and was now taken to be the official substitute.

I can see Joshua pointing to the altars and the tree as he recounts their stories to his people. I can hear him tell them that God appeared to Abram at this very spot. I can see him pointing to the ground and saying, “somewhere down there are the pagan gods your father Jacob buried; do the same, bury your false gods, and serve the one true God only.”  On that day, under Abram’s tree of promise, Israel ratified her covenant with God, the covenant she had made at Sinai nearly one hundred years earlier.

Treason at the Cross

Everyone remembers the story of Gideon and the way God used him in a miraculous deliverance of Israel from the Midianites. After that victory, the men of Israel wanted to make Gideon King.

Judges 8:22-23  Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.”

Now Gideon (Jerubbaal) had seventy sons, for he had many wives. One son was Abimelech, born of a concubine who lived in Shechem. After Gideon died, Abimelech schemed to become King over the land. He got the leaders of Shechem on his side, got them to pay him money with which he hired thugs. Then he murdered 70 sons of Gideon with one stone. One son, Jotham, got away.

Immediately, “all the leaders of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem.” (Judges 9:6)

At the very spot where, under the very tree where, next to the very pillar where, three hundred years earlier, all Israel had sworn faithfulness to God and His covenant, where one thousand years earlier God first made the covenantal promises to Abram, where Jacob later buried the vestiges of his false gods, the populace of Shechem declared that a mere, evil man, was now their king [6].

Rebellious men refused to humble themselves to the Cross, and so rejected God in favor of man’s wisdom and power. Shechem erected the Kingdom of Man in opposition to the Kingdom of God.

The outcome was utter disaster, perhaps even greater than that which had occurred in the same city hundreds of years earlier when Simeon and Levi slaughtered the entire male population.

Read the entire account for yourself in Judges 9:1-20. In short, the honeymoon between Abimelech and the Shechemites was short-lived. God set animosity between them, resulting in Abimelech’s massacre of the entire population. One thousand people perished in one incident when Abimelech set fire to the temple of Baal in which they were cringing in fear. That one thousand people could fit inside testifies to its considerable size.

Why did this disaster occur? Listen carefully to what Jotham, Abimelech’s lone surviving brother, had to say to the citizens of Shechem days before the massacre:

Jotham told a parable, about the trees wanting someone to reign over them as a King. The tried the Olive Tree, the Fig Tree, a Vine, and each one refused. Finally they went to a lowly bramble bush, and he accepted.

Jotham warned the people:

Judges 9:16-20 “Now if you have acted faithfully and honestly in making Abimelech king, if you have done well by Jerubbaal (Gideon) and his family, and if you have rewarded him appropriately for what he did— for my father fought for you, risked his life, and delivered you from the hand of Midian, and now you have attacked my father’s house today, killed his 70 sons on top of a large stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his slave, king over the lords of Shechem ‘because he is your brother’— if then you have acted faithfully and honestly with Jerubbaal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech and may he also rejoice in you. But if not, may fire come from Abimelech and consume the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire come from the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo and consume Abimelech.”


Twice in one short message Jotham tells the people to judge themselves, whether or not they have acted faithfully and honestly. Understand, the Cross is a divider of men. It divids the children of God from the children of the world. It divides Spirit-filled believers from fleshly pretenders, or worldly Christians. There is Blessing at the foot of the Cross. There is Cursing at the Foot of the Cross. You can bear the curse yourself, or you can realize that Jesus became cursed for you upon that Cross. Yield your heart to the Cross, and enjoy the Blessings of Jesus Christ!

We have a tree that rules over us. It is the Cross of Jesus Christ. We do not worship the Tree, for it is but a principle. We worship the one who was crucified upon that tree. He is our King, He is our Lord. The principle of the Cross must be applied to our lives if He is to reign!


[1] Halley’s Bible Handbook, Henry H. Halley, Zondervan Pub. House, Grand Rapids, page 95.

[2] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Genesis 11”.

[3]“Oaks or Terebinths?” Philologos, http://forward.com/articles/11956/oaks-or-terebinths-/

[5] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 1990, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, p. 389.

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“Though” and “through” differ only by one small letter—the letter “r.” In American Sign Language, “r” is made by crossing the middle finger over the index finger. But crossed fingers have a history as sign language that far predates ASL. In the first centuries of the Church, when Christianity was illegal and Christians were vigorously persecuted, believers found ways to communicate their faith in subtle ways. Accompanying a greeting or farewell, crossed fingers were a code sign, identifying Christians to one another as “people of the cross.” The crossed fingers were a mute symbol for the cross of Christ and the redemption Christ’s death on that cross brought to all people. Today, crossed fingers mean something very different. When placed behind one’s back, they mean that one does not mean what one is saying. When held in one’s lap, they mean one is hoping something will or will not happen. Russ Chiodo, Director of Emergency Services for Beaver County, PA, was the person in charge of picking up the body parts from the 132 people who died on the ill-fated USAir Flight 427 that crashed on its way from Chicago to Pittsburgh. When asked what it was like to bag body parts with no human faces left, Chiodo confessed to the sight that affected him the most. “The thing I’m not going to be able to forget for a long time is finding a hand with its fingers crossed—as if for luck.”

Isn’t it ironic that the gesture of crossed fingers, first instituted by the early church as a symbol of the Cross of Christ and a certainty of the promises of God in Jesus, has digressed to represent the exact opposite…mere luck. In the completed work of Christ on our behalf we have the 100% absolute assurance of our salvation and the absolute guarantee of an inheritance “incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven for us” (1 Peter 1:4). Luck has absolutely NOTHING to do with it.

The Cross in Genesis 1-11

Understand that Jesus was in the world from the Creation! This study will confirm that Jesus has been the way of Salvation from the very beginning, through the “Principle of the Cross!” A Principle that mankind for the most part rejected, just as they rejected Jesus in the flesh.

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:9-18 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He is the Word of God. He has been in the world since He created it. Yet the world did not know Him. But all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the power and authority to become children of God. The Word became flesh, and we beheld His Glory. As we read last week, His Glory began at the Cross. At the Cross we see the Word of God full of Grace and truth. Because of the Cross we receive grace upon grace.

In 1 Corinthians 1, the Cross is described as a dividing point, a stumbling block, and a point of folly. So too is the Word of God.

Hebrews 4:11-13 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

The Word of God is a sharp two-edged sword. It reveals the thoughts and intents of our wicked and deceitful hearts. No one can be hidden from the Word, for it exposes us to the one to whom we must give account.

Just as the Cross was lifted up above this world, so the Word of God is lifted up above mankind, and the Word of God will be our judge. The Word of God will judge believers and unbelievers alike.

The Word of God separates unbelieving men from God. The Word of God separates unbelieving Christians from resting in God. That is why Christians are encouraged to strive to enter the rest of God through the Word of God, because it is living and active, able to cut away the dross of the world and leave that which is pure before God.

A.W. Tozer: “Our uncrucified flesh will rob us of purity of heart, Christ-likeness of character, spiritual insight, and fruitfulness; and more than all, it will hide from us the vision of God’s face, that vision which has been the light of the earth and will be the completeness of heaven.”

The Word of God has this power the same way that Jesus Christ had the power to bring sinful men to Holy God, through the Cross! In fact, it is because of the Cross that we have the Word of God! As W. A. Criswell famously said, “throughout the Bible there runs a Scarlet Thread of Redemption!”

Because of the Cross…We Have the Word

As we look at all we have “Because of the Cross,” we need to remember three Principles of the Cross:

1. The Cross is the Wisdom & Power of God.

    • The Cross reveals the Heart of God, His delight in mercy, justice and righteousness.

2. The Cross is opposed to the wisdom and power of man.

    • The cross requires humility. The cross strips man of all rights and powers. The Cross reveals the foolishness of man’s attempts at standing and self-righteousness.

A.W. Tozer: “The man who is crucified is facing only one direction… He [cannot] look back. The crucified man on the cross is looking only one direction and that is the direction of God, and Christ and the Holy Ghost… The man on the cross… has no further plans of his own… Somebody else made his plans for him, and when they nailed him up there all his plans disappeared… When you go out to die on the cross, you bid good-bye–you are not going back!

We want to be saved but we insist Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.”

3. The Cross is the Perfect Blood Sacrifice required by God

    • God declared that life is in the blood. To bring life to ‘dead in sin’ mankind, a perfect blood sacrifice had to be made.

A.W. Tozer: “The old cross is a symbol of death. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again in newness of life. God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It always stands at the far side of the cross.”

We will see the Principle of the Cross throughout the Old Testament. The Principle that death leads to resurrection. The principle of “death with a view to increase” that characterizes the Gospel.

First death, then life. Death [leads to] resurrection. When we consent to death, then the life of Jesus can flow unhindered from us. It is never the other way. We cannot claim resurrection life first, and then by means of that put the flesh to death. We must first bow to the cross, and then God will effect the resurrection. (Ray Steadman)

With these three Principles in mind, let us see that “Because of the Cross…we have the Word of God!

In the Garden

Genesis 3:6-7 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Something happened to Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God. Their eyes were opened and they could see their shame. Therefore, in their wisdom, they made some clothing out of fig leaves sewn together.

This is what I think happened. Psalm 104 1-2 says that God is clothed in splendor and majesty, covering himself with light as a garment. Adam and Eve, created in the image of God, were clothed in light. When they sinned, the light was gone, and they felt the shame of their sin. They attempted to cover up their shame. This is man’s wisdom. No repentance, simply cover it up, cope with it, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and move on.

Here is where we see the Cross first lifted up.

God calls out to Adam and says, “where are you?”

Adam says:

Genesis 3:10-13 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Sin has entered into the hearts of Adam and Eve. Instead of open fellowship with God, they feared Him and even hid from Him. Instead of repentance and return to God, they blame someone else.

God’s response is to place a curse upon man and woman and even the serpent.

But God’s solution to sin was the Principle of the Cross.

Genesis 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Here we see the first sacrifice for sin. Adam and Eve had to watch as God took one of those peaceful animals that they cared for, and kill it. They had to watch blood flow for the first time. Can you imagine how they felt? An innocent animal had to die because they disobeyed. They had to wear that animal’s skin. It was a constant reminder of God’s plan. Sin is always answered with sacrifice. Moreover, Sacrifice always results in Grace.

  • God covered them in Grace. (His provision allowed them to live)
  • God expelled them in Grace. (He did not want them to live in sin forever)

God must have instructed them in the Way of the Cross and the need for blood sacrifice to keep their relationship with God.

When they had children, they taught them about the need for an acceptable sacrifice unto God.

Cain

In Genesis 4, Cain, the oldest, brought a sacrifice from the fruit of the ground. He decided there was no need for a blood sacrifice.

Abel brought the firstborn of his flock. God accepted Abel’s offering, but disregarded Cain’s. Cain became angry.

Genesis 4:6-7 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

The purport of the divine rebuke to Cain was this, “Why art thou angry, as if unjustly treated? If thou doest well (that is, wert innocent and sinless) a thank offering would have been accepted as a token of thy dependence as a creature. But as thou doest not well (that is, art a sinner), a sin offering is necessary, by bringing which thou wouldest have met with acceptance and retained the honors of thy birthright.” This language implies that previous instructions had been given as to the mode of worship; Abel offered through faith (Heb 11:4).[1]

Therefore, Cain, instead of humbling himself to God and offering a sacrifice for his sin, reacted in pride and offered what he thought was appropriate. He used his wisdom instead of God’s instruction. God rejected the sacrifice, for there was no provision for sin.

God would have accepted his offering if it had been accompanied with a blood sacrifice. But without blood, there is no remission of sins. Without the cross, we have no standing before God. God disregards us because of our sin.

Cain’s pride led to greater anger. Instead of offering a blood sacrifice to God, he shed the innocent blood of his brother. The Bible says, “Cain rose up against his brother.”

Instead of humbling himself before God in the shadow of the Cross, Cain rose up in pride and arrogance and murdered his righteous brother. Pride is always the enemy of the Cross.

Jude speaks of people that follow the “way of Cain”

Jude 1:10-11 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.

The way of Cain applies to all those who approach God in man’s wisdom and man’s pride. The way of Cain denies the mercy of God found through blood atonement.

We can see this in the lineage of Cain-for it is the glorification of the flesh and all that man can do.

Look at the ability and pride of Cain:

  • Genesis 4:17, he is a builder of cities.
  • Genesis 4:21, he is the father of music.
  • Genesis 4:22, he is the father of craftsmen in brass and in iron.

As W. A. CRISWELL says:

Civilization without God is the line and the seed of Cain. It is the story of Sodom; it is the story of Gomorrah; it is the story of Babylon; it is the story of every great city and every great civilization that leaves God out of it. That is the story of Cain. It is the glorification of what man can do apart from God.

Seth

Therefore, Cain continued to multiply the kingdom of man. The Kingdom of man is represented by the line of Cain. The kingdom of man is represented by the mark upon his forehead. The kingdom of man was corrupting God’s kingdom. So God appointed a man, Seth.

Finally, after 130 years, Seth was born to Adam, a son in his own likeness, a son that God had appointed. Seth had a son Enosh, and at that time people began to call upon the Name of the Lord. (Gen 4:26)

Perhaps the Kingdom of God could be built now. But no, sin was at work.

Genesis 6:1-4 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

The sons of God (Seth’s line) started marrying the daughters of man. (I know most people think Angels intermarried, but Jesus made it clear that Angels’ can’t reproduce). I believe that the Godly children of Seth who were to raise up God’s Kingdom design intermarried with the fleshly Kingdom of Man line of Cain. This produced mighty men, men whose pride and abilities knew no bounds. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Instead of humble men offering themselves to God, proud and arrogant men walked in the “Way of Cain.” The pride and arrogance of man was opposed to humility and sacrifice before God. They denied and even rebelled against the Principle of the Cross.

Therefore, God was grieved, for He was not able to practice mercy, justice and righteousness because of the sinfulness of man. But “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah alone was following the principle of the Cross. (Gen 6:8)

Noah and his family alone survived the worldwide flood that God sent upon sinful man. Through the flood, God reformed His creation, and brought forth a family that would follow the principle of the Cross.

1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

Noah preached the principle of the Cross, but man in his wisdom refused the message of the Cross.

He preached through Noah “when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah.” For 120 years, Noah had preached the Word of God. He saved his family but no one else. It was the Spirit of Christ who spoke through Noah in Noah’s day. In Christ’s day, those who rejected Noah’s message were in prison. The thought is that Christ’s death meant nothing to them just as it means nothing to a great many people today who, as a result, will also come into judgment.[2]

After the flood is over and the ground has dried, God opens the Ark and Noah and his family walks upon the cleansed Earth. Noah immediately builds an altar and offers sacrifices of all the clean animals and birds on the ark. This is the first time the word “altar[3]” is used in the Bible—Genesis 8:20.

3mizbēaḥ: A masculine noun meaning the altar, the place of sacrifice. It is a noun formed from the verb zāb̠aḥ, which means to slaughter an animal, usually for a sacrifice.

This is the principle of the Cross. It is the picture of redemption. The blood is poured out upon the altar and the animal is consumed in a fire unto the Lord.

Genesis 8:21-22 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

God’s creation was restored through the principle of the Cross. The wisdom of God had prevailed over the wisdom of man. Man had survived the flood through the provision of God. Man was now offering the right offering to God in humility and praise. The burnt offering signified that this was a complete offering to God!

Nimrod

Now it does not take long to see man’s pride rear its ugly head in God’s renewed creation.

Genesis 10:8-10 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. Therefore, it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.

Nimrod’s Kingdom was not built on the principle of the Cross, but on rebellion and pride. In fact, the idea that Nimrod was not a mighty hunter before the Lord, but rather a mighty hunter AGAINST the Lord.

(Adam Clarke) His name Nimrod comes from ‏מרד‎, marad, “he rebelled”; and the Targum, on 1 Chronicles 1:10, says: Nimrod began to be a mighty man in sin, a murderer of innocent men, and a rebel before the Lord. The Jerusalem Targum says: “He was mighty in hunting (or in prey) and in sin before God, for he was a hunter of the children of men in their languages; and he said unto them, Depart from the religion of Shem, and cleave to the institutes of Nimrod.” The Syriac calls him a warlike giant. The word ‏ציד‎  tsayid, which we render hunter, signifies prey; and is applied in the Scriptures to the hunting of men by persecution, oppression, and tyranny. Hence it is likely that Nimrod, having acquired power, used it in tyranny and oppression; and by rapine and violence founded that domination which was the first distinguished by the name of a kingdom on the face of the earth[4]

Nimrod was building a kingdom opposed to the Lord, opposed to the principles of the Cross. This kingdom was all about man, and what man could do. It was a kingdom built on the foundation of Cain, a Kingdom that did not need God, did not need to sacrifice to Him.

Genesis 11:4-6 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

God saw that man could do anything and the wisdom of man was united against the wisdom of God. Therefore, God did a “BLAH” thing. People started speaking “blah blah blah.” Once again God had displayed His power and wisdom to man. Once again, man ignored Him.

As we continue with the next phase of God’s redemptive plan, we will see a man called out of idolatry and man-worship. We will see a man whose very life was lived in the shadow of the cross.

The principle of the Cross is the thread that runs throughout the Bible.
  1. The Cross is the Wisdom and Power of God
  2. The Cross is opposed to the wisdom and power of Man
  3. The Cross is the perfect Blood Sacrifice

We have seen that God’s plan for this world and for us His creation has always been fellowship and life. Yet that must be done in humility and holiness. When sin entered this world, it made us men that rebel against God’s ways. We are inclined to stray, to be independent, to seek our own welfare. Humility, dependence, repentance are foreign to our nature. Therefore, we rebel against the Cross. We refuse to sacrifice to God in His way. We want to maintain control. Therefore, we deny the power and wisdom of God.

Without Christ, our lives are a sequence of “blah blah blah” to God. We are ants scrambling over the excrement of our pride and arrogance. All this can be changed by submitting to the Cross.


[1] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “GENESIS”.

[2] J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Chapter 3”.

[3] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “mizbēah.”

[4] . Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Genesis 10”.


A young boy once accompanied his mother to worship. During the sermon, the boy was listening very attentively to the lesson that day. The preacher’s sermon on the crucifixion of Christ was so moving that the boy began to weep. Soon he began to cry aloud. His mother became so embarrassed that she whispered to him, “Don’t take it so seriously.”

Oh, that we would take the cross more seriously.

  • If we take the Cross from the Bible, we have no Bible.
  • If we take the Cross from God, we have no God.
  • If we take the Cross from Jesus, we have no Savior.
  • If we take the Cross from our lives, we have no Salvation.

This morning we want to lay the Foundation of the Cross: “Because of the Cross…we have Jesus.”

When Jesus was on the Cross, suspended between God and man, the Bible records something the jeering crowds said to Jesus:

Mark 15:29-30 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!”

Not only did they tell Jesus to save himself, they also said:

Matthew 27:42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.

The crowd was calling for Jesus to come down from the Cross. They said “save yourself” and we will believe in you.

This is the choice that has confronted mankind since Adam and Eve. Do we trust in God for our salvation? Or do we trust in our own efforts and seek to save ourselves? Jumping off the Cross was not the miracle that Jesus was going to use to save mankind or himself. The Cross had a work to do in His life, and it has a work to do in our life. As we discover all that is available to us “Because of the Cross…” we will come to cherish its work in our lives, just as Jesus realized what it was working in His life.

The Cross was not incidental to Jesus Christ. It was no “book-end” to His great teachings. He was not a “martyr” for his cause. The Cross defined everything about Jesus Christ. Because of the Cross…we have Jesus.

We will look at three major aspects of Jesus’ life here on Earth, and we will see how each one is defined by the Cross. We Will Look At His Mission, His Message And His Ministry.

A. The Mission of Jesus is defined by the Cross.

It was a 99-degree September day in San Antonio, when a 10-month-old baby girl was accidentally locked inside a parked car by her aunt. Frantically the mother and aunt ran around the auto in near hysteria, while a neighbor attempted to unlock the car with a clothes hanger. Soon the infant was turning purple and had foam on her mouth. It had become a life-or-death situation when Fred Arriola, a wrecker driver, arrived on the scene. He grabbed a hammer and smashed the back window of the car to set her free.

Was he heralded a hero? Arriola reported, “The lady was mad at me because I broke the window.” “I just thought, What’s more important–the baby or the window?”

This world scoffs at the Cross as if it was no big deal. They are like the mom who is more concerned about her car than the baby. They see the Cross as some aberrant part of Jesus life, but ignore the impact the Cross has upon the way we live. They would rather have their life intact than subject it to the work of the Cross that they might be saved.

To Jesus, the Cross defined His very purpose for coming to the Earth. The Cross defined His very mission.

Philippians 2:7-8 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Indeed, when the time appointed approached, Jesus set His face like a flint:

Luke 9:51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

This is a reference to a prophecy in Isaiah:

Isaiah 50:7 But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

As hard as the hearts of men are toward God, so was Jesus determined with every strand of His DNA to go to the Cross!

Ezekiel 3:8-9 Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.”

B. The Message of Jesus is defined by the Cross

We often associate the Message of Jesus with John 3:3 or John 3:16

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Actually, the Message of Jesus was demonstrated in actions rather than words:

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

We can see this is true because of this common theme in His preaching:

  • Matthew 10:38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
  • Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
  • Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
  • Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
  • Luke 14:27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

As we look at the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and ask, “What is the message of Jesus Christ?” The Cross is the defining message of Jesus.

Not only did the Cross secure our forgiveness from sin, but the Cross is the basis of our fellowship with God and each other. Not only did the Cross enable our New Birth, but the Cross enables us to follow and serve Jesus. The Cross is the basis of our living as a Disciple of Jesus Christ.

The Cross is in the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:3-11 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “ Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

  • Take away the Cross and there is no poor in spirit, only pride
  • Take away the Cross and there is no mourning over sin.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no meekness.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no Righteousness of God available.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no mercy.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no way to be pure in heart.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no possibility of peace.
  • Take away the Cross and there is no persecution for Righteousness sake.

Look at any message or command of Jesus Christ and it becomes meaningless without the Cross.

C. The Ministry of Jesus is Defined by the Cross

“Let a man preach with the greatest ability and zeal everything in the Bible but the Cross, he shall, as to the great end of preaching, preach in vain. While, on the other hand, the honest preaching of the Cross – though in great weakness, and even when accompanied with great deficiencies as to a full declaration of the counsel of God on some other subject – has usually been accompanied with the divine blessing. The leading object of the preacher should be to keep the mind and the heart of his hearers steadily fixed on Christ Jesus – Christ Jesus crucified[1].”

Most ministries today seek the glory of man. The emphasis is on production, media, and ratings. Ministry has become “professional.” Ministries today say, “Look how great our _____________ is.” It can be numbers, the facilities, the preacher, the TV ministry, radio. Ministry in America is corrupted by a man-centered view of effectiveness.

In the meantime, our Nation is not impacted for righteousness. We are not producing “fruits meet for repentance.” Pride in ourselves and our accomplishments will always interfere with enjoying the Righteousness of God!

Luke 3:8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.

You visit third world countries where the Gospel is spreading and people are coming to Jesus, they do not put money into facilities, they do not brag about numbers, they give glory to God for what He is doing, and then they add there is still so much to do. They do not have much money, they do not have anything to boast in, but they have Jesus!

Jesus revealed His ministry strategy in John 12:

John 12:23-26 And 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. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

  • Jesus said His glory was revealed in His death.
  • Jesus said if anyone serves Him, they must follow Him.

Where is Jesus? Is He in our beautiful buildings? Is He sitting comfortably on a padded chair or padded pew?

Hebrews 13:8 reveals where Jesus is and where those who serve Him are to go:

Hebrews 13:8-13 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.

Servants are not to be led away by teaching which is contrary to Jesus’ Life! He is the same yesterday, and today and forever. His ministry objective never changes!

Jesus is all about the Cross.

Jesus suffered and died outside the camp, away from the padded pews and the central air. He died outside to camp to bring righteousness to sinful people through His sacrifice. If we are to see righteousness and revival, we must go to Him outside the camp and bear His reproach. If we are to follow Jesus, we must bear the reproach of the ministry of the Cross.

D. What then is the Mission, Message and Ministry of the Cross?

  • (How can we experience the power of the Cross that Paul spoke about?)
The Cross is the Wisdom of God as opposed to the Wisdom of Man

1. The Cross Reveals the Wisdom & Power of God

1 Corinthians 1:17-21 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power… For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

a. God’ wisdom is revealed in the Cross.

Are you facing a difficult decision? Do you really need God’s Wisdom for a particular situation? Do not ask God for wisdom if you are not willing to apply the Cross to your life. He will not give it, for His Wisdom ALWAYS involves the Cross.

Unfortunately, just as the Cross is foolishness to those who are not saved, so it can be foolishness to Christians who in their pride refuse to submit their lives to the Cross.

That is why Paul adds the qualifier to verse 18:

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Regeneration is a onetime occurrence, but Life, or Salvation (sozo) is an ongoing, continual process. Many Christians are overcome by the world, (lost in the wilderness) because they fail to submit to the Cross of Christ.

Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

If you are to be continually saved from this wicked world, you must continually submit to the power of the Cross.

b. God’s Power is Revealed in the Cross

Just look at what happens in the lives of people when this message is preached and taught.

  • …Murderers become martyrs…
  • …fighters become lovers…
  • …hate-mongers become peacemakers…
  • …drunks become evangelists…
  • …gang members become church members…
  • …addicts become soul-winners…

and the list could go on and on and on! The very power of God is released in those of us who are being saved by the message of the Cross!Our lives, our wisdom, our objectives, our quarrels, our work, our play our families are all to be defined by the message of the Cross! When life is out of sorts, when turmoil and trials are surrounding you…Look to the Cross! There is peace at the Cross.

Colossians 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

2. The Cross Reveals the Folly of Man

Just as the crowd taunted Jesus to come down from the Cross, it is not natural for us, even Christians, to submit our lives and possessions and goals and aspirations to the Cross.

  • Look at this exchange Jesus had with His lead Disciple:

Matthew 16:23-24 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

If you are to set your mind on the things of God, you must submit to the Cross. It is because of the Cross that we can be acceptable to God.

  • Look at this exchange Jesus had with a prospective disciple:

Mark 10:21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

The Wisdom of Man is opposed to the Cross.

Philippians 3:17-19 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

3. Because of the Cross…we Have Jesus

1 Corinthians 1:17-18 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied (kenoo) of its power.

Kenóō The word kenóō, to make empty, is used metaphorically as meaning to bring to nothing in the sense of not accomplishing what one set out to accomplish as in Rom. 4:14, the faith not accomplishing its purpose. Used as an adj. in reference to the cross of Christ, meaning the cross not accomplishing its purpose, The antithesis of plēróō, to fill.[2]

The power of the Cross is what it provides for us – God’s Grace!

As we empty ourselves of our pride, we are filled to overfilling with God’s Grace!

James 4:6-10 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

It is the Grace of God that is to Fill us and Lift us UP, not the pride and wisdom of man!

We are not to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps!

“Exalt” does not mean you will have glory and honor, as man defines it. We seek not our own, for we seek God’s Wisdom. We seek to die to self and humble ourselves and all that we want before God. When He is given freedom to work in your life, then He will bring His glory to you.

Just as Jesus could not enter the Glory of Heaven without being lifted upon the Cross, so too we cannot enjoy the Glory of God upon us unless we humble ourselves to the Cross, and allow Him to lift us up.

Here is a picture of this verse:

Mourners and penitents lay on the ground, and rolled themselves in the dust. When comforted and pardoned, they arose from the earth, shook themselves from the dust, and clothed themselves in their better garments. God promises to raise these from the dust, when sufficiently humbled[3].

J Vernon McGee paints a more graphic picture:

I observed a lifeguard once as he hit a drowning fellow with his fist and knocked him out. The lifeguard explained that the drowning man was struggling and that he could not help him until he gave up. I think sometimes God gives us the fist so that we just give up and let Him take over.[4]

So how do we experience the Mission, Message and Ministry of Jesus?
How do we experience Jesus?

We MUST EXPERIENCE the Cross!

Philippians 2:1-8 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Every step of Jesus on this planet took Him one step closer to the Cross.

His first step was what we call the “self-emptying”. Jesus, Son of God, Creator of this Universe, became nothing.

From the insignificant birth, to an insignificant childhood, to a ministry to an insignificant people. He sought no fanfare. He sought no audience with Kings. He sought no titles. He sought no riches. Jesus sought the Cross. (Jim Tompkins)

The life of Jesus began with His willing and loving release of privilege and power…those two things that mankind places great importance in. This was the wisdom of God.

The world, through its wisdom, cannot understand a wisdom based on sacrifice, love and grace.

  • How foolish and weak it sounds to “turn the other cheek” in the face of an adversary’s threats.
  • How foolish and weak it sounds to speak of “loving your enemies.”
  • What kind of craziness is it to forgive others seventy times seven?
  • What foolishness it is to speak of “loving your neighbor as yourself”?
  • How silly it is to want to see yourself as a “servant” rather than as “the one being served.”

This is not the way of the world, but it is the way of the Cross!

Because of the Cross…We Have Jesus!

If you want to experience the grace and love of Jesus to the point that peace reigns in your heart, and His love pours through your life, you must choose whose wisdom you will follow.

Your choice is to live life in your pride and your own worldly wisdom, or to empty yourself, and submit everything to the Cross of Christ.

  • Apathy toward the Cross is pride.
  • Indifference to the Cross is pride.
  • Ignorance of the Cross is pride.
  • Neglect of the Cross is pride
Pride will prevent you from experiencing the Grace and Power of the Cross-Life!

Followers of Christ experience Jesus “Because of the Cross!”

  • We have Peace because of the Cross.
  • We have Unity because of the Cross.

Wherever there is disunity, hatred, gossip, slander, you know there is pride, there is selfishness, and the power of the Cross is made useless.

Only one thing can be done to lift up and restore the power of the Cross. Death to self and pride by repentance and humbling ourselves to will of Christ and His Cross.

2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Earn this... Earn it

Most of us have seen ‘Saving Private Ryan’. The captain, played by Tom Hanks, and most of his squad end up fatally wounded after trying to hold a bridge; but at least their mission has been accomplished: Private Ryan is safe. The dying words of Tom Hanks’ character have to be some of the cruelest last words on film. Hardly able to speak, the dying captain whispers to Private Ryan his final command: ‘Earn it! Earn it!’ In other words, live such a life that gives purpose to these men’s deaths. ‘Earn it!’ They are cruel words, for they placed upon Private Ryan a terrible, heavy burden. The film then closes with a scene in the present day as the now elderly Ryan kneels at the captain’s grave in a Normandy war cemetery. Tears stream down his cheek as he says to his wife, ‘Tell me I’ve been good. Tell me I’ve lived a good enough life.’

“Can you imagine if Jesus’ dying words on that cross were, ‘You all earn it!’ Can you imagine how much greater the burden would be? To earn the death of the one we worship as God! The pressure would be overwhelming. We could never do it. Instead, Jesus cried, ‘It is finished.’ The message of the cross is simply that we can never earn it; nor do we need to. How do we respond to that? Well, in one sense, we can’t. It’s too much. In another sense, there is only one way – to love our God with all our heart, mind, strength and soul. In other words, to worship our God. Not to earn God’s love, but to revel in his love; not to persuade God to love us, but to delight in his love.” (Mark Meynell, “Cross -Examined” IVP, 2001, Leicester, pp.181&182)


[1] John Brown, D. D., An Exposition of The Epistle of Paul The Apostle to The Galatians, Banner of Truth, 2001, p. 370.

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 857.

[3] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “James 4”.

[4] J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Chapter 4”.


Death with an exclamation point

A 21-year-old University Student wrote to a forum about death: “I am perfectly fine with death myself. But, I love my father very, very much. And I cannot imagine how it would be like for him to be gone, forever, one day. To know he has ceased to exist; that I will never talk with him again. It feels like having a short circuit inside the brain; life seems so vain and entrapping. Whatever I do seems pointless as one day, he will cease to exist and only a memory of him will remain. And the more joyful the memory, the greater the pain. It makes me want to scream, cry, and run away.”[1]

There are deaths that people expect, in fact even welcome. Death for many is a welcome relief from suffering. When my mom died from cancer that spread to her liver and finally brain, it was a relief to see her suffering end. However, some deaths are followed by an exclamation point. When we came home from church and saw my brother Tim sitting on our front steps, we knew something was wrong. When he cried out “Dad’s gone!”, that exclamation point hit me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. My dad was only 63. His death was a total shock to all of us, especially Mom.

Nothing shakes our world like the unexpected death of a close friend or loved one. That exclamation point shakes our world. However, one death shook the whole world, indeed, the whole universe. This death was no surprise, for it was planned. This death came with a HUGE exclamation point!!!!

Join me in listening in to Peter as he addresses a huge crowd in the Temple, just 50 days after the crucifixion of Jesus:

Acts 2:23-28 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him(Psalms 16), “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

As we celebrate this Easter Sunday, I want us to consider three things that Peter wants us to see, for they are Life Changers!

In this part of Peter’s sermon, we see God’s PLAN, God’s PRESENCE and God’s PROMISE.

  1. The Plan of God gives US power over Death
  2. The Presence of God gives US power over Life
  3. The Promise of God gives US power for Eternity

I. The Plan of God – Power over Death

God NEVER intended for His creation to die. We are made in His image. We were meant to live forever, to enjoy Him forever. He placed the Tree of Life in the middle of the Garden of Eden. After Adam sinned,

He drove out the man, and at the east of the Garden of Eden, he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:24

Sin corrupted God’s design. Sin brought the curse of death and decay to God’s creation. Yet this came as no surprise to God. God loved His creation, and already had a plan to remove the curse of death. His plan was made before time began.

A. The Death of Jesus was no Happenstance

Verse 23 says God delivered up Jesus Christ. His own son!

  • Definite plan
  • Foreknowledge of God

After Peter and John were threatened for preaching about Jesus, they were released and returned to the disciples. They prayed in Acts 4. They started their prayer Sovereign God and they prayed to God saying that Pilate and Herod and the Gentiles and Jews had only done WHAT YOUR HAND AND YOUR PLAN HAD PREDESTINED TO TAKE PLACE.

It may have been Judas who betrayed Jesus, but Judas was doing exactly as God had planned. It may have been the Romans who crucified Jesus, but the Romans were doing exactly as God had planned. It may have been the Jews who screamed, “Crucify Him!”, but the Jews were doing exactly as God planned. Jesus had to suffer this horrible death as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. There was no other way for God to rescue His creation from the curse of sin!

B. The Death of Jesus was Committed at the Hands of Lawless men.

(Even though it was God’s plan, there is no excuse for what these people did).

Jesus had to die because of the truth in Romans 3:

Romans 3:9-19 …For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” …“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Innocent men have been murdered throughout the ages. Cain murdered his brother Abel. The prophets were stoned and ridiculed, even put to death. The 12 apostles were all murdered except John, although tradition says they tried. Every day it seems we hear news of some other psycho who starts murdering innocent people. It seems that lawlessness is getting out of hand.

Yet the truth is each one of us is born lawless. We each fail to live by God’s Law, and even our own internal law. We resist, we rebel, and we have a natural bent away from total obedience to God’s Law.

The truth is that Christ died at our hands. No one can say they would not have consented to Christ’s death on the Cross. We must admit that we put Jesus on the Cross. We drove those spikes into His hands and feet. We mocked at Him as he struggled for each breath. We are the lawless ones for whom Jesus died. We deserve as Romans says, “The wages of sin is death.”

  • We must accept God’s judgment of our sinfulness.
  • There is nothing in us that permits fellowship with Holy God.
  • We are each guilty of lawlessness before God.
  • EACH ONE OF US IS BORN WITH THE SENTENCE OF DEATH UPON OUR HEADS, FOR DEATH IS THE WAGE OF SIN.

As Peter was preaching, the people were cut to their heart, they felt the tremendous pressure of their sins, and they cried out: “What shall we do?”

C. God Had Jesus Crucified to Destroy Death.

Verse 24 says:

  • God delivered up Jesus and RAISED HIM UP!
  • He loosed the pangs of death.

Literal Translation (v 24):  HAVING DESTROYED THE BIRTH PAINS (travail) of DEATH,

Having loosed the pains of death. The word loosed, lusav, is opposed to bind, and is properly applied to a cord, or to anything which is bound. See Matthew 21:2; Mark 1:7. Hence, it means to free, or to liberate, Luke 13:16; 1 Corinthians 7:27.[2]

  • Death could not hold Jesus.

“Because it was not possible for him to be held by it”

We must face that fact that just as a the birth of a child issues from the pangs of a mother’s travail, so does the passing of each one of us follow the travail of the pains of death.

When Jesus cried out from the Cross, “It is finished” He willingly laid down His life and faced the travail and pangs of death. His heart stopped. His breathing stopped. His bodily functions ceased. His brain was lifeless. They took his crucified body and wrapped Him in burial rags and laid Him in a borrowed tomb. Jesus, the Son of God died.

If we could see with spiritual eyes, we could see Satan’s demons in that tomb, wrapping a million cords of rope around Jesus. They were doing everything in their power to hold Jesus down! However, it was no use. Satan could have used a trillion ropes and that would not have been enough to hold Jesus in the grave!

God’s Word says they could not hold Him. They had no strength! Death had no power over Jesus! Jesus raised His body up from that stony grave and those cords melted away. Jesus stood up and kicked those demons out of that tomb.

Jesus had broken the strength of death. It had no power over Him! Jesus loosed the ropes of death stood up and kicked the Devil out of the tomb! Take that you old devil, for I have defeated death forever more. Your power over my children is forever destroyed!

DEATH WAS RENDERED POWERLESS BECAUSE JESUS DESTROYED THE DEVIL:

kratéō; from krátos strength. To take hold of, grasp, hold fast, followed by the gen. of person meaning to have power over, rule over.[3]

1.) Jesus destroyed the one who has power of death

Hebrews 2:14-15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

2.) Jesus holds the Keys to Death and Hades

Revelation 1:17-18 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” One day he will throw death and Hades into the Lake of Fire!

Next in verses 25-26 Peter quotes Psalms 16, and we see the Presence of God in His Christ’s life

‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.’

II. The Presence of God – Gives us Power over Life

A. The Lord was always before Him

Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

B. God was at His right hand

To have the Lord at one’s right hand signifies protection.

  • Advocates would sit to the right of their clients to defend them in court (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles [Augsburg], p. 86).
  • Bodyguards would stand on the right side so they could cover the person they were protecting with their shields and still have their right arm free to fight (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Acts 1-12 [Moody Press], p. 65).[4]
  • The right hand is mentioned because that was the place of dignity and honour. God had the place of honour, the highest place in Jesus’ affections, Psalms 109:31.
  • In our dependence on God, we should exalt him. We should not merely regard him as our help, but should at the same time give him the highest place in our affections.[5]

We Have the Promise from God!

  • TO ISRAEL – Isaiah 43:1-2 “The LORD… who created you, (says): “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
  • TO THE DISCIPLES – Matthew 28:20 “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”


Understand that God was at the right hand of Jesus every step down the Via Dolorosa. He was there through every lash, through every pounding of the spikes. He was there in the jeering crowd. Yet God forsook His only Son to the cross and to your sin, because it was His plan foreordained before time even began.

Rest assured, Jesus has promised all His children, that He will never leave you nor forsake you, that He, through the Holy Spirit, is always at your side. Does Jesus hold a place of honor in your life? Do you thank Him for His comfort, protection, and love?

God was with Jesus so that:

C. Life Did Not Shake Jesus

Verse 25 – “That I might not be shaken”

God was at the right hand of Jesus, ever before Him, so that He might not be shaken by this life. KJV says, “moved.”

The phrase pictures “to sink into calamities, or to fall into the power of enemies.” Even though Jesus was facing the most horrible catastrophe devised by man, He never lost His confidence in God to take Him through it. As He willingly submitted his back to the cat-o-nine tails, He knew God was with Him! When they hoisted the cross up and he could feel the searing pain, and struggled to breath, He knew God was with Him and would take Him through it. Jesus could rejoice with David in Psalms 62:

“He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalms 62:2

Has your life ever been shaken?

When you take your two-year-old boy to the Emergency Room with high fever and an inability to hold his head up, you are worried. When the Doctor says they need to do a spinal tap, you get more worried. When the Doctor comes back and says your son has spinal meningitis, your are literally shaking. My wife and I prayed right there, and we committed our son into God’s hands! We knew that God was not shaken! Praise the Lord, the Doctors were wrong, and our son soon got better!

Even on the Cross:

D.    His Heart was Glad & His Tongue Rejoiced

  • Verse 26 -“therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced”

Jesus could proclaim His joy and gladness because God was near Him in time of calamity. His confidence in God to deliver Him was all He needed to overcome any fear of crucifixion and becoming the lamb slain for the sins of the world. Instead of fear in His heart and woe upon His lips, Jesus said His tongue rejoiced. Tongue in the Hebrew can mean “my glory or my honor.” The tongue is man’s means of expressing honor and glory to the Creator God. As Psalms 30:12, “To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent.[6]

Jesus used His tongue to express His Honor of His Father, for He knew that through Him, there was a “joy set before me.The Greek word actually means to “jump for joy.” Yes, you can honor God as you “jump for joy”!

One of Satan’s most successful lies is that God is a cosmic killjoy who wants everyone to be miserable. People view God as a great sadist in the sky, who gets perverse delight in making His creatures miserable. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus wants His joy to be our joy. His joy in the midst of the worst calamities can be our joy in the worst of times!

  • Jesus tells us that His joy is made complete in us (Jn 15:11, Jn 17:13)
  • He told the Disciples when they saw Him alive again, they would rejoice, and no one could take that joy away from them (John 16:20, 22).
  • Having Joy from Jesus does not deny times of sorrow and grief. (Jesus was a man of sorrows)

Nevertheless, it does overcome such times because it rests on the sovereign God and His promises to every believer.

E.  Jesus Dwelt in Hope.

  • Verse 26 – “my flesh also will dwell in hope (CONFIDENCE)”
  • Literally: MY FLESH IS GOING TO PITCH A TENT WITH CONFIDENCE.

Like the expression “You can take that to the Bank” Jesus hung on the cross in confident expectation of the Resurrection. His earthly body was temporary, it was a tent, but Jesus dwelt in that tent in Full Confidence of His Father!

The word Greek word elpís “hope” best expresses confidence rather than hope. The passage means, My body will I commit to the grave, with the firm confidence that I will never see corruption, but arise to the Joy of my Father![7]

Jesus was confident in the power of His Father. He was confident that He was fulfilling His will. He expressed that confidence at the beginning of His ministry:

He expressed that confidence at the end of His earthly ministry: “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

III. The Promise of God – Power for Eternity

A. You Will Not Abandon My Soul to Hades (vs 27)

  • NKJV For You will not leave my soul in Hades.

As Death could not hold Jesus, so Hades could not keep Him. The place that Jesus Himself described was the place souls await judgment. Those who trusted in God such as Lazarus, Abraham, and the Old Testament saints, until the resurrection, those who hardened themselves against God until the Great White Throne Judgment. Satan had no hold on Jesus, in fact, Jesus freed those Old Testament Saints who were looking for their Messiah:

Ephesians 4:7-8 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”

B. You will not let Your Holy One see Corruption

Jesus is the Holy One. Hebrews 4:15 declares, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus had no part in sin, therefore His body was exempt from the corruption and decay that a dead body experiences. Instead of the stench of decaying flesh, Jesus was a sweet aroma to His heavenly Father!

Destruction in a moral sense. It refers to the change of the present constitution of the body or the change of the moral makeup of a person[8].

Jesus body never decayed because He had defeated Sin and Hell!

C. You Will Make Known the Paths of Life (v 28)

Jesus is declaring that the Cross is the Path of Life! It has Power for all Eternity. The cross towers over the train track of ruin and damnation. The unstoppable locomotive of death and destruction was bearing down on Jesus, but that old Cross stopped that locomotive cold, throwing it off the tracks. For the Cross became a new track, the track that leads to Eternal Life! Jesus is our Path of Life!

This properly means the path to life; as we say, the road to preferment or honour; the path to happiness; the highway to ruin, etc. See Proverbs 7:25, 27. It means, Thou wilt make known to me life itself, i.e. thou wilt restore me to life. The expressions in the Psalm are capable of this interpretation without doing any violence to the text; and if the preceding verses refer to the death and burial of the Messiah, then the natural and proper meaning of this is, that he would be restored to life again.[9]

D.    You Will Make Me Full of Gladness With Your Presence (Countenance).

There is nothing that Satan could throw at Jesus that could steal His joy! Not torture, not crucifixion, not even death!

Jesus knew that God would raise Him from the dead before His body would undergo decay. He knew He would once again enjoy the Presence of His Father.

1.) The Resurrection Assures us that Death will never hold us.
  • Sin is Forgiven
  • NO PAYMENT DUE.
  • NO CONDEMNATION!
  • Our body will experience decay, but our soul will be with God the very millisecond we die. Death will never destroy us, because Jesus conquered Death!
2.) The Resurrection Assures us that Life doesn’t have to Shake us.
  • We have Power over Life through Jesus Christ. We can know Gladness and Joyfulness in the midst of the worst of times.
3.) The Resurrection Assures us we will Spend  Eternity with Christ
  • We can rejoice because we have an unshakeable confidence that because Jesus defeated sin, death and the Devil, even so we will conquer death and sin and the devil because we are in Him by faith!
  • To absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!

However, our bodies await that great moment when “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

We Have a New Victory Cry!

1 Corinthians 15:51-57. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We can Jump for Joy!

  • We can cry out “Thanks be to God for the Victory He gives us through our Jesus Christ!”
  • We have a New Exclamation Point for our Life! He is Alive! He is Alive!!!!!!

How is your gladness this morning? Are your rejoicing? WHO IS YOUR TRUST IN? Jesus was rejoicing even on the Cross. His behavior was so unbelievable that a cursing thief had a change of heart and confessed Jesus was a righteous man. A roman soldier declared that truly this was the son of God!

You do not have to settle for a trickle of joy now and then. You do not have to be shaken by what life throws at you. You do not have to fear tomorrow. You do not have to fear death. Give you life to Jesus Christ. Trust Him and Him alone for your salvation.

Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • The pangs of childbirth turn into the Joy of parenthood.
  • The pangs of death turn into the Joy of life with our Father forevermore!

Through the Resurrection we have a Legacy

John Newton calls our legacy, “solid joys and lasting treasure.”

What is the Key to Knowing His Joy and Gladness?

  1. Spend time often with God in His Word and in prayer. Even if it is a short time, get up early enough to meet with God before you head out the door. Start keeping an ongoing dialogue with God.
  2. Relate everything, even little events, to God’s Hand. Learn to say thank you God! See everything from His loving hand. Nothing happens by chance. Even the bad things, we thank Him for!
  3. Take time often to enjoy God in His creation. Take time to garden, grow flowers, feed the birds, and take a walk. Turn the TV off, stop watching the news, and make time to see God’s creation! If you cannot sense God’s presence and glory at a time like that, you may not know God!

The key to joy and gladness is to walk and work and play with a constant sense of God’s presence. Then, even if you go through trials, you will keep your joy because it is coming from God and His presence with you.

I Dreamed I Stood at Calvary

I dreamed I stood at Calvary
And saw three crosses there;
On left and right were nailed two thieves,
The cross between was bare.

A soldier took his sword in hand,
Then pointing it at me;
He said, “You there, prepare to die.
That cross is meant for thee.”

I quickly fell upon my knees,
For mercy did I cry;
As strong hands grabbed my hands and feet,
I shouted, “Why, oh why?”

And then a voice both soft and sweet
Was heard above the din;
“Let this one go, take me instead.
I’ll pay his debt of sin.”

With his body torn and bleeding,
And thorn marks ’round his head;
With face bruised where they beat him,
He stepped into my stead.

Then Jesus laid upon the cross,
His life to freely give;
That all my sins be washed away,
And through his death, I’d live.

He stretched his arms out open wide,
No struggle did he make;
As they prepared to nail him there,
His life to gladly take.

They drove the spikes in hands and feet
And slammed the cross in place;
His bones were shaken out of joint,
And blood flowed down his face.

“Forgive them, Father”‘ was his cry,
They know not what they’ve done.
They do not realize that you,
Have sent your only son.”

Deep darkness filled the noonday sky
And trembling shook the ground;
As God, the Father, turned away,
While God, the Son, gazed ’round.

“It’s finished now”, the Saviour said.
“The door stands open wide;
Into thy hand’s my spirit comes.”
And then they pierced his side.

The graves were bursting open,
And dead men walked around;
The temple veil was rent in twain,
And I fell to the ground.

When I awoke, the night had passed
And sunshine flooded in;
I cried, “Dear Lord, forgive me please,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For you sent down your only son,
A ransom for the lost;
And I see you included me,
When counting out the cost.

Take o’er the reins that guide my life,
Remove my wilful pride;
Sweep clean my heart and enter in,
Forever, there abide.”

Yes, I dreamt I stood at Calvary
And saw those crosses three;
Yet no longer do I look with fear
Where Jesus died for me!

Are you living Life with an Exclamation Point! Are you jumping for Joy regardless of the circumstances?

The Death of Jesus was the greatest Exclamation Point this world has ever known, for it was followed by His resurrection! HE IS ALIVE! HE IS ALIVE!

  • Because He Lives We have Power over Death!
  • Because He lives we have Power over Life!
  • Because He lives, we have Power for Eternity – Life with Him!

Is there an Exclamation Point in your Life? Is Jesus in your Life?


[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 885.

[8] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “διαφθορά”


The Crucifixion in Excruciating Detail

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 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. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

To ask a Gentile to believe in a Savior who had been crucified was absolute foolishness at the time of Paul. Crucifixion was considered so obscene that no one spoke of it. If a relative had been crucified for his crimes, you would be too ashamed to mention it. A Crucified Savior was unheard of! It was foolishness to the “wisdom” of the Gentiles. It was a stumbling block to the Jews, who looked for a Kingly Messiah, not a Crucified commoner.

Death was designed for maximum pain with minimal blood loss, thereby extending the pain and suffering by days. Crucifixion was, in every sense of the word, excruciating (Latin, excruciatus, or “out of the cross”). In order to understand the obscenity and shame of the crucifixion, and to know the depths of the Love of our Savior,  we need to understand the horrors to which our Savior willingly submitted Himself.

The Scourging

Preparations for Jesus’ scourging were carried out at Caesar’s orders. The prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire stepped forward with the flagrum, or flagellum, in his hand. This was a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip was brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs. At first the weighted thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continued, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.

The small balls of lead first produced large deep bruises that were broken open by subsequent blows. Finally, the skin of the back was hanging in long ribbons, and the entire area was an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it was determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner was near death, the beating was finally stopped.

The Humiliation

The half-fainting Jesus was then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with his own blood. The Roman soldiers saw a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be a king. They threw a robe across His shoulders and placed a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still needed a crown to make their travesty complete. Small flexible branches covered with long thorns, commonly used for kindling fires in the charcoal braziers in the courtyard, were plaited into the shape of a crude crown. The crown was pressed into his scalp and again there was copious bleeding as the thorns pierced the very vascular tissue. After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers took the stick from His hand and struck Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tired of their sadistic sport and tore the robe from His back. The robe had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal, just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, caused excruciating pain. The wounds again began to bleed.

Jesus had not drank since the night before, so the combination of the beatings, the crown of thorns, and the scourging would have set into motion an irreversible process of severe dehydration and cardio respiratory failure. All of this was done so that the prophecies would be fulfilled:

  • I can count all my bones: they look and stare upon me. Psalm 22:17
  • I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. Isaiah 50:6
  • As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind. Isaiah 52:14
  • Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

Behold the Man!

The Crown of Thorns and the Robe

The significance of the scarlet robe and crown of thorns is to emphasize Jesus’ taking the sins of the world upon His body. The Bible describes sin by the color of scarlet and that thorns first appeared after the fall, as a sign of the curse. Thus, the articles that He wore are symbols to show that Jesus took on the sins (and the curse) of the world upon Himself.

  • Genesis 3:17-18: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
  • “Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.”Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  

Crucifixion

Crucifixion was invented by the Persians approximately 300-400 B.C. It was “perfected” by the Romans in the first century B.C. It is arguably the most painful death ever invented by man and is where we get our term “excruciating.” It was reserved primarily for the most vicious of criminals, as well as conquered foes.

Victims of crucifixion were typically stripped naked and their clothing divided by the Roman guards. In Jesus’ case this was done in fulfillment of Psalm 22:18, “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”

It was customary for the condemned man to carry his own cross from the flogging post to the site of crucifixion outside the city walls. He was usually naked, unless this was prohibited by local customs. Since the weight of the entire cross was probably well over 300 lb., only the crossbar was carried. The heavy patibulum of the cross, (weighing 75 to 125 lb.) was placed across the nape of the victim’s neck and balanced along both shoulders. Usually, the outstretched arms were tied to the crossbar. The procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion began its slow journey along the route which we know today as the Via Dolorosa.

In spite of Jesus’ efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious loss of blood, was too much. He stumbled and fell. The rough wood of the beam gouged into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tried to rise, but human muscles had been pushed beyond their endurance. The centurion, anxious to proceed with the crucifixion, selected a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus followed, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock. The 650-yard journey from the Fortress Antonia to Golgotha was finally completed.

Outside the city walls were permanently located the heavy upright wooden stipes, on which the patibulum would be secured. At the site of execution, by law, the victim was given a bitter drink of wine mixed with myrrh (gall) as a mild analgesic. Even though Jesus was severely dehydrated through blood and fluid loss, He refused this drink. He chose to face death in full control of His senses. Edersheim writes:

“It was a merciful Jewish practice to give to those led to execution a draught of strong wine mixed with myrrh so as to deaden consciousness” (Mass Sem 2.9; Bemid. R. 10). The draught was offered to Jesus when He reached Golgotha. But having tasted it….He would not drink it. ….He would meet Death, even in his sternest and fiercest mood, and conquer by submitting to the full…. (p.880).

Jesus refused this drink. The criminal was then thrown to the ground on his back, with his arms outstretched along the patibulum. The hands could be nailed or tied to the crossbar, but nailing apparently was preferred by the Romans. The archaeological remains of a crucified body, found in an ossuary near Jerusalem and dating from the time of Christ, indicate that the nails were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 in (13 to 18 cm) long with a square shaft 3/8 in (1 cm) across. Furthermore, ossuary findings and the Shroud of Turin have documented that the nails commonly were driven through the wrists rather than the palms.

After both arms were fixed to the crossbar, the patibulum and the victim, together, were lifted onto the stipes. On the low cross, four soldiers could accomplish this relatively easily. However, on the tall cross, the soldiers used either wooden forks or ladders.

Next, the feet were fixed to the cross, either by nails or ropes. Ossuary findings and the Shroud of Turin suggest that nailing was the preferred Roman practice. Although the feet could be fixed to the sides of the stipes or to a wooden footrest, they usually were nailed directly to the front of the stipes. To accomplish this, flexion of the knees may have been quite prominent, and the bent legs may have been rotated laterally. The left foot was pressed backward against the right foot. With both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim was now crucified.

When the nailing was completed, the titulus was attached to the cross, by nails or cords, just above the victim’s head. The soldiers and the civilian crowd often taunted and jeered the condemned man, and the soldiers customarily divided up his clothes among themselves.

To add to the horror, insects would light upon or burrow into the open wounds or the eyes, ears, and nose of the dying and helpless victim, and birds of prey would tear at these sites. Moreover, it was customary to leave the corpse on the cross to be devoured by predatory animals. However, by Roman law, the family of the condemned could take the body for burial, after obtaining permission from the Roman judge.

Since no one was intended to survive crucifixions the body was not released to the family until the soldiers were sure that the victim was dead. By custom, one of the Roman guards would pierce the body with a sword or lance. Traditionally, this was a spear wound to the heart through the right side of the chest — a fatal wound probably taught to most Roman soldiers. The Shroud of Turin documents this form of injury. Moreover, the standard infantry spear, which was 5 to 6 ft long, could easily have reached the chest of a man crucified on the customary low cross.”

On the Cross

As Jesus slowly sagged down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerve, large nerve trunks which traverse the mid-wrist and hand. As He pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He placed His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there was searing agony as the nail tore through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of His feet.

At this point, another phenomenon occurred. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arm, the pectoral muscles, the large muscles of the chest, were paralyzed and the intercostal muscles, the small muscles between the ribs, were unable to act. Air could be drawn into the lungs, but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, the carbon dioxide level increased in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subsided.

Forces of Darkness

While He was on the cross, darkness covered the land (noon to three p.m.). Jesus, in Luke 22:53, associates those who arrested Him with the power of darkness. Where were the evil forces while Jesus was on the cross? The verses below from Psalm 22 seem out of place when first read. There seems to be no mention of “bulls” and “lions” around the cross. The verses, however, have a deeper meaning. Bashan was an area to the east of the Jordan River which was famous for its fertility. There cattle were raised which grew to enormous sizes. The people there worshipped demon spirits (associated with Baal) within the cattle.1 Pet 5:8 describes Satan as “a roaring lion…seeking those who he may devour” These verses are thus suggestive of the spiritual activity of Satan and his demons, celebrating as Jesus was suffering on the cross.

Psalm 22:12-13: “Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.”

Medical Aspects of Crucifixion

After forced to carry his cross to the site, the victim was then placed on his back, arms stretched out and nailed to the cross bar. The nails, which were generally about 7-9 inches long, were placed between the bones of the forearm (the radius and ulna) and the small bones of the hands (the carpal bones).

The placement of the nail at this point had several effects. First it ensured that the victim would indeed hang there until dead. Secondly, a nail placed at this point would sever the largest nerve in the hand called the median nerve.

The severing of this nerve is a medical catastrophe. In addition to severe burning pain the destruction of this nerve causes permanent paralysis of the hand. Furthermore, by nailing the victim at this point in the wrist, there would be minimal bleeding and there would be no bones broken! Thus scriptures were fulfilled:

  • He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Psalm 34:20

The positioning of the feet is probably the most critical part of the mechanics of crucifixion. First the knees were flexed about 45 degrees and the feet were flexed (bent downward) an additional 45 degrees until they were parallel the vertical pole. An iron nail about 7-9 inches long was driven through the feet between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal bones. In this position the nail would sever the dorsal pedal artery of the foot, but the resultant bleeding would be insufficient to cause death.

The scourging prior to crucifixion served to weaken the condemned man and, if blood loss was considerable, to produce orthostatic hypotension[1] and even hypovolemic[2] shock. When the victim was thrown to the ground on his back, in preparation for transfixion of the hands, his scourging wounds most likely would become torn open again and contaminated with dirt. Furthermore, with each respiration, the painful scourging wounds would be scraped against the rough wood of the stipes. As a result, blood loss from the back probably would continue throughout the crucifixion ordeal.

With arms outstretched but not taut, the wrists were nailed to the patibulum. It has been shown that the ligaments and bones of the wrist can support the weight of a body hanging from them, but the palms cannot. Accordingly, the iron spikes probably were driven between the radius and the carpals or between the two rows of carpal bones, either proximal to or through the strong band like flexor retinaculum and the various intercarpal ligaments. Although a nail in either location in the wrist might pass between the bony elements and thereby produce no fractures, the likelihood of painful periosteal injury would seem great. Furthermore, the driven nail would crush or sever the rather large median nerve. The stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms. Although the severed median nerve would result in paralysis of a portion of the hand, ischemic contracture and impalement of various ligaments by the iron spike might produce a claw like grasp.

Most commonly, the feet were fixed to the front of the stipes by means of an iron spike driven through the first or second inter metatarsal space, just distal to the tarsometatarsal joint. It is likely that the deep peroneal nerve and branches of the medial and lateral plantar nerves would have been injured by the nails. Although scourging may have resulted in considerable blood loss, crucifixion per se was a relatively bloodless procedure, since no major arteries, other than perhaps the deep plantar arch, pass through the favored anatomic sites of transfixion.

Tetanic Spasm

The major effect of crucifixion, beyond the excruciating pain, was a marked interference with normal respiration, particularly exhalation. The weight of the body, pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders, would tend to fix the intercostal[3] muscles in an inhalation state and thereby hinder passive exhalation.  Accordingly, exhalation was primarily diaphragmatic, and breathing was shallow. It is likely that this form of respiration would not suffice and that hypercapnia[4] would soon result. The onset of muscle cramps or tetanic spasms[5], due to fatigue and hypercapnia, would hinder respiration even further.

The resulting position on the cross sets up a horrific sequence of events which results in a slow, painful death. Having been pinned to the cross, the victim now has an impossible position to maintain.

With the knees flexed at about 45 degrees, the victim must bear his weight with the muscles of the thigh. However, this is an almost impossible task-try to stand with your knees flexed at 45 degrees for 5 minutes. As the strength of the legs gives out, the weight of the body must now be borne by the arms and shoulders. The result is that within a few minutes of being placed on the cross, the shoulders will become dislocated. Minutes later the elbows and wrists become dislocated. The result of these dislocations is that the arms are as much as 6-9 inches longer than normal.

With the arms dislocated, considerable body weight is transferred to the chest, causing the rib cage to be elevated in a state of perpetual inhalation. Consequently, in order to exhale the victim must push down on his feet to allow the rib muscles to relax. The problem is that the victim cannot push very long because the legs are extremely fatigued. As time goes on, the victim is less and less able to bear weight on the legs, causing further dislocation of the arms and further rising of the chest wall, making breathing more and more difficult.

  • …all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; Psalm 22:14

The result of this process is a series of catastrophic physiological effects. Because the victim cannot maintain adequate ventilation of the lungs, the blood oxygen level begins to diminish and the blood carbon dioxide (CO2) level begins to rise. This process sets up a vicious cycle of increasing oxygen demand-which cannot be met-followed by an ever increasing heart rate. The rising CO2 level stimulates the heart to beat faster in order to increase the delivery of oxygen and the removal of CO2. Due to the shallow breathing, the victim’s lungs begin to collapse in small areas, causing hypoxia and hypercapnia. A respiratory acidosis[6], with lack of compensation by the kidneys due to the loss of blood from the numerous beatings, resulted in an increased strain on the heart, which beats faster to compensate. After several hours the heart begins to fail, the lungs collapse and fill up with fluid, which further decreases oxygen delivery to the tissues. The blood loss and hyperventilation combines to cause severe dehydration. Over a period of several hours the combination of collapsing lungs, a failing heart, dehydration, and the inability to get adequate oxygen supplies to the tissues cause the eventual death of the victim. The victim, in effect, cannot breath properly and slowly suffocates to death. In cases of severe cardiac stress, such as crucifixion, a victim’s heart can even burst. This process is called “Cardiac Rupture.”

The actual cause of death by crucifixion was multifactorial and varied somewhat with each case, but the two most prominent causes probably were hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Other possible contributing factors included dehydration, stress-induced arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure with the rapid accumulation of pericardial and perhaps pleural effusions. Crucifracture (breaking the legs below the knees), if performed, led to death from asphyxia within minutes.

His Last Words

Spasmodically, Jesus was able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences that are recorded.

He suffered hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue was torn from His lacerated back from His movement up and down against the rough timbers of the cross. Then another agony began: a deep crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium, the sac surrounding the heart, slowly filled with serum and began to compress the heart.

The prophecy in Psalm 22:14 was being fulfilled: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”

The end was rapidly approaching. The loss of tissue fluids had reached a critical level; the compressed heart was struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood to the tissues, and the tortured lungs were making a frantic effort to inhale small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues sent their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasped His fifth cry: “I thirst.” Again we read in the prophetic psalm: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15 KJV).

Jesus was offered a second drink, which He accepted. It is ‘pocsa’, a sour wine popular at that time. Jesus accepted this drink because of two important images. The drink was given on the “stalk of a hyssop plant”. Remember that these events occurred at the Feast of the Passover. During this feast, hyssop was used to apply the blood of the Passover lamb to the wooden doorposts of the Jews. It is interesting the end of this hyssop stalk pointed to the blood of the Perfect Lamb which was applied to the wooden cross for the salvation of all mankind.

In addition, the wine vinegar is a product of fermentation, which is made from grape juice and yeast. The word literally means “that which is soured” and is related to the Hebrew term for “that which is leavened”. (Holmans) Yeast or leaven, is a Biblical symbol of sin. When Jesus took this drink, (i.e. a drink which was “leavened”) it is thus symbolic of His taking the sins of the world into His body.

After this last drink, His body was now in extremis, and He could feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brought forth His sixth word, possibly little more than a tortured whisper: “It is finished.” His mission of atonement had been completed. Finally, He could allow His body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath, and uttered His seventh and last cry: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

While the crucifixion is horrible to our physical senses, we will never understand the spiritual agony of Hell that Jesus experienced for us upon the cross. There is no graphic display that can impress upon our senses the wrath of God upon Jesus Christ. He drank of God’s Wrath against our sin! Wrath that was meant for us, to be experienced in an eternity of Hell, Jesus experienced in a moment. God experienced Hell for you and me! That is love that cannot be defined, only experienced! Do you know His Love? Has He changed your life?

This is a Compilation from the following Sources:

Dr. C Truman David, “The Crucifixion”,, New Wine Magazine, April 1982. Originally published in Arizona Medicine, March 1965, Arizona Medical Association.

The Agony of Love by Dr. Mark Eastman

http://www.frugalsites.net/jesus/crucifixion.htm

Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Compiled by David Terasaka, M.D. ©1996.


[1] Orthostatic hypotension is a form of hypotension in which a person’s blood pressure suddenly falls when standing up or stretching. The symptom is caused by blood pooling in the lower extremities upon a change in body position. It is quite common and can occur briefly in anyone, although it is particularly prevalent among the elderly, and those with low blood pressure.

[2] Hypovolemic shock refers to a medical or surgical condition in which rapid fluid loss results in multiple organ failure due to inadequate circulating volume and subsequent inadequate perfusion.

[3] Intercostal muscles are several groups of muscles that run between the ribs, and help form and move the chest wall. The intercostal muscles are mainly involved in the mechanical aspect of breathing. These muscles help expand and shrink the size of the chest cavity when you breathe.

[4] Hypercapnia (or hypercarbia) is generally defined as an abnormally high level of carbon dioxide (e.g., more than 45 mm Hg) in the arterial blood.

[5] a state of sustained muscular contraction without periods of relaxation caused by repetitive stimulation of the motor nerve trunk at frequencies so high that individual muscle twitches are fused and cannot be distinguished from one another

[6] Respiratory acidosis develops when there is too much carbon dioxide (an acid) in the body. This type of acidosis is usually caused when the body is unable to remove enough carbon dioxide through breathing.