Archive for the ‘Crucifixion’ Category


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”

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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.


God desires for you to have daily evidence of your Salvation. He desires us to know it in our heart, our soul and our strength. His desire is that you live each day as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. We can see how this is possible at church, even though church can become a distraction to following Jesus Christ. After all, we sing songs about Jesus and we pretend to listen to sermons about Jesus.But what about in the parking lot, on Monday morning, when the pressures and stresses of life start to bombard us? How does Jesus relate to real life? This is where discipline comes into our Christian walk. We must discipline ourselves to bring Jesus Christ into every situation we face. In fact, we must discipline ourselves to view every situation from the Gospel perspective.

Paul said: I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

Do You Have Stress in Your Life?

Why? Jesus promised us rest…

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

The writer of Hebrews says there is a promise of entering God’s rest, but bemoaned the fact that not every Christian enters…

Hebrews 4:1-2 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

These were not heathen Gentiles. These were faithful Jews, God’s chosen. They had seen His Salvation at the Red Sea. They had covenanted with Moses to follow the Lord. But something happened, and they were overthrown in the wilderness by their stresses.

I believe the Gospel has the Power of Rest for Stressed Christians.

In Paul’s day, being a Christian meant being a disciple. It meant giving everything up. It meant losing family, friends, and possessions. It meant the threat of losing your life. We have lost that perspective in Culturally Christian Bible Belt America.

The Gospel has power for our lives, but it is conditional.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.

“You are being saved” pictures an ongoing process whereby you are the recipient of God’s salvation. You are the one being acted upon. However, you can block the power of the Gospel by failing to take hold of the Word. Κατέχω (Katecho) does not mean to take hold of something in a casual way. It means to take hold of something as if you were making it your own, (to hold fast, keep secure, keep firm possession of). Like holding on to a bar of gold. You clutch it close to you, you make it yours, and no one is going to pry it from your hands.

Jesus explain the importance of “holding fast” in the parable of the soils and the seeds:

Luke 8:15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

When you give your life to Jesus knowing that you could lose your life, you take hold of His Word as though your life depends upon it!

If you are not holding fast to the Gospel, the chances are that your belief in Christ had a selfish motivation, and was for your personal benefit, and not because you needed Jesus, and needed His life to be yours. If you have not been holding fast to the Gospel of Christ, if you have failed to make it your life, perhaps you should “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.”

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Stress – What is it?

Dr. Nick Hall (expert in psychobiology) conducts a seminar called “Stress and Disease” He gives a humorous example of one coping skill for dealing with job stress.

When you have had one of those TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT days, try this. On your way home after work, stop at your pharmacy and go to the section where they have thermometers. You will need to purchase a rectal thermometer made by *Q-Tip. Be very sure that you get this brand. When you get home, lock your doors, draw the drapes, and disconnect the phone so you will not be disturbed during your therapy. Change to very comfortable clothing, such as a sweat suit and lie down on your bed. Open the package containing the thermometer and remove the thermometer and carefully place it on the bedside table so that it will not become chipped or broken.Take the written material that accompanies the thermometer and as you read it you will notice in small print the statement that “every rectal thermometer made by Q-Tip is PERSONALLY tested.” Now close your eyes and say out loud five times, ‘I am so glad that I do not work in quality control at the Q-Tip Company.’

Practical Definition of Stress.

The basic definition of “stress” is any opposing reaction or force to your own intention that causes strain or tension. Similarly (but not the same), the definition of a problem is an opposing intention or force of some kind. Problems can be solved. A problem does not necessarily cause stress or tension. The main characteristic of a problem that becomes stressful is feeling like we cannot do anything about it. Not all problems are stressful when we feel that we can do something about them, no matter how much or how little.

The full definition of stress is “a problem (or set of problems) that we do not feel that we can solve or do something effective to handle.”

In other words, you could say “I don’t feel like I can do anything about this problem” or “I feel stressed” and it would mean the same thing. Take anything in your life that feels stressful to you. Apply this definition to it and see if it fits. Is it something you do not have a real solution for? Let’s look at it another way. Do you feel stressed by situations or problems that you have a good solution for? Probably not!

Stress and Children – Causes
  • being away from home (ages 5 to 7)
  • fear of wetting themselves (ages 5 to 7)
  • worry about getting along with peers
  • worry about school work
  • fear of being chosen last on any team
  • fear of being different from others
  • worry about changing bodies (ages 10 to 12)

Other major sources of stress:

  • divorce of parents
  • move to new town or city
  • being held back in school
  • serious illness
  • parent being called to war
Signs and Symptoms of Child Stress
  • Physical—headaches, stomach aches, vomiting, wetting
  • Emotional—fear, irritability, sadness
  • Behavioral—crying, nervous tics, losing temper
  • Interactions with others—withdrawing, teasing or bullying, extreme
Stress and Teens
  • The pressure of expectations from self and from others
  • The pressure at school from teachers, coaches,
  • The pressures due to grades and homework
  • Strained relationship with classmates
  • Strained relationship with parents/siblings
  • Physical and biological changes in the body during adolescence
  • Negative feelings about oneself/low self-esteem
  • Heated arguments with or between parents
  • Financial problems in the family
  • Tragedy in the family (e.g. death, divorce, cancer, AIDS)
  • Break up with boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Separation or divorce of parents
  • High crime rate in the living environment/neighborhood
  • Moving to a new surroundings
  • Changing to a new school
  • Horrifying societal events like 9/11 terrorist attacks or communal war
  • Failing to achieve something desired
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Stress

Signs of teen stress include withdrawal; crying; picking fights; loss of focus and diminishing accomplishment; change in eating or sleeping patterns, particularly loss of appetite and disturbed sleep; moodiness or anger. Extreme stress can lead to thoughts of suicide.

Stress and Adults
Latest Results from the American Psychological Association:
  • 32% report extreme stress
  • Nearly one in five (17%) reach their highest stress level 15 or more days per month.
  • Almost half (48%) say their stress level has risen over the last five years.
  • Stress didn’t come as a surprise. Most participants indicated that stress is a natural part of life.
  • But the survey shows that participants are suffering physically, emotionally, professionally, and personally as a result of stress.
  • Most participants — 82% — say they manage their stress well. But they also admit that stress causes problems with their physical and mental health, relationships, and work.
  • More than three out of four participants — 77% — said that within the previous month, they had had physical problems due to stress.
  • Those problems included fatigue, headache, upset stomach, muscle tension, change in appetite, teeth grinding, change in sex drive, and feeling dizzy.
  • Almost as many participants — 73% — reported stress-related psychological symptoms in the previous month, including irritability, anger, nervousness, lack of energy, and feeling on the verge of tears.
  • Stress kept nearly half of participants — 48% — awake at night during the previous month. They reported losing 21 hours of sleep during that month.
  • Almost half of participants — 43% — said they had overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods because of stress in the previous month. Candy and chocolate were their most popular comfort foods.
  • Two-thirds of smokers said they smoked more when they were stressed, and 17% of drinkers said they drank too much within the previous week because of stress.
  • Work: 74%
  • Money: 73%
  • Workload: 66%
  • Children: 64%
  • Family responsibilities: 60%
  • Health concerns: 55%
  • Health problems affecting spouse, partner, or children: 55%
  • Health problems affecting parents or other family members: 53%
  • Housing costs (e.g. rent or mortgage): 51%
  • Intimate relationships: 47%
Stress and Health
  • Most participants — 82% — say they manage their stress well. But they also admit that stress causes problems with their physical and mental health, relationships, and work.
  • More than three out of four participants — 77% — said that within the previous month, they had had physical problems due to stress.
  • Those problems included fatigue, headache, upset stomach, muscle tension, change in appetite, teeth grinding, change in sex drive, and feeling dizzy.
  • Almost as many participants — 73% — reported stress-related psychological symptoms in the previous month, including irritability, anger, nervousness, lack of energy, and feeling on the verge of tears.
Losing Sleep, Eating Badly
  • Stress kept nearly half of participants — 48% — awake at night during the previous month. They reported losing 21 hours of sleep during that month.
  • Almost half of participants — 43% — said they had overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods because of stress in the previous month. Candy and chocolate were their most popular comfort foods.
  • Two-thirds of smokers said they smoked more when they were stressed, and 17% of drinkers said they drank too much within the previous week because of stress.
Sources of Stress
  • Work: 74%
  • Money: 73%
  • Workload: 66%
  • Children: 64%
  • Family responsibilities: 60%
  • Health concerns: 55%
  • Health problems affecting spouse, partner, or children: 55%
  • Health problems affecting parents or other family members: 53%
  • Housing costs (e.g. rent or mortgage): 51%
  • Intimate relationships: 47%

Biblical Lessons for Dealing With Stress

1. How Did Jesus Handle Stress?

Jesus in Matthew 11 was facing what some would consider “Stressful Problems”

  1. He went preaching in the cities where his disciples lived.
  2. John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask if Jesus was the one. Jesus did not give a straight answer, but said, tell John what I have done, and tell him “Blessed are the ones who are not offended in me.”
  3. The crowd around Jesus did not understand what he said, Jesus said something else harsh, “from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.”
  4. Jesus gets on the crowd for not understanding His message.
  5. Then he lambasts the cities where he had been preaching and doing miracles, because they had refused to understand His message. He said it would be more tolerable for Sodom on the Day of Judgment than it would be for them.

So at the height of these stresses – of John doubting Him, his followers doubting Him, and the cities where He did miracles doubting Him, Jesus said an amazing thing.

MATT 11:25 – “I thank you Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that you have hidden these things for the wise and understanding and revealed them to children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father…

Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus was facing some stressful situations that would appear beyond His control. He reacted by calling God Lord of heaven and earth, and then thanking God for giving Him babies instead of wise adults to start His church. Then He said, by the way, God has turned over everything to me. I am the boss, and if you doubt me, I lay down this challenge. Lay down your burdens and I promise you rest. But if you want more, you need to study and learn from me, and if you really follow me, your soul will find rest!

Jesus said there are two rests, one promised upon receiving Him, and one discovered as you live your life yoked to Him. The second rest is deeper and more satisfying, effecting your mind, will and emotions. In other words, no matter the problems you are facing, if you face them with the one who handles everything, you will not feel stressed!

2. How Did Paul Handle Stress?

1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul  could see the importance of the Power of God. He desired it so much, that he welcomed stresses, persecutions, hardships, because they gave him the opportunity to know the power of God in the midst of his weaknesses and stresses.

3. How Did God Try to Teach the Wilderness Jews to Deal with Stress?

Early on in their Journey, the Hebrews faced several stressful problems. They came into the wilderness of Shur, which means a foe lying in wait.

שׁוּר shûr (From H7889); a foe (as lying in wait). This set the stage for what was to come in the early months of their travels in the Sinai. Problems were lying in wait for them, and God wanted to teach them how to respond to stressful situations.

Problems always lie in wait. You can go to work like any other day, and discover that you are out of a job. You can go for a routine check up and be told you need some tests. A simple conversation with a friend or family member can end up in a fight and a wall. There may be a call from the police about your child, or worse, your spouse. Problems happen, and depending upon whether we think we can handle it or not, we feel stressed.

This problem was serious. They needed water. Three days had passed, some were suffering dehydration. Livestock was at the point of death. Suddenly a cry goes up, “look there’s water!” Everyone rushes to it, starts to drink, but something is wrong. This is like the water pools in Egypt that develop after the Nile floods. That water brought disease. This was the same ‘bitter’ water. The people grumbled and Moses cried out. He was thirsty too. He was beginning to stress!

Exodus 15:22-26 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.”

A. God Revealed the Power of His Word.

    • The Word of Life

He gave them a statute and rule, that if they diligently listened to the voice of the Lord, and obeyed His commandments, they would never have any disease that the Egyptians had. God revealed a new name-Jehovah Rophe, Our God who heals. He then led them to Elim, where there were 12 springs and 70 palm trees. A veritable oasis in the wilderness.

You can drink bitter water, and it will not make you sick. All you have to do is believe to the point of obeying. Paul said you will be saved (healed), but all you have to do is hold fast to the Word! God always does our problems one better. His power is simply amazing, and He wants us to enjoy it.

The cure for the bitterness of Life is the Healing power of faith in God and His Word. His Word Is The Tree Of Life!

B. God Revealed the Importance of Rest.

    • The Bread of Life

In the wilderness of Sin, the people grumbled again because they were hungry.

Exodus 16:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.

God told Moses that He was going to rain manna from heaven and that it was going to be a test of whether the Hebrews would walk in God’s Law. How you say? He only gave them six days of food. They were to rest…the seventh day.

The cure for temporal problems is to look to Heaven and learn to rest in the power of God!

C. God Reveals the Rock of Living Water (He is Always with Us)

    • The Water of Life

Ex 17:1-7 the people grumbled again, and this time took up stones to heave at Moses. God revealed the Rock of Living Water.

The cure for doubts about God’s presence and power in the midst of your problems is to come to the Rock and quench your thirst on His Living Water.

The Samaritan woman lived with the daily stress of being hated by the townspeople. She was a sinful woman, the object of abuse and contempt. Then one afternoon, she met the Rock, the Rock who could give her Living Water. Nothing else mattered. The contempt, her scandalous past, her poor reputation. Here was the Rock greater than all that, who could give her Living Water that would never run dry. She gained her life back. She discovered the Savior for all her mistakes, all her failures and all her hopes.

D. God reveals the Altar of Jehovah Nissi

    • The Altar of Victory in Life

Exodus 17:8-9 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

Amalek always represents the flesh. And the flesh is constantly at war with God and His children. The chosen men still had to fight, had to bleed, had to die, but the victory was dependent upon God.

One aspect of Victory over the flesh is the need of the Altar. The Altar of Life.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The cure for battling the flesh is to die on the altar of the Cross of Christ!

  • The Cross is our Banner-Jehovah Nissi. The Cross is our Victory!

Does God Want us to Stress or Rest?

Can a Disciple truly enjoy Rest, even in the midst of stressful situation? God Promises that we can enter into His Rest:

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.

So there is a Rest, but it is not guaranteed. It is something to be desired and attained. The consequence is being overthrown in the wilderness.

Hebrews 4:6-7 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

Hebrews 4:9-11 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

  1. Obey God
  2. Do not harden your heart
  3. Strive to enter
  • The striving is in regards to this flesh. It has a hard time with the idea of FAITH.

Faith Determines our Stress Level

1 Corinthians 15:2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. HCSB

Paul says it is a fact that you are being saved (Indicative, Passive). You are the recipient of the action; however, this salvation is conditioned upon you actively holding fast to the Gospel message that Paul preached (Indicative, Present). You must do the holding. Otherwise, your belief was in vain, (without purpose, or cause).

It is a circle of FAITH. You are being saved by the power of the Gospel, but you must keep holding on to the message of the Gospel in order for that salvation to stay in effect. This world is corrupt, the enemy is too strong. If you try to find salvation in your own strength, or grow apathetic through the hardness of your heart, you will be overcome; you will not know the power of the Gospel.

As Christians, we must keep the message of the Gospel ever before us, in all we encounter. As soon as we turn away, or forget, or act in our flesh, we will be overcome. The Gospel has power for our lives, but we must desire it, we must embrace it, we must hold fast! Salvation is more than a belief. Salvation is life, life that is transformed by the eternal power of the Gospel of Jesus.

What that means is that you will not know the power of this Gospel until you identify with the Death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Death, Burial and Resurrection Conquers Stress

You must daily die to what you want, submit your body to God’s design, and then lean entirely upon Christ for victory.

If Salvation is to be continuous and healing, the Gospel is to be applied to our lives every day.

1. His Dead Body opens God’s Reservoir of Love upon our Life

We face a stressful problem, an impossible situation and we cry out: God, how could you let this happen? This is not fair, this is not right! Bitterness enters, distrust becomes rooted, and we begin to doubt God’s Love for us. We start to see Him as vindictive, judgmental. We see the church that way. We see pastors that way.

How does the Death apply to stress?

Stress is when a problem we face seems larger than what we can handle. The Death is something we embrace every day, in every problem. Through Faith, we believe that God’s Love is upon us, because we are in His Son. We die to what we want and say, “God, your plans are my plans. I lay such and such on the altar. You have your will and way.”

  • I am the LORD your God. (Jehovah Elohim)

2. His Buried Body applies God’s Justice upon our life.

Sometimes stress is because things are not right in our life. There may be addictions that we cannot overcome. There may be situations at work that are not right. Our spouse may be causing problems. Our priorities may be wrong. Life is out of balance, and things are stressful.

Jesus dealt with this world. He dealt with Satan. He dealt with the flesh. He enabled God to declare we are justified even when clothed with the flesh. The peace of Jesus Christ is upon us. He overcame Satan through the power of the Word.

We need to embrace what His buried body represents. God is free to apply His justice to your life. No matter the addiction or the backslidden condition of your heart. When you desire God’s justice upon your body, your life, God will start to work that, because He can. His Kingdom Will can be upon your life, because Jesus dealt with the flesh. Your soul is free to pursue the Spirit of God.

When stress is so bad that your health is affected, give your body to God. Realize the need to be a living sacrifice. Your body is buried, but you still live. However, you do not live for yourself, you live to fulfill God’s pleasure and will. If God wants to use your health to further His pleasure, so be it. You body is a living sacrifice. But perhaps God wants you to deal with things that are not right in your life.

Perhaps a broken relationship is causing stress. Perhaps you are dishonoring a spouse or an authority in your life. Perhaps you are dishonoring your body in some way. Set it right, ask God to bring His justice into your life. Then live as a living sacrifice, ever consumed, but ever living.

  • God is Jehovah Rophe-our healer!

3. His Resurrected Body applies God’s Righteousness to our Life.

What happens when you experience God’s steadfast love, have His justice applied to your life, but there is still this war going on, there is still stress? You feel weak, you feel powerless. You want to give up, stop believing that God can do anything.

This is the hardest test of all. This is the time when you try to hold up the Word, you try to cling to God, but your arms fail, you grow weak, and the stress is overwhelming.

You need to realize that God is strongest when we are weakest. Instead of despair, we reach out; we embrace the Victory that is in Christ. Too often, that victory comes only when we lock arms with other Christians. Hoist the Banner of Christ’s Victory at the altar! We look to the banner, but we must join others at the altar. Some stress is so great that you must humble yourself and reach out to the strength of others.

The Victory of Christ is always joined to the Altar. We die, we are buried, and we share in His Victory with others.

During the early stressful days of their wilderness journey, God revealed three names to His people.

  • God is Jehovah-Nissi!

At the Very, least we should have Sunday set aside where we rest in the Lord. We give all our problems and stresses to Him. We come to the altar and we lift up the name of Jehovah Nissi

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

For we who have believed do enter into that rest.


When Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1:17) “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”, he was slowly lifting the veil from the majesty and beauty of the wisdom of God as revealed in the Cross.

Paul was holding up the beauty of the cross to a people who had been conditioned to not even speak of the crucifixion which it signified. Crucifixion was so horrible, it was not even mentioned among polite society. Yet here Paul is, displaying the cross as the ‘wisdom of God!’ This Wisdom of God was being held up as a means of uniting a church that had become weakened through fleshly divisions. The message of the Cross is the means  to uniting and empowering a divided church. Unless we fail to see the wisdom of it.

The power of the cross can be made null and void when we ignore it, or when we try to dress it up, or when we minimize it. Here Paul is, fully aware that this church has been so influenced by the world that it is fractured, fumbling and failing. His advice to them is to glory in the raw, uncensored message of the cross. That which causes the world to shudder and turn away is the very wisdom and glory of God!

We are so removed from the culture of Paul’s world that we have no conception of how obscene it was to tell people that your “God” had been crucified on a Roman cross. The wisdom of God was for Paul to preach using an object lesson so obscene that most intelligent Gentile’s would consider utterly ridiculous. Imagine an evangelist coming to Farmland, USA and telling them to believe in a convicted pedophile as their Savior. You might get a sense of the reactions Paul’s preaching produced.

Rome and have been so exposed to the crucifixion that we cannot fathom how ridiculous the Empire’s policies on crucifixion conditioned Roman citizens to view crucified men with universal contempt. The crucified were either rebellious slaves, the lowest of criminals, or defeated and humiliated foes of the empire[1].

In light of the crucified’s degraded status and the heinous nature of the punishment, Gentiles understandably and not surprisingly viewed the victim with the utmost contempt. Indeed, “crucifixion” was a virtual obscenity not to be discussed in polite company. The cultured world did not want to hear about crucifixion, and consequently, as a rule, they kept quiet about it[2].

Indeed, the noted orator, Cicero, once plead for his client before the jury, “The very word ‘cross’ should be far removed not only from the person of a Roman citizen, but from his thoughts, his eyes, his ears.[3]

We can see in graphic form, what Gentiles thought of worshipping a god who had been crucified. A drawing  titled “graffito blasfemo” is ancient graffito dating back to the Roman Empire inscribed on a wall near the Palatine Hill in Rome, discovered again in 1857. It is the first known depiction of the Crucifixion of Christ, and notably, in mockery. The inscription depicts the crucified Jesus with the head of an ass, and reads “Alexamenos sebete theon”, meaning either “Alexamenos worships his god” or perhaps a command “Alexamenos, worship your god!”[4]

The drawing illustrates the contempt Gentiles had for the message that a god had been crucified. He was no god, he was an ass. But such is the wisdom of God!

The Offensive Beauty of the Cross is the Wisdom of God

Paul doesn’t dress the cross up with eloquent words, nor water down its message with something more “people pleasing”. That would make the power of the cross empty and void.

Instead Paul writes “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!”

Then Paul lifts the veil on the wisdom of God:

 (19) For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (20) 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? (21) 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.

Wisdom is never man-centered. Mankind had plenty of opportunities to know God through ‘wisdom’. Still mankind did not come to know God. Indeed, God had made the wisdom of man to be foolish, time after time.

Solomon wrote: “Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding”. Proverbs 10:23. In the wisdom of man, Jesus is displayed as a crucified ass.  In the wisdom of God, the crucified Jesus is the power of salvation!

God established the Societies of the Earth through His wisdom.

It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. Jeremiah 10:12 (ESV)

When men reject His wisdom, standards of behavior breakdown, and that which is wrong is OK, it’s funny, it’s “horse-play”.[5] When men reject His wisdom, they laugh and cheer when a ‘thug’ beats an old man unconscious on a crowded Chicago subway platform.[6]

Paul proudly proclaims the message of the cross, for He knows it is the wisdom of God that has established this world, and will save this world. His message is confrontational. It is not “seeker-friendly”. It is neither inclusive nor politically correct. He acknowledges the difficulty of his message,

(22) For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, (23) but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles

Crucifixion was ridiculous to the point of obscene to Gentiles. But to Jews, the obstacles were even greater to seeing Jesus Christ as the Messiah of God.

“Stumbling block” comes from the Greek term σκάνδαλον. (skandalon), which refers to a “temptation to sin” or “an enticement to apostasy and unbelief.” A stumbling block was “an obstacle in coming to faith and a cause of going astray in it.”

For a Jew to believe in the crucified Jesus as Messiah, he would have to “stray” from his faith. Since their faith was their identity, it was scandalous for a Jew to confess a crucified Jesus as Messiah. The  offense of the cross was seen as the means of stripping a Jew of his cultural and religious identity. The crucifixion hindered Jews from coming to saving faith. They simply could not overcome their preconceived notions about what the crucifixion signified. The words of Deuteronomy were too contradictory:

(22) “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, (23) his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (ESV)

Jesus could never be the Messiah, for he was a man cursed by God! God would never curse the Messiah to Hades! As one writer states, “He who is placed there for faith Himself becomes an obstacle to faith.” [7]The very content of Paul’s message caused Jews to turn away.

When Paul boasted in 1 Cor 1:23 that he preached “Christ crucified,” he understood that his message cut deeply against the grain of his culture. Yet the apostle was undeterred. Paul understood that cultural expectations did not alter his responsibility to preach the truth, nor did those expectations hinder the power of the gospel to save[8].

Despite these cultural obstacles, Paul never altered the message of the cross to be more palatable or less socially and religiously offensive. Rather that cloak the cross in seeker-friendliness, he boldly displayed it even though it often turned hearers away.

So the wisdom of God was a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Gentiles. And yet the wisdom of God as preached in the Cross changes the world, and saves sinners from hell.

“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”. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV)

As Donald Green wrote:

“this verse shows the church of Jesus Christ that it must return to cultural confrontation with its gospel preaching instead of pursuing cultural accommodation. “Christ crucified” was not a “seeker-friendly” message in the first century. It was an absurd obscenity to Gentiles and a scandalous oxymoron to Jews. The gospel guaranteed offense.

1 Cor 1:23 shows that allegiance to the truth supersedes any desire to please men. Far better to live under the smile of God than to dilute the gospel for the approval of men and thereby empty the cross of its power (1 Cor 1:17)[9].

The Wisdom of God is seen in the offensive Cross.

  • God alone knows where wisdom dwells and where it originates (Job 28:12, 20);
  • No other living being possesses this knowledge about wisdom (see Job 28:21).
  • For humans, the beginning of wisdom and the supreme wisdom is to properly fear and reverence God (Job 28:28; Prov. 1:7; cf. Prov. 8:13);
  • God is the master, creator, and giver of wisdom (see Job 28:27; Prov. 8:22, 23).
  • He employed wisdom as His master craftsman to create all things (Ps. 104:24; Jer. 10:12).
  • Rulers govern wisely by means of wisdom provided by God (1 Ki. 3:28; cf. Prov. 8:15, 16).
  • Wisdom keeps company with all the other virtues: prudence, knowledge, and discretion (Prov. 8:12).
  • The portrayal of wisdom in Proverbs 8:22-24 lies behind Paul’s magnificent picture of Christ in Colossians 1:15, 16, for all the treasures of wisdom are lodged in Christ (cf. Col. 2:3).[10]

I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. Proverbs 4:11 (ESV)

1. Wisdom of the Cross Exalts God

25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

 “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  Revelation 5:12 (ESV)

Philippians 2:8-9 (ESV)  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…

2. The Wisdom of the Cross Humbles Us

Paul presents the cross to a church that is divided and worldly. Instead of glorying in the offensive message of the Cross, they are wrapping themselves in the corrupted wisdom of the world. Paul tells them to look around and consider who they really are…

1 Cor 1:26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,

Look who God uses: Foolish,Weak, Despised, and ‘are Nots’. These are the ones who come to this offensive cross. People who have nothing else to lose, people who have everything to gain. The cross is not offensive to the nothings, to the ‘are nots’, for they can relate to its message. They understand the message of a God who became as they are. This God loved them so much that He became like them, even worse than them. He became cursed for them.

This is the wisdom of God that was before the foundation of the world! God would hang His own son on a tree, and there Jesus would be cursed with all the sin and ugliness of mankind. His son would become lower than a worm, hardly a man. Yes, Jesus became a nothing, an ‘are not’, in order to reveal to the world the wisdom of God. That wisdom is about humbling ourselves to the cross, the place where the pride of man is stripped away. The place where there is no glory for man. The place where we can only behold the beauty of the crucified one!

We must be brought to nothing to receive the wisdom of God! We must kneel as nothings before the cross of shame and folly.

When the Lord’s people embrace the “nothing” message, the world views them as nothing. But in the next age God will shame the wise and the strong and bring to nothing the things that in this age are viewed as something.

The Cry of the Wisdom of the Cross is:

“so that no human being might boast in the presence of God”. (1 Cor 1:29)

We must humble ourselves before the cross, for the cross is the mercy seat, the place where Christ’s blood was shed before His Father, and where our sins are forgiven. But we must realize our need first, and then we must humble ourselves before the cross. There is no salvation without the Cross!

2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV) But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

3. The Wisdom of the Cross Transforms Us.

Through the wisdom of the Cross, we have access to all that is Christ’s. The Cross allows God to place us IN CHRIST. The Cross gives us His wisdom. The Cross is the gateway for the righteousness, sanctification and redemption of Christ to be ours!

30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  

By the Father’s doing, believers are placed in Jesus Christ. Because of this we possess the wisdom of God—Christ crucified, the very essence of God’s wisdom. Through this wisdom, we have justification at God’s court, sanctification before His presence, and total redemption. More than that, we have all the wealth and power and beauty of Jesus Christ. It is as if the kneeling at the Cross entitles us to this huge blank check that will provide us everything that is Christ’s. It is a check that never expires. If only those Jews could see what is on the other side of the cross!

The Cross is to be gloried in daily as we present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. God delights in the ‘are not’s! God uses ‘are not’s to accomplish His will in this world!

 (1) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (2) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

 We Must Keep our Focus on the Cross

(10) We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. (11) 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. (12) So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. (13) Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. (14) For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (15) Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (16) Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:10-16 (ESV)

 The folly, reproach and shame of the Cross is to be our guide for service! We are not to embrace a culturally acceptable cross, but to follow Christ outside the camp, where the dirty, the despised and dangerous dwell. We are to take the message of the Cross to the “Are Nots!” It is not the popular ministry. But it is the Ministry of the Cross!


[1] Donald Green, “THE FOLLY OF THE CROSS” , http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj15c.pdf

[2] Martin Hengel, Crucifixion (Philadephia: Fortress, 1977) 38.

[3] Cicero, “The Speech In Defence of Gaius Rabirius,” sec. 16, in The Speeches of Cicero, trans. H. Grose Hodge, The Loeb Classical Library (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1927) 467.

[7] Gustav Stahlin, “σκάνδαλον” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Friedrich, trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) 7:352.

[8] Hengel, Crucifixion, 5.

[9] Donald E Green, “The Folly of the Cross” as seen at http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj15c.pdf

[10] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 337.


Moses with one wave of his staff was able to see the seas part and the seabed dry up. He was able to see the waters stand tall as if held back by a thick wall of glass. When the enemy army was crossing after them, with another wave of the rod of God, he saw the waters fall upon them and drown every soldier.

But when it came to leading this complaining horde of people across a desert land, Moses was at his wits end.

Moses and the Tent of Meeting

In Exodus 33, we find that Moses would take a tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the people, and there Moses sought the Lord. He called it the ʾōhel môʿēd (tent of meeting). This was the forerunner of the tabernacle. Here Moses would speak face to face with God (Ex 33:11)

When Moses would enter the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and God would speak to Moses.

When Moses went out to the tent, all the people would get up, go to their tent door, and watch. And when the cloud would descend, the people would worship, each at their tent door.

Later on, when they constructed the Tabernacle according to God’s commands, it was brought within the camp, and the people worshipped there. I can’t help but wonder if Moses longed to return to that tent outside the camp…

Letter to Concerned Jewish Christians

It is a reference to the Tabernacle that the writer of Hebrews is using to address the concerns of the Jewish Christians in Hebrews 13. Here the writer makes the foundational statement which should guide these Christians, and I believe it is the foundational statement for our church.

Foundational Statement of Hebrews

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. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:10-16

The Problem Facing these Jewish Christians

There were pressures from the world-pressures as to how they should worship, how they should not worship. It was so much easier to follow a hybrid Christ-one who was Jewish and Christian. One who was worldly and Godly.

On the other hand, the world was becoming more antagonistic toward Christians, especially those that really followed Him. So the struggles they were facing are the same ones we face in our lives.

Two Problems

1.  Driven by formalism-How they worshiped was more important than Who they worshiped.

2.  Paralyzed by Fear – Faced expulsion or persecution-wanted to have the glory of God and stay in the safety of the camp. Their desire for comfort overwhelmed the command to risk it all.

Remember:

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

If we insist on serving from a place of comfort, or a place of ‘tradition’, or a place of safety…we can not eat from the altar of Jesus Christ. We will lose out on the sweet abiding fellowship that is in Him alone.

Choice Number 1

  • Will we Die in our Religion or Die in our Devotion?

The writer addressed the plight of the Hebrews by calling their attention to those who wandered in the wilderness:

Num 13:31-14:4; Num 14:20-23, 32-34

Here the Jewish wanderers had the chance to believe in God’s Word, to embrace His power that they had witnessed first hand. However, they refused to see Him Who is able, and focused on their own weakness and inability. Instead of advancing into Canaan and trusting God to overcome the giants, they wept in bitterness and retreated from the mission God had given them.

They had two options:

  1. Retreat from the Mission

  2. Risk everything for the Mission

To risk everything requires the faith to see Him who is invisible. To risk everything requires a total disregard for personal comfort, personal safety, but an overwhelming CONFIDENCE in the power of God to allow you to finish the mission!

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

Choice Number 2

  • Will We Embrace our Comfort or Will we Embrace His Cross?

If you want to eat from this altar. If you want to experience God face to face. If you want to know the presence and power of God, you must go outside the camp. You must be willing to be disgraced just like Jesus. You must be willing to bear His disgrace.

Let us Go to Jesus …Outside the Camp

Dead and Dirty things

And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. Leviticus 16:27-28

Diseased and Despised

“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. Leviticus 13:45-46

Blasphemers

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. Leviticus 24:13-16

Dangerous

Murderers, blasphemers, adulterers were all kept and stoned outside the camp.

Do You Really Want to Follow Jesus?

Then you must go to Him OUTSIDE the camp!

  • Mission without suffering is like Christianity without a cross
  • Suffering is not a consequence of our mission: it is the central strategy for achieving our mission.

Moses met face to face with God outside the camp!

If you desire to fellowship face to face with Jesus Christ, you must meet with Him outside the camp, and bear His reproach.

Choice Number 3

  • Will We Live for Pleasure in this World or for Paradise in the World to Come?

The Truth of the Real Jesus

  • Jesus calls the church to live according to a radically different definition of success than the rest of the world.
  • Jesus calls me to live according to a radically different definition of success than the rest of the world

If we do not advance toward Jesus in our Christian walk, we:

  • Give way to formalism
  • Give way to paralyzing fear
  • Give way to a retreating spirit

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

Do we desire to stay inside the comfort of our camp? Do not count on feasting on Christ.

Believer’s can be forgiven but cursed to wander in the wilderness apart from the power and presence of God.

God does not need our church to gain glory for Himself. He will glorify His Name regardless of whether we go to the altar outside the camp.

Following Christ does not mean coming to the cross and then neatly carrying Jesus back into our safe and comfortable American lives. It means risking everything and going outside the camp to bear His reproach on His altar of total sacrifice. (A thank you to David Platt for the core points of this message)

Notation about my Faith Journey

In 2004-2005 I became burdened about the nation of Myanmar. I even went there in January 2006, and now serve as Treasurer on the Executive Board of the Friends of Burma, Inc. This all came about as I began to understand the true meaning of discipleship.

While going through a sermon series on Mark, I was struck anew with Mark 8.

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. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:34-35

The greatest example of these verses was the life of Adoniram Judson. I was fascinated with the truth that what he risked with his life and family was the reason for the Christians in that forsaken country today!

His life led me to became so interested and concerned about Burma (Myanmar).

Adoniram Judson is why I am going outside the camp. Adoniram Judson went outside the camp and bore the reproach of Jesus Christ.

Adoniram Judson

Once when a Buddhist teacher said that he could not believe that Christ suffered the death of the cross because no king allows his son such indignity, “Judson responded, ‘Therefore you are not a disciple of Christ. A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is agreeable to his own reason, but whether it is in the book. His pride has yielded to the divine testimony. Teacher, your pride is still unbroken. Break down your pride, and yield to the word of God.’ (Anderson, To the Golden Shore, 240.)

Judson’s conversion to Christ was due in large measure to the same deist friend who led him away from Christ. After graduation, Judson left home to become a wanderlust. One night in a country inn, his room was adjacent to the room of a dying man. The moaning and groaning of that man through the long night permitted Judson no sleep. His thoughts troubled him. All night questions assailed his soul: “Was the dying man prepared to die?” “Where would he spend eternity?” “Was he a Christian, calm and strong in the hope of life in Heaven?” “Or, was he a sinner shuddering in the dark brink of the lower region?” Judson constantly chided himself for even entertaining such thoughts contrary to his philosophy of life beyond the grave, and thought how his brilliant college friend would rebuke him if he learned of these childish worries.

But the next morning, when Judson inquired of the proprietor as to the identity of the dead man, he was shocked by the most staggering statement he had ever heard: “He was a brilliant young person from Providence College. Ernest was his name.”

Ernest was the unbeliever who had destroyed Judson’s faith. “Now he was dead — and was lost! Was lost! Was lost! Lost! Lost!” Those words raced through his brain, rang in his ears, roared in his soul — “Was lost! Lost! Lost! There and then Judson realized he was lost, too! He ended his traveling, returned home, entered Andover Theological Seminary and soon “sought God for the pardon of his soul,” was saved and dedicated his life to the Master’s service!

In Burma

But opposition came, also. Finally, Judson was imprisoned as a British spy — an imprisonment of twenty-one months. Judson was condemned to die, but in answer to prayers to God and the incessant pleadings of his wife to officials (one of the most emotional-packed, soul-stirring stories in evangelism), Judson’s life was spared and finally British intervention freed him from imprisonment.

Following the missionaries in their holy adventure, we behold scenes too horrible for words. On one occasion Judson, pitifully weak and emaciated, was driven in chains across the burning tropical sands, until, his back lacerated beneath the lash and his feet covered with blisters, he fell to the ground and prayed that the mercy of God might grant him a speedy death. For almost two years he was incarcerated in a prison too vile to house animals. He was bound with three pairs of chains and his feet were fastened in stocks which at times were elevated, so that only his shoulders touched the ground. The room, into which he and many other prisoners were crowded, was without a window and felt like a fiery furnace under the merciless glare of the tropical sun. The stench of the place was terrible, vermin crawled everywhere and the jailer, Mr. Spotted Face, was a brute in human form. And, as Judson saw other prisoners dragged out to execution, he lived in terrifying suspense and was able to say with Paul, “I die daily.”

Surely, he would have fallen and perished under the weight of his cross, except for the tender, persistent, beautiful ministrations of Ann. As often as possible, she bribed the jailer and then, under cover of darkness, crept to the door of Judson’s den, bringing food and whispering words of hope and consolation. Finally, for three long weeks she did not appear; but, upon her return, she bore in her arms a newborn baby to explain her absence. An epidemic of smallpox was raging unchecked through the city and little Maria was smitten with the dread disease. Due to the double strain of concern for her imprisoned husband and the suffering baby, Ann found herself unable to nurse the little one. Tormented by its pitiful cries, Ann took her baby up and down the streets of the city, pleading for mercy and for milk: “You women who have babies, have mercy on my baby and nurse her!”

Near the prison gate was a caged lion, whose fearful bellowings had told all that he was being starved against the day when he would be turned loose upon some of the prisoners. But the lion died of hunger before the plan was executed. Thereupon, plucky Mrs. Judson cleaned out the cage and secured permission for her husband to stay there for a few weeks, since he was critically ill with a fever.

One of the most pathetic pages in the history of Christian missions is that which describes the scene when Judson was finally released and returned to the mission house seeking Ann, who again had failed to visit him for some weeks. As he ambled down the street as fast as his maimed ankles would permit, the tormenting question kept repeating itself, “Is Ann still alive?” Upon reaching the house, the first object to attract his attention was a fat, half-naked Burman woman squatting in the ashes beside a pan of coals and holding on her knees an emaciated baby, so begrimed with dirt that it did not occur to him that it could be his own. Across the foot of the bed, as though she had fallen there, lay a human object that, at the first glance, was no more recognizable than his child. The face was of a ghastly paleness and the body shrunken to the last degree of emaciation. The glossy black curls had all been shorn from the finely-shaped head. There lay the faithful and devoted wife who had followed him so unwearily from prison to prison, ever alleviating his distresses and consoling him in his trials. Presently Ann felt warm tears falling upon her face and, rousing from her stupor, saw Judson by her side.

And there were other sorrows. Before he had been in Burma fourteen years he buried Ann and all of his children. But “the love that never fails” sustained him. “If I had not felt certain,” he says, “that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.” Judson joined with Paul in declaring: “The love of Christ constraineth me … Therefore I will glory in reproaches, in persecution and in distresses for Christ’s sake.”[2]

The work progressed and gospel power began to open blind eyes, break idolatry-shackled hearts and transform the newly-begotten converts into triumphant Christians. On April 12, 1850, at the age of 62, Judson died. Except for a few months (when he returned to America after thirty-four years from his first sailing), Judson had spent thirty-eight years in Burma. Although he had waited six years for his first convert, sometime after his death a government survey recorded 210,000 Christians, one out of every fifty-eight Burmans! It was a partial fulfillment and a monument to the spirit and ministry of the man, who at Ava, the capital city, gazed at the temple of Buddha and challenged, “A voice mightier than mine, a still small voice, will ere long sweep away every vestige of thy dominion. The churches of Jesus Christ will soon supplant these idolatrous monuments and the chanting devotees of Buddha will die away before the Christian’s hymns of praise.”[1]

Will You Go Outside the Camp?

My question is, if Christ delays his return another two hundred years – a mere fraction of a day in his reckoning – which of you will have suffered and died so that the triumphs of grace will be told about one or two of those 3,500 peoples who are in the same condition today that the Karen and Chin and Kachins and Burmese were in 1813? Who will labor so long and so hard and so perseveringly that in two hundred years there will be two million Christians in many of the 10/40-window peoples who can scarcely recall their Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist roots?

May God use his powerful word and the life of Adoniram Judson to stir many of you to give your lives to this great cause!

We must keep advancing to Him, to His altar which is outside the camp!