Posts Tagged ‘Crucifixion’


Slide23John chapter 12 follows an ever-popular Jesus into the final days of His walk on earth. The Cross is confronting Him, weighing heavily on his mind. His close disciples and friends seem oblivious to what is before Him, even though He has told them many times before. His emotions must be running high. In John 11 we see him breaking out in tears after John describes Him as being troubled in spirit. Luke 19:41 describes Him weeping over the people of Jerusalem. Jesus admits that He is troubled in John 12. Why does He weep?, why is He troubled?

Could it be the Cross that looms before Him? Could it be the way His friends and disciples seem oblivious to His deity, His power over life and death? I think it was all of this weighing heavily upon His heart, His heart that carried the great reservoir of God’s love for mankind. A heart that wept at their blindness to God’s love. A heart that wept at their blindness to who He really was, and what He was about to do.

God wants us to peer into the heart of Christ by focusing on a minute moment in Christ’s life that is recorded in the latter half of John 12. This is the moment following His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, which followed hours after His resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. This was at the height of His popularity with the masses. They were declaring Him King after the line of David! He could have demanded whatever He wanted, and the crowd and His disciples would have immediately obeyed. Yet in this moment, Jesus chose to hide himself and disappear. Why? What can we learn from Him? What does He want us to grasp for our lives?

People around Jesus (1)In John 12:17-43, we find 4 groups of people circling Jesus Christ, the indicted man-God, the immortal God-man. We see a group of intoxicated people, a group of Incredulous people, a group of interested people, and finally a group of Influential people.

Let us look at these folks, and consider the words and reaction of Jesus Christ, and then explore the ramification for our lives in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Intoxicated

The Crowd was wild about King Jesus!
  • Vs 9 – When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. John 12:9
  • Vs 13 – So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” John 12:13
  • Vs 17 – The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

It seemed as all Jerusalem was hailing Jesus as King! He had achieved rock-star status! They were declaring Him a King after the lineage of David! And Jesus refused to discredit their cries. When the Pharisees told Him to rebuke his disciples, he declared “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:40)

intoxicated-crowd1-If you can imagine the drunken, drug-fueled crowds at some Rock concerts, I would imagine this crowd would not be too different (minus the drugs and booze).

What attitudes would you have had if you were part of this crowd?

I imagine you would be jubilant because you imagined a better life with Jesus as King.

Gone would be the iron boots of Roman soldiers. Taxes would be lower. Your way of live would not be restricted.

You would think that Jesus would improve your life and so you were excited. After all, He had this amazing power; He could raise the dead back to life, He could turn water into wine and a tiny lunch into a feast for thousands. You wanted to join His parade, because it meant a better life for you! So yeah, you joined the bandwagon and bowed before Him as King! He was the King you wanted and needed! Yeah!

Incredulous

Incredulous-men1Pharisees can’t figure out this Jesus fascination

Vs 19 – So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” John 12:19

We find another group, smaller, but more important. They are the religious leaders of all Israel, and they are the real power reigning in Jerusalem. They rule in the shadows, openly pretending to be righteous, but secretly revealing their greed and lust for power. They cannot believe what the people are saying. They are incredulous that the populace is following an ignorant, uneducated man from a town like Nazareth. They sense their power and influence being usurped, and they despise this Jesus. They despise him so much they will soon hatch a plot to murder him.

What attitudes would you have if you were an incredulous Pharisee?

I imagine you would be incredibly self-focused. Your world would mean everything to you, your power, wealth and influence. You loved the way people regarded your ‘status’ and all the perks that went with your position. You looked down your nose at this Jesus, because he really was nothing, of no importance. He could not hold a candle to your pedigree, training and wealth.

He probably had gotten into your head though. You remember those confrontations, those things he had said that made you so boiling mad. You tried to shut him out of your life, so much so that now you resented even the sight of Him. The only way to stop him from threatening your nice privileged life was to get rid of him. He was of no consequence, after all, and soon the crowds would move on to some other fascination.

Interested

interested-man-person-looking-through-binocularsGreeks wanted to see Jesus…

Vs 20 – Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” John 12:20-21

We see another group of folks, strangers to the religious Jews. They share some of their beliefs, but they are more worldly, more educated, less likely to rush foolishly after someone like the Jewish crowd was. They were more in control of their lives. After-all, they were more ‘enlightened’. However, they had heard such marvelous stories about the Jesus. They had heard of countless miracles, of teachings that were so ‘outside the box’. They desired to further enlighten their lives by meeting with him, by getting a sense of whether the stories were true. Perhaps he would see how important they were and honor them with some of His wisdom.

What attitudes would you have had if you were one of these Greeks seeking an audience with Jesus?

I imagine you thought pretty highly of yourself. You considered yourself above these mendicant Jews. You were more worldly, more advantaged, but you wondered if Jesus should be a part of your world. After all, you considered God as important, especially when it came to your standing and consideration as an ‘enlightened’ free-thinker.

You thought you should at least see how Jesus could benefit your worldly standing. Plus, your friends would be jealous when you told them you had secured a private audience with Jesus!

Influential

The disciples

influential people1It is no coincidence that the visiting Greeks approached Philip to secure an audience with Jesus. People of importance never did anything themselves, they always used an intermediary. They recognized Philip from the old neighborhood, and perhaps even knew him. They saw that he was in the inner circle of Jesus, so would be influential in getting them that meeting.

The Disciples indeed were the “gatekeepers” of Jesus. They were with Him wherever he went. People around them recognized their influence, and the disciples were starting to realize their position. There had already been arguments about who would have the greatest influence when Jesus began His reign. This week must have been intoxicating as well to the fleshly disciples. To be a part of this madness, this idolization of Jesus would have had their ego’s swelling with pride!

What attitudes would you have had if you were one of these influential disciples?

I imagine you would have felt quite good about your decision to follow Jesus. After all, it had been quite a hardship to give up everything to follow him. Now you could feel the possibilities of fame and standing. You could imagine yourself reigning beside Him, perhaps as a governor or mayor. Your life was about to take a drastic turn and you were getting excited. People would whisper about you, come up to you and ask “are you one of His disciples?” Proudly you would declare your position with Him. They would ask you all sorts of questions about Him. If there had been paparazzi back then, your face would have been in all the magazines.

Yes, your attitude would have been pretty good about your decision to follow Jesus right now. After all, it had greatly benefitted your life.

Indicted

Jesus of Nazareth

Indicted-ManWe find one more person who is central to this passage, Jesus Christ. I prefer to refer to Him as the Indicted one, for He stands in their midst fully aware that He is a condemned man. Oh, He did nothing wrong, but He has willingly agreed to bear the full weight of all the sins of mankind. He has confessed the crimes and now faces the sentence, crucifixion upon the Cross.

Some argue that He was a helpless pawn, but His words in response to Philip and Andrews request for a private audience with the Greeks reveal His full knowledge of what was going on.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Was Jesus influenced by the adulation? Was His head swelling with the possibilities of His new-found popularity? Was He already picking His Kingdom advisors? NO! Jesus, even with His emotions swirling, was totally focused on His mission-to save mankind from the horrors of the judgment of Hell, and usher them to true life-eternal life with His Father, God.

He began by saying something that His disciples and anyone else listening would never understand. He declared that “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” I can just see the disciples trying to restrain their excitement. But Jesus meant something just the opposite of what they imagined. Jesus spoke of His death by crucifixion, the most shameful and horrible manner of death at that time. There was no ‘glory’ in being crucified. The disciples were so intoxicated with possibilities that they would never believe Jesus was about to be crucified.

The Indicted Son of Man made a startling declaration, one which all the groups surrounding Him were unable to understand. Jesus declared, “Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Each group featured in this microcosm of those in the Life of Christ was there because they loved their life. The Intoxicated were there because they wanted Jesus to improve their life. The Pharisees were there because they wanted to protect their life. The Greeks were there because they wanted to increase their life, and the Disciples were there thinking they were about to really enjoy life.

Jesus was there because He wanted to give people real life, but real life would only come though His death. His death must precede His glorification. His death must precede His gift of Life for mankind.

This is why Jesus said: “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Why was Jesus Here?

I believe that what even most Christians miss from this exchange is that Jesus did not come to this Earth for our benefit, for His benefit, or even to be crucified. All of these happened, but the truth of His coming is revealed in this one phrase, “for this purpose I have come to this hour; Father, glorify your name.”

Most translations put a period after “I have come to this hour.” The casual reader infers that Jesus came for the purpose of crucifixion, of death. However, the Greek is quite clear. The statement “Father, glorify your name is the cause of His ‘purpose’.

Explained by glorify thy name. For this use, namely, that the Father’s name might be glorified[1].

Jesus came to this world to glorify the Name of His Father! Why? Because He and His Father were one!

  • I and my Father are one. John 10:30
  • And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:11
  • That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:21

How could Jesus bring glory to His Father? He emptied himself, and then humbled himself to death, death on the cross:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-9

Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. John 12:23-33

Why Did Jesus Hide?

Knowing His ultimate motivation, why was Jesus troubled so? Why was He so emotional? Why did He hide himself from His disciples and adoring public?

Could He have been troubled because the people did not connect Him with His Father? Could He have been troubled because His disciples failed to understand His relationship with the invisible Father?

Could He have been troubled because they could not see His Father because they were so focused on their own lives?

Could He have hid Himself because He did not want the people to focus on Him, but rather He wanted them to see the Father?

What is the Lesson for us?

see-jesus-crucified-for-youAll those who truly follow Christ will know one day, but now we can only speculate. I believe that there is a ‘take-away’ here, one that is vital to our growth as true followers of Christ.

If we want to really “see Jesus”, we must die to our lives, and give ourselves without reservation to the will and glory of God. If we value anything of our lives above God and His glory, then we will not see Jesus. He will withdraw from our lives, and go into hiding.

God is jealous of our attention and devotion. Too often we say we love Him and follow Him but we are really doing it because of some perceived benefit. We want a God who is always at our side, who is always there for us no matter how much we sin against Him. We want a God who accepts us as we are and doesn’t want to change us or demand too much of us. We follow a God on our terms, not His.

If this is true of our interest, then we are fooling ourselves. We may have all the forms of godliness, but we are in denial about the true power thereof. There can be no godliness apart from the holiness of God in our lives. That is only possible as we die to what we want and live for His glory.

Christ did that and proved it by His obedience. When we do it we prove it by living IN CHRIST! But before we can live in Christ we must die to our life, our wants, and our selfish interests.

Is God Distant to You?

Does God seem distant to you? Do you wonder about the mess you are in? Are you troubled because God doesn’t seem to care?

The truth is that He may have hidden Himself from your life. He is waiting for you to get to the point where you hate this life and are willing to die to yourself, and finally willing to live in Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by me!”

Immortal

Jesus Christ is the Way of Eternity

There was another person there in the crowd. He was the Immortal One. All the folks saw him as Jesus, but God saw Him as Immortal. He would live forever at His side, for He would overcome.

Regardless of your attitude toward Jesus Christ: intoxicated, incredulous, interested or one who thinks you are one of His; He will hide from your life as long as you are in it for yourself. Until you experience the Cross, and die to what you want or desire, He will remain distant, even hidden.

If you should ever take the serious step of actually experiencing the Cross, then you shall experience Jesus Christ! The glory of the Father will be open to you; the power of the Father will be upon you; for the Cross, the ugly curse of the Cross that Jesus gave Himself to for the Glory of His Father, is actually wisdom and power of God!

The Cross – a Great Mystery

cross-silhouetteThis is the great mystery hidden to all those in the crowd that day. This is what Paul meant when he penned:

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7

The wisdom of God is hidden in the Cross. You will never experience His wisdom until you experience the Cross for yourself. The Cross is the key to you experiencing the Glory of God!

What are you seeking from Jesus today? A better life, an influential life, a better status or acceptance? Perhaps you are satisfied with what you have. Regardless of what you are seeking or not seeking, you will lose everything at the judgment. The only way to gain the Life that Jesus holds is to die to your life, your wisdom, your riches and your might.

Consider carefully His Words of Life:

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” John 12:44-50


[1] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “John 12:27”.

 

Read this past post: “Do You Really Want to See Jesus?

and this:”Do You See Jesus”

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As I look ahead to 2013, I was reminded of something I wrote in March of 2011:

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!

self interest christianity The entire essay is here

Too Much Self-Interest

It was that essay which worked in me a desire for real growth among the Christians I Pastor and minister to. I see too much self-interest among the Christians of America. Ministries are self-focused. Growth is selective and selfish. Even our attempts to “sacrifice for the sake of Christ” are mis-guided trips of self-piety. We have so much, that our ide of sacrifice means an entirely different thing than to Christian refugees in Africa (for example). Sacrifice to many in the world is not “sacrifice,” it is the way they live. Running water? Nice carpet in the house? No, they are used to getting their water from a well or a pump station. Their floors are compacted dirt. They aren’t sacrificing, they are living! This brings me to consider what true ministry should involve, what my ministry should be in 2013.

Paul’s Philosophy of Ministry

what-are-you-willing-to-sacrificeAs I look toward 2013, I am reminded of Paul’s philosophy of ministry. In 2 Corinthians 12:15 he states: “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” Paul never considered how His message was going to affect the big givers, the successful businessmen, or the rich widows. He never worried about tweaking his ministry to achieve maximum community impact. His ministry was all about wasting himself for the souls of others. Paul gave and gave and gave for the souls of those he ministered to. He did not consider his income requirements, mileage reimbursements or housing allowance. He did not worry about funding for his missionary trips. He was not on the look out for a larger church where he could have a more visible ministry.

The Budget of the Empty Pocket

spend and be spentPaul was always on the lookout for ways in which he could use his talents and resources to save and build up the souls of others. Cost was no object. Inconvenience, sickness, lack of sleep, imprisonment, whatever the cost, Paul could not wait to pay it! The only budget that Paul knew was that of his empty pocket. If he still had money in it, he had not done enough. When it came to Paul’s philosophy of ministry, it was nothing about his interests or comfort. He held on to nothing and held nothing back. He gave everything up! He continued to explain in 2 Corinthians 12:19: “it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking (ministering) in Christ, and all for your up-building, beloved.”

Ministry is Not a “Sacrifice…”

adoniram-judson-missionary-1-GoodSalt-prcas4999Men like Adoniram Judson and the Apostle Paul did not consider their ministry a “sacrifice.” They did not go on missionary trips so they could learn to appreciate what they had, or experience what the world was like. Their ministry simply reflected their love for Jesus and love for the souls of men.

If you think Ministry is a “Sacrifice”, you haven’t been ministering

The world looks at their lives and says “what a waste!” They looked back on their lives and thought, “I wish I could have given more!” When you get to the place where your life no longer matters, then and only then are you really able to minister to others in the Power of Jesus Christ. If you are still thinking “O what a sacrifice this is,” you haven’t really been ministering to others. You have simply been pleasing yourself. There is no sacrifice to the one who has experienced the crucifixion of the Cross. One who has been crucified for Christ is dead. This life and it’s comforts no longer matter. There is only the desire to reach the souls of people who are perishing or struggling with life. One who has been crucified keeps his eyes on the Savior, for nothing else matters. What worse can happen? Jesus spent everything, so why should we hold on to anything?

Hannah Discovered True Worship

Hannah-prayerHannah had prayed and stressed about having her own baby for years. God finally gave her a baby boy, Samuel. She could now hold in her arms her own baby boy. He was the realization of every longing of her heart and soul. How she held him tight to her breast. As he toddled about, what joy she felt as he grew and explored. When he first said “mommy!” her heart melted! Yet Hannah did the inconceivable. She gave her little boy Samuel to the Lord. No longer would she tuck him in at night. No longer would he call for her when a storm woke him up. She took him to the Temple to be raised by the High Priest. He was only 3 or 4, freshly weaned. I can see the tears pouring down her face as she walked away, hearing the cries of her baby boy, seeing his outstretched arms as he cried out “Mommy, Mommy!”

hannah-6hanna mother childWas this a sacrifice for Hannah? No! This was her simple worship to God. For 1 Samuel 1:28 says “and they worshiped the Lord there.” Instead of sorrowing over her brave “sacrifice,” Hannah worshiped God! Only when our dearest possession can be freely given to God without thought of the sacrifice or loss will we know True WORSHIP! Worship always follows in the shadow of the Cross! At the Cross God is All and in all! When we are crucified at the Cross of Christ, all that we hold dear falls from our hands, and our focus turns to God! That is true Worship! True Worship leads us to spend and be spent on behalf of the souls of others!

There is no more thought of sacrifice, for we have already given everything up to God at the Cross!spend and be spent selfless service


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

Oh, that we would take the cross more seriously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a reference to a prophecy in Isaiah:

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

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

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

B. The Message of Jesus is defined by the Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cross is in the Sermon on the Mount.

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

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

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

C. The Ministry of Jesus is Defined by the Cross

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus revealed His ministry strategy in John 12:

John 12:23-26 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is all about the Cross.

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

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

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

1. The Cross Reveals the Wisdom & Power of God

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

a. God’ wisdom is revealed in the Cross.

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

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

That is why Paul adds the qualifier to verse 18:

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

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

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

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

b. God’s Power is Revealed in the Cross

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

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

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

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

2. The Cross Reveals the Folly of Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wisdom of Man is opposed to the Cross.

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

3. Because of the Cross…we Have Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are not to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps!

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

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

Here is a picture of this verse:

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

J Vernon McGee paints a more graphic picture:

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

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

We MUST EXPERIENCE the Cross!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because of the Cross…We Have Jesus!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earn this... Earn it

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

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


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

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

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

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


Death with an exclamation point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. The Plan of God – Power over Death

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

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

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

A. The Death of Jesus was no Happenstance

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

  • Definite plan
  • Foreknowledge of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. God Had Jesus Crucified to Destroy Death.

Verse 24 says:

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

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

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

  • Death could not hold Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEATH WAS RENDERED POWERLESS BECAUSE JESUS DESTROYED THE DEVIL:

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

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

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

2.) Jesus holds the Keys to Death and Hades

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

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

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

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

A. The Lord was always before Him

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

B. God was at His right hand

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

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

We Have the Promise from God!

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


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

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

God was with Jesus so that:

C. Life Did Not Shake Jesus

Verse 25 – “That I might not be shaken”

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

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

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

Has your life ever been shaken?

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

Even on the Cross:

D.    His Heart was Glad & His Tongue Rejoiced

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

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

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

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

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

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

E.  Jesus Dwelt in Hope.

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

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

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

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

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

III. The Promise of God – Power for Eternity

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

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

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

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

B. You will not let Your Holy One see Corruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Have a New Victory Cry!

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

We can Jump for Joy!

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

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

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

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

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

Through the Resurrection we have a Legacy

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

What is the Key to Knowing His Joy and Gladness?

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

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

I Dreamed I Stood at Calvary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


The Crucifixion in Excruciating Detail

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

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

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

The Scourging

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

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

The Humiliation

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

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

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

Behold the Man!

The Crown of Thorns and the Robe

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

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

Crucifixion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Cross

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

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

Forces of Darkness

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

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

Medical Aspects of Crucifixion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tetanic Spasm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Last Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a Compilation from the following Sources:

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

The Agony of Love by Dr. Mark Eastman

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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