The Cross of Jesus is discussed in Chapters 19-21 of Greg Koukl’s book (The Story of Reality). (If you are new to this series, check out the first post and the intervening posts to put this in context.)
Read Chapter 19 before going further. It walks through the footsteps of Jesus’ life and sets the stage for the following Bible passages.
During his life Jesus mentioned the cross often. His death on the cross was not unexpected by him. In fact, he made it obvious that self-sacrifice is expected by all of his followers.
But put yourself in the disciples’ sandals for a moment. If your spiritual leader kept referring to the electric chair wouldn’t it make you uneasy? Being in Huntsville, we are very familiar with “Old Sparky” – the electric chair that was used in the Huntsville (Walls) Unit from 1924 to 1964 to execute 361 individuals. If the electric chair makes you queasy, then the cross should make you faint.
Jesus points his disciples to the cross
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 8:34 ESV]
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 9:23 ESV]
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [Matthew 16:24 ESV]
38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. [Matthew 10:38 ESV]
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. [Luke 14:27 ESV]
After three years in ministry tension grows in Jerusalem. Ignoring his disciples’ pleas to avoid Jerusalem, Jesus “set his face” toward what was in front of him. (Luke 9:51)
Jesus dies on the cross
17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. … 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” [John 19:17, 19 ESV]
39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” … 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. [Matthew 27:39-40, 42 ESV]
30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” … 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. [Mark 15:30, 32 ESV]
31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. … 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” [John 19:31-34, 36-37 ESV]
But the executioner, the veiling of heads, and the very word ‘cross,’ let them all be far removed from not only the bodies of Roman citizens but even from their thoughts, their eyes, and their ears. [Cicero, 106-43BC, Pro Rabirio Postump]
And today, the cross is a piece of jewelry. Amazing.
What would you think of a bunch of people who wore silver and gold electric chair charms on necklaces, or had electric chairs emblazoned on t-shirts and hats with catchy Bible verses? That would be so strange and weird. Right? Yet we seem to rejoice in the disgusting, horrific, and agonizing cross.
The work of the cross
The cross is offensive to the Jewish leaders who demanded obedience to rules and ordinances.
“But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.” [Galatians 5:11 ESV]
Christ sent Paul:
“to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” [1 Corinthians 1:17-18 ESV]
Paul boasted exclusively in the cross of Jesus! What?!
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. [Galatians 6:14 ESV]
He himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. [Ephesians 2:14-16 ESV]
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:5-8 ESV]
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, … [Colossians 1:19-22 ESV]
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses …, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. [Colossians 2:13-14 ESV]
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. [Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV]
The Scripture suggests that something significant happened on the cross.
- Cancelling of debt
- Restoration of peace
- New way for us to become holy, blameless, and beyond reproach
Nowhere else in history do Evil, Justice, Love, and Forgiveness converge but on the cross of Jesus Christ. [Ravi Zacharias]
The Evil we have done and the Evil done to innocent Jesus;
The perfect Justice pronounced by the Father;
The unparalleled Love Jesus displayed by drinking that cup willingly;
The unbelievable Forgiveness that is offered to us;
These converge on the cross – the horrific and beautiful cross.
Love to you all,
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