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Last modified: 02-02-2017
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The Message of the Cross - Page 1
Pastor Bill Lobbs

Theme: The cross-God'ssolutions for man's problem.

Introductory Remarks:

"Years I spent in vanity and pride
Caring not my Lord was crucified
Knowing not it was for me He died
On Calvary.

Mercy there was great and grace was free
Pardon there was multiplied to me
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary." 1

The congregation had risen to its feet and hundreds of voices blended together in song, filling the sanctuary with the timeless story of Calvary, the cross, and the crucified Savior.

As I joined my voice with theirs, I thought of how many years ago it was when I first heard that story told to me. It had moved me deeply back then and even as I sang about it in that old hymn of the church, I was moved again in my spirit. It's a simple story that even a child can grasp and yet it's so profound that even the angels of heaven have not yet fathomed it's depth of meaning.
(I Peter 1:10-12.) It has been called the Story of Stories, The Greatest Story Ever Told. It's a story that never grows old and the repeated telling of it through the years has never diminished its truth in any way. It's study has never been exhausted, for no human mind is big enough or broad enough to understand it in its entirety. It's a story that stands unequaled in history. It's the story of the cross.

Today, I want us to hear Matthews version of that precious old story again, as it is recorded in the gospel bearing his name. As we hear it told, it is my prayer that Calvary's crucifixion scene will once again come alive to us, and that our hearts will be touched one more time by 
" The Message of the Cross."

Text: Matthew 27:27-54, (NIV).
The Judgment Hall: verses 27 - 31,
"Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around Him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, And then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" They said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him."

The Crucifixion: verses 32-44

"As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull), There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, He refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots, And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him. He trust in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' " In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him."

The Death of Jesus: verses 45-54
"From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?"--which means "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah." Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him." And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"

Point I:

Let me begin this teaching by sharing some facts about crosses and crucifixions and pointing out an important biblical fact about the cross of Jesus.

A. Some facts about crosses and crucifixions:

  1. Crucifixion was not a form of punishment introduced to the Jewish people by God. Therefore, it was never practiced by them. Crucifixion is believed to have first been devised by Semiramis, the wife of Nimrod mentioned in Genesis 10. Together they founded the idolatrous Babylonian religion that flourished following the flood of Genesis 6 -  8th chapters.
  2. Later, crucifixion was also practiced by the Persians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans and ancient Germans. It was considered a most degrading and shameful form of punishment. Hebrews 12:2, alludes to this, when it states that "Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame." Although the Romans administered execution by crucifixion as a death penalty, the cross was hated by them. Roman law would not allow a Roman citizen to die by crucifixion except for crimes against Caesar.
  3. There were several types of crosses used in crucifixions. One cross used was two beams laid across each other to form an X. Another type had two unequal length beams, with the shorter beam placed on top of the longer one to form a T shaped cross. A third type had the shorter beam fastened a short distance down from the top of the longer beam. This seems to have been the one most widely used and is generally believed to have been the kind that Jesus was crucified on.
  4. Crosses were generally not more than 10 or 12 feet in height, so when erected vertically, the feet of the sufferer was not far from the ground. The victim was either tied or nailed to the cross beams. If they were tied, no more was done to them or for them. They were simply left to die of thirst and starvation. If they were nailed, a potion was sometimes given to them to deaden the pain. In crucifixion, death rarely came before 36 hours had elapsed. In Mark 15:44, Pilate is recorded as being astonished when he had received word that Jesus was already dead after only a few hours on the cross. Death was sometimes hastened by breaking the legs so that the person hung in a position that made breathing very difficult. Men were crucified with their backs to the cross and women were crucified with their faces toward the cross. (Yes, women were also crucified.)
  5. During the reign of Constantine, (the first Roman Emperor to profess Christianity,) crucifixion was abolished. He considered it an insult to Christianity. But in Jesus day it was the way non Roman criminals were executed. It was reserved for those considered to be social misfits of that day. The Roman and Jewish leaders considered Jesus to be a social misfit and therefore worthy of death. Isaiah 53:12 states that Jesus "was numbered with the transgressors."

B. A biblical fact about the cross of Jesus:

Did you know that God knew about the cross before the foundation of the world? It was in his eternal plan even before Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so. I Peter 1:18 - 20, (KJV) "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Jesus as a lamb without blemish and without spot, who was verily foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you."

New Living Translation:
"For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors, and the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious life blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless lamb of God. God chose him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, He was sent to earth for all to see and he did this for you."

Ephesians 1:4, (KJV) "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before him in love."

New Living Translation: "Long ago even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes." Let me add verse 5. "His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ and this gives him great pleasure."

When I read scriptures like these, I am thoroughly convinced that everything God has done from his first "Let there be" until now (including the cross) has been carried out according to a divine plan and purpose. It was all mapped out, thought out, and put together by the Godhead before it was ever put in motion. God is "working out" his "good pleasure" by blueprints of an heavenly origin.

God is not "playing it by ear" hoping that somehow everything is going to turn out alright in the end. God doesn't do things that way.

God already knew what He was going to do.
God already knew where He was going to do it.
God already knew who He was going to do it to or with.
God already knew why He was going to do it.
God already knew the outcome from His doing it.

How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so. Isaiah 46: 9 - 10 (KJV) "Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is none else. I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done. Saying my counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure."

New Living Translation simply says, "Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatsoever I wish."

It is quite evident that the God who knows what is going to happen, even before it happens, knew that the man he would create would succumb to sin and need redemption. So before the foundation of the world, he prepared a lamb sacrifice whose shed blood would atone for that sin. He then purposed a cross for the lamb to be offered up on.

As the cross was planned, so Jesus death was also planned. Jesus knew he came to die. 
Matthew 20: 18 - 19, "We are going to Jerusalem, the Son of Man will be turned over to the leading priests and the teachers of the law and they will say he must die. They will give the Son of Man to the non-Jewish people to laugh at him and beat him with whips and crucify him. But on the third day he will be raised to life again." The cross was Jesus' mission. The death of Jesus was voluntary on his part. He died on purpose. He laid his life down of his own accord. No one took his life.

John 10: 17 - 18, "Therefore doth my father love me because I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."

Jesus marched purposely to his death. No hesitation, no faltering, no doubt but that he intended to go to the cross. In Gethsemane, Jesus discovered the will of God to be his death and then nothing could keep him from obeying that will. "Arise, he said to the sleeping disciples, "let us be going."

The purpose of About-Him.Com is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ whom we preach as the Almighty God manifest in the flesh. That which we present in all of our essays and bible studies is from a Christian perspective. Don't forget to check our forwards pages and the humor page for the daily cartoon.Our missions pages will show that our heart goes out to the missionary.It is our desire that everything presented on these pages increases your faith in our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The purpose of About-Him.Com is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ whom we preach as the Almighty God manifest in the flesh.It is our desire that everything presented on these pages increases your faith in our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Last modified: 02-02-2017
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