The Triumph of the Cross
By Mickey Keith on March 18, 20081 CommentTo the Christian, the cross is a symbol of great victory and freedom! What a paradox, that we would find joy in an instrument of death. What could be fascinating about electric chairs, guillotines or a hangman’s noose?
But in dealing with mankind, our God specializes in using the weak things of this world to confound the strong-
1 Corinthians 1:26 “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 So that no one may boast before Him.”
Other examples of paradoxical thinking in the scripture are as follows:
`The first shall be last‘ - `To be great, you must be a servant‘ - `Bless those who persecute you‘ - `Pray for those that despitefully use you’- ‘To him who asks for your coat, give him your cloak, too’
At the Red Sea, with the armies of Pharaoh chasing them, the desert on either side and the ocean before them, the Israelites were told, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”.
When they faced their first battle in the Promised Land, God told them to march once a day for seven days around Jericho, and on the 7th day, “shout, for I have given you the city”.
When three armies were coming against King Jehoshaphat, he was told by the Lord, “Send out your singers and musicians”, and the Lord conquered their enemies without a shot being fired!
Our God specializes in taking the painful things in our lives and turning them into triumphant victories! This is the ultimate story of the cross and of the resurrection!
There can be no victory without a battle… No Promised Land without a wilderness…No resurrection without a crucifixion…It may seem like Friday night to you, but Sunday’s on the way! “Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning!
Crucifixion probably began among the Persians. Alexander the Great introduced the practice to Egypt and Carthage, where the Romans learned it. It was a most painful and cruel method of execution reserved only for slaves, revolutionaries and the vilest of criminals. In the days of Jesus, over 250,000 men were condemned to die in this fashion because of rebellion and insurrection against Rome.
In its earliest forms, victims were tied to a tree or impaled on a pole in an upright position to keep their feet from touching holy ground.
Flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers were exempt.
The executioners would strip the victim naked, tie him to a pole, and beat him mercilessly with whips called a`cat of nine tails’. These short whips consisted of leather thongs with pieces of sheep bone and lead balls tied to the ends. The back, buttocks and legs were flogged and the severity of the scourging was determined by the disposition of the sadistic soldiers. It was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death.
As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck Jesus’ back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then the lacerations would tear into skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock.
He was then forced to carry the patibulum, or crossbar (75 to 125 lbs.) to the place of crucifixion, where permanent poles (stipes) were implanted in the ground. He would be escorted by a Roman military guard, led by a centurion. One of these men would carry the sign(titleus) upon which was written the nature of the man’s crime.
The word `crucifixion’ is the source of the word, `excruciating’. In a Roman crucifixion, 6 inch spikes were driven into the hands and feet, and the victim was left to die of asphyxiation. If left long enough in the Palestinian heat and sun, insects would borrow into the wounds and body cavities, and often birds of prey would rip the man's flesh in search of insects.
To speed up death, the legs would be broken so that the condemned man could not raise himself to breathe. A spear would then be thrust into the side just below the heart to puncture the heart cavity to further hasten death.
After death, if no family appealed to the judge for removal, the body was left to decay on the cross. It was a humiliating form of cruel torture and death.
So why the fascination with the cross? Why do we wear it around our necks, and use it as an ornament in our homes?
Because of what took place on a cross 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, the Royal City. Our Savior died in this fashion so that you and I could go free from the death our sin nature dictated.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Colossians 2:15[God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross]. AMP
At the cross:
1. Jesus conquered the powers of sin, sickness, death, hell and the grave.
But he did so as a perfect man, one who kept every word of God’s Law.
2. As a sinless man, He became the perfect sacrifice for all of man’s sin.
The holy died for the unholy, the sinless died for the sinful, the innocent died for the guilty. For you see, Jesus did not die for His sins, but for ours.
3. He was received by God as a substitute for us.
2 Cor. 5:21 “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Holman
4. Through the cross, Jesus destroyed the work of the devil.
Hebrews 2:14 “Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, He also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil”.
5. He purchased us back by becoming the ransom for us.
Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
A ransom is paid when someone is considered worthy of the price. Satan held all of mankind captive, but God valued you so much He was willing to give His own Son Jesus to buy you back.
How much do you mean to Him? How much does He love you? How should this make you feel? How should we approach life, marriage, ministry and our future?
God dictated the terms of the exchange…The location? The ransom drop would be made in Palestine…
The time? “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” Gal. 4:4
Jesus then left Heaven, entered time and space, and walked among us for 33 years. At God’s appointed time, He paid the ransom price demanded by His own law…death. So that His beloved children could go free. We have been `redeemed`, or “bought back’ from the hand of the enemy!
This is the triumph of the cross! What the world labeled as a cruel and unusual form of punishment for criminals, became the tool God would use to redeem mankind back to Himself!
Read what Paul the Apostle said about the preaching of the cross!
1 Cor. 1:17-19 Message-
17God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn't send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.
18-21 The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It's written,
I'll turn conventional wisdom on its head,
I'll expose so-called experts as crackpots.
So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn't God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.
Consider what also has been accomplished at the cross-
Col.2:13 “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed] the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.” NLT
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