Stephen Caswell © 2004
London’s - The Cross
The geographical heart of London is Charing Cross. All distances are measured from it. This spot is referred to simply as the cross. A lost child was one day picked up by a London bobby. The child was unable to tell where he lived. Finally, in response to the repeated questions of the bobby, and amid sobs and tears, the little fellow said, If you will take me to the cross I think I can find my way from there. In fact the Cross of Christ is the only place where lost sinners can find their way home. Have you been to the cross?
Easter speaks of the crucifixion and the resurrection. Today the cross has become a sign of hope. You see crosses placed on Churches, hospitals, and schools. They are used profusely in cemeteries or along the road side at the location of fatal accidents. Why do people use crosses this way? Why does the cross give us such hope? Has it always provided hope? No, it hasn't. In the ancient Roman world the cross was a sign of cruelty and death. Crucifixion was reserved for criminals and rebels, outcasts in society. It was used to discourage people from rebellion. Yet through Christ's death on the cross we have hope. The strange thing is that Jesus Christ conquered death by dying. He turned what looked like defeat into victory, rising from the dead. This morning we will look at 4 things nailed to the cross of Christ. They are: The Savior, A Sign, Our Sin and God’s Statutes.
1. The Savior
Matthew 27:38-44: Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, I am the Son of God. Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
The First thing nailed to the cross was the Savior. Israel misunderstood the work of the Savior. When Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross most people mocked Him. Golgotha was next to a public highway. The place that He was crucified was open for all to see and many travelers passed by this place. They blasphemed Him shaking their heads. They told Jesus to come down from the cross and save Himself if he was really the Son of God. The high priests joined in mocking Christ also. They said that He saved others but could not save Himself. They told Him to come down from the cross and save Himself if He was the King of Israel. Such a miraculous deliverance would convince them that He was the promised Messiah. Then they would believe.
But Jesus came to die for us. The cross was the purpose behind the cradle. 1 John 4:14: And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. A Savior doesn't save Himself, he saves others. Jesus Christ could have called twelve legions of angels to help him. He could have come down from the cross if head had wanted to, but that wouldn't have saved us. No, instead Christ laid down His life for you and me.
Tragically, most of the people didn't understand what He was doing. While the people hurled insults and ridicule upon Him, Jesus asked His Father to forgive them for their ignorance and sin. Jesus willingly took the punishment that we should have received.
Hebrews 2:9-10: says: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Story Of A Lifeguard
Lifeguards rescue people from drowning at the beach. But to do this they have to risk their own lives. They swim out through the same waters that are drowning the swimmer. They identify with the struggling swimmer by going to where he is. Not only must lifeguards be able to swim through the water they must be able to save others in trouble.
Jesus was not a helpless man dying on the cross. He was the powerful Son of God who yielded Himself to death in our place. The good news is that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures. His death was not passive like the thieves but active. 1n 1 Corinthians 15:3 the verb die is active not passive. Death was not forced upon Him. He chose to die. They misunderstood the Savior's work. The first thing nailed to the cross was the Savior.
2. A Sign
Matthew 27:37: And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
The Second thing nailed to the cross was a Sign. Firstly the sign pointed to Jesus' royalty. The full inscription from the four Gospels is, This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
Pilate instructed them to place this sign upon the cross. What was the purpose of this sign? Signs are used to give direction or explanation about something. This particular sign is called an accusation. It declares the crime Jesus committed. He was accused of being the King of the Jews. Remember Pilate said that he found no fault in Jesus Christ 3 times in John chapters 18 & 19.
He was innocent and should have been released. The chief priests charged Christ for His claim to be King of the Jews. Jesus is called King 10 times in John 18 & 19. Were these claims true? Hadn't he healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, raised the dead and fed hungry people? Hadn't Jesus Christ fulfilled every Old testament prophecy concerning the Messiah? In fact many of the people believed Him to be Messiah. Most of the people of Israel wanted Jesus to reign and set up the Kingdom. Jesus Christ told the people to repent for the kingdom of God was at hand. The account of the triumphal entry brings out His Kingship.
Matthew 21:4-9: All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!
The crowds welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem the week of His death. They called Him the Son of David, a term for the Messiah. They said He came in the Lord's name. They said hosanna to the Son of David. People placed palm branches on the road before Kings returning victoriously from battle. Hosanna means save now. The people wanted Jesus to deliver them from the Romans. All of this points to the fact that they believed He was the Lord's Messiah. Jesus was born of David's line and therefore rightful King of Israel. The people knew all this.
Secondly the sign spoke of rejection. Jesus Christ was rejected primarily by the religious leaders. They turned the crowd against Jesus Christ at the time of the Passover. Many of the people changed their mind about Him in the week that followed the triumphal entry. Jesus didn't overthrow the Romans and establish the kingdom. He didn't bring the deliverance that they were looking for. Jesus' kingdom was firstly spiritual and afterwards physical. He came to save them from their sins not the Romans. So the chief priests arrested Jesus and placed Him on trial. They asked Pilate to crucify Him. They turned the people against the Lord's Christ. They led the people to reject their King. They threatened Pilate with insurrection unless he gave them their request.
So Pilate released Barabbas and turned over Jesus, an innocent man, to be crucified. The sign was Pilate's idea. He wanted Israel to know the charges that Jesus, an innocent man died for. The sign speaks of the people's rejection of the King of the Jews. They would not submit to their King. Israel rejected her Messiah. They wanted deliverance from the Romans not their sins.
Therefore, this sign was really a slap in the face to the priests who had coerced Pilate to put an innocent man to death. It showed why Jesus was crucified from Pilate's perspective and magnified the Romans authority over the Jews whose King they were crucifying. This is why the priests asked Pilate to change the sign to read, He said that He was the King of the Jews. But Pilate would not alter it. The sign on the cross spoke of Jesus royalty. It also spoke of the people's rejection of His Kingship. They wouldn't submit to their Messiah but had Him crucified instead. Yet amazingly the King Of Kings allowed it all to happen.
Jesus Sacrifice Has Won The Hearts of Millions
Alexander, Caesar, and Hannibal conquered the world but they had no friends. ... Jesus founded his empire upon love, and at this hour millions would die for him. ... He has won the hearts of men, a task a conqueror cannot do. -- Napoleon Bonaparte
The second thing nailed to the cross was the Sign that spoke of the King's rejection.
3. Our Sin
Matthew 27:45-46: Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
The third thing nailed to the cross was our sin. Have you ever wondered why darkness covered the land? Or why God forsook His Son? It was because Jesus Christ carried our sins in His body on the cross. In fact Christ carried the sins of all the world upon Himself. Satan and his demons were there to gloat. And God hid his face from His Beloved Son. Therefore the sky became dark for these two reasons. Matthew 27:46 is a quote from Psalm 22. The same Psalm also tells us why God forsook His Son.
Psalm 22:1-3: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent. But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel. God forsook His Son because He is holy and cannot look upon sin. Jesus was carrying the sins of the world and therefore His Father forsook Him. He was separated from the Father for us. He tasted death for every man and ultimately death is separation from God.
A leading British humanist was interviewed on television. In a moment of surprising candor, she said, What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness. I have nobody to forgive me. Imagine the anguish that Jesus Christ went through as He the spotless Lamb of God became our sin bearer. 1 Peter 2:24 says: who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed. Jesus bore our sins on the cross. We should have died for our sin. But He took our place because He loves us. It wasn't the nails that held Jesus to the cross; it was love. Christ has all power and authority. He willingly died for you and me.
John 1:29b: John said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Paul summarized the Gospel in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21: Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. The third thing nailed to the cross of Christ was our sin.
4. God’s Statutes
Matthew 27:50-53; John 19:30: And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, It is finished! And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
The fourth thing nailed to the cross were statutes or The Law. Christ said that He did not come to destroy the law but fulfill it. Jesus Christ kept the Law for 33 years. He observed it completely. He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning Himself. Even His death on the cross had been foretold long ago. Just before Christ died He said, It is finished. What was finished? The work of salvation was complete. The price for our redemption had been fully paid. The Law had been fulfilled, the Father was satisfied. What happened after Jesus' work was done?
a. Access To God
The veil in the temple was torn in two, showing that man could come directly into God's presence. Hebrews 10:19-20: Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, The Law and sacrificial system has been replaced by Christ's perfect sacrifice. The Law has been fulfilled and will not be held against those who believe in Jesus Christ. Christ has fulfilled the Law nailing it to the cross. We are not under Law, but under grace. Colossians 2:14: having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
The Law revealed God's perfect standard and exposed sin. We could never keep it, but Jesus did. Everyone who broke the Law was under the curse of the Law. But Christ has fulfilled the Law and then received our punishment for breaking the law. Galatians 3:13-14: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Christ has fulfilled the Law and taken it out of the way for all who believe. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
b. Eternal Life
Saints were resurrected to new life when Jesus Christ died on the cross.
The cross meant death to Christ, but life to us, God's people. God was satisfied with His Sons work or He would never have allowed these saints to receive resurrection bodies. But they did. They along with Jesus Christ are the first fruits of a greater harvest yet to be gathered. The Law could not save. Only faith in Christ the Savior can do that. He is the one who has saved us nailing the law to His cross that we might live in the Spirit and not under the letter of the Law. Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. The fourth thing Christ nailed to the cross was The Law.
Christ Disarmed the Law
A duck hunter was with a friend in the wide-open land of southeastern Georgia. Far away on the horizon he noticed a cloud of smoke. Soon he could hear crackling as the wind shifted. He realized the terrible truth: a brush fire was advancing, so fast they couldn't outrun it. Rifling through his pockets, he soon found what he was looking for-a book of matches. He lit a small fire around the two of them.
Soon they were standing in a circle of blackened earth, waiting for the fire to come. They didn't have to wait long. They covered their mouths with handkerchiefs and braced themselves. The fire came near -- and swept over them. But they were completely unhurt, untouched. Fire would not pass where fire had already passed. The law is like a brush fire. I cannot escape it. But if I stand in the burned over place, not a hair of my head will be singed. Christ's death is the burned-over place. There I huddle, hardly believing yet relieved. The law is powerful, yet powerless: the cross Christ has disarmed it.
The cross was God's answer to man's problem with sin and the Law. How should we respond to Christ's work of salvation? How do these four things nailed to the cross affect us today? How do we respond to The Savior, A Sign, Our Sin and God’s Statutes?
1. The Savior
Many people have misunderstood Christ's death on the cross. He was not a martyr or a helpless victim like some people claim. Jesus didn't have to die. He chose to die because He loves you and me. Jesus’ name means Jehovah Saves. The Savior came to save others not Himself. He died for you. Have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior? Have you believed in Him?
2. A Sign
The sign declares that Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews. He is the Lord's anointed King. What is your response to Jesus? Have you submitted to His rule, or have you rejected your King? Will you bow before Him and make Him your Lord, or will you refuse Him? What is your response to God's appointed King? One day all men will bow before their King!
3. Our Sin
The depth of Jesus love can be seen in His work on the cross. Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God became sin for us that we might saved. He made our problems His own. He took our sin upon Himself. He was separated from the Father for you and me. Jesus Christ is the only one who can remove your sin and mine. Have you asked Him to wash your sins away? Have you come to the cross to receive His free gift of salvation? He is calling you now and awaits your response.
4. God’s Statutes
Jesus Christ has fulfilled God's Law. He completed the work of salvation. Are you trying to please God by keeping the 10 commandments or the golden rule? Give up! You'll never make it. Only Jesus Christ has obeyed all of God's Laws. He is the standard you have to live up to. He can be your righteousness if your receive Him. All you need to do is believe in Jesus Christ and receive Him as your Lord and Savior. Will you do this today?
Our response needs to be like the Roman Centurion's response. Matthew 27:54: So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, truly this was the Son of God! Will you believe in God's Son? Will you ask Him to be your Savior today?
5. Our Self
We should also choose to nail ourselves to the cross. Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 6:14: But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. If Christ died for us, then we should die to our own desires and live for Him.
Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.