The Message of the Cross

I.         I Corinthians 1:18-24

            A.        The core of salvation is the fact that Jesus died for our sins.

            B.        The center of our hope is the knowledge that Jesus arose triumphant over death.

            C.        Yet many are unable to understand this message.

                        1.         The Jews wanted something else. They wanted further proof from God.

                        2.         The Greeks thought it was silly. They could not understand what God was accomplishing.

                        3.         We still have people who scour the world for more signs

                                    a.         Witness the mass of people who flock to images that supposedly weep

                                    b.         Charismatic groups who offer latter-day revelations

                        4.         We still have people who scoff at any form of religion

II.        What the message of the cross is not

            A.        It is not surprising that people misunderstand the message of the cross.

            B.        Many put too much emphasis on the cross itself, and not the message it brings

                        1.         People who wear crosses as good luck charms, or as an ornament declaring their faith, or as a sign of their authority.

                        2.         People adorn buildings with crosses to announce the purpose of the building.

                        3.         You even see crosses along the highways as if placing crosses in view of the public will spread its message.

III.       The cross was real

            A.        Roman crucifixions were designed to humiliate, punish, and to set an example.

            B.        The Romans first flogged the condemned, leaving the person nearly dead - John 19:1, Isaiah 53:5

            C.        The crossbar of the cross was tied to the prisoner’s shoulders. He was then paraded through the streets. - Ps 22:6. A solider would carry a sign indicating the charge against the person - John 19:16-19

            D.        The crucifixions took place outside a city in a public location - Ps 22:6-7,17

            E.        The Romans normally crucified people naked - Matthew 27:35. The soldiers kept the victims possessions.

            F.        At the place of execution, the prisoner’s wrists were nailed to the crossbar. The bar was lifted and placed on the stake, which was already in the ground. The condemned person’s ankles were then nailed to the stake. Crosses were low to the ground, only about 5 to 6 feet off the ground - Matthew 27:48

            G.        The prisoner, in excruciating pain, eventually died of asphyxiation and blood loss - Ps 22:14-16.

            H.        A prisoner could remain conscious for days. To speed things up, the Romans sometimes broke the prisoner’s legs. Because his legs no loner supported the weight of his body, he suffocated faster. However, Jesus dies without any broken bones - John 19:31-33.

            I.         Because of the slow death by asphyxiation, a prisoner could only speak in short bursts.

                        1.         “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” - Luke 23:34

                        2.         “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” - Luke 23:43

                        3.         “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” - Matthew 27:46

                        4.         “I am thirsty” - John 19:28

                        5.         “It is finished” - John 19:30

                        6.         “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” - Luke 23:46

IV.      The message of the cross is the impact it has in our lives

            A.        The cross of Christ tells us that sin is a curse

                        1.         Sin is so terrible, God sent his Son to the cross because of it.

                        2.         Jesus did not just die; he died a terrible, painful, lingering death of immense cruelty.

                        3.         Sin brings on death, a separation from God - Rom 6:23

                        4.         Jesus became a curse for us, to die in our stead - Gal 3:13

            B.        The cross of Christ tells us that a sacrifice for sin was made

                        1.         God appointed the shedding of blood for the atonement of sin - Lev 17:10-11

                        2.         The blood of animals was imperfect, but Jesus took away our sins - Heb 10:1-7

            C.        The cross of Christ tells us that a substitution was made

                        1.         Ezek 18:4 - We all sin and all deserve death. Only by God’s grace has it been a different outcome.

                        2.         Jesus took on our punishment and death - Isa 53:5

            D.        The cross of Christ tells us that reconciliation was made

                        1.         Since atonement was made by Jesus’ death on the cross, God has invited us back. - II Cor 5:18-20

                        2.         While atonement was made for the whole world, not all men will be saved. Everyone will not obey the call - I Cor 1:18

                        3.         If we reject reconciliation, we reject peace with God

                        4.         Fellowship with God is only found through Christ

            E.        The cross of Christ tells us we must change

                        1.         Rom 6:2-6 - Through baptism, we join Jesus in his death and resurrection

                        2.         Col 3:1-3 - If we live, seek the things above

V.        The cross has come to represent whole of the gospel message

            A.        The message of the cross brings salvation - I Cor 1:18

            B.        It is the focus of Paul’s message - I Cor 2:2

            C.        Never should this message be mingled with human wisdom - I Cor 1:17

            D.        Those who oppose the message are enemies of the cross - Phil 3:18

            E.        Only in the cross is our glory - Gal 6:14

            F.        Jesus humbled himself in obedience, taking up the cross - Phil 2:8

                        1.         Take up Jesus’ cross in obedience- Matt 10:38-39

                        2.         Are you wearing your cross or bearing it?