OceanSide church of Christ
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DESCRIPTIONS OF THE CROSS
Victor M. Eskew
A. Sometimes we say things so often that the words become common. So common, in fact, that we do not really consider the meaning of what is said.
B. This can be true of the words that we speak in our prayers.
1. One of the statements that recently captured this writer’s attention involved a description of the cross of Christ.
a. The one praying referred to the cross as a “cruel” cross.
b. I have heard this said in numerous prayers. However, has this description become common to us? Do we realize what “cruel cross” really means?
2. This is just one description of the cross of Christ. There numerous other descript-tions that have been set forth. Let’s look at some of these descriptions in our les-son this morning.
I. THE CROSS DESCRIBED IN THE BIBLE
A. The word “cross” is used 21 times in reference to the cross of Jesus’ crucifi-xion.
1. There is only one Greek word translated cross in our New Testament. It is the word “stauros.”
a. Strong (4716): a stake or a post ( as set upright) that is, (specifically) a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment)
b. Thayer: an upright stake…a well-known instrument of most cruel and ignominious punishment, borrowed by the Greek and Romans from the Phoenicians.
c. The first time the word “cross” is used in the New Testament (Matt. 27:32).
And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
B. Three descriptions of the cross are set forth in the New Testament.
1. The cross
a. This description is used 11 times (Matt. 17:40, 42; Mark 15:30, 32; Luke 23:26; John 19:19; I Cor. 1:18; Gal. 5:11; Eph. 2:16; Phil 2:8; Heb. 12:2).
b. “The cross” were words used by the howling mobs who stood near Jesus while mocking Him (Matt. 27:39-40).
And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
c. “The cross” could have taken three forms:
1) A capital “T” (carried only the upright pole to the place of execution)
2) A lower case “t” (approx. 200 pounds)
3) A tree in the shape of a cross (NOTE: The words “tree” is used five times to describe Jesus’ cross, Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Gal. 3:13; I Pet. 2:24).
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
2. His cross
a. This description is used 5 times in the New Testament (Matt. 27:32; Mark 15:21; John 19:17; Col. 1:20; 2:14).
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.
b. Once a person to be crucified was handed a cross, it became his. It was his in that he would be crucified upon it.
3. The cross of…
a. This phrase is found 5 times in the New Testament.
b. The words that come after the phrase express ownership.
1) The cross of Jesus (John 19:25)
2) The cross of Christ (I Cor. 1:17; Gal. 6:12; Phil 3:18)
3) The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14).
II. THE CROSS DESCRIBED IN SONG TITLES
A. The Old Rugged Cross
1. This son was composed in 1912 b y George Bennard, a song leader and Methodist preacher.
2. “Old” and “rugged” are the words used to describe the cross.
a. The cross is definitely old now. We are almost 2000 years removed from it.
b. The word “rugged” carries two definitions that apply to Jesus’ cross:
1) Having a rough surface
2) Full of hardship and trouble
B. On the Cross of Calvary
1. This song was first published in 1886. The text is attributed to C.F.G., but there is controversy over who that author is.
2. The cross of Calvary reveals the location of the cross.
a. It was a place outside the city of Jerusalem.
b. Calvary is one of the names of the place.
1) This word is only used once in the Bible (Luke 23:33).
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
2) The Greek word is “kronion” from which we get the word “cranium.”
3) The meaning is “skull.”
c. The Jews referred to the place as Golgotha, which carries the same meaning (John 19:17).
And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of the skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha.
d. NOTE: Some believe that the “skull” indicates the figure of the mount outside the gates of Jerusalem.
C. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
1. This song was published in 1707 and was written by Isaac Watts.
2. The word “wondrous” means that which “excites wonder.”
a. As you read this song, the thing that excites the wonder of the writer is the love exhibited on the cross.
1) Stanza #3: “See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down.”
2) Stanza #4: Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.
b. I John 4:10
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the pro-pitiation for our sins.
III. THE CROSS DESCRIBED BY MAN
A. The cruel cross
1. Cruel: a willingness to cause pain, and an indifference to suffering
2. The cross was definitely something that inflicted pain:
a. Arms outstretched
b. Nail in the hands and feet – not life-threatening wounds
c. Knees slightly bent – one could push up to breath
d. Agony in breathing, muscle cramps, severe thirst, banging head
e. The agony Jesus experienced is summed up in two words: I thirst (John 19:28).
B. A Roman cross
1. The Jews did not practice crucifixion.
2. This was a Roman form of capital punishment. They borrowed it from the Phoenicians.
3. This is what makes the prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion interesting. How would a Jew know that the Messiah would have his hands and his feet pierced? (Ps. 22:16).
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they have pierced my hands and feet.
C. A cursed cross
1. Crosses were for those who had been cursed to die because of crimes they had committed.
2. The apostle Paul picked up on this description in Galatians 3:13.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.
D. The blood-stained cross
1. Blood flowed freely from our precious Lord.
a. His head was pierced by the crown of thorns (Matt. 27:29).
b. His back was torn asunder by the lashing received by the Roman soldiers (John 19:1).
c. His hands and feet were nailed to the cross (Luke 24:39).
d. A sword pierced His side (John 19:34).
2. The Bible says that life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11).
a. Thus, as the blood left Jesus’ body and stained the cross, He was giving His life for us (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 10:11; Acts 8:33; I John 3:16).
b. In giving His life, we can now be saved (Rom. 5:10).
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
A. The cross of Christ has been described in numerous ways: in the Bible, in song titles, and by man.
B. What’s amazing is that when one hears the words, “the cross,” everyone knows which cross and whose cross is being referenced.
1. Many men and women have died on a cross.
2. Only one has ever made a difference in the history of man.
a. By this cross, man can be reconciled to God (Eph. 2:16).
And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.
b. By this cross, Christians are encouraged to endure to the end (Heb. 12:2).
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.