"The Message of the Cross"
The Cross stands alone as the most controversial symbol in world history! Without question it has also been---and IS ABUSED, MISUSED AND WORSHIPED. To some it is a symbol of terror as used by the KKK and also by Christian crusaders against the Moslems in war. It has also been used in the Christian killing of Jews in the inquisition. It was carried by many slave traders and in the slaughter of Indians in the Americas. It was and is used even today in the religious wars in Europe between Protestants and Catholics. Some of the world's greatest abuse has been done in front of the Cross.
YET the Cross today graces the top of church steeples, hangs in churches and is on the front of most Bibles. Let's look further-- The Cross is popular among believers and non-believers as an ornament--cross rings, cross earrings, cross necklaces, cross tattoos, cross bookmarks, cross grave markers, etc. It is worn by priests, prostitutes, soldiers, Christians and even terrorists. The sign of the cross is made by some before ball games or sports, by some before battle, by some at meals and by many in church. For many Christians the sign of the cross is at birth, baptism, communion, marriage, and death. Cross carrying has never been viewed in a true historical sense 'a pleasure'
or in early years 'a work of art' or an 'object of beauty.' People died horrible bloody agonizing, tortured death on crosses. It was the symbol of the worst in man. Even most ancient Christian art is full of blood in its scene of the crucifixion. The art shows suffering and agony a very ugly picture. Yet the modern cross is cleaned up, gone is the blood, gone are the swarming flies that would be crawling about on the face of the crucified, gone is the smell of death and the ring of hammer against nail as it tears through the skin. NOW the cross is gold or silver and perhaps studded with diamonds or emeralds.
In the days of the cross people would see one and vomit, look away in disgust or ridicule it. TODAY we say:
'Oh how lovely' 'How beautiful' 'It looks so nice' 'Where did you buy yours?' 'What did it cost?'
Painting of Christ on the Cross All things no first century follower of Jesus would ever utter. Do you see how shallow we've become? How lost? You don't buy a Cross you carry a Cross Jesus said.
What did it cost? It cost the Father His Son---and the Son---His life. What does the Cross cost you? EVERYTHING
Jesus said 'Should anyone come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.' The true follower of Jesus has forsaken self, has taken up his cross (instrument of death) and is following Jesus. We can wear a cross and look good but in the heart have you crucified self, taken up your cross and are you following Jesus? Its the heart God sees and knows.
Many Protestants in smug superiority condemn the Catholics for having the image of Jesus on the cross. Oh we don't like that 'it's a empty cross, Jesus arose and lives.' BE careful--- perhaps you made a grave error in cleaning up the cross. A BLOODY MUTILATED SAVIOR did hang on the cross. In some of these churches you get the view of Jesus really suffering and dying for us, we see the crown of thorns and a glimpse of His agony. We must be careful not to CREATE a Jesus like a successful business man that won 'salesperson of the year'. Or a Jesus like a super sports hero who always wins! NO, The real Man Jesus carried a REAL Cross, shed REAL blood, suffered in a REAL body, and his REAL dead body was taken down and buried in a tomb. Jesus sweat Real drops of blood in the garden the night before He was crucified. He prayed to the Father "if it is possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but Thy will be done!" Within hours a scourged, bloody and tortured Jesus is carrying a Cross toward Calvary. No beautiful cross there, No-one saying 'this cross would look good on you!' Horror of horrors----how could we, even worse how do we? At that Cross no cheering crowds, no wild adulation, no long ovation of applause ONLY jeers, mockery, curses, nails, blood and a cross as the Son of God bought our souls with his life!
For many modern people the importance of symbols is almost lost yet the message they can convey is awesome and biblical. Symbols are very important in the Bible. In the Garden of Eden God made for Adam and Eve, a covering of skin to cloth them from their nakedness after their sin. God did the first killing--a life was given! blood was shed! a covering was made! Abraham, years afterward was told by God to kill his son upon a wooden altar. Just as Abraham was lifting up the knife, God stopped him and said there is a ram caught in the bush, offer him instead. Again, a life was given, blood was shed, a covering was made! In Egypt as God was leading Moses to lead the Hebrews out of bondage God had the people kill a lamb, put the blood over the doorpost, a covering was made to keep the death angel away. Again a life was given, blood was shed, a covering was made! Still later, in the temple in Jerusalem the high priest, once a year would kill a spotless Lamb, its blood would be sprinkled on the altar, a covering for the sins of the people. Once again a life was given, blood was shed, a covering was made! At Calvary, God offered up His Son Jesus, His life was given, Jesus' blood was shed, a covering was made for our sins. But not just a covering JESUS TAKES AWAY THE SIN, JESUS FORGIVES SIN, JESUS CLEANSES FROM SIN, JESUS WASHES AWAY SIN, HALLELUJAH!
God created the rainbow after the great flood as a sign to Noah and to all generations that He would not again destroy the world by water. In the wilderness after the Hebrews escaped from Egypt and they turned to worship idols, God sent serpents to bite the people. Then He had Moses set up a pole with the image of a fiery serpent on it and all who looked at it would be saved. Jesus used this story Himself "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Jesus made use of symbols: The Bread and the Wine used in Holy Communion or the Lords Supper. Jesus said "This is my Body--- take and eat!" "This is my blood-- drink this!" "Do this in remembrance of Me!" Jesus also asks us to wash one anothers feet; but He washed the disciples feet first! This shows how we are to be humble and serve each other.
Jesus also asks His followers to be baptized in water, an outward manifestation of an inward death, burial and resurrection!
So the cross! Jesus said "take up your cross and follow Me---- daily!"
Two Thousand years ago crucifixion was common in the Roman Empire. It was used early in history by the Phoenicians, then the Greeks and the Romans as a feared way of subduing conquered territories. On the day Jesus died on the Cross two other men were also crucified. Even after Christ, for years, thousands more were crucified.
WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT JESUS AND THE CROSS?
The answer WHO HE WAS! Divine, Son of God, Holy, Sinless ,Virgin born, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, Savior, the Messiah, but Jesus was also a real man in the flesh, born as a baby, He hungered, He thirst, He slept, He sweat, ate, drank, walked, talked, touched, felt, cried. What did the Father do?
He gave His only begotten Son.
He laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all.
He crushed Him, put Him to grief.
He made His soul an offering for sin.
He forsook Jesus on the Cross.
What did the Father do?
He 'has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.'
What did Jesus do?
His face (appearance) was marred more than any man.
He had no splendor or beauty that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by men.
He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
He has borne our sickness and carried our sorrows and pains.
He was wounded for our transgressions.
He was bruised for our inquities.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth.
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter but opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment.
He was cut off from the land of the living.
He was stricken.
He made His grave with the wicked.
He poured out His soul unto death.
He was numbered with the transgressors.
He bore the sin of many.
He made intercession for the transgressors.
Jesus lived, He suffered for me, He did it all for me and I weep!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Jesus.
1. Jesus was in Jerusalem with His twelve disciples and other followers as well as some women.
2. It was the Jewish Passover time and Jesus had the Passover meal with the 12 and gave them the bread and wine in memory of Him, he washed their feet.
3. Judas left Jesus there and went to betray Him.
4. With the 11 disciples He goes in the night to the Garden of Gethsemane on the mountain just opposite Jerusalem.
5. Jesus leaves the eight disciples and takes Peter James and John a little further away and ask all to pray.
6. Jesus is in agony as He prays to the Father and sweats drops of blood as He asks the Father if possible to let this cup pass from Him. Nevertheless He says 'Thy will be done'.
7. Judas arrives with soldiers and betrays Jesus with a kiss.
8. All the disciples flee.
9. Jesus taken to the house of Annas the ex-high priest where He is questioned and hit in the face.
10. Jesus is then taken to be tried and condemned by Caiaphas the high priest and the Sanhedrin. There He is spit in the face and slapped in the face. He is blindfolded and mocked as they now hit Him with their hands.
11. After dawn Jesus is taken to a formal meeting of the Sanhedrin and condemned to be put to death.
12. Jesus is taken to Pilate, the Roman Governor, at the Palace for questioning.
13. Pilate questions Jesus.
14. Then, to avoid making a decision, sends Him on to Herod Antipas the Tetrarch of Galilee who was visiting in Jerusalem. Jesus refuses to speak or do miracles so he has Jesus mocked by dressing Him in gorgeous apparel like a king and sends Jesus back to Pilate.
15. Jesus is now the second time before Pilate where the religious leaders are demanding that Pilate condemn Jesus to death. Pilate tries again to avoid the decision by giving the people a choice between Jesus being realized and a murderer and robber named Barabbas. Stirred by the chief priests the crowd shouted release Barabbas but crucify Christ. Pilate then took Jesus and had Him scourged (A horrible torture of whipping with a long whip the back of a person, the whip with sharp pieces in it tears the flesh often to the bone. Some even die from this as the pain and loss of blood it tremendous.) The soldiers plait a crown of thorns and put it upon His head, dress Jesus in a purple robe and mock Him. They beat Him with their hands! Now Pilate brings the scourged, beaten Jesus out to the leaders wearing the robe and crown of thorns and yet this is not enough. "Crucify Him" they cry. Pilate wishing to content the people released Barabbas and delivered Jesus to be crucified.
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