Reflections on the Crucifixion

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For Life and Salvation, God Gave His Son

John 3:16–17 ESV
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Even Death on a Cross...

Philippians 2:5–7 ESV
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:8 ESV
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
This “Hymn of Christ Jesus” in Philippians was written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome near the end of his life and career. It echoes the conviction that he had preached for many years.

The Key to Paul’s Success:

You might remember that when Paul first went to Athens, he boldly went to the place where the philosophers and thinkers of the city wen to present and debate big ideas. There he began to speak about Jesus is a way that philosophers would understand it.
Paul’s brilliant mind labored to show that faith in Christ was a reasonable conclusion of God’s work for us.
But Paul couldn’t explain it is rationally, as he apparently focused on what they should certainly believe simply on the evidence of the resurrection.
But here is the problem: If we focus on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we miss the power of the Gospel that is present in the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
So we can read how, earlier, Paul found the one key to success in his ministry:
1 Corinthians 1:23 ESV
23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,
1 Corinthians 1:24–25 ESV
24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
and that was because:
Colossians 2:13–14 CSB
13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:14 ESV
14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
So let’s dig in to what we know about why the crucifixion is the core of our hope in Christ.
We will begin with . . .

Isaiah’s Prophecy of Christ’s Death by Crucifixion

There are echoes of the work of Jesus for our salvation in almost every Old Testament book. But one place makes it clear that the Christ of God would suffer the Cross. Every step in the crucifixion is listed in Isaiah 52 and 53.
Let me just read this passage in a way that, hopefully, will bring it to life for you. You can open your Bibles and follow along: I am in Isaiah 52, starting at verse 13, and reading most of the verses all the way to Isaiah 53:
Isaiah 52:13–14 (ESV)
13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
Isaiah 53:2–3 (ESV)
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:4–5 (ESV)
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:6–7 (ESV)
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Isaiah 53:8–9 (ESV)
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Isaiah 53:10 (ESV)
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Isaiah 53:11–12 (ESV)
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

The Apostles Preached the Crucifixion

The Pentecost Sermon:
Acts 2:22–24 ESV
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
Peter and John to the Sanhedrin:
Acts 4:10 ESV
10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.

What Makes a Crucifixion:

Crucifixion was a form of execution. It was a common way to deal with rebels and uprisings. It was also a way to execute criminals, and a Roman Citizen generally would not face crucifixion unless he was convicted of treason.
The Roman writer Cicero described crucifixion as “the cruelest and most terrible punishment.” That didn’t mean it was uncommon. Jesus had seen the results of crucifixions by Rome. So had his disciples. Crucifixion was used to intimidate, horrify and terrorize a population.
After all, it was common enough that there was no great surprise that Jesus was executed alongside two criminals.
Crucifixion was designed to be a public show of power over the people, a way to submit someone to “the ultimate shame.” Celsus, a non-believer, argued against the idea that Jesus could be the Messiah because he was executed in such a “dishonorable and shameful way”
The normal pattern for execution by crucifixion began with a flogging or a beating on every part of the body.
This was done in public, and the convicted was usually stripped naked first, so every part was abused.
Then the convicted was dressed again, and made to carry the crossbeam of his execution to the waiting pole or tree on which he would be hung.
When they arrived at the place of execution, the convicted was once again stripped naked, nailed to the crossbeam, and the beam was lifted with the convicted on it and attached to the pole. Usually not very high off the ground, but high enough that there was no way for a man to ease the burden of his own pain.
For Jesus, as for many others, to increase the suffering and humiliation, the feet were also nailed to the cross.
Death came slowly: rarely by bleeding to death; often by suffocation, and perhaps by just the whole package of assault on the body, as every organ shut down because of the great stress of crucifixion. Sometimes it took days.
But Jesus died in hours: Proving his intensity of his beating, the burden of our sin, and the power Jesus reserved to give up his spirit willingly to the Father.

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God Means

Jesus bore the guilt of our sin

Jesus bore the shame of our sin

Jesus took the punishment for our sin

Jesus became the atoning sacrifice for our sin

After he had witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter boldly said, to the gathered court of Jewish leaders in Jerusalem who had arrested him and John, that the cross proves

The Cross Proves Jesus is Our Only Hope of Salvation

Acts 4:12 ESV
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Paul wrote to the Church at Colossus why this is so
Colossians 2:13–14 ESV
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Jesus’ crucifixion is our exoneration. The only way our sins could be paid is by death; the only way we can be seen as holy enough for heaven is through the covering of the blood of Christ.
Hebrews 12:2 ESV
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Philippians 2:9–11 ESV
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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