Sunday, April 09, 2006

Why the Cross?

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. Galatians 3:13

Have you ever asked yourself why it is Jesus Christ died hanging on a tree? Simply asked, why did Jesus die on a cross?

I. Because the cross is prophesied in Scripture -- "for it is written . . ." (Galatians 3:13).

Peter said the prophets "testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ" (I Peter 1:11). Paul said to Agrippa in Caesarea "I say none other than those things which Moses and the prophets said should come, that Christ should suffer" (Acts 26:22). The prophets foretold Jesus would die on a cross.

I have a book in my library written in 1728 by John Gill entitled The Prophecies of the Old Testament Respecting the Messiah Considered; and Proved to be Literally Fulfilled in Jesus. Gill looks at several passages from the Old Testament and shows that the prophets predicted:

Christ would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).
He would be forsaken by his disciples (Zechariah 13:7).
He would be beaten and scourged (Micah 5:1).
He would die on a cross (Psalm 22).
He would be numbered among thieves (Isaiah 53:12).
His garments would be parted (Psalm 22:18).
He would be given vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21).
No bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20).
He would die in shame before men (Psalm 22:13).
He would die abandoned by God (Psalm 22:1).

These prophecies, among the hundreds in Scripture literally fulfilled, should give us the assurance that the Bible is truly God's word. No other religious book in the world contains prophecies fulfilled.

How could the prophets of the Old Testament predict the future of the Messiah? Simple. God spoke through His prophets since He alone has the power to know the future. Jesus Christ died on the cross because God intended His Son to die this way, and the evidence is found in the prophecies of Scripture.

But we have not really answered the question, "Why the cross?" Why not some other means?

II. Because the cross is God's symbol of a curse.

Galatians 3:13 is a quotation from God's law to the Jewish nation given in Deuteronomy 21:23.

22. And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:
23. His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

An Old Testament Jewish man who rebelled against the Law of God was to be taken outside the camp of stoning and hanged on a tree. This is not the western Gunsmoke form of hanging, but the Jewish hanging of crucifixion.
"They fix a beam in the earth, and a piece of wood goes out of it (near the top of it) and hang him; the hands are spread, and one hand is fastened to the one part of the cross-beam, and the other to the other end" (Jewish Rabbi Jarchi) as quoted by Gill.

The person hanged on a tree in the Old Testament pictured a person "cut off" from God. This cursed person is hanged to demonstrate to others he is cursed by God. Throughout the centuries Jews have mocked Jesus calling him, "he who is hanged."

Jesus Christ, in fulfilling the Law of God, became a curse when He died on a tree at Calvary. Why?

II. Because the cross becomes God's curse for us.

Have you broken the law of God? Are you worthy of the condemnation of God? Are you "cut off" from God because of sin, and feel yourself abandoned by Him? Does the venom of sin flow through you? Sinners have only one hope -- only one escape -- from God's curse of death. The cross of Christ.

We are in the same predicament the children of Israel were in thousands of years ago. Bitten by fiery serpents in the wilderness, facing imminent death, they needed relief. God instructed Moses to build a serpent on a brass pole and to "lift it up." God then said, "Everyone that is bitten, let him look and live" (Numbers 21:8). Look to what? A pole in the ground with a cursed serpent hanging on it? Yes. Look! Look and live! Moses told the people.

When Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and wondered how a man could be a part of the kingdom of God Jesus responded with these words:

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:14,15).

Then Jesus said the classic statement recorded in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosever believeeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Why the cross?

Without it there is no life, no forgiveness of sin, no escape from the curse of death due the rebel of God's law.

Christ bore on the tree the sentence for me.


Alan Cross said...

This is great, Wade. I presume that these are your sermon notes for your message today/tonight. I wish that all of us preachers who have blogs would go ahead and put our notes up. It would keep the gospel before us, keep Christ central, and help encourage others who visit us to look to Jesus. Thanks for this. I look forward to tracking with your messages this week!

Groseys messages said...

Fantastic Message! Thank you !
Its the Christ and the cross we need to preach!
Steve in Australia

Anonymous said...

To Grosey’s Message,
Steve, I agree with you in liking Wade’s sermon. “If I be lifted up…” Jesus is everything. His second greatest commandment is to love others as ourselves. So the more we love ourselves, the more we can love others. This is not twisted doctrine if the love we have for ourselves is as God would have it. We would treat ourselves as God’s children. We are his temple…his priest. Loving ourselves includes eating what is good for us and not just because it taste good and not over eating. We avoid sin because we love ourselves. My aunt had a way of saying that: “Remember who you are.” We are controlled by the Holy Spirit. We are not to be controlled by man-made paper rules that go on and on. Don’t want to get started on that.

Love is the key. We trust people who love us and we love them. Steve, being from Australia, do you know my cousin Mark? who once said of Rankin, “I’ve been on my knees with that man and I would trust him with my life.”
Rex Ray

Anonymous said...


What an awesome God we serve. How can anything can anything get us off this topic...the awesomeness of the grace of the cross of Christ. Thanks, I look forward to tomorrow's message!

Thanks as well for your advice, as well as that of the others of ya'll out there. We had a great business meeting yesterday, and wonderful services. Our CP giving will continue, and God has blessed us with a new family in membership. The church also voted unanimously to license one our men who has surrendered himself to the ministry. (It was his wife who was healed from RSD.) He has been such a blessing and help to me already, and it was such a blessing to me that the church agreed.

Thanks a lot, Wade for the worship CD from your revival. I listened to it on the way to work today. Really, really super. Ain't God good?


Anonymous said...

Abandoned by God? How can they split the trinity?

Groseys messages said...

Ummm Rex?
Sorry I don't know Mark.
Not quite sure what you are getting at in the comment on over eating (I only eat big when Wade is footing the bill!)
I have had plenty of paper cuts.. but never used a paper rule.. is it an American invention?
Every Blessing Rex.. ( Inspector Rex is one of my favourite TV shows.. )

Groseys messages said...

Oh, Ray, there are over 18 million people in Australia at the moment... umm if one of them is your brother... please get him to hold his hand up higher so I can see him

Anonymous said...

Pastor Wade,
I have followed your blog for a few weeks at the recommendation of a mutual friend. It is aewsom to see the emphasis being shifted to the cross and the whole reason we preach and teach what we do. Long after the policies go away and long after the SBC (which I love and respect and have been a part of my whole life) is only a memory and differences fade from our memories, the cross and what it represents will remain. Don't get me wrong, I have seen a need for the information in your blogs to be brought to the masses and I respect your position and agree with the biblical basis being stood up for, but the without the message of the crosss, it is all but trash and decay. Keep up the good work and never let the bible not be the litmus that we test everything we do.

Anonymous said...

To Grosey’s Message,
Don’t mean to use Wade’s blog for personnel use, but you asked so many questions I thought I’d answer some. First, I thought you were a missionary and if you were, you would know my COUSIN who is an IMB missionary leader in Australia. I hope you haven’t strained you eyes looking for someone with their hand up. Its fun writing to people that share our joy in the Lord on Wade’s blog. But not so with the Fort Worth Star Telegram comment section:
The last post to me stated: “Rex, you are a vicious & spiteful man who wants an argument to last forever. We are giving you your last word. Just take it and hush already.”
I don’t think they like hearing truth. I thought someone’s last word was just before they put the blindfold on.
Steve, you said you never used a paper rule and asked if it was an American invention. No, it was more like a Pharisee invention. You know, like the guideline for the Bible. Couldn’t resist.
Tell me where and when Wade’s buying and I’ll make an exception to that eating too much.
Rex Ray