John 19:17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha.
I’m using the song “The Old Rugged Cross” as part of the message. What a story the author told of the crucifixion! Let’s first look at the region of the cross. “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross.” The bible calls it the place of the skull, Golgotha. It was outside Jerusalem. Executions in the day were commonly done by crucifixion. It was probably on main thoroughfare so people would see and be warned not to break the law. Victims were nailed to a cross with spikes in their hands and feet. They hung several hours in anguish. It was common to break the legs to hurry up the process. In doing this, the person could not lift himself up to breathe and would die quicker. When they got to Jesus, he was already dead. His legs were not broken; this was fulfillment of scripture given hundreds of years earlier. Thousands had been crucified on that hillside but this day the God of Glory, Jesus Christ himself, hung there. It was never the same again.
Let’s look at the reproach of the cross. The song says “the emblem of suffering and shame.” Verses 23-24 say then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. Jesus was stripped of his garments putting him in open shame before the people. The soldiers had no idea they were fulfilling scripture. The Psalms prophesied it would happen. Roman soldiers were in charge of crucifixions and customarily took the clothes of the criminals. They cast lots for the robe of Jesus. Romans 15:3 says For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. He took my judgement. What I deserved fell on him. If sin is a transgression against God (AND IT IS), he must punish that transgression. The punishment is hell. It’s what we all deserve. If God is just (AND HE IS), he must punish sin. Two thousand years ago God punished our sin on the cross. Jesus never failed, never sinned—not one time—yet he died for us. We sin daily either in deed or in the not doing of what we should. Both are sins. To know to do good and not do it is a sin. That’s the bible. The thief on the cross testified that he was there justly but that Jesus had done no wrong. The hell I should have received Jesus took that day. I can be free! Hebrews 12:2 says 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. He endured despising the shame and is in heaven today.
Let’s look at the reach of the cross. The song says “for a world of lost sinners was slain.” Rich. Poor. Educated. Uneducated. Black. White. Anyone can be saved. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. All are sinners. Jesus gave his life a ransom for many. He paid the price to release us and set us free from the bondage of sin. He released us from spiritual death in hell. Don’t think “well, it won’t be too bad. It will be over quickly.” Not so. The bible says it’s a place of pain with no relief and no mercy and that it is forever. Mark 9:44 says Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. The worm is the soul of man, the real you. The rich man said he was in such torments that he wanted only a drop of water to cool his tongue. It will be an awful place. Only through the death of Jesus could the world be saved. When he died, God was satisfied. Now through Jesus Christ we are accepted by the Father. Think he couldn’t have stopped all this? Think again. He made the tree he hung on. He made the nails. He was the God of the universe. They did not take his life; he freely gave it. Looking ahead in time, he saw us; he died for me, for you. He stayed on the cross and paid the debt of sin we owed. He bought us back, redeemed us from sin: Titus 2 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity. Second Corinthians 5:15 says it was for all: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Let’s look at the redemption of the cross. The song says “to pardon and sanctify me.” Galatians 3:13 says Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree. He was made a curse for us. Paul said in Ephesians 1 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. Is it just a bloody religion? Without the blood there is no forgiveness–remission–of sin. Life is in the blood in this body. In the spiritual realm it takes the blood of Christ to be made alive. I’m glad that I didn’t have to bring an animal to church with me today so that it could be sacrificed for my sin. Even in the Old Testament, that obedience only rolled back their sin until the day of the cross. When Jesus died he went to those who died in faith and presented himself and brought them out to the paradise of God. All of us are redeemed through the blood of Christ.
Let’s look at the reward of the cross. The song says “and exchange it someday for a crown.” What can we glory in? Only in the cross. Galatians 6:14 says But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. I am only a sinner saved by the grace of God; I’ve been washed and cleansed by the blood. I’ve been set free. I’m not perfect. I’m forgiven. There are several crowns that we can get when we get to heaven. Because we’re saved, we’ll get a crown of life. No matter how many we get we’ll lay them down at the feet of Jesus. We know that if not for Calvary we’d be in hell. He is worthy to receive our crowns!
Everything is made possible through the cross and the blood and the empty tomb. We can rejoice that our debt has been paid and we have accepted Jesus as our Savior!