What I want you to do is to take your Bibles now, and turn to Colossians chapter
2—would you do that? It’s important that you turn to the Scripture—Colossians chapter 2. You know how to find Colossians. Do you get confused? I’ve told you this before: “General Electric Power Company”—Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. So, find Colossians—just keep on going until you get there, and get in chapter 2. And, let me read to you some Scripture, beginning in verse 13: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him,”—now, the word quicken means, “made alive”; he’s made alive together with Jesus. Now, here’s a great part—“having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way,”—now, don’t miss the next phrase—“nailing it”—nailing it—“to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:13–15).
And, I’m going to stop reading there. There’s more in this chapter that we’re going to read; but I have told you before, it was a custom in Rome, when a man was adjudicated guilty, condemned for a crime, if he were put in prison, they would take something and nail it to the prison door. It was called a certificate of debt. On that certificate of debt would be written the crime that this man was guilty of, the number of years that he would stay in prison—days, months, or whatever. And, when he had fulfilled his duty to the law, his certificate of debt was marked paid in full. It was taken, given to the judge, who would have it notarized; and, he would carry it with him. And, if anybody were to accuse him of that crime again, he could pull out the certificate of debt, and say, “Yes, I may have been guilty, but I have paid in full. You’re not going to bring me into double jeopardy; I’ve already paid for that crime.”
Now, what about if a man were guilty of a capital offense? They would take the offense that he’d done, and they would nail it to his cross above his head. That’s the reason that Pilate nailed above the head of the Lord Jesus, “This is Jesus,” or, “Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews”—it was sarcasm. Here was a man who made Himself King; and, that’s why Pilate allowed Him to be crucified—because it was insurrection against Caesar; it was a crime worthy of death. And, the Romans would put on that cross whatever that individual had done. And, they crucified people openly, in public; and, they wanted people to see a man die in agony, and pain, and blood, and anguish upon that cross. And, up there, on that cross, would be what that man had done. And, every citizen who walked by would say, “I’ll never do that—no sir, I will not buy me one of those crucifixions. Whatever it is on that cross, whatever that person did, I will never do it, because I don’t want to end up there.” You understand? So, that was what they did in Rome, so long ago.