Text: Galatians 6:14 “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.”
Intro: On this day we have gathered together for this special service to commemorate the Resurrection Morning nearly 2,000 years ago. This morning I want to look at how the events upon the Cross of Christ affected one of our Lord’s followers so deeply. So deep, that it rightfully became the foundation upon which he built his life and work.
[Let’s read the text this morning.]
Setting: In the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul was writing to a group of his converts that were being deceived by Jewish evangelists that had come in after Paul was there to ABANDON grace for Jewish ritualism.
Paul not only shows the Galatians their folly, but deals directly with the motive of the Jewish evangelists, known as “Judaizers”, because they preached that a convert to Christianity must keep the Jewish law beginning with circumcision in order to be accepted by God.
1. Paul tells the Galatian church that their desire was to “glory in their flesh” (v.13), meaning that they were trying to bring glory to themselves (“see what we’ve accomplished”) for the “efforts” made by the Galatian believers to keep the Law of Moses. [Illus of Oneness Movement’s Re-baptism in Water in Jesus’ Name]
2. Paul admonishes them of the two-fold danger of trying to please God through keeping the Law:
o It’s impossible to keep the Law of Moses without fault (not even the Judaizers were keeping the Law) (v13);
o It minimizes the Gospel Message—that faith in the work of Christ alone can produce a changed life: a NEW CREATURE. (v.15) In other word’s the Cross effected the Power necessary for the salvation of Man, NOT THE WORKS OF THE FLESH.
Paul states in summary that he would glory ONLY in the Cross of Christ. The word “glory” in the Greek carries with it deeper meaning than our English word. The Greek word for GLORY embodies three shades of meaning:
1. To boast, i.e. “I will boast in nothing except the Cross…”
2. To rejoice, i.e. “I will rejoice in nothing except the Cross…”
3. To rely on, i.e. “I will rely on nothing except the Cross…” [base my trust in]
Let’s examine Paul’s profound passion for the Cross.
I. PAUL’S PASSION FOR THE CROSS
A. Things in which Paul could have found glory (things in which people today glory): (Phil. 3:4-6)
i. His heritage as a Jew (of the tribe of Benjamin): One of God’s chosen people.
ii. His education (sat at the feet of Gamaliel): Quality education
iii. His religion as a Pharisee: Conservative doctrine among the Jews
iv. His reputation of zeal: Persecutor of the church
v. His self-righteousness: “Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Paul’s goodness (while men glory in it) was not sufficient to save him.
None of these things brought inward freedom to Paul from the guilt of the past, nor a fellowship with the God he tried so diligently to serve!
B. Reasons why Paul could have been offended of the Cross:
i. The foolishness it represented to the Gentile world
1. Plinius Secundus, an ancient historian, called the preaching of the cross “a perverse and extravagant superstition” and said that Christians suffered from amentia (we would say dementia – a mental disorder).
2. Orator Caecilius said that Christians suffered from “sick delusions” and a “senseless and crazy superstition”. “Not least among the monstrosities of their faith is the fact that they worship one who has been crucified.”
ii. The double offense it represented to the Jewish world
1. It abolished the Old Covenant (the Mosaic Law), the thing in which they trusted most.
2. It brought reproach to the Jewish people that their “Messiah” would debase himself to suffer at the hands of the heathen and godless Romans. [Their idea of a savior was far removed from God’s idea]
iii. The pain that it brought to Paul as a preacher of the Cross
C. The Reasons why Paul found glory in the Cross of Christ:
i. Because it was at the Cross where God’s Holy Justice & Righteous Anger were satisfied
1. God chose death by crucifixion to take the life of His Son
2. Klausner, the Jewish historian said, “Crucifixion is the most terrible and cruel death man has ever devised.”
3. Cicero says, “It was the most cruel and shameful of all punishments.”
4. Details of crucifixion:
a. Hands nailed to the crossbeam with 5” iron nails
b. Legs bent at the knees and feet brought up to just below the pelvis and nailed together.
c. As victim’s arms hung in “V” position he was plagued with two unendurable circumstances:
i. Pain in his hands and wrists was excruciating, as they carried the weight of the body, causing muscle cramps along the arms and shoulders
ii. In this position his chest muscles were paralyzed, so that he could draw air into his lungs, but was powerless to exhale.
d. To keep breathing, victims had to stay in near constant motion moving up and down on the cross, until exhaustion took hold and
e. The trauma of crucifixion would thicken the blood as fluids would build in the chest cavity until the heart could no longer endure the pressure.
5. Harvie Branscomb summarized, “Few more terrible means of execution could be devised. Pain, thirst, the torture of insects, exposure to brutal spectators, the horror of rigid fixation, all continuing interminably, combined to make it a supreme humiliation and torture.”
6. GOD CHOSE THIS PAINFUL MEANS TO POUR OUT UPON HIS SON HIS WRATH AND SATISFY HIS JUSTICE AS THE PENALTY FOR SIN.
ii. Because it was at the Cross where God’s Love was Magnified
1. Max Lucado (‘In the Eye of the Storm’), told this fictional story of an angel trying to find another way for salvation:
“He looked around the hill and foresaw a scene. Three figures hung on three crosses. Arms spread. Heads fallen forward.
Men clad in religion stood off to one side…Arrogant, cocky.
Women clad in sorrow huddled at the foot of the hill…Faces tear streaked.
All heaven stood to fight. All nature rose to rescue. All eternity poised to protect. But the Creator gave no command. ‘It must be done…,” he said, and withdrew.
The angel spoke again. “It would be less painful…”
The Creator interrupted softly. “But it wouldn’t be love.”
2. Oh the LOVE DEMONSTRATED.
3. Hymn: The Love of God
If the seas of ink were filled
And the sky of parchment made
Every straw on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the oceans dry
Nor could the scroll
Contain the whole
Though stretch from sky to sky
4. Rom. 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
5. II Cor. 5:14a “For the love of Christ constraineth us…”
iii. Because it was at the Cross where God’s Forgiveness was made available
1. Jesus TOOK HIS PLACE!
2. Illus.: It was February 1941, Auschwitz, Poland. Maximilian Kolbe was put in the infamous death camp for helping Jews escape Nazi terrorism.
After certain men made a successful escape, ten prisoners were rounded up randomly and herded into a cell where they would die of starvation and exposure as a lesson against future escape attempts.
Names were called. A Polish Jew, Frandishek Gasovnachek, was called. He cried, "Wait, I have a wife and children!" Maximilian Kolbe stepped forward and said, "I will take his place."
Kolbe was marched into the death cell with nine others, and never made it out alive. This story was chronicled on an NBC news special several years ago. Gasovnachek, by this time 82, was shown telling this story while tears streamed down his cheeks. A mobile camera followed him around his little white house to a marble monument carefully tended with flowers. The inscription read:
IN MEMORY OF MAXIMILIAN KOLBE
HE DIED IN MY PLACE.
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends" (John 15:13).
3. Because Christ paid our penalty, we can now receive pardon.
4. Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
iv. Because it is at the Cross where a man receives power to become a new creature!
1. I Cor. 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God.”
2. John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
Paul’s Conclusion: Phil 3:7-8 “But what things were gain to me (the things in which I use to glory) those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…”
Galatians 6:14 “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.”
While men boast in their achievements – GIVE ME CHRIST!
While the world’s leaders seek to attract the masses – LET ME PREACH THE CROSS OF CHRIST!