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Summary: What is the significance of the cross? Why the cross? Why did Jesus die?

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What is the symbol of our faith? Many were suggested:

Dove? Holy Spirit?

Rainbow? Sign of the Covenant?

Loaves and Fishes?

The one that was accepted was the ___Cross____.

Nobody is shocked today – they’re almost inoculated to the idea of a cross, because it’s become such a symbol of hope and victory in our culture…

But in the first century, it’s difficult to imagine how this happened!

What would you think if people gathered around a picture of an executed man, whose head was shaved for the electric chair, who had burn marks from the huge current that his body took… and said, “How beautiful!”

What???!

POWERPOINT> Put an electric chair on the platform of your church, and see how difficult it is to get your church going.

How did THIS become the symbol of Christianity?!

How did we get to a point where Paul, a highly educated man, and a forceful personality, said this:

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

1 Corinthians 2:1-2

How could he get to that place?

Historical background:

Cicero said that decent Roman citizens should not even speak of the Cross.

Why? Let me explain:

DESCRIPTION OF CRUCIFIXION.

Literally, death by suffocation. Nails fastened through the wrists (considered part of the hand in the ancient culture) would stretch out a person’s rib cage and make them unable to breathe deeply.

Nails fastened through the feet would make you able to push up and breathe for a few gasping breaths until the pain and blood loss and exhaustion foced you to collapse again into the shoulders.

The agony of not being able to breathe was only matched by the agony of the nails and the out of joint shoulders.

Romans would not even crucify their own citizens. Only those who were foreigners or treasonous.

“Excruciating” literally means “from the cross.”

6,000 people in one day – Spartacus’ followers – 120 miles of crucifixion. Imagine driving from here to past Tulsa… and hearing the screams, seeing the people baking in the sun.

It was done in public… imagine if our government did it in the parking lot of WalMart, or at Quail Springs Mall.

Don’t pass quickly by the Cross. “Jesus died on the cross for all your sins.” True. But you don’t have any idea what this means.

Madonna laid on a cross on her “Confessions” tour.

50 Cent wears a cross while performing.

They have no clue. There was nothing fashionable about the cross.

This was not originally something to wear in gold or silver.

I’m here today to bring back the “offense of the Cross.”

1. The Cross was the greatest __disgrace possible____.

Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Scourging was so painful and damaging to the body, that some men would die with just that… never make it to their cross.

Explain the cat of 9 tails.

You can understand why he fell while carrying the cross.

Why did Jesus die?

Two possible options:

 Because he was a ____fool______.

Painting – Jesus crucified, but in the place of his head, there is the head of a jackass. Kneeling before the Cross is a man with his hands raised in worship. The caption at the bottom: “Aleximanos worships his God.”

If he’s not God, then he’s not a decent man and a good moral teacher, he’s a jackass that fools worship.

Ted Turner, TIME Magazine’s Man of the Year a few years ago, made a speech to broadcasters from the big three networks. At that speech he said, (nearly verbatim quote) “Christianity is a religion for losers. I don’t want anyone to die for me. I’ve had a few drinks and a few girlfriends, and if that’s going to put me in hell, then so be it.”

That’s the world’s answer.

There’s another option. It’s found in the Bible.

 He was dying ________FOR your sin__________.

“The wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23

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