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Summary: THIS IS A SERMON I GAVE ON GOOD FRIDAY.

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BIBLICAL EVANGELISM AND THE THREE CROSSES

LUKE 23:26-44

THE CROSS HAS BEEN THE CENTRAL SYMBOL OF CHRISTIANITY THROUGHOUT HISTORY. IT MAY HAVE DIFFERENT FORMS AND APPEAR IN DIFFERENT PLACES, BUT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO THINK ABOUT THE CHURCH WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT THE CROSS.

THE CROSS REMINDS US OF MANY THINGS ABOUT GOD SUCH AS:

GOD’S GRACE AND MERCY

JESUS’ LOVE

GOD’S JUSTICE

SALVATION

ONE THING WE MUST REMEMBER THOUGH, IS THAT THERE WERE THREE CROSSES ON CALVARY WHEN JESUS DIED. THEY SYMBOLIZE THE STATUS OF ALL HUMANITY AND EACH HAS A STORY TO TELL.

WE TEND TO FOCUS OUR THOUGHTS AT EASTER ON JESUS, BUT TONIGHT I WANT TO LOOK AT THE STORY BEHIND EACH OF THE CROSSES. WE WILL BEGIN THOUGH WITH AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROCESS OF CRUCIFIXION.

POINT ONE: THE PROCESS OF CRUCIFIXION

THE CROSS WAS THE CRUELEST FORM OF CAPTIAL PUNISHMENT KNOWN TO HUMANITY. IT ORIGINATED WITH THE PERSIANS AND WAS ADOPTED BY THE ROMANS. IT WAS SO TERRIBEL THAT IT WAS RESERVED FOR SLAVES AND NON-ROMAN CITIZENS, AND ONLY USED IN RARE CASES FOR ROMAN CITIZENS. IT WAS SO TERRIBLE THAT THE WORD “EXCRUCIATING” WAS INVENTED TO DESCRIBE THE IMMENSE PAIN THE CONDEMNED WAS UNDER.

IT WAS ADOPTED BY THE ROMANS AS A MEANS OF CROWD CONTROL BY FEAR. THEY FELT THAT IF A PUBLIC SPECTACLE WAS MADE OF THE GUILTY PERSON, THAT IT WOULD DETER OTHERS FROM COMMITTING THE CRIME.

THE ACCUSED WOULD FACE A BEATING OF 39 LASHES OF A CAT AND NINE TAILS, A WHIP WITH PIECES OF GLASS AND BONE TIED ON THE END. IT WOULD GOUGE OUT PIECES OF FLESH WITH EACH LASH. SOME OF THE CONDEMNED WOULD ACTUALLY DIE DURING THIS PROCESS.

THE CONDEMNED PERSON WOULD THEN BE FORCED TO CARRY EITHER THE CROSS-PIECE OR THE ENTIRE CROSS THROUGH THE STREETS TO THE PLACE OF CRUCIFIXION.

THEY WOULD THEN LAY THE CROSS DOWN ON THE GROUND AND THE CONDEMNED WOULD BE PLACED ON IT. THEIR ARMS WOULD BE TIED TO THE CROSS-PIECE TO PREVENT THE NAIL-HOLES FROM ENLARGING AND THE CONDEMNED PERSON FALLING OFF THE CROSS. NAILS WOULD THEN BE DRIVEN THROUGH THE HANDS. THE FEET WOULD BE CROSSED AND THEN NAILED TO THE CROSS. SOMETIMES THEY WOULD PLACE A SMALL PLATFORM FOR THE FEET TO REST ON TO MAKE DEATH TAKE LONGER TO HAPPEN.

THE CROSS WOULD THEN BE TURNED OVER, AND THE NAILS BENT IN ORDER TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY DIDN’T PULL OUT.

THEY WOULD PLACE EITHER ABOVE THE CONDEMNED MAN OR AROUND HIS NECK, THE CHARGE THAT HE WAS GULITY OF. SOMETIMES THEY WOULD INCLUDE HIS NAME.

THEY WOULD THEN HOIST THE CROSS INTO PLACE USING ROPES. IT WOULD BE DROPPED INTO A HOLE USUALLY ABOUT TWO FEET DEEP AND THEN SECURED WITH ROCKS. THE DROP INTO THE HOLE WOULD PULL AND STRAIN EVERY MUSCLE IN THE ACCUSED BODY.

DEATH ON THE CROSS WAS A LONG SLOW PROCESS THAT COULD TAKE SEVERAL DAYS. THE FACT THAT JESUS WAS ONLY ON THE CROSS FOR SIX HOURS TELLS US HOW BAD HIS CONDITION WAS GOING TO THE CROSS. THE CONDEMNED WAS AT THE MERCY OF THE ELEMENTS, ANIMALS AND INSECTS, AS WELL AS THE CONSTANT TAUNTING OF THE CROWD.

DEATH WOULD EVENTUALLY COME BY SHOCK, SUFFOCATION, LOSS OF BLOOD, OR THE EFFECTS OF THE BEATING INFLICTED BEFORE THE CRUCIFIXION. FOR JESUS THOUGH THERE MAY HAVE BEEN ONE OTHER CAUSE OF DEATH, AS WE SHALL SEE IN A MOMENT.


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