Summary: Glory of the Cross (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: email@example.com)
• Galatians chapter 6 verse 14.
• 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 18
• In Hereford, there is a little village called Bredwardine’;
• Like many villages it contains an old Anglican church.
• For many years on the altar of that church stood a cross,
• It was very old and dirty, and no one ever took much notice of it.
• Then one day one of the villagers died,
• And in her will she left a sum of money to the Church.
• Along with the money was some clear instructions;
• That the money be used for the purpose of cleaning the cross,
• So with the money banked;
• The vicar of the church sent the cross away to the local jewellers,
• A few weeks later when the dirt and the grime was removed from this very old cross,
• It was discovered that it was made of solid silver,
• And it was studded in the upright and the cross piece with emeralds,
• It was worth a small fortune!
If you visit that Church today:
• You will discover that the cross no longer stands on the altar:
• It is kept in a safe, and is only brought out when a service is about to take place.
• The cross there was: a very beautiful piece of jewellery,
• A beautiful ornament,
• In Coventry the city I grew up in;
• One of its many claims to fame are two cathedrals.
• The old one which on the night of 14 November 1940;
• Was bombed, destroyed and left as ruins by the German Luftwaffe.
• And the new one designed by Basil Spence;
• Finished on 25 May 1962, to replace the one that had been destroyed.
• Just as the new cathedral was being finished;
• A cross was lowered by helicopter and placed on top of it.
• It was and still is a symbol for all to see.
• And you can still look out over the city skyline and see the cross.
We live in a world that struggles to understand the cross:
• To lots of people the cross is an ornament, or a piece of beautiful jewellery,
• People who have no interest whatever in Christianity or Christian things will were a cross,
• To many people the cross is a symbol:
• The great symbol of Christianity,
BUT TO THE EARLY CHRISTIANS:
• The cross certainly was not an ornament,
• Nor was it a symbol, of Christianity,
• The fish preceded the cross as a symbol of Christianity
• The cross did not become a symbol of Christianity until about the fourth century.
• To the early Christians the cross was always a message,
• And in the New Testament the cross is a message,
• Not a symbol,
• Not an ornament,
• But a message.
Paul in the letter to the Corinthians chapter 1 verse 18 says,
"The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
But to us who are being saved it is the power of God".
• N.I.V. “The message of the cross”
• Some versions say; “The preaching of the cross”.
• It literally reads the ‘logos’ of the cross;
• The emphasises in the verses is not the act of preaching,
• But rather the meaning, the explanation of that event in history.
• It emphasises the explanation of what happened on the cross.
The apostle Paul then goes on to say; Verse 23:
"We preach Christ crucified:
A stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called,
both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God".
The cross was a message, that was:
• Preached and taught by the early Christians.
• Not a symbol or an ornament but a message.
• We forget in our modern day western setting:
• That crucifixion was a very, very common form of execution,
• We tend to think of the crucifixion as something very unique, special,
• But we forget just how many people were crucified by the Romans.
• It really was a common form of execution.
• On one occasion the Roman commander, Marcus Licinius Crassus once ordered
• 6,000 men to be crucified along the road between Rome and Capua.
• If you’ve seen the film Sparatcus you will know the reason why he did it.
Crucifixion at the time of Jesus was a very common form of execution.
• The Romans did not invent crucifixion; they borrowed the idea from the Persians,
• They did not invent crucifixion but they certainly seemed to perfect it.
• They crucified people all over the Roman empire,