Summary: Jesus Christ died. But why? Why did He have to die in this way? Well, as we study John 19:16-30 this morning… He’s going to give us the reasons why.
Murder at Golgotha Hill
Series: Final Days on Planet Earth
March 21, 2010
How many of you know what this is? (hold up a cross) Believe it or not, a lot of people don’t understand the origins of the cross. Crosses are everywhere! They’re popular... they’re pretty... But for the most part, the average person is totally ignorant of their purpose. We see a lot of crosses today...they come in all sizes... from small enough to hang around a persons neck... to huge crosses that adorn large cathedrals. To some people it’s nothing more than a piece of jewelry, a fashion statement you where around your neck or hang on your rearview mirror.
And all kinds of people wear them... from gangsta rap stars to religious types. It’s like the true story I read of a Denver woman who walked into a local jewelry store looking for a necklace.“I’d like a gold cross”, she said. The man behind the counter looked over the stock in the display case and said, “Okay, well, do you want a plain one, or one with the little man on it?” Ohhh! People today aren’t dumb, they’re just ignorant of what the true meaning of the cross they wear around their neck is!
More and more, in our secularized society, people need to hear the message and the meaning of the cross... because honestly... they really don’t know! And Christians need to be reminded of exactly what they signed up for, when they committed themselves to take up their cross and follow Christ. Now, I guess... to a point you can understand why most people are ignorant about the cross... because crucifixions aren’t really something you see happening to anybody these days. Are they?
I mean, anybody here witness a crucifixion this past week? In fact, if Jesus had come to our society today, it’s doubtful that anyone would have even allowed a crucifixion to take place! We’d probably opt for a more humane way of executing him... say... a lethal dose of drugs, or maybe an electrocution. Just think how that would change the hymns we sing... “On a hill far away, stood an old rugged electric chair?” Somehow it just doesn’t sound the same!
The pt. I’m trying to make is that if Jesus’ death was put into our modern setting... it would be embarrassing to admit how our Savior died. I mean who would want to admit that they worship a person who died as a criminal? Let’s face it... great men don’t die on death row! And it was no different then... Death on a cross was reserved for only the worst murderers, rapists and thieves. It was the kind of thing you might do to a ‘child pornographer’… but not a Mother Teresa!
Listen, the reason the cross of 2000 years ago wasn’t worn by people as a fashion statement, or made out of a polished piece of 14 carat gold… the reason they didn’t grace the top of buildings...Was because the cross of 2000 years ago was nothing less than a MURDER WEAPON! It was a bloody, brutal, unfinished…uncaring weapon of torture and death! As A.W. Tozer once wrote:“The cross of Roman times knew no compromise, it never made concessions. It won all it’s arguments by killing it’s opponents and silencing them for good! It didn’t make an exception with Christ, but killed him… same as the rest! He was alive when they hung him on that cross, and completely DEAD when they took him off of it. That was the cross of ancient Rome. The cross of Jesus’ day meant only one thing...DEATH!
We have no idea of the incredible torture a person went through when they were crucified. Let me just read for you this morning, how a medical doctor described what happens to a person who endured this kind of death... The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement.
The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The cross is then lifted into place and dropped into a hole... tearing the tendons of the wrist and feet as it hits the bottom with a deep thud. The victim is now crucified.
As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain - the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of the feet.