Summary: A classic sermon by Adrian Rogers about the atonement available to all on the Cross of Jesus Christ.
What I want you to do is to take your Bibles now, and turn to Colossians chapter
2—would you do that? It’s important that you turn to the Scripture—Colossians chapter 2. You know how to find Colossians. Do you get confused? I’ve told you this before: “General Electric Power Company”—Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. So, find Colossians—just keep on going until you get there, and get in chapter 2. And, let me read to you some Scripture, beginning in verse 13: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him,”—now, the word quicken means, “made alive”; he’s made alive together with Jesus. Now, here’s a great part—“having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way,”—now, don’t miss the next phrase—“nailing it”—nailing it—“to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:13–15).
And, I’m going to stop reading there. There’s more in this chapter that we’re going to read; but I have told you before, it was a custom in Rome, when a man was adjudicated guilty, condemned for a crime, if he were put in prison, they would take something and nail it to the prison door. It was called a certificate of debt. On that certificate of debt would be written the crime that this man was guilty of, the number of years that he would stay in prison—days, months, or whatever. And, when he had fulfilled his duty to the law, his certificate of debt was marked paid in full. It was taken, given to the judge, who would have it notarized; and, he would carry it with him. And, if anybody were to accuse him of that crime again, he could pull out the certificate of debt, and say, “Yes, I may have been guilty, but I have paid in full. You’re not going to bring me into double jeopardy; I’ve already paid for that crime.”
Now, what about if a man were guilty of a capital offense? They would take the offense that he’d done, and they would nail it to his cross above his head. That’s the reason that Pilate nailed above the head of the Lord Jesus, “This is Jesus,” or, “Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews”—it was sarcasm. Here was a man who made Himself King; and, that’s why Pilate allowed Him to be crucified—because it was insurrection against Caesar; it was a crime worthy of death. And, the Romans would put on that cross whatever that individual had done. And, they crucified people openly, in public; and, they wanted people to see a man die in agony, and pain, and blood, and anguish upon that cross. And, up there, on that cross, would be what that man had done. And, every citizen who walked by would say, “I’ll never do that—no sir, I will not buy me one of those crucifixions. Whatever it is on that cross, whatever that person did, I will never do it, because I don’t want to end up there.” You understand? So, that was what they did in Rome, so long ago.
Now, from God’s point of view, there was something else that was nailed to that cross, and that was God’s holy law. It’s called here, in the scripture that I read to you, the handwriting of ordinances. Do you see it here, in verse 14? It says He was “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us” (Colossians 2:14). God’s holy law was nailed up from the heart and mind of God on that cross. Well, had Jesus broken the holy law of God? No. But, “Him who knew no sin, God had made to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And so, Jesus Christ is adjudicated guilty of breaking the holy commandments of God—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. This handwriting of ordinances, from God’s point of view, was nailed on the cross. They thought He was dying for sins against Caesar, but what He was dying for was our sins against God—our sins against God.
You see, He was in our place. Had you and I been up there, God could well have put the Ten Commandments up there and said we’re guilty of those, right? There’s no one here who would say, “I’ve not sinned.” Matter of fact, the Bible says, “If we break the law in one point, we’re guilty of all” (James 2:10). All of those Ten Commandments could be put above our head, had we hung there, upon that cross.
Now, when Jesus died, it was both tragedy and triumph. It was tragedy, because it was the dirtiest deed ever done. They lied on Him; they abused Him; they misused Him. And, you and I were guilty of it; we were there. Our sins were the nails that put Jesus Christ on that cross, and our hard hearts were the hammers that drove those nails. He died because of our sin. Yes, He willingly died; but, had we not sinned, He never would have died, for He would not have needed to die. And so, on the one hand, it was tragedy, but was, on the other hand—listen—it was triumph. Now, there was someone else nailing some things that day. There was someone else who was nailing some things to that cross, and His name was Jesus.