Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why the Cross?


Phil.2:8 - And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
I Cor.1:18 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The Heavenly Father had told Adam to eat freely of all the trees of the garden - all but one. The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil was strictly forbidden to eat from. This tree obviously represented attempting to be a judge which was, like Lucifer, trying to be God. When Adam ate of that fruit there was no chemical that cursed him with death, no, it was the act of disobedience and rebellion against God and His Word that caused Adam's Spiritual death. Adam's sin fathered a family tree of death which grew with every birth. This sin would find its way inherently and volitionally in every person and with that inheritance came a trust account of Spiritual death to be drawn upon at physical death.
Now in the midst of the gross and complete darkness of this Adamic kingdom comes the Light, the Lord Jesus the Anointed One. His end would be our beginning, His shame our honor, His death our life. But why the cross? Why not a quick and private death which still shed Hid blood for the remission of sins? People were killed in all sorts of ways, why did God choose the cross? There are caverns of revelation treasure in those two wooden beams which were cut from a tree that Jesus Himself created. This wasn't some dead Jew on a cross, and this wasn't an arbitrary form of death. This was God Himself in human form and this was the mode God chose and ordained before the foundation of the world. Why?
THE FIRST TREE: In Genesis Adam partakes of the forbidden tree and he Spiritually dies. Every child of Adam, infected by this first tree, finds Spiritual life again from this last tree, the cross. Born of Adam through the tree of sin, born again in Christ through the tree of life. Two trees. One death, one life.
THE INTERSECT POINT: The cross has one place where both beams intersect and our eyes are naturally drawn to that place. It is there that the Son of God is presented as the Savior. The horizontal beam = the first Adam. The vertical beam = the last Adam. Horizontal = human. Vertical = divine. Horizontal = earthly. Vertical = heavenly. This is the intersect point of all history. It has been a little hazy until now, but after the cross there will be only two lines - a broad one leading to hell and a narrow one leading to heaven. The cross is the only place to intersect and change destination.
THE OUTSTRETCHED HANDS: Just the position of His body on the cross is significant. How many times did Jesus in life stretch out His arms and say, for instance, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden..."?. But here at His death it encapsulates God's heart, "Come let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool". The placement of His arms say, "Whosoever will may come".
THE LIFTING UP: Notice His feet don't touch the earth, He is lifted up between heaven and earth as a mediator between God and man. The only mediator (I Tim.2:5). By His own words, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me" (Jn.12:32). He is not just a man and yet not just God. He is the Son of man and the Son of God. He is suspended between both as the God-man.
THE PUBLIC SPECTACLE: Jesus will be crucified in front of everyone. Even the Romans won't be able to claim He didn't die, they'll have to make up a story about someone stealing the body. This public viewing will showcase the vileness of our sin and will be used by God the Holy Spirit throughout the years to convict millions of their sin personally. As grotesque as this sight was, it still mysteriously screams "I love you" from the very Person on this cross of shame. It isn't enough for God to have His Son brutally murdered, no, He allows Him to be openly mocked so we will know that Jesus knew how depraved we were as we ridiculed our only Hope.
THE SUFFERING: We know about physical pain and suffering, many men had been crucified. But we can never know about Spiritual pain and suffering which is beyond our limited scope of understanding. The depth of sin against the justice of God results in the suffering of the Scapegoat. Like the physical healing of the man in Mark 2 reveals His ability to forgive sins, His physical suffering reveals His Spiritual suffering as well. And just to let the Heavenly City remember how eternal His suffering on the cross was, He takes His wounds into His glorified body.
THE WOODEN ALTAR: In Genesis Abraham hears God's voice tell him to sacrifice Isaac and he takes his son and lays him on an altar of wood before God stops him and Isaac is spared. Now this cross becomes an altar of wood on which God offers His Son and there is no sparing. A vertical altar of sacrifice, magnificent and bloody, on which Abraham's ram is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus, plucked from the thicket of this cursed earth. Now the ram had horns from which the priests made shofars, the horn which called God's people to worship. As we look on this Messianic Ram let us hear God's call to worship. At this cross we are on holy ground and it should move us to brokenness, repentance, and sometimes tears of love..
THE EXALTATION: Another reason for the cross is the exaltation of God's Son, even in death. which confounds the wise and gives life to the humble. He is symbolically lifted up to be praised and worshiped as He suffers and dies voluntarily and sacrificially for every son of Adam. How many of us once knew about Jesus dying on the cross as religious folklore, but one glorious day(!!!) the Holy Spirit revealed to us what that cross really meant and our knees buckled as we fell in adoration to worship this mutilated and bloody Lion of Judah who bled, suffered, and died in my place! Oh halleluiah, I found what I didn't even know I was looking for when by faith I knelt at this wonderful horror. To say I didn't deserve it is an infinite understatement!!!
THE CONTRAST: As we see the Lamb upon he cross it offers a visual and real contrast to the tomb. The cross was full - the tomb was empty. It begs the question, Where did He go?. We saw Him in all His incredible suffering, it was open for all to see. The Romans, the Jews, the unbelievers, His mother, John, the two thieves, and anyone else who wished to pass by saw the cross was full with Jesus. The Romans, the Jews, His mother, John, and anyone else could now visit the empty tomb. They saw the cross, they see the tomb. The contrast must be reconciled in everyone's heart, something happened - what?
THE DOORPOSTS: In Exodus God told His people to slay the passover lamb and apply the blood to the wooden doorposts and the Death Angel would pass over their house. Upon the wooden doorposts of this cross would be the blood of God's own Passover Lamb by which the angel of the second death would pass over all covered in this blood. The cross represents the bloody doorposts of Egypt and the Door itself bled in the middle of the beams. Wow, there is so much intertwined truth in all this that only the Holy Spirit Himself can lead us into it and make us not only understand the symbolism, but apply it to our hearts making it part of our worship.
THE WARNING: In Deuteronomy God instructs the hanging of men from a tree as a warning to everyone of the judgment of breaking the law. The cross in two tributaries of one great river both offers and warns people simultaneously. It screams REDEMPTION and JUDGMENT. The cross warns unbelievers that this is what they face without this cross being theirs. It is either Christ judged or you. There have been times when a hand grenade has been tossed into a crowd and a brave soldier dove upon it to die as he saves others. The cross warns there is the wrath of God coming, and only Jesus has placed His own body in the path of His Father's wrath, for us. The cross says me. We may never know until the Great White Throne judgment how much our King took in our place.
THE ROD: As Moses and the children of Israel came to the Red Sea the chariots of Pharaoh were quickly approaching. Death was overtaking them when God told Moses "lift thou up thy rod" and stretch it out over the Red Sea and the waters parted and they escaped death on dry land. The wooden rod that parts the sea of sin and provides the eternal escape from death. God holds out the wooden Rod of His cross, parts the sea which leads from eternal damnation to eternal life, and He beckons "walk through by faith".
THE WOODEN ARK OF NOAH: As the people ridiculed Noah as he built the wooden ark God had told him to they could not imagine the judgment that was coming. Why? Some believe it had never rained before so the people had no reference point, but ultimately they did not believe the Word of God. Noah preached for one hundred years with no converts, no seekers, and no baptisms. With no church members who financed the building program? God. The same God who provided the wooden ark of His cross that provided shelter to whosoever will. Judgment is coming no matter if we believe the Word of God or not and the only shelter is the cross. We better make sure we are in God's Ark, completely sealed and safe from the eternal flood of God's wrath, and not some pleasure craft of our own making.
THE MIRACLE OF ELISHA: Elisha had prophesied that a certain woman would conceive a son and she did. But after the child was grown he died and the woman went back to Elisha begging him to do something. Elisha went into the dead child and stretched himself upon the child and the child came to life. When the Son of God stretched Himself upon the cross He made an offering for everyone to come back to life. We were all once dead in trespasses and sins, but after we came to Christ He stretched Himself upon us and we came back to life.
THE AX HEAD: As the sons of the prophets were cutting down trees the ax head came off and sunk into a pool of water. They asked Elisha to help them especially because the ax head was borrowed. Elisha took a stick and threw it into the water and the ax head floated to the surface. Now we were drowning in the borrowed ax head of Adam's sin when God in His mercy placed a wooden cross in the midst of this world. And all who trust in this Holy "stick" will see the ax head of their lives come to the surface, plucked from this world of sin, and restored to become a servant of the Most High.
THE MANGER: God came into this world placed in a wooden manger and He left placed on a wooden cross. Remember He made everything at His birth, the manger, the straw, the animals, the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, Jesus made them all Himself. He made everything at His death, the cross, the nails, the soldiers, His mother, John, the hill, Jesus made them all Himself. So next time you read about the wooden manger, see the wooden cross. That is why He came anyway.
THE BRAZEN SERPENT: Jesus said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up". The bronze serpent represented God's judgment, and all the children of Israel had to do was look and live. This symbolism is obvious. Jesus is lifted up on the cross, takes the judgment of God, and now anyone can, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved". That serpent, the Devil, has stung everyone with his poison but his judgment is sealed also on the cross. Jesus said, "...the prince of this world is judged".

There are many more symbolic representations of the cross of Christ that not only edify but teach and I suppose it would take a lifetime to exhaust them all. These are some that God renewed to me and I share them with you. In March of 1975 I don't recall how many of these I knew then, but I suddenly became aware that the cross provided a door for me that I could not provide for myself. By the grace of God the Holy Spirit quickened my understanding and I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. I did not even consider what God could do for me here, I just knew that following Him by faith meant I "would not perish but have eternal life". The honest truth before God is that when I became a believer in 1975 I could have cared less about the things of this world, I only cared about following Him. Thirty years later, after traveling along with the Church of the You Can Have it All with Jesus on the Side, I am trying to return totally to my first love. There is a place in Jesus, shadowed by the Father's wings, that remove the cares of this present world. It is a place of worship and prayer, guided and strengthened by His Word, that transcends and transfigures. To bow your head and meditate on the coming of God Himself and giving His life for you so you might have His life forever, what else matters? It is the Magnificent City of Refuge whose builder and maker is God and to which I continue to walk toward by faith. If you have already gotten there, pray for me.

Hold high His cross!


Lorena said...

Thank you Rick, for all the time you took to share all of this. It's a big help for me. What a God our God is!!

Anonymous said...

I want to thank, you Bro. Rick, for what you do here. Since I started reading here, a revelation has happened to me. It was very hard for me to really understand the sacrifice that the Lord made at the cross. I had this sort of 'entitlement' attitude, soon after I was truly saved. The pastors did talk about His sacrifice and repentence and turning around, but, I was quickly brought into the "what can He do for me" thing. When I'd pray, it was always in panic and fear.

This past year, the teachings here have really changed an attitude in me for the better. I am daily reminded of what He did, and I have this consistent thankfulness and gratitude to Him, even if I perish. The cares of this world are not important, and instead of fear, I go to Him without this mental block of panic and fear. No matter what I have to go through, I still love Him and know what He suffered, and I can never complain. I have no right to complain, period. I've come a long way, because I used to fear, fear and more fear; even though I still have more of a way to go, there is no other way to Him but through His cross. It's not poetry, it really hits the mark in my heart, and now when I do have to go to Him with pressing needs or just a touch from Him and His mercy, I have a stronger faith and a sense I have overcome somethng in my soul. Still can't express what it is, but it is there.

Thank you for being faithful to His Word.


Anonymous said...


Annette said...

This is awesome! So very grateful for another encouraging post filled with the richness of God's love. This is truly humbling with my being feeling so smail in the Light of His Glory.

Excellent post, thank-you!

Cherie c. said...

Jesus took a cross of wood, so we who follow Him can receive a crown of gold just for having Faith in Him and loving His appearing. Still taking the least to give us the most. He did say "more abundantly" didn't He. To say we don't deserve His gift is a gross understatement and is reverberating though the air. I know the Lord directed me to this blog because I thirsted for true preaching of the Gospel, not the junk food word preached in a building. My time with the Lord has increases, my suffering and at times loneliness has too, Praise God, but He uses all things to bring us closer to Him. But most of all, it has brought a profound change in me regarding what love is and how to love.

Growing up in a big household where love and attention was sparse, you grow up with a yearning. Then as a young adult you meet someone thinking this is the answer for that missing love you are craving, but it doesn't really satisfy. Then you meet someone you can't touch, see or hear, but you can feel Him deep down inside. A place you never knew existed until you meet Him and it changes your life. You got the love? No not yet. But when you seek Him and hear Him through His Word, and see what He did, you are horrified and disgusted that you put Him there. You see yourself in a different way. Then you see the cross and you find the love you've been seeking all this time. No earthly love can compare.

I no longer wear a cross on a chain because it is more than jewelry. I now wear it on my heart and try to bear it as I follow Him. Nothing in this world can hold my attention and my heart anymore. Nothing. When I look from the cross at the person I once was, i see a stranger. A horrible excuse for a human being, and someone who desperately needs a love not born from within the flesh, but born from above. Grateful is the only word I can use to express what I feel, but even that is inadequate.

I still struggle, as i have not yet arrived, but the cross is forever engraved upon my heart, and this love that I had been searching for since I was aware of love, I have found. Everything else matters not. But I want to share this love, and tell people so they too can have this same love. When I look at an unbeliever, I can only be excited for them, because I remember when I first found this love. I so want them to find it too.

Cherie c. said...

Pastor Rick, thank you for the time and attention to spreading the Gospel. Now I finally get it. Now I know why you do what you do in the way you do it. You are sent to the dying self proclaimed Christian. The Lord directed me here so I could learn that I was not where He wanted me to be. Conviction has become an almost daily presence as I want to do His will but need to be corrected and conviction both corrects and teaches. The only way to do that is to stay humble, and your preaching doesn't pat me on the head and say "your doing great", it pricks my heart and says "repent", "get on your knees", "hypocrite", "seek Him more", "love thy neighbor", as thy self. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." And this is all Scripture. You send us back to the Word daily. No where, have I found a sermon that sent me to my knees, or broke me and directed me to the Word like your blog. Due to my past bruises from "church" I always fear that telling a pastor this will make him more susceptible to satan and the flesh as it is easy to have our flesh pumped up by praise. But you also need to be aware, if you're not already, that I can see that your past pastoral service was no where near what you do today. And that the Lord is still using you for His purpose and that I do not have to remind you that when much is given, must is expected. So my praise is for the Lord, not so much for you as He is the one giving you the ministry, but as your sister in Christ Jesus, I want to thank you for your sacrifice in order to serve our Lord. You have shared your situations from time to time and all I can say is to quote our Lord to encourage you.

Matthew 5:12
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

So Pastor Rick, please continue to teach, exhort, rebuke and edify. And my prayer for you is to continue:

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Colossians 3:12

your sister in Christ Jesus

Cherie c. said...

Oh, and your posts bring a lot of tears. Many, many tears.