Understanding the Gospel
By E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

9 – The Supreme Sacrifice

In the back of my Bible, I have two quotations that I read very often to remind me of the direction of my preaching.  The first one is:

Gospel Workers, [Ellen G.  White], p.  315:
“The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster.  In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary.”

The sacrifice was the atonement for sin.  We must not confuse the atonement with the Day of Atonement; they are two different things.  One, the atonement, is what saves us; one, the Day of Atonement, is the culmination of the plan of salvation.

The second quotation is:

Manuscript 31, [Ellen G.  White], 1890:
“There is one great central truth to be kept ever before the mind in searching of the scriptures, Christ and Him crucified.  Every other truth is invested with influence and power corresponding to its relation to this theme.  When Christ in His work of redemption is seen to be the great central truth of the system of truth, a new light is shed upon all the events of the past and the future.  They are seen in a new relation and possess a new and deeper significance.”

It is impossible to cover the cross in one study.  I will take one major aspect of the cross, which is that part of the cross that turned my ministry and the disciples around.  The disciples were greedy, selfish men in the upper room.  They were bickering among themselves who would be the greatest, but not after the cross.  We are going to look at the cross as the supreme sacrifice because there was something that took place at the cross that made Christ’s death different from the death of any other person who died in this world.

There are human beings both in the Christian church and in the world who have suffered, who have been tortured far worse than Christ.  In fact, the thieves on the two sides of Christ suffered more than Christ, because they had the added problem of their legs being broken while they were still alive.  What is it that makes the death of Christ on the cross the supreme sacrifice?  This is one truth the devil doesn’t want you to know and so he has enshrouded this truth in darkness keeping it away from the Christian church.

He has done it in two ways.

  1. By convincing the Christian church as early as the third century that man possesses an immortal soul.  The moment you believe in an immortal soul, you have to change the Biblical definition of death.  Death no longer becomes good-bye to life; it becomes a separation of the body from the soul.

  2. But there is another way he has enshrouded the cross in darkness.  The immortal soul is no problem to some, but the other one is.  He has the Christian church looking at the cross with Roman spectacles.  In other words, since Jesus died on a Roman cross, we look at the cross from a Roman point of view and we miss the point.

The cross was invented about 600 years before Christ by the Phoenicians which is present-day Lebanon.  They worshipped many gods and one of the gods they worshipped was the earth.  They did not want to desecrate the earth by executing a criminal while he was on the earth, so they lifted him up on a cross.  The Egyptians borrowed the cross from the Phoenicians and then the Romans borrowed it from the Egyptians, refined it, and used it mainly for runaway slaves and for their worst criminals.  The cross, besides being the most painful, was also the most shameful kind of death, so, normally, they didn’t crucify Roman citizens.

But it was not the Roman cross that killed Jesus Christ.  The cross death is a very slow, lingering death.  It takes between three to seven days to die on a cross and it is suffocation that kills you.  It is very difficult to breathe out when you are hung on a cross, and so you have to lift your body with your legs to breathe out.  So when a man is being crucified he is heaving all the time because it is inbuilt in every man to survive.  He will keep going up and down two, three, four, five, six days, until he cannot lift himself up and he dies of suffocation.

In the meantime, gangrene has formed in his hands; he has migraine headaches; he is exposed to the heat in the daytime and to the cold at night.  People pass by and mock and spit at him.  It was the worst kind of death man has ever invented.  But now we are going to look at the cross from the Jewish perspective, because the cross meant something entirely different to the Jews.

Keep in mind that it was not Rome that demanded Christ’s crucifixion; it was the Jews who demanded Christ crucified.  Crucifixion was not a method of Jewish execution.  So we must ask ourselves, “Why did the Jews cry out, ‘Crucify Him’?  What was the significance?  What did they have in mind and why did God allow it?”

Remember, Christ was not a runaway slave nor was He a criminal, but, to appease the Jews, Pilate had Jesus flogged.  Then, out of mockery, they placed a crown of thorns on His head.  Remember what happened when Adam sinned.  God said to Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of your fall.  Thorns and thistles he will bear.”  Jesus did not only bear your sins and mine; He bore the curse that was upon this earth.  That is why He has the right to restore this whole earth when He is finished with sin.

John 19:5:
When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

“Here is the man” simply meant, “Is this not enough?  Look at Him.  What more does He need?” But listen to the response.

John 19:6:
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” [The “Him” is supplied.  In the Aramaic and the Greek, you don’t have to add the word “Him”; it is included in the word.]  But Pilate answered, [Remember, Pilate is representing Rome.] “You take him and crucify him.  As for me [the representative of Rome], I find no basis for a charge against him.”

In other words, according to Roman law, this man does not deserve crucifixion.  He is not a runaway slave; He is not a criminal.

So the Jews had to give a reason.  Here is the reason.

John 19:7:
The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law [not the Roman law, but we have a law], and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

In other words, He made Himself equal with God.  Where did they get this law from?  Believe it or not, they got it from God.  These Jews were actually saying, “We are God’s commandment-keeping people and, according to the commandment, He should die.”  The law they were referring to is the law of blasphemy.  Anyone who equates himself with God is committing the sin of blasphemy.  It would pay us to look at that law.

We find it in Leviticus 24, the Book of the Law, and we will discover something interesting.  The law is found in verse 16.

Leviticus 24:16a:
...Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death.  The entire assembly must stone them.

It doesn’t say “crucify him.”  The law actually stipulates that the person is to be executed by stoning.  Maybe the Jews forgot that part — or did they?

Leviticus 24:16b:
Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.

In other words it doesn’t matter who you are; when he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he must be put to death and the death is by stoning.

We have proof that the Jews knew that.  Turn to John 10:30-31.  In verse 30 we have a statement that Jesus made.

John 10:30:
“I and the Father are one.”

To the Jews, that was blasphemy if ever there was a statement that was blasphemous because they had rejected Him as the Messiah.

John 10:31:
Again his Jewish opponents [remember they are not rebels; they are commandment-keeping people] picked up stones to stone him....

Why did they take up stones?  Because they were obeying a commandment.  I am saying this because there are people in the church who claim to be commandment-keepers who will do the same thing.  Look at the word “again.”  It means that this was not the first time.

So the Jews knew exactly what the law required.  But the question we must ask is, “Why did they cry out ‘Crucify Him!’ before Pilate?“  It was not because Pilate would not agree to stoning.  There are parts of the world that still execute people by stoning.  We will find the reason but we will stop here for a moment and touch on the verses we just read.

In John 10:31 they did not succeed in stoning Jesus.  We need to know why.  They tried to stone Him many times, so we will look at a few examples.

John 7:30:
At this they tried to seize him [that is, to stone Him], but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.

John 8:20:
He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put.  Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.

That means that nobody could touch Jesus if God said, “No.”  God has a job for you and nobody can touch you if God says, “No.”  Do you believe that?

When I was in Ethiopia, one of the Marxist men said to me, “You will leave this country in four days without your children.”  That was hard to take but I said to him, “You find somebody else to scare.”  I left the country five years later with my children.  Nobody can touch you if God says, “No.”  If God says, “Yes,” then it’s time for you to go to sleep and you can say with Paul, “I am ready to go to sleep for now there is waiting for me a crown of righteousness and not only for me but for all those who wait for His appearing.”

Now turn to the Gospel of Luke.  Jesus is in Gethsemane.  He is now taken captive by his captors who were sent by the chief priests.  In Luke 22, we see who the chief priests were and what Jesus said.

Luke 22:52-53:
Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?  Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me [because His hour had not yet come].  But this is your hour — when darkness reigns.”

And when that hour came, the Jews cried out, “Crucify Him!”  Why?  Why not stone Him?  There was a very good reason which is found in Deuteronomy 21.  We go back to the Book of the Law.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23:
If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight.  Be sure to bury it that same day [now look at this statement], because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse.  You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

The Jews did not believe in an immortal soul; that is a Greek concept.  To the Jews, death was good-bye to life — period.  But the believing Jew, except for the Sadducees, had a hope and that hope was resurrection.  The Jews believed that the hope of the believer was resurrection, just as it is for us, but when a Jew committed a crime and was sentenced to death, maybe by stoning, he could go on his knees and ask Yahweh to forgive him before he died and there would be the hope of resurrection for him.

But if the judge said he had to be hung on a pole or tree, that meant to the Jew the irrevocable curse of God.  It meant what we would call in the New Testament “the unpardonable sin.”  There was no hope of resurrection for that person.  He had to face what we call the second death.

So when the Jews cried out to crucify Him, they were not simply demanding that He should die; they were asking God to curse this Man.  The very fact that God did not protect Jesus from the cross meant to the Jews that God cursed Him.  In fact, when the disciples preached Jesus crucified to the Jews, their own people, very often a Jew would shout back to the speaker, “You expect us to believe in the Crucified One (meaning the One who is cursed by God)?”

I want to give you an example of this.  I hope that this will answer a question that is in the minds of many today.  In Genesis 15:13 God is talking to Abraham and He tells him something that is very significant.

Genesis 15:13-16:
Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.  But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.  You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age.  In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

God brought Abraham out of his country to what we call Israel or Palestine today.  Palestine was occupied when God gave the promise to Abraham.  Archeology has proven to us that it was occupied.  God was not just driving the people out and saying, “I’m giving it to Abraham.”  He said to Abraham, “When I bring you to this country, I want you to be My witness.”

The people of that land were called Canaanites — the actual term was Amorites, an ancient term for the Canaanites.  God said to Abraham, “I want you to witness Me to the Amorites.  Then I’ll take your children out of Canaan and take them to Egypt where they will witness the true God to the Egyptians through Joseph and the children.  I’ll give the Amorites four generations to make up their minds either to accept Me or to reject Me.”

When the Jews came back, if anyone attacked Israel, that was the outward sign that they had rejected the God of Israel.  They had reached the point of no return.  Probation had closed.  When Pharaoh rejected Moses and the Israelites request for the freedom to worship the true God, they were deliberately rejecting the God of Israel.  So God did give them a chance to accept the true God.

It was Joshua who brought the Jews into Canaan, back to the Promised Land.  One of the tribes of the Amorites called the Gibeonites accepted the God of Israel and joined Joshua but there were five kings with their people who rejected the God of Israel.  They came together and said, “The five of us with our armies are much greater and much stronger than Joshua and the Gibeonites.  Therefore, why don’t we join together and destroy these people?”

They agreed, but what they forgot was that God was behind Joshua.  They were defeated and the five kings were brought to Joshua.  Remember, probation had now closed.  This was a willful, ultimate rejection of the God of heaven.

Read what Joshua did.

Joshua 10:25:
Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Be strong and courageous.  This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”

Remember, in those days, they fought in the name of their god.  These are God’s enemies, too.

Joshua 10:26:
Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening.

That symbolized the curse of God.  This is one example of many to show that the curse of God in the Old Testament symbolized hanging on a tree.

Now, in the days of Christ, the Jews equated crucifixion with hanging on a tree.  That is why, whenever the disciples preached the gospel to their own people, the Jews, they would often use the word “tree” instead of “cross.”  Unfortunately, some have taken that and said, “No, that means it was a stake and not a cross.”  They have missed the point.  The reason the disciples used the word tree was because they were saying to the Jews, “Jesus bore the curse, not for blasphemy but for their sins.”

One example of this is in Acts.  Here is an incident where the disciples were preaching, were flogged by the Sanhedrin, and told not to preach in the name of Christ.

Acts 5:29-30:
Peter and the other apostles replied:  “We must obey God rather than human beings!  The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead — whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.

Some translations have the word “cross,” because the translators realized that modern English people do not understand what the word “tree” is.  For their sake, they put the word cross, but the original has the word tree.  The King James Version and many direct translations have the word tree.  We find the same thing in Acts 13:29, 1 Peter 2:24, and other passages.

Acts 13:29:
When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb.

1 Peter 2:24:
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Because of the very fact that Jesus was not protected by God in terms of crucifixion, the Jews felt that God had cursed this Man.  In fact, if they had understood the book on the cross of the Old Testament, Isaiah 53, they may have seen the gospel there, too.

Isaiah 53:4-5:
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Verse 8:

Isaiah 53:8:
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.  Yet who of his generation protested?  For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.

The two Hebrew words which mean “cut off from the land of the living” is a Jewish expression for eternal death.

Isaiah 53:9-11:
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.  Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.  After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Here is the picture.  The Jews cry out to Pilate, “Crucify this man.  He has broken the law of God and God doesn’t protect Him.”  This was the issue over which Jesus prayed in Gethsemane:  “If possible, remove the cup.”  The cup is the irrevocable curse of God against sin and God said, “No.”  There in Gethsemane Jesus said, “Father, not My will but Thine be done.”  To this end He came to bear the curse of sin upon Himself.

So He goes to the cross and the Jews mock Him.  The answer to why God allowed Him to be hung on the cross is in Galatians 3:10.  This is a good text for those who are still trying to go to heaven through the law.

Galatians 3:10:
For all who rely on the works of the law [remember the phrase ‘works of the law’ means using the law as a method of salvation] are under a curse, as it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

That’s bad news, but here’s the good news in verse 13:

Galatians 3:13a:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us...

Remember, the whole human race stands condemned under the law:

Romans 3:19:
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.

Christ comes and He redeems us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.  It is God the Father who made Him a curse for us.  Then here is the quote from Deuteronomy.

Galatians 3:13b:
...for it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

There we have the supreme sacrifice from the Bible.

According to the Jews, the curse of God, which was symbolized by crucifixion in Christ’s day, meant good-bye to life forever.  When Christ rose from the dead, that was the greatest proof that God gave to the Jews that He was the Messiah because, according to their theology, He should not be risen from the dead.  Only God could raise Him up and if God raised Him up then something is wrong with their theology or their conclusion.

That is why God did not condemn the Jews for crucifying His Son.  He still gave them a chance, but, when they rejected Jesus after He rose from the dead, they were now doing it deliberately, willfully.  When the soldiers came to Caiphas and said, “That Man is risen,” Caiphas said, “You’re imagining it.”  They said, “No, we saw Him rise.  We were struck blind.”  Caiphas said, “We dare not confess this.”

They had two choices.  One was to admit they had made a terrible mistake and repent of it.  The other one was to cover up and they chose the second.  God said, “I leave your house desolate because now it is no longer ignorance.  You have deliberately rejected Jesus as the Messiah.

That is why if you read the New Testament preaching, especially the Book of Acts, you will notice that there is much emphasis on the resurrection.  We as a church have put very little emphasis on the resurrection.  We need to emphasize the resurrection because it not only proves that Jesus was the Messiah but also that He conquered sin.

Some will say, “Christ rose from the dead, He predicted the resurrection, He claimed He could lay down His life and take it back, how was it possible for Jesus to die the second death?”  To understand that, we need to understand a doctrine which we normally do not preach from our pulpits.  Theologically, it is called the doctrine of the kinosis.

The word kinosis is a Greek word which simply means self-emptying.  It is found in Philippians.

Philippians 2:5-6:
In your relationships with one another [believers], have the same mindset [attitude] as Christ Jesus [Christ is now being presented as our example — not to the world but to the Christian.  Then Paul defines the mind of Christ]:  Who, being in very nature [Greek morphe, the very substance] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage...

So it was not blasphemy for Jesus to call Himself the Son of God; it was not a sin.

There’s a “but” in verse 7.

Philippians 2:7:
...rather, he made himself nothing [in Greek, kinosis, which actually means “emptied Himself”] by taking the very nature of a servant [not servant, but slave], being made in human likeness.

Let me explain the doctrine of kinosis.  In heaven, Jesus handed Himself over to the Father.  He said, “Father, I am totally submitting Myself to You.”  He did not stop being God, but He gave up the independent use of His divinity.  That’s kinosis.  He became totally God-dependent, just as human beings have to be God-dependent.

All the time, remember, He was God, but, of His own choice, in heaven He handed over His life as it were to God.  Then God took Christ who had now totally submitted Himself to the Father and, through the Holy Spirit, took the divine life of Christ, put it in the womb of Mary and joined Christ to the human race in the womb of Mary.  All His earthly life He had to depend totally on His Father.  Many times Jesus confessed this.

John 5:19a:
Jesus gave them this answer:  “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself...”

John 5:30a:
By myself I can do nothing....

John 6:57:
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.

“The works which I do, it is not I, but the Father.”  He was totally God-dependent — that’s the kinosis.

He was also dependent on His Father for the resurrection.  The New Testament is clear that it was the Father, the Director of the plan of salvation, who raised Christ up.  He may have used the Holy Spirit but it was the Father who raised up Christ from the dead.  Let me give you some texts.  A good one is:

Romans 6:4:
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Acts 2:24, 32 and Ephesians 1:20 say the same thing.

Acts 2:24, 32:
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.  ...God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.

Ephesians 1:20:
...He exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms...

If we say that Christ raised Himself up with the life that was within Him, we are reading only part of the truth.  In the book Desire of Ages, p. 780, it says that God sent an angel and he moved the stone as if it were a pebble and then cried out, “Thy Father calls Thee.”  At that point, Christ received consciousness.  For Christ to raise Himself up by Himself, we would have to change our definition of death that the thoughts perish when we die.  Was Christ conscious when He was in the grave?  If He was conscious, He was not dead.  God gave Him the consciousness and then, with the power within Him, He could raise Himself up, but He had to get permission from the Father.  Ultimately, it was the Father who raised Him up from the dead and Jesus knew this because He was totally dependent on His Father all His life.

But now as He hung on the cross something terrible happened.  The Father disconnected Himself from Him.  The Father treated Him as if He was a sinner under the curse of the law.  In agony, He cried out, “Father, Father, why have You forsaken Me?”  The Greek word “forsaken” means “to abandon forever” and, at that point of time, He could not see through the portals of the tomb.  Hope did not present a resurrection to Him.  He felt that sin was so offensive to the Father that the separation was eternal.  (See Desire of Ages).

We see Jesus hanging on the tree — on the cross.  The Father has forsaken Him, which meant that, as far as His feelings were concerned, there was no more hope of a resurrection.  He was treading the winepress alone.  His life was being crushed by the curse of the law.  Then, in Luke 23, we read that the devil came, not once, not twice, but three times.

Luke 23:35-39:
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him.  They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him.  They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read:  This is the King of the Jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him:  “Aren’t you the Messiah?  Save yourself and us!”

The devil always uses human agents — first the chief priests, then the soldiers, then the thief on the left-hand side.  The temptation was the same, “Come down from the cross and save yourself.”

Could Jesus do that?  I have discovered something.  The devil may be described as having horns and a tail but he is not a fool.  He has never tempted me to turn those pebbles in Africa into doughnuts because he knows I can’t do it, but He did tempt Jesus to turn stones into bread.  The Jews may have rejected Him as the Messiah, but the devil knew who He was.  On more than one occasion he said, “I know who You are, the Son of the living God.”  So the devil was not deceived; he knew, and even though the devil had put Him there, now he’s tempting Jesus to come down and save Himself.

The issue that Christ was facing was not dying for three days.  That is no sacrifice for a God who lives in eternity.  The issue was saying good-bye to life forever.  He was tasting the wrath of God against sin and He had to make a choice.  Imagine how great the temptation was to come down and save Himself.

From the human point of view, there was every reason to come down and save Himself.  The people He came to save, including the Jews, had crucified Him, mocked Him, spat at Him.  The disciples had forsaken Him.  He was alone.  The Father had forsaken Him.

But the problem was that He could not come down from the cross and save Himself and save the world — that is, you and me — at the same time.  He had to make a choice between us and Himself.

He made the choice and the choice He made was, “I love this human race more than I love Myself.  That is the agape of God.  Satan says to God, “You expect your creatures to put You first.  How about You?  Would You put your creatures first?” On the cross Jesus said, “Yes, I will lay down my life, not for just three days; I am willing to say good-bye to life forever that these wretched, miserable sinners who are crucifying Me may take My place.”  How can we sin again after we realize that?  How can we treat sin lightly?  That is the Supreme Sacrifice.

When we were planning to go to Africa as missionaries, my wife and visited Blantyre, Scotland, the birthplace of the greatest missionary that ever served in Africa, David Livingstone.  The people of the town had built an African hut in the form of a church in memory of Livingstone.  It had plain white walls with a thatched roof, no windows, a door at one end and the altar at the other end.

When you walked in you saw two inscriptions, one taken from 2 Corinthians 5:14 [see below].  It was not the whole text that was quoted, just one portion of it:  “For the love of God constrains us.”  That was written on one side and on the other side was an inscription taken from Livingstone’s diary which said, “The love of Christ compelled me.”  It compelled him to give up his lucrative profession as a medical doctor in Scotland and go to Africa where there was no freight allowance, no outfit allowance, no transportation.  He had to face hostile tribes and proclaim the gospel.

During his ministry there, the British Government gave him a very difficult time and one day he laid down his life for his Master in that continent.  After he died, the British government said, “This man deserves a royal burial.”  They often do that.  They make life difficult for people and after they die they say what a wonderful person he was.  But the problem was that he died approximately 430 miles inland where there were no trains, no cars, no airplanes.  No Britisher was willing to go all the way to pick his body up, so they asked the Africans if they could please carry his body by foot, those 430 miles through swamps, hostile tribes, wild animals.  Anyone who has lived in Africa knows about the wild animals there.

They said, “Yes, with one condition.”  The British government asked, “What is the condition?”  They said, “You can have his body.  He deserves a royal burial in Westminister Abbey but you cannot have his heart.  He gave it to us.”  So they took out his heart and buried it in Africa.  That is what the power of the gospel does.

We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 what the cross did to the disciples.  Because the disciples were Jews, when they saw their Savior crucified, to them it wasn’t the Roman cross.  They saw Him bearing the curse of their sins.  Mary saw Him bearing the curse of her sins.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live [we live because He died] should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

The cross turned the disciples completely around and they gave up all their selfish ambition of being first in the kingdom of heaven.  Now they were willing to be spent by God, to be burned out until every one of them was willing to lay down his life as a martyr.  That is what will change us.

When we as a people see the cross in the way that the disciples saw it, we can never be the same again.  Of all professing Christians, we should be foremost in lifting up the cross.  The devil has insisted that we lift up the law until we have become as dry as the hills of Gilboa.

The time has come when we lift up Jesus Christ to a perishing world that they may know that Jesus was actually willing to say good-bye to life forever that you and I may live in His place.  That is the supreme sacrifice.  There were two people crucified with Christ.  They were called criminals.  One is going to heaven, not because he was better than the other or because he was crucified on his cross (because the other one was crucified, too) but because the one thief accepted Jesus Christ taking the wages of sin in terms of God’s law.

The other one is going to be lost not because Jesus did not die for him but because he rejected Jesus Christ.  Those two thieves represent the human race.  The cross will divide the human race into only two camps.  Both camps deserve to be crucified, both camps deserve the curse of God, but one camp will not experience the curse of God because there was One who died for them and they accepted Him.  The other camp will suffer the curse of God because they rejected the One who died for them.

God wants us to witness the cross to the world.  Let the Holy Spirit do the convicting and the converting.  Soul winning is the work of the Holy Spirit.  We are to witness what Christ means to us.

I was shown a poem written by a young lady who is an introvert (just as many of us are) but the cross of Christ touched her.

Father, Lord of all, I thank You for the love that You bestowed upon me
And the gifts that You gave me in the form of Your Son.
He is wonderful.
Lord, I wish I could tell the whole world about His love
I pray Lord that others may see His willingness to give His very existence
So that we might have the freedom of choice
To live or to die
I can’t find the words good enough to say how I feel inside
I can never thank you enough Lord, Your Love overwhelms me
To know you loved me Lord, the sinner that I am
Is to know such peace inside.  I cannot explain.
I don’t have to be good enough or work hard enough because I know I can’t do this
Christ will take care of this for me
Once I was blind; I could not see Your love
But now through the cross, love is all I can see
O Lord, how could I have been so blind
I am not worthy for this magnificent gift
I thank you most graciously and for Your Son
I did not know that Christ was willing to die the second death
I did not know Lord that Christ could not see past the grave
Christ was willing to give up His very existence for me, Lord.  For me.
He didn’t know if He would come up again
or if He would ever see You again, Lord
But Christ was willing to give up all
even His life eternal
So that all sinners could live and know You
I didn’t know Christ went to the cross not knowing if He would ever see You again
And yet He went in anyway
Your Son was willing to give You up, Lord, for me
To know that Christ’s love is so strong that He was willing to give up His existence for me
So that I could choose life puts a joy within me I cannot explain
A joy that makes my heart sing
A joy I have never known before
I pray, Lord, that all can see what I see and more in Thee
Lord Your love is so warm and kind and sweet
And, well, Lord, I’m thankful You can see into my heart
And see how I feel ’cause I can’t find the right words that even begin to express what I feel
How can I share these feelings of You with others?
Help me, Lord, to tell the world the joy and love I have found in You
Oh, Lord, I pray some day to know You better
And to live the life You ask and to share the joy You have given me
My problem seems so small in the light of the cross, my burden so light
When I see what Christ was willing to do for mankind
Not just for me but for all sinners, every one of us
Lord, You’re so wonderful
Thank You, Lord, thank You.  Amen.

That is what the cross must do to us.  When we see what Jesus did at the cross for us, I hope we will never be the same again.

2 Timothy 1:8-10:
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner.  Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed [not the first death because we still die the first death — He abolished the second] death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

That’s the message God has called us to preach.

Our human minds cannot comprehend the great sacrifice of the cross.  All we can say with Paul is, “Thank you for Your unspeakable gift.”  As our hearts are gripped with the supreme sacrifice may the things of this world grow strangely dim.  May there be one desire in our hearts and that is to serve God, to lift Christ up, to witness Christ to a perishing world.

May God use us to lighten the world that is groping in darkness and plunging deeper and deeper into sin.  But where sin abounds grace must much more abound.  May we realize that our hope is in God and that a crown of righteousness is waiting for us not because of our good works but because of Christ’s supreme sacrifice.

Home Study Materials