We have reference to a single cross . . . the one on which the Son of God gave His life. No one snatched Jesus’ life from Him. He willingly laid it down. “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).
What Jesus endured on the cross was death by crucifixion: “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him . . .” (Luke 23:33). No details are supplied about what happened to His body from the point the nails/spikes were pounded into Him until He stopped breathing. The biblical brevity is amazing: “there they crucified Him.”
It was a cross made out of wood. It would not have been the type of finely-finished wood which is employed inside homes today. It would have been rough stuff. In Bible language, it was a tree. The apostle Peter accused a Jewish audience with these words: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree” (Acts 5:30). His body hung on the tree for about six hours before He died (Mark 15:25,34). Yes, the cross/crucifixion was used to kill humans. And, yes, in the case of Jesus, what happened to Him was murder. The Bible says so.
The foretelling of the cross – Jesus said that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, He would be lifted up also (John 3:14). Shortly before His death, He spoke about Himself being “lifted up from the earth” (John 12:32). Hear the Bible’s explanation: “This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:33). The reference was to dying on a cross.
The Romans’ employment of the cross – The Roman Empire used crucifixion as a means of carrying out capital punishment for certain offenses. They used that form of penalty both before and after the death of the Christ, so the cross was not something that the Romans employed exclusively in Jesus’ case. For the Roman soldiers who drove the metal spikes into the sinless Lamb of God (John 19:23), it was “just another day’s work . . . just doing our job.”
The One on the cross – The one who suffered at Golgotha was the spotless Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19), who “gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6). The Roman centurion and others who were with him observed that day’s happenings and properly concluded, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54).
The pain of the cross – Before Jesus made it to the cross, He first was scourged by the Romans (Mark 15:15), a process that often left the body of the one who was beaten in shock or even dead. In a Messianic psalm, the message was, “They pierced My hands and My feet” (Psalm 22:16). There is no painless placing of hardened metal through human skin. The pain was unimaginable. Jesus’ love for us and commitment to the Father’s plan caused Him to stay on that cross.
The shame of the cross – The Bible says Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). What shame was associated with crucifixion? “He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12), though He was innocent of any crime. Under the old law, there was a stigma connected with the type of death Jesus suffered: one who was killed by hanging on a tree was considered as “accursed of God” (Deuteronomy 21:22,23).
The power of the cross – “For 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” (1 Corinthians 1:18). The Christ and His cross are “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1:24). In Bible language, we are reconciled to God “through the cross” (Ephesians 2:16). Jesus’ blood still has the power to do something that ten thousand kind deeds, the blood of ten thousand animals, or ten thousand U.S. dollars could never do: wash away humans’ sins.
The proper response to the cross – When a person learns the Bible truths that Jesus is the Son of God and by His death on the cross He can provide forgiveness for sinners, it is decision time. Will he accept it or reject it? Those who truly accept the cross are willing to submit to the One who paid the ultimate price on it. The cross saves believers. What kind of believers? Those who obey Jesus (Hebrews 5:9).
Thank God for Calvary! For Christians, it is not enough to know what the Bible says about the cross. It is not enough to believe it . . . We must go forth and teach the cross to the lost!
— Roger D. Campbell