Why the Cross Means So Much to Us

Galatians 6:14


June 22, 2014 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland



I.       Introduction (Galatians 6:14)


A.      The cross means different things to different people


1.      To some, it is a good-luck piece they wear, or have hanging around their house

2.      To others it is a religious relic they honour

3.      To some, it has a man dying on it

4.      To others, it is empty

5.      To some, it is simple and smooth

6.      To others, it is rough, and harsh


B.      But to the Christian, the born again child of God, the cross is not an object, or a ‘thing’ – it doesn’t hang on a wall, or get tattooed on your arm

C.      It is an event! Something spectacular that happened on one particular cross, on a small hill just outside of a small city called Jerusalem, 2,000 years ago!

D.     And it is THAT event that does something marvellous to people today


1.      It convicts people

2.      It converts people

3.      It excites people

4.      It corrects people


E.      Let me remind you just how it does all that!


II.    Background - What Actually Happened At the Cross?


A.     The Son of God was put on Trial (Mark 14:60-65)


1.      The very Son of God, in the flesh, was envied, and hated and captured

2.      And now, here Jesus was, bound like a criminal, being passed from authority to authority, where He was “examined” (which means, tortured, to make Him talk and incriminate Himself as guilty).

3.      Six different times, all through the night, Jesus was examined…


a.       For bypassing the Religious – ignored them almost completely

b.      For loving sinners, and teaching them how to be free from their sins

c.       For doing miracles without permission of the Pharisees

d.      For simply speaking the truth


B.     A Wicked Man was Freed – named Barabbas (Luke 23:18-25)


1.      The most notorious criminal in the prison at that time named Barabbas

2.      A murderer, riot-leader – a dangerous man

3.      And in a moment, just-like-that, Barabbas was unshackled, and walking home, pardoned and free from the death penalty!


C.      An Innocent Man was Condemned to Die (Luke 23:25)


1.      Even though Jesus was hated, and caught by the Pharisees…

2.      No one could find any fault with Jesus (Luke 23:14-16)


a.       Pilate declared THREE times that he found no fault in Jesus Christ (John 18:38; 19:4, 6). He basically admitted that Jesus was the best Man he had ever met!

b.      Herod found in Jesus Christ nothing worthy of DEATH (Luke 23:15).

c.       Pilate’s wife declared to him, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man” (Matt. 27:19).

d.      Judas declared that he had betrayed “THE INNOCENT BLOOD” (Matt. 27:4).

e.       The repentant thief declared, “but this man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41).

f.        Even the head centurion declared, “Certainly this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47).


3.      And yet, instead of Barabbas, Jesus was now condemned, to die the most horrible of deaths on a cross!

4.      Not because of criminal evidence, but because of popular opinion! The entire crowd called for His execution (Luke 23:20,21)!


D.     How Did Jesus Die? You need to know these things! You need to remember them!


1.      Was it by all the beatings?


a.       Six different times, this Teacher, this Preacher, this compassionate Man from Galilee was beaten with bare hands, upon His face by the Temple guards, and then by the Roman soldiers!

b.      A soldier struck Jesus across the face for just remaining silent when questioned by Caiphus.

c.       The palace guards then blind-folded Him and taunted Him to identify them as they each passed by, spat upon Him, and struck Him in the face.

d.      This went on for 6 hours!

e.       But No, that didn’t kill Jesus!


2.      Was it by the scourging? (Mt 27:26)


a.       The Prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head.

b.      The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagellum in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather strips with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. These strips of leather would have small bits of metal and stone embedded in them. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs.

c.       At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the skin, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. 

d.      The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which were broken open by subsequent blows.

e.       Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue.

f.        When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped. 

g.       That was when the half-fainting Jesus was then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood.

h.      But no. This did not kill Jesus.


3.      Was it the crown of thorns, piercing His skull? (Mt 27:27-31)


a.       Oh the pain he must have experienced

b.      Layer upon layer, wave upon wave of agonising pain


4.      Was it the fresh tearing of His wounds? (Mt 27:31)


a.       The soldiers knew exactly what they were doing when they wrapped Jesus in a royal robe, and paraded Him around the courtyard

b.      Only to rip it off of His back after the bleeding wounds had dried and become stuck to the robe

c.       The shock of that ripping away would have stopped the heart of most men!


5.      Was it the 650 meter walk through Jerusalem that killed Jesus?


a.       Jesus had to carry the 110 lb cross beam all the way from Pilate’s court to just outside the gate of Jerusalem

b.      That is almost a half of a mile, through windy crowded streets, with people yelling at Him, spitting upon Him, taunting Him

c.       But that wasn’t enough to kill Jesus


6.      Was it by dehydration? (John 19:38)


a.       With all the blood loss, the long hours of interrogation, the constant standing, the hours in prayer… Jesus would be completely dehydrated!

b.      But that didn’t kill our Lord!


7.      By the sheer exhaustion?


a.       He has been up for the past 33 hours, praying exhaustively for 3 hours, standing before trial after trail for the past 7 hours

b.      Now He has been whipped and crucified, barely breathing for 5 hours!

c.       And No, that didn’t kill Him!


8.      Or was it the nails that killed Jesus?


a.       When Jesus arrived at Golgotha, He was offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild pain medication. It was offered to every prisoner to help face the pain of the upcoming torture… He refuses to drink it.

b.      With the cross-beam on the ground, Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood.

c.       The Roman legionnaire felt for the depression in the middle of the wrist. He then drove a heavy, square, iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood.

d.      Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms to tightly, but to allow some movement.

e.       The cross-beam is then lifted in place at the top of the centre-pole and a sign reading, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” is nailed in place over Christ’s head.

f.        The left foot is now 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 bent.

g.       And now, the Victim is now crucified, and left to die!

h.      But those nails did not kill Jesus


9.      Or was it the cross itself that killed Jesus?


a.       As He rested His weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms and explodes in the brain.

b.      As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of the feet explodes now.

c.       Up and down Jesus would push and pull on those three unmoveable nails in order to inhale, and then exhale.

d.      With each breath, life was ebbing out of His body.

e.       But even THIS did not kill Jesus!

f.        This goes on for 6 long hours

g.       It is during these waves of agony


1)     that Jesus speaks to the thief next to Him and forgives Him

2)     that Jesus asks His father to forgive the people around Him, mocking Him, after just tormenting and crucifying Him


10. But NONE of the above actually killed Jesus!

11.  After 18 hours of stress and beatings, whippings, mockings, exhaustion, dehydration, thorns and gaping wounds…

12.  After 6 long hours on the cross, struggling just to breathe…


a.       Jesus declares “It is finished!”

b.      And THEN He dies!


III. Message


A.     So What Actually Killed Jesus?


1.      Our sin did (Romans 6:23a)


a.       Every wicked thought, every selfish deed, every lustful desire, every angry word, every dark desire, every act of disobedience, every lazy moment, every idle word, every stolen item, every lying sentence, every whinging complaint, every adulterous wish, every abominable idol, every dabble in witchcraft, every fierce argument, every act of hatred, every needle injected, every pint of Guinness…

b.      Put Jesus on the cross…

c.       And killed Him!

d.      Instead of you and me!


2.      Our self-righteousness did – rejecting the need for a Saviour (Acts 5:24-31) Religion murdered the Son of God


a.       People think they are actually good enough to waltz right into God’s heaven and live forever there

b.      People actually reject the idea that they might not be a sinner after-all, even though their heart convicts them every day of sin

c.       People burn out their conscience so that they don’t have to think about all the wrongs they have done

d.      People lie to each other and to themselves about how good they are

e.       And yet that very self-righteousness is what drove those Pharisees to crucify the Son of God!


3.      Our stubbornness did – our resistance of the GRACE of God (Gal 2:21)


a.       When we SHOULD be on our knees, so sorry for how we have mocked and rejected Jesus

b.      We instead spend years and years turning our backs to what He did, and trying to ignore it like it never really happened!


4.      But MOST importantly, His Willingness to take our place in death actually killed Jesus! (John 10:28; John 10:15,17-18)


B.     Why? Why Did Jesus Let This happen to Him?


1.      First, Jesus died on the Cross to satisfy Justice.


a.       Justice is when a serious wrong is made right!

b.      Sin… all sin, is a serious wrong in God’s sight!

c.       God’s Word says that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

d.      When we break God’s eternal Law, we must pay the eternal penalty, which is hell!

e.       Jesus, the only sinless one, paid that penalty for us on the Cross.

f.        And by His death, God’s justice was perfectly satisfied!


2.      Second, Jesus died on the Cross to redeem (pay for the sins of) all people – even of those that do not want Him to.


a.       Sinners are reconciled to God on the cross (Col 1:20-22; 2:14)

b.      He didn’t just want to satisfy justice – He wanted to save sinners!

c.       He delivered us from sin and death.

d.      Every one of us is born into enmity with God, but God has provided the way back to Him through the Cross.

e.       Sin creates a wall between us and God; only Jesus can tear down that wall. When we are reconciled with God, it transforms us from being God’s enemies to being His children.


3.      Third, Jesus died on the Cross to Put Sin to Death (2Cor 5:21; 1Peter 2:21-24; 1John 3:5)


a.       SIN itself died o the cross!

b.      To reconcile sinners back to God – make peace

c.       God does not excuse our sin, but He forgives and restores us when we come to Him in repentance and humility through faith in Jesus Christ.

d.      God gives us salvation from sin and death as a gift—a very costly gift.


4.      Fourth, Jesus died to supply eternal life (by His death) to all who believe! (John 10:15; Romans 6:23b)


C.      No wonder We Preach Christ Crucified (1Cor 1:17-23)!


1.      Great preaching is about what happened at the cross

2.      Everywhere we go, to everyone we meet!

3.      We glory in what happened there (Gal 6:14)

4.      It is THE most important news event ever – still being told!

5.      By just hearing it and believing it, sinners are converted

6.      And by remembering it, Christians are revived!

7.      You see, we don’t glory in the GORE! We glory/rejoice in the victory that Christ accomplished on that cross!


IV.  Application – We Need to Remember What Happened on the Cross!


A.      When we forget the cross and what happened there, we are sure to grow cold and indifferent towards everything of value

B.      We may even forget what we have been saved from, and what we have been saved to!

C.      We will end up forgetting how Jesus taught us to LIVE


1.      Living differently, and godly in this present world (1Peter 2:21-24)

2.      Taking up OUR crosses, DAILY (Luke 9:23)

3.      Forgiving others as Christ has forgiven us – not fighting back (Eph 4:32)

4.      Doing the will of God from the heart like Jesus did (Eph 6:6)

5.      Laying OUR lives down for the brethren (1John 3:16)

6.      Suffering whatever mockery and persecution the world wants to throw at us

7.      Simply because that is how Jesus lived, and died!


V.     Invitation


A.      Admit that you are deserving of God’s punishment for all your sin, which is hell! Jesus wasn’t deserving of being punished for YOUR sin – YOU ARE!

B.      Believe that what Jesus DID on His cross is enough to satisfy God’s justice

C.      Accept the forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers a sinner like you! As a free gift! Receive it like you would a cold drink of water in the middle of the Sahara desert!

D.     And Christian, live like Christ’s death actually mattered!