by Ken Cooper
Luke 23:33, “When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him.” Those last three
words, “they crucified him,” are brief and to the point. They are words written to a culture that had witnessed crucifixion. As James pointed out in his sermon Sunday, when they read those words they didn’t need long explanations like we do, they knew exactly what they meant. And those three words carry with them the single most significant difference between Christianity and every world religion.
Newsweek magazine carried an article on how the various religions of the world view Jesus. They
interviewed Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The article concluded, “Clearly the cross is what separates the Christ of Christianity from every other Jesus. In Judaism there is no precedent for a Messiah who dies, much less as a criminal. In Islam the story of Jesus’ death is rejected as an affront to Allah himself. Hindus can only accept a Jesus who escapes the degradation of death. Buddhists say the crucifixion does not do justice to Jesus. The image of a benign Jesus has universal appeal. However, most of the world cannot accept the Jesus of the cross.”
It doesn’t make sense to them. Why would a king die on a cross for his people? It’s just the opposite of the
way it should be. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “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.”
We see that when Jesus was crucified. In Luke 23:35 we read, “The people stood watching, and the
rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ ” The crowd taunted him saying, “Save yourself if you are the Christ.”
In regard to this Ken Gire writes, “If only Jesus would save himself and us. But Jesus knows something that
the man hanging next to him doesn’t know. He knows he can choose one or the other. He can save himself, or he can save us. But he can’t do both.” Do you realize why? It’s because of what it says in Hebrews 9:22, “..without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Jesus couldn’t do both. That’s why he died on the cross– for us! That’s why we can trust in his sacrifice.
Jesus made seven statements while he hung on the cross. The seventh was, “It is finished.” In the Greek
language it is only one word that was commonly written at the bottom of a merchant’s invoices. It meant, paid in full. Jesus said, “It is finished.” The penalty for our sins was paid in full.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “The greatest note of triumph that ever sounded across a startled universe was
sounded on the cross– It is finished. That is the last word in the redemption of man.”
Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the
punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
They crucified him. And we thank God every day that it didn’t end there.
See you all Sunday morning as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.