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   The Cross - 2016 Good Friday    
   Rev. Jaerock Lee
   Galatians 3:13


Galatians 3:13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
First, the cross represents "curse."

Galatians 3:13 says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE""This verse quotes a passage from Deuteronomy 21:22-23;"If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.According to the law of the Old Testament, a man could be stoned to death after committing sin worthy of death, and his corpse hung on the tree.

However, the crucifixion which was practiced in ancient times was not to hang a dead body on a tree.A criminal was put to death by being nailed alive on a cross.In 73 B.C, gladiators in Rome rose in revolt.A 'gladiator' was a man who had to fight against other men or wild animals in the days of Roman Empire. To win the heart of people, the overlords of those days forced prisoners-of-war, slaves, or convicts to fight as gladiators.

These gladiators rose in revolt.The number of rebels reached about 100,000, and they fought against Roman army for 2 years.And this rebellion was suppressed by the army of Crassus in 71 B.C.Most of the gladiators were killed, and about 6,000 were taken captive, and they were all crucified. They were hung on both sides of the most important road of Rome.About 6,000 crosses stood on both sides of a road for approximately 50 kilometers long. As you can see, crucifixion was a terrible punishment for a criminal who committed an unforgivable crime.

And our Jesus was crucified on the cross like this.Why was that?It was to receive the curse by standing in for sinners who were under the curse of the law. The 'Curse of the Law' here means the 'curse of the spiritual law;' that is, the "wages of sin is death" as written in Romans 6:23.According to the spiritual law, a sinner is under a curse of the law, which is 'death.'

And all human beings are sinners. Because, as Adam's descendants they are born with the original sin and they themselves commit sin.If someone tries to free these 'sinner' human beings from this curse of the law, he himself has to pay the price of the curse.For this, God the Father let Jesus hang on the wooden cross which symbolizes the curse.

Jews had only one death penalty – stoning. But to lift the curse of the law, Jesus had to hang on a tree. Thus, God caused the Roman governor give Jesus the death sentence, and let Jesus be put to death by the Roman death penalty.

God the Father foreknew all of this and He provided a foreshadowing 'symbol' of it in wilderness after the Exodus. At the end of the time of the life in the wilderness when Israelites complained against God and Moses, fiery serpents appeared. And many were bitten by fiery serpents and they died. When Moses prayed, God told him to 'Make a bronze serpent, and set it on a standard.'God said, "...everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live."

Regarding this, Jesus said in John 3:14-15, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life."Sinless Jesus took all the sins of sinners, and hung on a cross just as a bronze serpent was set on a pole.

By the way, why did God set a 'serpent' on a pole?A 'serpent' refers to the enemy devil and Satan.By taking the Cross, Jesus defeated the authority of this enemy devil and Satan.Since the enemy devil and Satan killed sinless Jesus, they themselves violated the spiritual law, and thus Jesus resurrected from death.

Therefore, looking up to Jesus on the Cross is equivalent to looking by faith to see the death of the authority of the enemy devil and Satan.Eventually by the faith, people gain the eternal life. Although Jesus hung on the Cross, which was the symbol of the curse, when seen by faith, we can receive the gift of eternal life.To those of us who believe in the Lord, therefore, the Cross is not the symbol of the 'curse' any longer, but 'blessing.'

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Secondly, the Cross carries the meaning of "Sacrifice."

To redeem us from our sin, Jesus Himself became the atoning sacrifice. Regarding this, Hebrews 9:12 says, "and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption."Since without the letting of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. While standing in for us to redeem us from sin, Jesus bled.

To free us- who used to be slaves of sin- and to make us God's children, He paid the tremendous price of sacrifice. The amount that Jesus paid in sacrifice is too great for a mere human to even imagine. To help you understand the amount of His sacrifice even a little, let me explain about crucifixion in great detail.

The first step was the scourging.

The whip that was used in this step was different from normal whips. A whip which was used in Roman Empire was made of several plaited leather threads.Metal balls, sharp bones and steel fragments were entwined and stuck out from its surface.

Soldiers took the clothes off the criminal, tied his both hands, and struck him on his shoulders, back, hips, legs and hands. Soldiers took turns whipping him.They hit the criminal all over his body with the whip with sharp bones and metal fragments affixed to it.

It is painful to be beaten by a normal whip, and this whip used by these soldiers caused unimaginable pain.It didn't just leave black and blue bruises or welts on the body. Once beaten, along with severe bruises, the flesh was torn and even ripped off. Once the skeletal-muscle is ripped off, the flesh dangles.Eusebius, a historian in 3 A.D., wrote that 'the innermost veins and arteries, the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view.'

Because of excessive bleeding, the blood pressure drops, and the criminal approached a state of hypovolemic shock.Since the body loses too much blood, it required liquid, and thus the criminal felt terrible thirst.

In this state, the criminal went to the 2nd stage of crucifixion. That is, he had to carry the wooden crossbeam to the execution place.

A typical cross was 2 meter long, and it weighed 40 kilograms. It was not easy even for a normal man to carry. How heavy and difficult the cross felt for a man who was faint with his body torn apart after scourging?When Jesus carried His Cross to Golgotha, He fell down 3 times. You will come across those 3 points where Jesus fell down as you walk along Via Dolorosa. You will also find the spot where Roman soldiers found a Cyrene named Simon to carry the cross.

As the criminal arrived at the execution place, the final step of crucifixion began. It was to nail him and hang him on the cross until he died.

As the criminal hung on the cross until he died, he had to suffer from terrible pain for long hours. Since the pain was so very great, crucifixion was called "the maximum penalty allowed by law."The criminal was attached to the cross by being nailed through his hands and feet.The nails were big; they were approximately 13 to 18 centimeters long (7 to 9 inches).

If nailed on hands, it was possible that the hand could be torn apart and the criminal could fall from the cross due to his weight.Therefore, he was nailed not on his hands, but just above the wrist. This is the body part where central nerves can be found; if nailed on this part, the nerves can be destroyed. Those of you who have received nerve treatment must have felt the pain when an impact is made on the nerves.If the central nerves are destroyed without anesthesia, it will be unimaginably painful.Both feet overlapped each other, and they were nailed through the 2nd and the 3rd bones.The nerves were completely destroyed as well.

Once the criminal was attached, the cross was set up upright. From this moment on, a completely different level of pain began.When hung on the cross with hands and feet nailed, the arms got stretched out, and their bones became separated.Both shoulders got dislocated. Due to the body weight, both arms and shoulders were pulled down, and it became hard to breathe. There would not be enough oxygen.Then, the blood became oversupplied with carbon dioxide, and the heart pounded irregularly. Modern research said the victims of crucifixion repeated passing outs on the cross about 1,000 times. And then the criminal eventually died.

Crucifixion was the punishment that provided the worst pain to the victim.After its cruelty became controversial, it was abolished by Constantine the Great of the Roman Empire. It was our Jesus that suffered from this very crucifixion.We should engrave in our hearts how great His sacrifice was for us.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Thirdly, the Cross means, 'Love.'

1 John 4:10 says, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."God the Father already knew how terrible the pain Jesus was to suffer from would be.

There was only one reason that He let Jesus hang on the Cross.It is because He loves you and me.It was the only way to save sinners.It was the way the enemy devil and Satan would never think of.With such sacrificial love that transcends the justice, Jesus open the way of salvation for human beings. Whenever we look at the Cross, we should remember this love.We should remember the fact that God loves us to the point of giving up His only begotten Son Jesus to the Cross.

The ones who feel and understand this love with their hearts will live their lives for a different reason.Apostle Paul confessed in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."As you can see, those who understood the love of the Cross lived their lives by faith following the will of the Lord. The disciples of the Lord preached the gospel without being afraid of death after they understood His love.

In the 2nd part of this service, you will find it all in the scenes of the performance. I wish all of the congregation may fill your hearts with the love of God the Father contained in the Cross through this message and the performance. I give thanks to the members of Performing Arts Committee, and the staff of the performance.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

Tonight, I explained 3 meanings contained the cross.First, the cross symbolized the 'curse,' but it changed into 'blessing' thanks to Jesus.Second, the cross means 'sacrifice,' and third, it means 'love.'I hope you understand these meanings of the cross well and engrave the great love that God the Father showed through the cross deep in your heart.May you love the Lord be loved by the Lord all the more, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, I pray!