WHY THE CROSS OF CHRIST
By W. G. Guy
Most Christians understand that the cross represents the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ for our sins. But the cross of Christ is much more than just a symbol of what Jesus accomplished when He was impaled upon it. This article intends to reveal deeper purposes and truths regarding this unique symbol of Christianity.
One thing that is most misunderstood is that the word “cross” in the New Testament Greek is stauros which is an upright pole or stake. Stauros as used in the New Testament never refers to two timbers placed across one another at right angles such as the commonly used symbol recognized today. The cross, as symbolized today, was introduced into Christianity by the Roman Catholic Church and referred to in the Latin language as “crux”. What most people fail to realize is that the Roman Catholic “crux” is a derivative of the ancient pagan symbol of the Babylonian and Egyptian sun god, and was used centuries before Christ. There are many other traditions and practices that the Roman Church introduced into Christianity that have pagan origins, but we cannot go into those many errors now.
The Roman method of execution using the cross (pole) was the most agonizing form of long lasting torture and death that could be imagined at the time. Jesus, being crucified on a vertical pole or stake would have inflicted far more pain and torment than on the commonly recognized cross. Nevertheless, this article is about the why and purpose of the crucifixion and its multifaceted representations that was accomplished on the “tree” (pole), representing a piece of wood like a post.
Acts 5:30 –The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
1 Peter 2:24 – who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:
Before discussing the details of the cross it is important to recognize the timing of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. What Christianity currently observes as the timing of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is a result of Roman Catholic perversion of the truth and facts. Current tradition, as generated by Rome, uses Easter as the day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and Good Friday as the day to acknowledge Christ’s death on the cross. Both are wrong and in great error!
Easter is actually a pagan celebration of the goddess of sex and fertility – thus the symbols of eggs and bunny rabbits. Look up Easter in a good quality encyclopedia to see this origin of Easter and how it was celebrated long before the time of Jesus Christ. The worship of the goddess of sex and fertility, and the “Rites of Spring” was observed by each successive ancient empire using differing names for their respective goddess based on their particular culture. Some of these goddess are Asteroth, Ishtar, Astarte:
Judges 2:13 - And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
Jeramiah 7:18 – The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.
(Note: the Roman Catholic Church refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus, as “the queen of heaven”.)
Then there is Venus the goddess of Rome, Diana the goddess of Ephesus, and Eastre the goddesses of the Saxons from which the word Easter came from. Unfortunately, the King James translators, being descendants of the Anglo-Saxons were strongly under the influence of the Roman Catholic Church and were accustomed to their doctrines and traditions and used the word Easter which was actually supposed to be Passover.
Acts 12:4 – And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
To know when to truly observe the death, burial and crucifixion of Jesus on the cross (pole) simply look at when the Jews celebrate Passover – they always celebrate according to the date that God ordained, and that date rarely falls on the Roman Easter. In fact, in 2008 these two celebrations were a full month apart. In 2018 they will be on or about the same time.
The Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on the Jewish “Day of Preparation”; this is the day that the Passover lambs were killed, and Jesus became our Passover Lamb:
1 Corinthians 5:7-8 –Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
John 19:31 –.The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
Then in the evening of that day began the Passover when the lamb was to be eaten. We need to recognize that the Hebrew day begins and ends at sunset according to God’s set observation of days, as recorded in Genesis 1:5, 13,
19, 24, 31, etc.
The year that Christ was crucified Passover began on Thursday, which began on our Wednesday evening at sunset. So Jesus went through His fake trial and sentencing in the early morning hours of Wednesday and was nailed to the cross (pole) about the third hour, which is our 9AM.
Luke 23:44-46 – And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
At noon, called the sixth hour, darkness covered the area until the ninth hour, or 3 PM, when Jesus died.
Luke 23:52-54 – And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.
Jesus had to be removed from the cross (pole) and buried before sunset because sunset began the next day which is Passover, the High Holy annual Sabbath of the Jews. This was not the weekly seventh day Sabbath of Saturday as so many have come to accept in error of the Roman Catholic Church.
Matthew 27:62-64 – Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
Now let’s look at Jesus and why he went to the cross (pole). The reason is SINS, not His because He had no sins. He went there for our sins – the sin of everyone in the whole world. Sin is the result of the works of the flesh, the selfish desires or lusts of the carnal nature.
James 1:14-15 – but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
The result of sin is death, both physical and spiritual (eternal); physical death of the fleshly body followed by spiritual death as eternal separation from God’s, light and life.
God proposed a cure for sin, even before He put mankind, made in His image, on earth:
1 Peter 1:19-20 – but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
That cure required the life of one that was pure and sinless to die in the place of the sinner as a sacrifice – the innocent for the guilty. Under the old covenant (Old Testament) innocent lambs were used as substitute sacrifices until God provided the ultimate sacrifice as promised to Abraham. (See also Hebrews 10:1-10.)
Genesis 22:8 – And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Therefore the cross (pole) is where the ultimate sacrifice was made for the removal of the sins of mankind – to all that believe and accept what Jesus did in obedience to God’s plan to redeem mankind from his fallen and sinful state.
There are some that teach that Jesus died spiritually. This is a lie from Satan, the father of liars, and those that teach such are false teachers, false preachers and false prophets. What part of Jesus died on the cross (pole)? His fleshly body? His soul (mind, character and personality)? Or His Spirit? It was His fleshly body that died because His soul went to paradise and His spirit went to God His Father:
Luke 23:43 & 46 – And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. 46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
Sin offering is only by blood because the life of the body is in the blood:
Leviticus 17:11 – For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Only the blood of a righteous innocent being is acceptable to God as atonement for sin. Since blood is the life of the flesh, it was Jesus’ fleshly body that died, and whose blood cleanses from all sin.
1 John 1:7-9 –but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Jesus took all the sins of mankind on His fleshly body becoming the acceptable sacrifice for all mankind. Our sins were not on His Soul (His mind/character/personality) because Jesus never sinned or turned His back on God the Father or violated any of God’s laws, ordinances, statutes or commandments. God turned His back on Jesus while on the cross (pole) because He could not bear to look upon Jesus with the sins of mankind upon His fleshly body. The spirit of Jesus had no sin because it immediately went to God the Father as Jesus spoke it when He died. Thus Jesus did NOT die spiritually.
Death had no legal or spiritual claim on Jesus so the grave could not hold Him because He was pure of heart without sin. Then He was resurrected after three days to fulfill scripture and God’s plan.
What most Christians have not been taught is the further purpose and work of the cross (pole) and why it is so important to each of us. You must understand that each of us needs to die to the self (flesh), symbolically on the cross in order to mature in Christ as a true follower or disciple. (Disciple means one under the discipline of the one being followed.)
Jesus introduced the need for death to the selfish carnal flesh to those who believe on Him:
Luke 9:23 – And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Please understand that salvation through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is a free gift, but to live the Christ centered and Christ filled life will cost you; there is a steep price to pay to be a true disciple, but in doing so is a great reward:
Luke 9:24 – For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
And this rule for discipleship is required by Jesus in order to follow Him; but too many don’t.
Luke 14:27 – And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
True believers must recognize their need to identify with Christ and put their carnal nature (self) figuratively on the cross (pole) in order to live a godly life in Christ. Most Christians do not do this and as a result they have not matured as Christ’s disciples; this even applies to many who are pastors and ministers.
Why does Jesus say that the daily cross experience is so important? Remember that the cross is the symbol of death. Death to the selfish fleshly life, with its lusts, must be continually denied its desires. This refers to the old sinful nature that hinders and blocks the new Christ nature that indwells every true believer from manifesting.
Being saved or born again is when you accept Christ, His Spirit enters into you and you become a spiritual habitation of Him. Your flesh is still present and has not changed unless you purposely do so, only your spirit has changed being renewed or “born again”. Your soul or mind is renewed as you seek to walk with Him and grow in knowledge by His Word and fellowship in prayer; this is a self- disciplined life.
Romans 12:2 –And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God
The self or flesh, called the “old man” is still in you. This makes you vulnerable to the temptations and wiles of the devil and the lures of the world.
1 John 2:15-16 – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Even the apostle Paul knew that the old nature is still present and needs to be brought under discipline, (to be a true disciple).
Ephesians 4:21-24– But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
The flesh can be tempted and thus yielded to the devil because he is very subtle in his ways and knows your weaknesses. Dying to self is denying the flesh of it lusts and removes the vulnerability of the flesh which the enemy tempts. The old nature was not removed at salvation, it remains and it is your responsibility to overcome the weakness of the flesh which consists of the “I will, I want, and I am” that come from the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life” – (1 John 2:16).
Jesus defeated the devil on the cross (pole), but Jesus did not eliminate him. Thus Jesus provides us with salvation from the penalty of sin, but did not eliminate the tempter. This is why the cross is so important to the believer as we must acknowledge the weakness of sinful flesh and overcome its weakness by identifying with Jesus and the work of the cross daily in our lives.
It is incumbent on each believer as a follower (disciple) of Christ to daily die to self by recognizing the quality of the old nature and that it is to be symbolically placed on the cross of Christ. This “dying to self” is also referred to as “putting off” the flesh or the old nature of man.
Romans 8:13 – For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Romans 13:14 – But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof
The devil and his demons continually try to subvert the faith and faithfulness of every believer by tempting with the things and allures of this world to get their flesh to accept.
1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
Once the temptation is accepted the devil has an inroad to influence and control your desires and drive you into various worldly lusts. This is how addictions to wrong and immoral acts become routed in a person’s life. This is the reason of taking up your cross, or personal death to self, and recognizing the purpose of the cross in your life. Our flesh, or self, believes in resurrection as it tries to do so daily; that’s why it needs to be “put off” daily. This is also what is symbolized by baptism in water – the baptism of repentance (change).
Romans 6:5-9 – For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Romans 6:11 – Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ, but I live, yet not I anymore, but Christ liveth in me: and in that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith in the Son of God, who hath loved me, and given himself for me.
Galatians 5:24 – And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Remember that the cross is the symbol of death. The cemetery’s in Europe where American soldiers are buried that were killed during WWII are full of crosses marking their graves – the cross is the symbol of death reminding believers for the need to die to self (fleshly lusts) daily.
Please take this message to heart so you can live victoriously over the world, the flesh and the devil, and be a proper representative of our Lord Jesus Christ as a true disciple.