Laws of the Cross

 1.     Death is birth into eternity

Eternity is life in another realm where flesh and blood cannot exist
Life in eternity has a different purposes than in this world.
So those who enter into eternity have to leave behind this flesh and blood in this world.

The only way to enter into the eternal life is the transformation of this body of flesh and blood.

Death is only a process of shedding flesh and blood and inheriting another that is eternal.

John 12:23-25
23  And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man will be glorified.
24  Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25      The one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world preserves it for eternal life.

What did he mean when he said that one must hate himself?
The expression to hate something often meant to prefer less.
Jesus says that nothing should get in the way of our preferring him and the will of our Father in heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:50-55
50  But I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood is not able to inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruptibility.
51  Behold, I tell you a mystery: we will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed,
52  in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
53  For it is necessary for this perishable body to put on incorruptibility, and this mortal body to put on immortality.
54  But whenever this perishable body puts on incorruptibility and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: “Death is swallowed up in victory.
55  Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

Eternal life with Christ and the inheritance of God’s kingdom will require a heavenly spiritual body like Christ’s.
The perishable body of human existence will be replaced.

Christ reverses the mortality and grants immortality, with which God created them to enjoy.

1 Corinthians 15:55   Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?

Paul quotes Hosea 13:14 to taunt death on account of Christ’s victory.

Hosea 13:12-15
12    The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.
13   The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.
14  I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
 15   Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.           (KJV)

Our hope is in Paul's reminder that

1 Corinthians 15:42   "What is sown in the earth is subject to decay, what rises is incorruptible". 

John 3:4-7
 4     Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
 5     Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
 6   That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
 7     Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Which is born of the flesh is flesh.
‘Born again’ is a spiritual experience of shedding a life of flesh and blood.
When we are born again, we, by faith, accept a transformed body.
The consummation of the process comes by the transformation of the physical body.

2.     Death is growth by multiplying
John 12:23-25
23  And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man will be glorified.
24  Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25  The one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world preserves it for eternal life.

What can a grain of wheat tell us about life and the kingdom of God?
Jesus drew his parables from the common everyday circumstances of life. 
His audience, rural folk in Palestine, could easily understand the principle of new life produced by dead seeds sown into the earth.
What is the spiritual analogy which Jesus alludes to?
Is this, perhaps, a veiled reference to his own impending death on the cross and resurrection?
Or does he have another kind of "death and rebirth" in mind for his disciples?

Jesus, no doubt, had both meanings in mind for his disciples.

A grain of wheat is not a worthless thing for the farmer.
The farmer keeps the best from his previous harvest as seed for the sowing.
His hope for a bright future solely depends on the grain.

A grain of wheat is not valuable unless it becomes something else.
Jesus is willing to suffer for the cause God has set before Him.
He suggests that His value is substantially less if He is unwilling to follow through on God’s will.

The image is a metaphor of Jesus' own death and burial in the tomb and his resurrection.

Jesus also promises that we will bear much "fruit" for him, if we choose to deny ourselves for his sake.

John 10:10    The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  (KJV)

The story starts with the crucifixion
The three and a half years of Jesus ministry is only a prologue to the real story.

On the day of Pentecost, as described in Act 2, Peter delivered a short meaningful message.
And three thousand people accepted Jesus, baptized and joined the Church.

The seed that was dead, buried and resurrected started bearing fruit.

Die to ourselves

What does it mean to "die" to oneself?
It certainly means that what is contrary to God's will must be "crucified" or "put to death".

The death of the old man in us will give birth to a new man who will further bear fruit a hundred fold.
This is the power of cross and the transformation by His Spirit.

3.    Death is victory

Jesus’ death is not a defeat, it was a victory
He ended His life as a winner not as a victim.

The suffering and crucifixion of Christ was a triumph.

The first Gospel writer, Mark, was careful to present it as a triumph.
He chose, arranged and presented the trial and crucifixion events as a parallel to the Roman Via Triumph.

Mark’s gospel was probably written for gentile Christians living in Rome.
Mark’s contemporaries might well have grasped a pattern of meaning that has gone unrecognized by modern Bible commentators.
In Mark’s gospel, the crucifixion procession is a kind of Roman triumphal march, with Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa replacing the Sacra Via of Rome.

The Latin word  Via Sacra (Sacred Road) was the main street of ancient Rome, leading from the top of the Capitoline Hill, through some of the most important religious sites of the Forum (where it is the widest street), to the Colosseum.
The road was part of the traditional route of the Roman Triumph that began on the outskirts of the city and proceeded through the Roman Forum.

The Latin word Via Dolorosa (Way of Grief, Way of Sorrows, Way of Suffering or simply Painful Way) is a street, in two parts, within the Old City of Jerusalem, held to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion.

Mark presents Jesus’ defeat and death, the moment of his greatest suffering and humiliation, as both literally and figuratively a triumph.

Even prior to Mark’s gospel (before about 70 A.D.), Christ was understood as a triumphator.

Mark and Paul (Colossians 2) presents a parallelism between the events in the spiritual realm and the earthly realm.
For them whatever happens on the earth happens in the spiritual realm.
The more important is the happening in the spiritual realm.

“All truth is parallel. That means that whatever is happening over here in the natural world is also happening in a similar manner in the spiritual world.”- Morris Cerullo.

Colossians 2:13-15
13  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15      And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.  (KJV)

The terms used in this verse are all military.

Christ has completely subdued our enemies by his death.
A complete victory was achieved by his death.
Everything is now in subjection to him, and we have nothing to fear.

Christ made a show of the defeated enemy openly.
As a conqueror, returning from a victory, displays in a triumphal procession the kings and princes whom he has taken, and the spoils of victory.
This was commonly done when a "triumph" was decreed for a conqueror.
On such occasions, it sometimes happened that a considerable number of prisoners were led along amidst the scenes of triumph.
Paul says that this was done "openly, that is, it was in the face of the whole universe
It was a grand victory; a glorious triumph over all the powers of hell.

It does not refer to any public procession or display on the earth.
But to the grand victory as achieved in view of the universe, by which Christ, as a conqueror, dragged Satan and his legions at his triumphal car.

Paul and the via triumph

2 Timothy 4: 6 – 8
6  For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.
7  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (NIV)

Mark 15:21-24
21   A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
22   They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”).
23   Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
24   And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

The temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, or more simply the Capitolium, was the terminus of every Roman triumph.
The procession would wind through the streets to the Forum, culminating in the ascent of the triumphator to the place of sacrifice—the place named after a death’s-head.
Golgotha was the Capitolium (head) to which the triumphator ascended.

Before reaching Golgotha, the soldiers offer Jesus myrrhed wine.
But Jesus refuses to drink.
The supreme moment of the Roman Via Triumph is the moment of sacrifice
Just prior to the sacrifice of the bull, or in a few cases simultaneous with the sacrifice, the triumphator was offered a cup of wine.
He would refuse it and then pour on the altar (or, more rarely, on the bull itself).

The wine obviously signifies the precious blood of the victim, the bull for the sacrifice.
Similar dress is worn by both the triumphator and the bull.
The bull is the god who dies and appears as the victor in the person of the triumphator.

At the crucial moment of a triumph, the moment of sacrifice, expensive wine is poured out.
Mark 15:33-37
33   At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  
34   And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).b
35   When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36  Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37   With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. (NIV)

John 19:28-30
28  Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
29  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.
30  When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (NIV)

 The final Victory
Christ has achieved for us such a victory, and has subdued all the foes of man.
We  are not be led captive.
We should regard ourselves as freemen.
We should not be made again the slaves of custom, or habit, or ritual observances, or superstitious rites, or anything whatever that has its origin in the kingdom of darkness.
We are bound to assert and to use our freedom, and should not allow any hostile power, in the form of philosophy or false teaching of any kind, to plunder or "spoil" us.

The Christian is a freeman.
His great Captain has subdued all his enemies.
We should not allow them again to set up their dark empire over our souls.

4.     The tree is a blessing

Deuteronomy 21:22, 23
22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:
23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

"He that is hanged is accursed of God;"
It is the highest degree of disgrace and reproach.
Those who see a man thus hanging between heaven and earth, will conclude him abandoned by God and man, and unworthy of either.

Among the Romans, in after ages, they hanged heinous criminals, or rather fastened to the tree alive.
Such was the cruel death of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Christ underwent this execrable punishment, and be made a curse for us.
He was taken down from the cursed tree and buried in the evening.

Galatians 3:13, 14
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (KJV)

5.    Wounds are healing

Isaiah 53:4, 5
4    Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
 5   But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (KJV)

1Peter 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: by whose stripes ye were healed. (KJV)

And by His stripes we are healed:

Here, the prophet sees through the centuries to know that the Messiah would be beaten with many stripes (Mark 15:15).
More so, the prophet announces that provision for healing is found in the suffering of Jesus, so by His stripes we are healed.

God has both aspects of healing in view, and both our physical (Matthew 8:16-17) and spiritual healing (1 Peter 2:24-25) is provided for by the suffering of Jesus.

Matthew 8:14
14  And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.
 15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
 16       When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
 17     That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.  (KJV)

1Peter 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: by whose stripes ye were healed.
6.    Death is attraction (not repulsion)

Isaiah 53:2
2    For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3    He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  (KJV)

John 3:14
14  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
 15  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 12:32, 33
32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
 33  This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Isaiah 11:10 There shall be a root of Jesse which shall stand for an ENSIGN of the people, to it shall the GENTILES seek, and his rest shall be glorious."
There is an allusion here to the ensigns or colours of commanders of regiments, elevated on high places, on long poles, that the people might see where the pavilion of their general was, and so flock to his standard.

Romans 15:10
10  And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
 11       And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
 12       And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

Numbers 21:4-9
4    And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
 5   And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
 6   And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
 7   Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
 8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

7.    Death is the beginning of the Kingdom (the final confirmation)

Kingdom is the cross

The cross is the Kingdom – in disguise!
On the cross, God in Christ conquered sin, defeated death, and triumphed over Satan.
Sounds like a Kingdom victory.

Jesus triumphed over God’s enemies and ours, and shares that victory with those who believe.
Jesus is Christus Victor!

By means of this victory, we are restored to God and our true purposes as human beings.

It is the mystery of the Kingdom that makes us new creatures in Christ.

Jesus purchases the kingdom.

Through his victorious death and resurrection, Jesus redeems the kingdom.
As he satisfies the wrath of God poured out for those who rebel against his rule.
Jesus defeats Satan, sin, and death (Colossians 2:14-15).

He overcomes the world, the flesh, and the Devil by destroying the power of the kingdom of darkness.
By purchasing a kingdom people at the cross, Jesus proves himself to be the rightful ruler of the restored kingdom.

No comments:

Post a Comment