The Guilt Of The Cross

Series: Reflections On The Cross


Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / August 14, 2016

A couple of Sundays ago, on the morning that Brian Alfred preached, I was privileged to preside at The Lord’s Table.

In this morning’s sermon, I want to review and expand upon some of the thoughts we considered on that occasion.

I titled my communion notes, “Reflections On The Cross Around The Table Of The Lord”.

Some of my thinking on this important topic has been encapsulated in an essay, “The Curse Of The Cross”.

If you have not carefully and prayerfully read (and studied) this essay, it is available in last Sunday’s newsletter.

It’s a discouraging thought to contemplate that nobody reads these weekly essays.

On the other hand, I am encouraged when I think that you actually read & study these weekly FamilyMatters articles.

I wish that I was brave enough to ask for a show of hands as to how many of you actually read and study my essays.

While my ego is not overly fragile, I do sometimes fear that an honest survey on this would demoralize me.

These essays are the product of hours of study on my part.

Quite often they serve as a synthesizing (summation) of a previous sermon.

Repetition is a basic tenet of solid learning and all of us need to anchor these truths in our hearts.

These essays are not in our newsletter just to fill up space - - they are there to be read and studied.

Please don’t take the attitude, “I heard that sermon and therefore I don’t need to read the essay.”

None of us are that bright.  If you think you are, you need to repent. 

Furthermore, God’s word is so very deep - - which gives us an open invitation to think and to think again and again.


When we gather ‘round The Table each and every Sunday, there are two words that tend to dominate our thinking.


The cross was a terribly PAINFUL way to die.

When we say something is excruciating - - the root of that word is crux, which is the Latin word for cross.

In saying what I am about to say, I do not mean it to be intimidating to those who preside.

Rather, I want these words to be illuminating.

The degree of pain and suffering that is seen in the passion of the Christ is truly hard to fathom.

The scourging alone without all that would follow was bloody awful.  i.e., drench and stained with blood

With a cat of nine tails the back and torso of Jesus was torn to shreds.

With large spikes His hands and feet were brutally nailed to a wooded beam.

That beam was then dropped into a hole and lifted up to prolong an already-painful punishment.

The brow of Jesus was pierced by many a thorn from the “crown” that was thrust upon His head.

The searing pain in His lungs and arms & legs was constant as He struggled to grasp for a gulp of air.

The purpose of the cross was utterly inhumane -- it was a means of execution intended to magnify & exacerbate pain.  

On a level that I had not previously considered, Ray Villers spoke at Wood’s picnic about “the flies”.

Add to that ugly picture, carrion (birds of prey) that were likely plucking away in advance at soon-to-be-dead flesh.

Finally, after He had already died, Jesus’ side was pierced with a spear.

It is it not my intent to diminish the physical pain and suffering that Jesus encountered on the cross.

Yet, the horror of the cross was not just that Jesus suffered physical pain.

Many men suffered and bled and died on a cruel cross. 

Yet the physical pain that accompanied this means of execution is not what makes the cross of Christ so horrible.

The cross was also a very SHAMEFUL way to die.

To be crucified was by design to be “put to shame”.

Such was certainly the case with Jesus:  the only One who never sinned was treated as a common criminal.

Crucifixion was a fate reserved for the basest of criminals and the lowest of social outcasts.

It was a punishment so degrading that no Roman citizen could be subjected to it.

To be hung on a cross was to be made a spectacle of - - it was an open invitation to derision and scorn.

When we read the gospels we can’t help but notice the nasty and unwarranted treatment that Jesus received.

In addition to the public scourging, which was intended to bring one to brink of death even before the execution,

mockery, taunting and jeering was everywhere.  It lined the streets as Jesus was compelled to bear his own cross.

It surrounded the cross and permeated Golgotha (the place of the skull).

Jesus was stripped in public.   With cruel jesting He was then draped with a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns.

With tongue in cheek he was hailed as “the KING of the Jews”.

Insults flowed from a blood-thirsty mob inspired by Jewish leaders who were filled with envy.

He was beaten (on the head and very likely all over).  He was spit upon.

You know the story well.  It is heart-rending.  It brings tears to our eyes and deep grief to our hearts.

It might well be that the shame of the cross far superseded the pain of the cross.

Yet, it was neither the shame of the cross nor the pain of the cross that crushed Jesus.

The greatest agony of the cross was neither the PAIN nor the SHAME, but rather the GUILT that Jesus endured.

The late Swiss theologian Karl Barth is known for having said that in his judgment,

“the single most important word in all of the Greek New Testament is the miniscule word “huper”.

This little word is translated, ON BEHALF OF.

It was the GUILT of the cross, much more so than the PAIN and SHAME that was the hardest to bear.

More often than not we think of Jesus as the epitome of sinless-ness, and rightfully so.

He was God’s perfect lamb, without spot and with blemish (1Pet.1:19).

Yet scripture reveals to us that something theological - - terribly wonderful - - happened when Jesus died on the cross.

  Paul writes (2Cor.5:21) - - God made Him who knew no sin TO BE SIN ON OUR BEHALF,

that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

  Peter writes something very similar (1Pet.2:24) - -  HE BORE OUR SINS in His body on the tree,

that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

  John also captures this vitally important truth in writing (1Jn.4:10) - -

God loved us and sent His Son to be THE PROPITIATION FOR OUR SINS

  Perhaps the most explicit testimony of Scripture in this regard comes from Gal.3:13, where Paul declares  - -

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, HAVING BECOME A CURSE FOR US

These Biblical citations are not wild speculations on the part of Paul, Peter and John.

Rather they are anchored deeply in the prophecies of God given through the prophet Isaiah (Isa.53:6, 10 & 12) - -


  The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief if He would RENDER HIMSELF AS A GUILT OFFERING.

  He was numbered with the criminals (transgressors), but HE HIMSELF BORE THE SIN OF THE MANY.

We can safely conclude that THE ULTIMATE AGONY of the cross was that JESUS BECAME SIN FOR US.

In this act of Divine reckoning God reckoned our sins to Jesus’ account and here we see the real crux (pain) of the cross.

By virtue of His holiness and because of His justice, our heavenly Father could not just ignore sin.

We will never fully grasp of the cross of Christ unless we think very deeply about the justice and holiness of God.

The consequences of this day of reckoning had to be hellishly painful for Jesus.

Isa.59:2 states - - your iniquities have made a SEPARATION BETWEEN YOUR AND YOUR GOD,

And your sins HAVE HIDDEN HIS FACE from you, so that HE DOES NOT HEAR.

This hard-to-grasp Biblical declaration becomes a stark reality (even for and especially for Jesus) on the cross event.

Matthew (Mt.27:45-46) records - -

Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour (i.e., from noon till 3pm).

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?

This was the ultimate agony of the cross and it evoked from Jesus that haunting cry of dereliction.

The word “dereliction” speaks of willful neglect or abandonment

Jesus did not just imagine that He was forsaken - - He was indeed GOD-FORSAKEN.

Jesus did not just feel abandoned by God - - He was, in fact, willfully abandoned by God the Father.

In becoming sin on our behalf, Jesus became so vile that God, by His very nature (being holy and just),

was driven to hide His face and cover His ears - - even to the loud crying and tears of His only begotten Son.

As Jesus cried out, God remained inexorable.

This word means, “not capable of being persuaded by entreaty” or “unyielding”.

Earlier in the garden, before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed fervently.  He petitioned God three times,

 “let this cup pass from Me”, yet God’s answer was, No!  cf. Mt.26:39-44 with Lk.22:42-44 

Once again, this time on the cross, Jesus cried in utter anguish, yet God remained firm with His plan to redeem mankind.

We’ll address Heb.5:7 along with Heb.12:2 next Sunday when we speak about, The Joy Of The Cross.

And so, for three hours one Friday, long ago on a hill far way in the city of Jerusalem yet “outside the camp” (Heb.13:13),

as darkness fell upon the land during mid-day when the sun was typically at it brightest, Jesus was FORSAKEN BY GOD.

For this one moment in time, never before and never again thereafter, Jesus was abandoned by His Father.

So when we gather around the Table of the Lord every Sunday to reflect on that old, old story of the cross,

let us think together - - not just of the physical pain (the beating, the bodily abuse and the bloodshed).

Neither let us focus solely on the social shame that Jesus endured in being crucified publicly.

Let us think deeply about the whole story as we focus on that miniscule little Greek word “huper”.

That which makes the cross so terribly wondrous is the fact that He died ON OUR BEHALF.


He rendered Himself as a GUILT OFFERING on our behalf.

In bearing OUR SINS, Jesus became a CURSE for us.

In becoming a propitiation for our sins, Jesus was forsaken by God SO THAT WE MIGHT BE SAVED.

¯ Sing with me. ¯

Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free.

For God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me - - TO LOOK ON HIM AND PARDON ME.

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