The crux of the matter

SERMON TOPIC: The crux of the matter

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 15 April 2022


Sermon synopsis: The word CRUX comes from the Latin crux “cross”
The basic, central, or critical point or feature: the crux of the matter; the crux of an argument.

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Crucifixion (literally “fixed to a cross”) is often said to have originated in Persia. While the Persians used a stake, the Romans created the practice as we think of it today, using an upright post and a crossbar.

Crucifixion was both a shameful and a torturous, agonizing death –whereby the person hung on the cross until they slowly died of dehydration, asphyxiation, infection, or other causes.

Because of the long, drawn-out suffering, it was regarded by the Romans as the supreme penalty.

The Romans practiced crucifixion from at least the 3rd century BC until 337 AD when Constantine, the first Christian emperor, banned it out of respect for Jesus and because of the powerful symbolism of the cross in Christianity.



The Word Origin of CRUCIAL: from French, from Latin crux (cross) *


1. of vital or critical importance, esp. with regard to a decision or result: a crucial experiment.

2. Archaic. shaped like a cross; cruciform. *

* http:// crux

The cross is crucial because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Heb 9:22, ESV)

It cancels our sin and record of debt:

Col 2:13-14 (ESV) And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

The cross brings peace and unity. It brought reconciliation between estranged parties – man and God:

1 Pet 3:18 (NASB) For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God …

Col 1:19-20 (NIV) For God was pleased … through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

It also brought reconciliation between other formerly estranged parties – Jew and Gentile:

Eph 2:16 (NIV) and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.


The cross inaugurates the New Covenant.

Luke 22:20 (NKJV) Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

At the Last Supper Jesus interprets his death as bringing in the new covenant. It is by his body and blood that his new community is formed. Just as the people of Israel were sprinkled with blood as they entered a covenant with Yahweh, so the disciples are members of the new community by the pouring out of Jesus’s blood. *

* 10 Things You Should Know about the Cross -March 30, 2018 by: Patrick Schreiner



Substitution is one of the major themes in the Bible.

God allowed the Israelites a substitute to pay the price for their sin, in the form of blood sacrifices. By sacrificing an innocent animal they could have their sins covered. The animal died as a substitute - in the sinner’s place, thereby allowing them to go unpunished.

On the cross, Jesus would become the sacrificial lamb to take away the sin of others.

John 1:29 (NKJV) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

In Leviticus 16 we read about the scapegoat. The elders of Israel would place their hands on the goat, symbolically transferring the sins of the people onto it. The animal was then released into the wilderness - facing certain death - bearing the sins of the people far away.

Jesus was our “scapegoat”. He said that “the Son of Man” came “to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

1 Tim 2:5-6 (ESV) … Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all …

He did this because he “loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal 2:20, NASB)

1 John 3:16 (NASB) We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us …

The Passover feast featured a substitute. God warned his people to prepare for the coming destroyer who would strike down the firstborn male in every family.

The only way to escape the plague was to kill a lamb and put its blood on the lintels and doorposts of the house. The Passover lamb was a substitute for every male firstborn.

Jesus was crucified on Passover – he was the substitutionary Passover lamb.

Mattt 26:2 (NIV) “… the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

1 Cor 5:7 (NIV) For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

The cross is for us, in our place, on our behalf. Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, "instead of" them. He is “the good shepherd” who “lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

Gal 1:3-4 (NIV)… the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age…

Just as Abraham looked up and saw a ram to offer as an offering in the place of Isaac (Gen 22:13), so too we look up and see Jesus as our replacement sacrifice.


The substitutionary nature of our redemption is beautifully foretold in the famous passage about the Suffering Servant.

Isa 53:12 (NKJV) And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

Isa 53:5 (NKJV) But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

He did this because we were helpless, lost sheep:

Isa 53:6 (NKJV) All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

1 Pet 2:24-25 (NASB) and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Rom 5:6 (NASB) For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

We see Jesus “because of the suffering of death” would “taste death for everyone.” (Heb 2:9, NASB)

By dying in our place, it is as if we died:

2 Cor 5:14 (NASB) For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died

Gal 2:20 (NASB) 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…

The desired end result was:

2 Cor 5:21 (NASB) He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Cor 5:15 (NASB) and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Titus 2:14 (NASB) who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

The result of Christ’s substitutionary death is that whether we are alive or dead, we will ultimately be with him.

1 Thess 5:10 (NASB) who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.

Heb 9:28 (NASB) so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.


Crucifixion was originally reserved for slaves and later extended to citizens of the lower classes, being used to punish slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state. *

The Roman educator, Quintillian (c. 35–95 AD) approved of crucifixion as a penalty for low-status criminals, and noted that its use as a (psychological) deterrent was best employed when the crosses were set up along the busiest roads (Declamations 274). **

* https:// wiki/ Crucifixion

** Mark Finney, Servile Supplicium: Shame and the Deuteronomic Curse—Crucifixion in Its Cultural Context

Spartacus was a famous gladiator who was one of the escaped leaders in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. The Senate charged Crassus with ending the rebellion.

6000 survivors of the slave revolt were captured by the legions of Crassus and crucified, lining the Appian Way from Rome to Capua.

Jesus died the death of a slave to set us free from slavery to sin.

John 8:34-36 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

He calls us friends not slaves:

John 15:13 (NASB) “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.”


The Jewish historian Josephus, who witnessed live crucifixions during Titus' siege on Jerusalem, called it “the most wretched of deaths.”

Since crucifixion was associated with the lower classes, especially slaves, the Romans refrained, under most circumstances, from crucifying Roman citizens, considering it too shameful and ignominious a death … *

* Mark Finney, Servile Supplicium: Shame and the Deuteronomic Curse—Crucifixion in Its Cultural Context

The Roman statesman, Cicero (106-43 BC) expressed horrified disgust at the crucifixion of Gavius, a Roman citizen:

...that Italy might see her son, as he hung there, suffer the worst extreme of the tortures inflicted upon slaves. To bind a Roman citizen is a crime, to flog him an abomination, to slay him is almost an act of murder: to crucify him is—what? There is no fitting word that can possibly describe so horrible a deed. *

* Against Verres 2.5.169–70


The cross of Christ was a form of public disgrace:

Heb 6:6 (NIV) … because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Jesus endured it as a form of humbling himself:

Phil 2:8 (NIV) And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Part of the shame included being hung naked.

Psalm 22:18 (NIV) They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

The victims were stripped of their clothes and put on public display while they were slowly tortured to death. It was intended to be a humiliation of the person, who had to hang naked, in full view of passersby, until they died.

He hung naked so that I can be clothed in righteousness.

Rev 7:9 (NIV) a great multitude that no one could count… standing before the throne… They were wearing white robes …

Rev 19:8 (NASB) It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

But Jesus was also mocked.

Psalm 22:7-8 (NIV) All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Matt 27:41-43 (NIV) In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “… He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

Jesus was publicly shamed in our place:

1 Pet 21-22 (NIV) … Christ suffered for you … “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.

But he disregarded the shame for his anticipated joy at redeeming us.

Heb 12:2 (NIV) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame…


Deut 21:23 (Brenton Septuagint Translation) his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but ye shall by all means bury it in that day; for every one that is hanged on a tree is cursed of God …

Matthew Henry: Those who see a man thus hanging between heaven and earth, will conclude him abandoned of both, and unworthy of either. Moses, by the Spirit, uses this phrase of being accursed of God, when he means no more than being treated most disgracefully, that it might afterward be applied to the death of Christ, and might show that in it he underwent the curse of the law for us …

Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm i.e., while written by David it has a secondary application to Christ who was the “Son of David”.

Psalm 22:1-2 (NIV) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.


It was quoted in part by Jesus on the cross who applied it to himself.

Matt 27:46 (NKJV) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Jesus was forsaken by God on our behalf.

He took our curse by becoming a curse for us:

Gal 3:13 (NKJV) Christ has 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”)

People thought he was under God’s curse for his own sake, but he was taking upon himself the curse intended for us.

Isa 53:4 (NKJV) Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted


The world is offended because of the substitutionary salvation of the cross. People like to think they can earn salvation by legalism and good works.

Gal 5:11 (NIV) Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.

Gal 6:12 (NIV) Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

1 Cor 1:22-23 (NIV) Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles…’

A stumbling-block to Jews: “they having looked for a glorious and victorious Messiah, who should rescue them from all their enemies, and exalt them to wealth, dignity, and power … (Benson)

The Greeks looked for wise arguments, which they may comprehend by their intellect and wisdom.

In a PBS television series the narrator said, “Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central focus the suffering and degradation of its God.” It is not an inherently attractive message, until spiritual eyes of sight are granted. The world looks at the cross and sees weakness, irrationality, hate, and disgust. In the early decades of the Christian movement the scandal of the cross was most self-evident thing about it. It was not only the death of the Messiah, but the manner of his death that is an offense. *

* 10 Things You Should Know about the Cross -March 30, 2018by: Patrick Schreiner

While the gospel may appear foolish, it has power to save. Paul says that Christ sent him “to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 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.” (1 Cor 1:17-18, NIV)



Power and wisdom:

1 Cor 1:22-25 (NIV) … we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

2 Cor 13:4 (NIV) or to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power…


It was because it was “foolishness” and an unlikely means of attaining victory that Satan and the fallen angelic rulers misunderstood it and were unwitting accomplices in bringing it to pass.

1 Cor 2:8 (NIV) None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The seeming defeat at the cross turns out to be the means whereby Satan and his forces are vanquished.

Col 2:15 (NIV) And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

In his book “The Crucified King,” Jeremy Treat writes, “The cross represents not only the great exchange (substitutionary atonement), but also the great transition (the eschatological turn of the ages).”

A cosmic eruption occurred at Calvary; a new apocalyptic force entered the world and the old order was conquered by a new order.

Heb 2:9 (NASB) But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour …

When Christ rose from the dead he was seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power (Eph. 2:20–21).

Acts 2:36 (NIV) “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Heb 12:2 (NIV) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.



The word CRUX comes from the Latin crux “cross” *

The basic, central, or critical point or feature: the crux of the matter; the crux of an argument.

* http:// crux


The crucifixion of Jesus is a pivotal truth of the Christian gospel. It is the centre of the story of Scripture.

Paul writes to the Corinthians:

1 Cor 2:1-2 (NIV) When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.


Jesus said the cross would be the means of drawing men to him.

John 12:32 (NIV) “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

John 3:14-15 (NIV) Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.


A Bible without a cross is a Bible without a climax, a Bible without an ending, a Bible without a solution. The spiral of sin that began in Genesis 3 must be stopped; the death of Jesus terminates the downward spiral. In Jesus’s body, he took on the sin of the world and paid the price of all humanity. At the cross the new Adam, Abraham, Moses, David arises to create a new humanity, family, and kingdom. That is why Paul doesn’t say he decided to knowing nothing except the incarnation, resurrection, or the ascension of Jesus, but the nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). *

* 10 Things You Should Know about the Cross - by Patrick Schreiner

The cross was the basis of the apostles’ message:

Gal 3:1 (NIV) You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.

We cannot boast of obtaining salvation by works. We can only boast about the power of the cross.

Gal 6:14 (NIV) May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

As in Paul’s day, a strange and false gospel is preached by some today.

Gal 1:6-8 (NIV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!

THE TRUE GOSPEL IS: Jesus Christ and him crucified.

When evangelizing or in our mission efforts, stick to the simplicity of the gospel. Don’t attempt to doctor the gospel to make it more palatable to a different culture. Paul discovered that the power of the gospel was in preaching “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).

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