Palms Baptist Church
What Happened at the Cross?
January 23, 2022

What Happened at the Cross?

January 23, 2022

Garrison Keillor of Minnesota Public Radio (1974-2016) tells of being a freshman at Minnesota University. He had a job reading news for the campus radio, WMMR. At the end of the year, the students discovered the transmitter had been switched off for the entire school year.

Keillor is most famous for his radio variety show and stories from Lake Wobegon. He tells the story of his family thanksgiving. He says that every year, Uncle John would pray. He would thank God for Jesus, and then remember that Jesus had died for his sins and begin to weep at the thanksgiving table.

Keillor writes, “Everybody in the family knew that Uncle John couldn’t pray without talking about the cross and crying… sure enough, Uncle John prayed, talked about the cross, and cried. Meanwhile, the rest of us shifted nervously from one foot to the other and longed for the prayer to end. All of us knew Jesus died on the cross for us, but Uncle John had never gotten over it.”

A short chronology of events surrounding the crucifixion:

  • Jesus was put through a series of trials. Finally Pontius Pilate ordered he be scourged and then at the people’s urging, crucified.
  • Around 8am, Jesus was lead away. He stumbled while carrying his cross,a nd Simon of Cyrene carried the cross to Golgotha, the execution site.
  • 9am, Jesus was crucified. He would hang on the cross from around 9am to 3pm.
  • Crucifixion involved nailing square spikes into the wrists (not hands) to support the weight of the body. These spikes would spear the media nerve, making his arms feel on fire. One doctor writes, “Have you ever had the dentist touch a nerve with his drill? That is only a very small nerve. The wave of pain that followed the piercing of the great median nerve in the wrist is known only to someone who has had an arm or leg cut off. It caused the muscles of the arm, neck, head, and chest to contract and cramp in atrocious agony.”
  • Some victims of crucifixion hung for more than 8 days. Victims died by affixation, not blood loss.
  • As Jesus hung, the soldiers cast lots for his clothing.
  • Luke 23:34, Jesus prayed that God would forgive them.
  • 10am, Jesus was insulted and mocked. People passing reminded him that he said he would destroy the temple, yet here he was nailed to a cross. Religious leaders laughed that he saved others, yet could not save himself.
  • The soldiers offered him sour wine, to deaden some of the pain. He refused to take it.
  • 11am, The criminals crucified with Jesus have a series of short conversations. The first mocked Jesus, while the other asked for salvation. He was promised “paradise” that very day. (Luke 23:43)
  • John 19:26-27, Jesus gave his mother Mary to the care of his disciple, John.
  • Mark 15:33, around noon a strange darkness came over the land to the 9th hour. This was not a solar eclipse, as Passover occurs at the full moon.
  • Jesus called out in Hebrew, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (That is the first line of Ps.22:1, which is a prophecy of the cross.)
  • Jesus called out, “I thirst” and was given wine vinegar.
  • John 19:30, after receiving the sour wine, Jesus called out a legal term, “It is finished.”
  • Luke 23:46: Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
  • Matthew 27:51-54 describe a cluster of unusual miracles as Jesus died. The curtain of the temple was torn, there was an earthquake and long dead saints came out of their tombs.
  • Matthew 27:53, regarding the saints coming from the tombs; I think these are people from the Old Testament rising to give testimony that the cross was the means of salivation for them too. Hear people ask, “How were people in the Old Testament saved?” By faith. Ultimately, they looked toward the cross, just as we put our faith in Christ looking back at the cross.

Three Views of the Atonement:

1. The

  • Matthew 20:28
  • In this view, Christ ransomed us out of captivity by paying our sin debt.
  • To pay, two things would be required: Ability and Standing. He had to have the mans to pay, and be a member of the class that owed the debt. One reason Jesus spent 33 years on earth was to establish his “standing” as a representative of the human race with the funds to pay for our salvation.


  • Latin for “Christ the Victor.”
  • This view was popularized in the 20th Century by Swedish theologian Gustaf Aulén.
  • This view emphasizes that Christ entered into a great conflict and that he defeated the evil powers that held dominion over us. On the cross Jesus triumphed over Satan, evil and Adam’s Curse.
  • Colossians 2:15. Also, Revelation 22:3.

Jesus overcame the curse in Genesis 3:

  • The curse of an adversary. Colossians 2:15
  • The curse of pain. Revelation 21:4
  • The curse of death. Revelation 21:4


  • This is the most famous and popular view since it is the most theologically complete. It was held by Luther and John Calvin.
  • The word “atonement” is the smearing of three English words, “At One Meet.” At one place, enemies meet and become friends. In Hebrew, Atonement (kfar) means to smear or cover. So Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, is literally “the day of covering.”
  • On the cross Jesus took our sins on himself. His death was vicarious; for us.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 emphasizes that Jesus bore the load of humanities sin. He experienced our punishment both physically and spiritually.
  • He diverted the wrath of God (called Propitiation.) See 1 John 2:2.
  • This taking sin on another is pictured in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament.
  • God brought down the Trinity’s wrath on Jesus. Understand, the Trinity is a single. We do not believe in three gods. We are Trinitarian Monotheist. When Jesus died, he not only took the Father’s wrath upon himself toward sin, but the Father poured out the Son’s wrath on the son toward sin.
  • When Jesus said, “my God my God why have you forsaken me?” that is the only time Jesus called the Father, “My God.” Because at that moment he was standing in our shoes.
  • The statement, “I thirst” can be seen spiritually. Seminary president B.H. Caroll described this as not only physical, but Jesus’ soul parched for God.
  • The darkness was also a picture of his spiritual suffering. William Hendricksen writes, “The darkness meant judgment, the judgment of God upon our sins, his wrath as it were burning itself out in the very heart of Jesus, so that he as our Substitute, suffered most intense agony, indescribable woe, terrible isolation or forsakenness. Hell came to Calvary that day and the Savior descended into it and bore its horrors in our stead.”
  • How did Jesus pay for eternal sins in a finite time? Jesus applied his eternal nature to our sin debt and burned it out. He used his immortal eternal nature to smother our sin debt.


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