Chapter 3 A Triple Crucifixion

The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Galatians 6:14).

The Galatian believers were in danger of going back to dead forms and ceremonies. They came under the searching eye of the anointed Apostle Paul as to the reality of their faith. He could detect a note of falseness in them. They would like to have added something to the cross to relieve it of its reproach. The carnal ordinances of the Old Testament dispensation had great sensual effect. The symbolic rites were a mighty spectacle to the senses. But Paul’s “God forbid” stopped them in their tracks. He sets before them three crosses which make up true, living, Christian experience.

Christ Crucified

“The cross”—there it is in all its ruggedness and fearsomeness. There is a movement of Satan today which expresses itself through supposedly refined intellects and which substitutes the word “death” for “cross.” They would like to conceal the manner of our Lord’s death to hide its hideous nature. It was something associated with crime, ignominy, and shame. But no cotton wool must be wrapped around that cross to hide what it really was. It was a Roman gibbet, and Paul did not hide the shame of it.

The cross was a synonym for all the sufferings and sorrows which made up our Lord’s life on earth and which ended in the cross. It was the mark of the curse. So our Lord died an accursed and ignominious death on the cross. Who can measure the afflictions and sufferings which our Lord underwent on that gibbet of shame? Hear His prophetic cry in Psalm 69:1-2: “Save Me, O God; for the waters are come in unto My soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow Me.” Hence His sufferings on the cross are called a baptism.

There was the buffeting and the spitting, the piercing of His hands and feet, but far deeper were the vials of God’s wrath poured upon Him as the sinners’ Substitute so that “terrors took hold of Him as waters” until He was “sore amazed” and “exceedingly sorrowful.” Drops of sweat fell as “great drops of blood” to the ground as the bitter waters began to flood His holy soul. Such was the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The World Crucified

“The world is crucified unto me.” The apostle looked upon the world as carrion—unfit for human consumption. It is a world organization against God and against His Christ. It has no life with which to sustain the life of a believer, but is a dry and barren place—“dry, parched, and thirsty ground.” The world is the great Babylon of Revelation and is doomed to fall.

This world may be a very rough place for the believer and a true follower of the Lord will meet with many difficulties, trials, and afflictions. Its principles and practices are quite other than the Lord’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Everything in it is a snare and trap and pit, and the only safe reaction to the world is to reckon it as a crucified felon—a carcass nailed to the cross.

The world is vastly appealing to the flesh. It makes its appeal to every temperament. It has a religion—the religion of Cain, which would even recognize God, but come before Him with the fruit of its own toil to justify itself. It has recreation, commerce, education, but none of these have any place for God’s Beloved. It has its honors which it heaps on men, many of whom are sunk in shameful dissipation. It has its riches which allure men to spend the whole of life in their pursuit.

This was the world which the apostle spoke of as being crucified unto him. He was not enslaved by its pursuits, enamored by its honors, entertained by its pleasures, bound by its principles, influenced by its smiles, or governed by its spirit. Nor did he fear its threatenings, for they could do no more than kill the outward body. The world was crucified unto him by the cross of Christ.

The Believer Crucified

“I [am crucified] unto the world.” The world scorned Paul as it did his Lord. They must have esteemed him most highly when as a student he sat at the feet of Gamaliel and then blossomed into a great authority of Hebrew learning, a Pharisee of the Pharisees in his strict adherence to every jot and tittle of the law. He had one of the greatest minds ever given to men—a man of great power in logical thinking.

But when Paul was saved by the Lord and began to preach Christ and Him crucified, then the world thought him mad. Indeed, Festus, the Roman governor, cried with a loud voice while Paul was making his defense before king Agrippa: “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (Acts 26:24).

And if that scorn came from a Roman, what shall we say was poured upon the great apostle by Jewry? What conflict arose as soon as he went forth to preach the glad tidings! We read that at Thessalonica “the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar” (Acts 17:5).

When made to face the chief priests and all their council, Ananias, the high priest, had him struck on the mouth (Acts 23:2). We read in the same chapter that more than forty Jews made a compact that they would eat nothing until they had slain him. Both Jews and Gentiles despised him as “the offscouring of this world.” Paul was as carrion to the world for so he was reckoned by the world.

Jesus Christ, Thou King of glory,
Born a Saviour—Prince to be,
While the angel hosts adore Thee,
We joy in Thee,
Singing of Thy grace the story,
Praise, praise to Thee.

Thou the ransom price hast given,
Setting thus the captive free;
Thou art Lord of earth and Heaven;
We joy in Thee.
Through Thy blood we stand forgiven,
Praise, praise to Thee.

Risen Lord! at Thy returning
Sweet and full our song shall be;
Hasting to that blissful morning,
We joy in Thee,
Thou hast read our spirit’s yearning,
Praise, praise to Thee.

H. K. Burlingham