Under The Cross

Title: Under The Cross

Bible Book: Romans 10

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Cross; Salvation; Christian Living; Paul, The Apostle



We have seen Paul coming to the cross. We have seen him at the cross. Now we will see him under the cross. Like all believers, he was instructed by our Lord to take up his cross and follow Him. Paul obeyed the Lord so completely that the person and ministry of the Apostle to the Gentiles seems bigger than life. Let me hasten to add that it was not because Paul sought glory for himself. In fact, he called himself the least of the apostles. There are those who do seek glory, honor, and even wealth from the Cross, today as well as back then. Simon of Samaria (Acts 8), who practiced sorcery, sought a supernatural gift for his own selfish reasons. He thought he could turn the gift into a profit. Peter rebuked him, “May your silver be destroyed with you, because you thought the gift of God could be obtained with money! You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:20‑21, HCSB).

Others, like Diotrephes, sought honor, position, and glory. John assessed his motives and addressed the issues:

“I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have first place among them, does not receive us. This is why, if I come, I will remind him of the works he is doing, slandering us with malicious words. And he is not satisfied with that! He not only refuses to welcome the brothers himself, but he even stops those who want to do so and expels them from the church” (3 John 1:9‑10).

By contrast, John wrote of another member:

“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God. Demetrius has a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. And we also testify for him, and you know that our testimony is true” (3 John 1:11‑12).

There have always been people who missed the meaning of the cross. The cross does not represent a club, a society, an honor, or a worldly fraternity. Its purpose is not man’s profit or pleasure. The Cross - the cross to which Paul went, the cross to which all true believers must go - is still the Old Rugged Cross. In Jesus’ day it represented a horrible, painful, shameful death.

In Planet In Rebellion, George Vandeman wrote: "It was May 21, 1946. The place - Los Alamos. A young and daring scientist was carrying out a necessary experiment in preparation for the atomic test to be conducted in the waters of the South Pacific atoll at Bikini. "He had successfully performed such an experiment many times before. In his effort to determine the amount of U-235 necessary for a chain reaction--scientists call it the critical mass--he would push two hemispheres of uranium together. Then, just as the mass became critical, he would push them apart with his screwdriver, thus instantly stopping the chain reaction. But that day, just as the material became critical, the screwdriver slipped! The hemispheres of uranium came too close together. Instantly the room was filled with a dazzling bluish haze. Young Louis Slotin, instead of ducking and thereby possibly saving himself, tore the two hemispheres apart with his hands and thus interrupted the chain reaction. By this instant, self-forgetful daring, he saved the lives of the seven other persons in the room. . . as he waited. . for the car that was to take him to the hospital, he said quietly to his companion, 'You'll come through all right. But I haven't the faintest chance myself.' It was only too true. Nine days later he died in agony. [George Vandeman, Planet in Rebellion].

To Paul, the cross first meant salvation. It also meant sanctification. When he took up his cross and followed Jesus he was facing a life of suffering, sacrifice, isolation, torture, and finally death. The cross is not a talisman, amulet, or good luck charm. It stands for death. Paul understood that when he placed his faith in Christ he was crucified with Him, and to be crucified with Christ means to be crucified to the world. A. W. Tozer, whom the Lord used to bless so many of His saints, made a profound statement about the cross: “The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.” I wish we could dispute those words but I am afraid it is getting worse rather than better. If we are ever going to see America turn back to the Lord I believe we are going to have to lay down the new cross and take up the Old Rugged Cross. Now, I would like for us to look once again Paul and the cross.


A. He Had Been to the Cross.

The story of Paul’s conversion is recorded in the Ninth Chapter of Acts, the book of history in the New Testament. His conversion was accompanied by phenomenal manifestations of the presence of Jesus Christ. He was blinded by a bright light. The Lord confronted him with his rebellion, and made it clear that the young Pharisee was persecuting Jesus Himself. He had hated the name, as he hated His followers. He had persecuted the saints in Jerusalem and then he had gone to the high priest to ask for authorization to take the persecution to Damascus. On the road to Damascus he met the Savior and he came face to face with the issue of the cross. It was true after all! The One who had been crucified was indeed alive for evermore. The reports of the resurrection had not been fabricated. The risen Lord was speaking to him personally. Let me stress that Paul was not saved by a blinding light. He was saved by the grace of God when he exercised the faith God supplied (Ephesians 2:8). The blinding light, however, was not something he imagined.

B. He Had Been Called to Take up the Cross.

At the time of his conversion of the road to Damascus, nothing is said about his call. That came three days after he arrived in Damascus. The Lord sent Ananias to lay his hand of Saul and pray for him. The Lord appeared to Ananias and gave him instructions:

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on Your name” (9:13-14).

“But the Lord said to him, “Go! For this man is My chosen instrument to carry My name before Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel. I will certainly show him how much he must suffer for My name!” (Acts 9:15‑16).

C. He Had Been Empowered to Take up the Cross, Romans 9:18.

1) No one can bear the cross in the flesh. Paul explains this in his First Epistle to the Corinthians:

“Now God has revealed them to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the concerns of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the concerns of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, in order to know what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For: who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:10‑16).

2) One can only bear the cross in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that He would send the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower His church: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Now, let’s see what difference it made when Paul received the Holy Spirit:

“So Ananias left and entered the house. Then he placed his hands on him and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. And after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul was with the disciples in Damascus for some days. Immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: “He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:17-20).

“But all who heard him were astounded and said, “Isn’t this the man who, in Jerusalem, was destroying those who called on this name, and then came here for the purpose of taking them as prisoners to the chief priests?” But Saul grew more capable, and kept confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this One is the Messiah” (Acts 9:18‑22).


A. Paul Would Bear It Before Israel.

1) The Apostle to the Gentiles was also sent to Israel. Paul wrote to the Galatians that it was agreed in the Jerusalem Conference (A. D. 51; Acts 15 & Gal. 2) that Peter and John would concentrate on a ministry to the Jews and he to the Gentiles. That did not mean that Paul would not minister to the people of Israel or to Jews in other places.

“But the Lord said to him, “Go! For this man is My chosen instrument to carry My name before Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel. I will certainly show him how much he must suffer for My name!” (Acts 9:15‑16).

2) Paul was obedient to the call. Luke recorded that, “Immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: ‘He is the Son of God.” Paul made it a practice to go to the synagogue and when went he preached Jesus to the people of Israel.

3) He began his ministry in every city by going to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Paul, led of the Holy Spirit, developed a missions strategy for taking the Gospel into a new province. He followed the major Roman roads to the major cities, and there engaged people in the market places. On the Sabbath, however, he went to the synagogue, where he was invited to address the congregation. He delivered a message that followed the Messianic Covenant from Abraham to Jesus. Often, when he came to the Resurrection, the synagogue turned him away and he turned to the Gentiles, but he never forgot his kinsmen. He longed for their salvation. In Romans, he wrote, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation!” (Romans 10:1).

4) He never turned his back on Israel, even when persecuted by the Jews. He expressed his great burden for his people in his letter to the Romans:

“For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my countrymen by physical descent. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises” (Romans 9:2‑4).

5) Paul always remembered God’s promise to Israel. Paul was aware of the significance of the term, God’s Chosen People. God had entered a covenant with Israel, and though they failed to keep their part of the covenant, God is always faithful to keep His end of it. That was true of the Messianic Covenant, and it is true of Israel. He wrote, “I ask, then, has God rejected His people? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew” (Romans 11:1‑2).

Paul was inspired to add, “What then? Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened, as it is written: God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear, to this day” (Romans 11:7‑8). Make no mistake about it, God loves Israel, but the only Jews who will be saved are the ones who come to Him through Jesus Christ.

In a panel discussion on Fox news, early in 2006, the question was asked about the tension between religious groups. Of course, no one will come out and say it, but the simple fact is that the world is not worried about Christian terrorists or Jewish terrorists. The terrorists are Muslims. The media kept reporting in 2005 that “pirates” had attacked ships in some sea. Finally, Rush Limbaugh said, “They are not pirates, they are terrorists!” He pointed out that they were from a radical Islamic country and they were attacking, or trying to attack cruise ships, carrying westerners.

I believe they had a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim imman, and other religious leaders on some panel. At one point, the Jewish rabbi stated that all the tension between the religions began centuries ago when Christians began proclaiming that if one wanted to go to heaven he had to go through Jesus. He was right, and that is still a fact. A Jewish friend had attended a funeral service for a Christian. He told me that he asked his rabbi, “Why do they always have to bring up Jesus at those funerals?” Sadly, some today are not saying much about Jesus in funeral services. Regardless of the attitude of my Jewish friend, Jesus is still the only name known among men whereby you must be saved (Acts 4:12).

B. Paul Would Bear the Cross Before Kings.

1. He often stood before Roman officials.

1) Paul and Barnabas appeared before proconsul on Cyprus. After proclaiming the Word of God throughout the Island, Barnabas and Paul encountered an interesting man.

“He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and desired to hear God’s message. But Elymas, the sorcerer, which is how his name is translated, opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.

“Then Saul—also called Paul—filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at the sorcerer and said, “You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? Now, look! The Lord’s hand is against you: you are going to be blind, and will not see the sun for a time.” Suddenly a mist and darkness fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul, seeing what happened, believed and was astonished at the teaching about the Lord” (Acts 13:7‑12).

2) In Philippi, Paul and Silas were flogged and thrown into jail by the authorities. Soon after their arrival in Philippi, they encountered a girl whose demonic gifts were making a profit for her owners.

“Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit of prediction and made a large profit for her owners by fortune‑telling. As she followed Paul and us she cried out, “These men are the slaves of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” And she did this for many days.

But Paul was greatly aggravated, and turning to the spirit, said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out right away” (Acts 16:16‑18).

According to Luke’s account, the owners provoked the people and

“Then the mob joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had inflicted many blows on them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to keep them securely guarded. Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks” (Acts 16:22-24).

Luke records one of the best known stories in the Bible:

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped.

But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because all of us are here!”

Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Act 16:25-31).

Paul’s Roman citizenship served him well on a number of occasions. Here, it was not only his Roman citizenship, but the courage to take advantage of it.

“When daylight came, the chief magistrates sent the police to say, “Release those men!” The jailer reported these words to Paul: “The magistrates have sent orders for you to be released. So come out now and go in peace.”

But Paul said to them, “They beat us in public without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to smuggle us out secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out!

Then the police reported these words to the magistrates. And they were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. So they came and apologized to them, and escorting them out, they urged them to leave town. After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and departed” (Acts 16:35‑40).

3) Paul stood before the Roman governors in Caesarea. He had been rescued from a hostile Jewish mob in Jerusalem and slipped out of the city and transferred to Caesarea, where he appeared before Governor Felix and reasoned with him about righteousness, temperance, and the judgment to come. Felix sent him away after becoming disturbed by what he had heard. However, he got over that conviction and sent for Paul often to give him an opportunity to offer him a bribe. We read the account in Acts 24.

4) Paul also appeared before Festus, who succeeded Felix.

Then Festus, wanting to do a favor for the Jews, replied to Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem, there to be tried before me on these charges?”

“But Paul said: “I am standing at Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as even you can see very well. If then I am doing wrong, or have done anything deserving of death, I do not refuse to die, but if there is nothing to what these men accuse me of, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar!”

After Festus conferred with his council, he replied, “You have appealed to Caesar; to Caesar you will go!” (Acts 25:9‑12).

5) Paul appeared before King Agrippa,. When King Agrippa visited the area, Festus told him about Paul and King Agrippa wanted to hear him. When Paul had an audience with King Agrippa, he shared his personal testimony with him. When he finished, both Festus and King Agrippa responded:

As he was making his defense this way, Festus exclaimed in a loud voice, “You’re out of your mind, Paul! Too much study is driving you mad!”

But Paul replied, “I’m not out of my mind, most excellent Festus. On the contrary, I’m speaking words of truth and good judgment. For the king knows about these matters. It is to him I am actually speaking boldly. For I’m not convinced that any of these things escapes his notice, since this was not done in a corner! King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe.”

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily?” (Acts 26:24‑28).

Festus thought he was mad. King Agrippa, contrary to what you may have heard, was no where close to being saved. The KJV state that he declared that he was almost persuaded to become a Christian. In reality, Agrippa was astonished that Paul was trying to convert him so easily.

2. Paul was eventually sent to Rome where he appeared before officials there. We are not given a lot of details, but we do know that he was imprisoned there, and that he could receive visitors. Those visitors included Christians from the church at Rome as well as special guests from other places. The Philippian church sent Epaphroditus to minister to him. He wrote and asked Timothy to come. It is possible that other well known Christians visited him. He stated that John Mark, who had deserted on the First Missionary Journey, had become valuable to him.

Paul was released at one point and probably went to Spain, and then back to Ephesus. He left Timothy there to instruct the people while he went on to Macedonia. He wrote to Timothy to offer encouragement and instructions for the work in Ephesus.

Paul was later arrested and taken back to Rome. This time he would be beheaded for the cause of Christ. This was an advantage of Roman citizenship. It was a brutal and bloody end, but it was over in a second, while those hanging on a cross often stayed there for days in agony beyond description.

C. Paul Was Specifically Called to Bear the Cross Before Gentiles

1) Paul was specifically called to take the Gospel to Gentile lands. On the First Missionary Journey, he and Barnabas took the Gospel to the Island of Cypress, and then on to the region of Galatia. On the Second Missionary Journey, Paul and Silas visited churches established on the first mission trip. They were joined by Timothy and Luke as they pushed on into new areas. There was yet a Third Missionary Journey in which the Gospel was proclaimed and churches were established or strengthened.

2) This opened the door for you and me. God loves both Jews and Gentiles. He had intended Israel to be a priestly nation, taking His message of salvation to the Gentiles. They neglected, or should we say, rejected that part of His call, just as so many Christians today make no attempt to take the Gospel to Jewish people. I saw a tour bus in the WalMart parking lot in West Monroe, LA a few years ago. I drove over and tapped on the door. Someone opened the door and I asked the individual about the sign on the bus: JEWS FOR YESHUA. I had a nice visit with a few members of their choir group which was on tour. A security guard came over and told one of the people they would have to move the bus. The bus was a long distance from the entrance and some distance from any other cars. The man told the guard that he had no key to move the bus, but that the driver would be right back. I was thinking that, instead of asking them to move the bus, someone should have been calling the local TV stations and the newspaper office to see if someone wanted a great story.

I thanked those people that day. I am a Gentile, grafted into that which God began with Israel. On the other hand, we must never assume that all Jews will eventually be saved. Without Jesus there is no hope for anyone.

3) When Paul was forced out of the synagogues he always turned to the Gentiles. When he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, he was asked to speak. It was obvious that he was a visiting scholar, which opened a lot of doors. He proclaimed the Word of God, showing that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God. The people listened until he got to the resurrection and then many turned against him. He was forced our of the synagogue and taking the believing Jews and Gentile believers and Gentiles who were interested in hearing more, Paul would then find a place and begin a church. There was one really interesting group at the synagogue. They were Gentile women who found a religion in Judaism that afforded them a dignity they never found in paganism. These Gentile women were some of the first to believe in Jesus.

D. The Apostle to the Gentiles Saw God Graft Gentile Branches onto the True Vine.

“Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them, and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, do not brag that you are better than those branches. But if you do brag—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” True enough; they were broken off by unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either” (Romans 11:17‑21).

You and I should have a deep burden for the people of Israel. We should come before the Lord in sincere humility because He has provided a way for us to be grafted into the vine, which is Israel. It is amazing how many branched there are who have been grafted into the vine who are bearing no fruit today. In fact, they show little sign of life. You have to ask them to determine whether or not they are branches. In reality, some are dead branches that have not yet been carried away. Joining a church does not make a part of that vine, or of the True Vine, Jesus. We must believe in Jesus Christ and experience the new birth.

Paul never compromised in his call to bear the cross before Gentiles. He battled the Judaizers as the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15; Galatians 2). He refused to compromise, taking Titus as a test case, determined that he would never compromise the Gospel. We are saved through faith in Jesus, not through anything physical, whether circumcision, baptism, or good works.


A. All Who Have Been to the Cross Are Ordered to Take up the Cross.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19‑20).

B. Many Today Bear the Cross Faithfully.

1) There are evangelists - like Billy Graham. There are many other evangelists who faithfully serve the Lord where He sends them. The fact that they are not as well known as Billy Graham does not mean that they are of less value to the Lord or His kingdom.

2) There are pastors - like Alan Weishampel. Ever hear of Alan Weishampe? You have heard of pastors of the really big churches. For years, we heard of the late Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, Jerry Vines, James Kennedy, and John MacArthur. For ever Adrain Rogers, there are countless Alan Weishampels, who serve the Lord faithfully where He calls them. Alan led as two churches became one in the Lake Charles area. He has led as his church has struggled to overcome the destruction caused by Hurricane Rita.

3) There are the denominational workers - like Lonnie Wascom. Do you know Lonnie Wascom? I have know him for years. He is a Director of Missions in south Louisiana who is helping churches and pastors as they try to rebuild churches, homes, and lives after the disaster called Katrina.

4) There are the special ministries - like that of Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association. There is Franklin Graham, founder of the Samaritan’s Purse, and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

5) There are those who are given special opportunities - like Dr. Al Moeller, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who is often given an opportunity to comment on news events. I spoke with Dr. Moeller and other seminary presidents, Dr. Chuck Kelley (New Orleans Seminary) and Dr. Paige Patterson (Southwestern Seminary) at the Retirement Celebration for Dr. Jimmy Draper, who had served so faithfully as president of LifeWay Christian Resources. One of the most incredible things Jimmy Draper did was to help prepare the way for his successor, Dr. Thom Rainer, who was inaugurated as president on February 6, 2000, as the medallion on my desk reminds me. These men all serve in key positions. Their ministry is very important, but I found the men to be humble and down to earth. I like to see Franklin Graham on Hannity and Colmes because there is no way they will get him off the air before he tells you how to be saved. Jerry Falwell has been dismissed by the media as a right-wing fundamentalist, but have you ever listened to that man respond to questions in an interview? And, there is Dr. James Dopson.

6) Then, there is you, my friend. You have a ministry and that ministry is important and it is special. God may not have called you to pastor a church, preach before the television cameras, hold great crusades, or go to the mission field, but He has commanded you to take up the cross and follow him to your workplace - Franklin Graham may not be able to get into the mill or the classroom, but you go there every day. He and I have been praying for Dr. Leon Hyatt, who had surgery March, 29, 2006. As soon as I learned that Dr. Hyatt had come through the surgery and the family received the word that there was no cancer, I e-mailed Jimmy. He sent word back that he had already put a note in the mail to Leon. Dr. Draper may not be in able to go into the surgery waiting room with your family and friends, but you are there. You are also His witness and He will empower you to be an effective witness (Acts 1:8).

The Great Commission, literally tells you to be a witness for Jesus, as you are going (wherever you are going) throughout the world. That includes the ball park, the hospital, the mall, or the plant. Paul had a unique call. So do you. He was called to take up the cross and follow Jesus. So are you.


Vance Havner once said, “We need men of the cross, with the message of the cross, bearing the marks of the cross.

When I survey the wondrous cross,

On which the Prince of Glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God;

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down;

Did e’re such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

If you were to look at Rembrandt's painting of The Three Crosses, your attention would be drawn first to the center cross on which Jesus died. Then as you would look at the crowd gathered around the foot of that cross, you'd be impressed by the various facial expressions and actions of the people involved in the awful crime of crucifying the Son of God. Finally, your eyes would drift to the edge of the painting and catch sight of another figure, almost hidden in the shadows. Art critics say this is a representation of Rembrandt himself, for he recognized that by his sins he helped nail Jesus to the cross.

Your sins put Jesus on the cross. On the cross, He poured out His life’s blood for you. At the cross, you can find life eternal. Once you place your trust in Jesus Christ, He invites you - no, commands you to take up your cross and follow Him. We are going to invite you to do that right now.

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