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PO Box A287 Sydney South NSW 1235 Australia P +61 2 8268 3333 F +61 2 8268 3357 E W Published November 2013 Copyright © Edward Surrey 2013 This book is copyright. Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism and review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of this book may be reproduced by any process without the express permission of the publisher. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® and NIV® are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Use of either trademark for the offering of goods or services requires the prior written consent of Biblica US, Inc. National Library of Australia ISBN 978-1-925041-07-1 Project manager: Derek Nelson Managing editor: Natasha Percy Theological editors: Guangyao Un, Loren Becroft Cover design: Joy Lankshear

CONTENTS Foreword Introduction

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PART 1: GOD IS CROSS AT US 1. Cross purposes—Genesis 3 2. Cross reference—Exodus 12 3. Cross eye—Isaiah 53 Intermission—Cross section

12 23 33 44


Cross roads—Matthew’s Gospel Cross examination—John 19 Crossed line—Romans 5 Star-crossed lovers—1 John 4

54 69 82 94

PART 3: WE CROSS OVER TO GOD 8. Cross to bear—Mark 8 9. Cross culture—1 Peter 10. Cross court—Revelation 5

108 120 131

Glossary—Cross words 140 Acknowledgements 143 Endnotes 145

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INTRODUCTION In each chapter of this book you are introduced to a different person. The details about these people are fictional, but their issues and problems are very real. I hope that, in them, you notice something of people you know, and possibly yourself. Each person encounters a different part of the cross from a different part of the Bible. This means you might find yourself in some less familiar parts of the Bible, or perhaps some parts that you don’t recognise at all. Often the complexity of something is where we see its beauty, and where we begin to appreciate it. Therefore, while I hope the concepts and ideas are clear, they may not always be simple. There is a glossary at the back, which contains a brief explanation of some technical words that are used. These should be explained along the way, but if you forget them, the glossary will be there to help you. Along these lines there are also references which suggest further reading from the Bible or elsewhere. If you don’t read them you won’t miss anything vital. There may be a clarification or further point to add some colour. Not only does each person in this book meet the cross from a different part of the Bible, but from a different angle as well. In the same way you walk around a sculpture to fully admire it, each person helps us to admire the


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full beauty of the cross from another viewpoint. It is worth contemplating, however, how strange it is to look at the cross at all. No-one cares about the death of a plumber 2000 years ago, yet we still talk about how this one carpenter died. The cross was a form of execution, and so it is strange that we hang these crosses up in our buildings, place them around our necks and include them on our tombstones. That means there must be something more to the cross which, like a beautiful sculpture, makes it worth walking around and admiring. The final thing to introduce is that of the names of the characters in each chapter. They are rather mundane, unimaginative names, but this is deliberate. I always remember that in maths exams they asked things like, ‘how much money would Larry and Jamal-Abdul have after buying eight bananas and three oranges?’ It used to make me smile in the middle of the exam at how artificial the names sounded. Rather than trying to be so politically correct, I  have simply chosen the names of nine close friends. They are real people, and so have ordinary, bland English names like Peter and Jonny. It means that the names sound contrived, but that is just the way it is. Enjoy.


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1 CROSS PURPOSES GENESIS 3 My friend Peter is such a nice guy that, although he is mildly allergic to nuts, he eats them when they’re offered to him. After sport, one day he helped a boy on crutches carry his bags to his car. Every other mum waiting expectantly in the car park saw this and thought to themselves: ‘Peter is growing into such a nice young man’. He goes to a semi-religious school with a compulsory weekly Bible class, where the only reason not to fall asleep is the young female teacher. Peter likes her lessons because he likes her. If he is honest, though, he has never really quite got what the big deal is with Christianity. In one lesson the class was asked to write on a piece of paper, anonymously and in one word, what they thought of Jesus. A box was then passed around






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into which each student placed their folded piece of paper. By next week’s class, the teacher had read them all, able to recognise some of the students’ handwriting. She reported to the class that many had written that Jesus was a ‘teacher’, a ‘healer’ or ‘good’. As the students were filing out of class to head for maths, she grabbed Peter by his sleeve. ‘Why did you say that Jesus was “irrelevant”’, she asked him with concern in her voice. ‘Don’t you see that Jesus died for you?’ Nicely, but honestly, Peter replied, ‘I wrote “irrelevant”, Miss, because I couldn’t spell the word “unnecessary”’.

FROM EDEN It was Christmas 1968 and millions of people were tuned into their wireless radios to hear the three astronauts of Apollo 8 circle the dark side of the moon and head for home. They were listening to hear what they would say as, for the first time in history, they saw the earth from that remarkable viewpoint. Suddenly, over the horizon of the moon rose the blue and green earth adorned by the glistening light of the sun against the black void of space. The astronauts did not quote William Shakespeare or Charles Dickens. Instead they read the first words of the Bible from the book of Genesis and from outer space people heard: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’.1 Genesis means ‘beginnings’, and in the beginning we see that God made the earth and he made it perfect: with land and sea, sun and moon, plants and animals, men and women.2 The man and the woman, called Adam and Eve, had the first ever wedding and they spent their honeymoon in this beautiful garden, literally without a worry in the world. While they were carefree, they were not to be careless, so there were three things that Adam and Eve were to look after.





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THE CROSS Firstly, Adam and Eve were to look after the world. They were told to work the land, care for the animals and make things grow. God ensured that they still took a break once a week. Secondly, the couple were to look after each other. Using their unique strengths and differences they were to care for each other, help each other and make a family together. They were so intimately close together in the garden, that they were free to walk around with no clothes on. Finally, Adam and Eve were to look after their relationship with God. God walked with them, and talked to them face to face because they were so intimate with their maker. Because he was God and had made them, they had an incredible relationship. Therefore, Adam and Eve should have listened to God and done what he said. Specifically that meant obeying the following command: ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’ (Genesis 2:16–17)

Essentially, Adam had been given three things to do to keep this paradise going—to eat lots of food (except from this one fruit tree), to work hard (with some time to rest) and to start a family (with his naked wife). People often complain about things the Bible says, and raise objections, but never about this chapter. Then Genesis 3 happened. The whole world fell apart. It all started when a snake appeared in the paradise, prompting Adam and Eve to ignore their three purposes and instead to become rebels.3 They don’t look after creation  and they don’t care for each other. Worst of all, they stopped caring about their perfect relationship with God. They stopped walking with God, and listening to what he said. Instead, they walked alone, and listened to the snake and to themselves.


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THE FOUR Ds Genesis 3 shows four different ways in which Adam and Eve rebelled against God, all starting with the letter ‘D’. Firstly, they doubted God’s word. The snake started to question what God had said: Now the snake was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden”?’ (Genesis 3:1)

You can almost hear the doubt in his crafty voice: ‘Did God really say …’ The snake was making Eve doubt what God had said. The correct order of things should have been that God told Adam and Eve what to do about creation. Here it was completely the wrong way around; part of creation was telling Adam and Eve what to do about God. Secondly, Adam and Eve rebelled against God by distorting his word. After the snake made them doubt what God had said, Eve replied in the next verse: The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”’ (Genesis 3:2–3)

Eve started so well: ‘… we can eat all the fruit but the one in the middle …’ but then she carried on: ‘… also we must not touch that tree in the middle’. God never mentioned anything about not touching the tree in the middle of the garden. Eve made the rule sound worse than it was, so that God sounded worse than he was. Just like when we exaggerate our parents’ rules to make them sound unfair, Eve didn’t want to obey God so she made the rule sound unfair. I remember growing up going to church and thinking that the Christian view of sex was that you shouldn’t hold hands with a girl before you’re

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THE CROSS married, because you will catch AIDS and die. As I got older I realised this was obviously nonsense, so I felt free to ignore all that the Bible said on the topic. This is a bit like what Eve did in distorting what God said about the tree. Doubting and distorting was not getting the job done quickly enough, so the snake next started to deny God’s word. ‘You will not certainly die … for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ (Genesis 3:4–5)

The snake was not just making polite conversation with Adam and Eve while they watched bird migration patterns. The snake was out to break up all the good relationships in the garden. So he just flatly denied that what God said was true. One way, of course, that you can deny what God says is by denying that he exists at all. If he is not there, you can feel free to ignore him, which is very convenient. Finally, as a result of doubting, distorting and denying, they disobeyed what God said. Adam and Eve had been given one command, one rule, one warning, and we all know how it turned out: When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6)

Adam and Eve did everything they were meant not to do. They were meant to eat from all the trees except one; instead they ate from that one tree. They were meant to care for the creation; instead they listened to it and exploited it for pleasure. They were meant to care for each other; instead they only looked out for themselves. 4 They were meant to care for their relationship with God; instead they did the one thing he asked them not to do. They did what they thought was best and rebelled against him. The consequences were both immediate and immeasurable.


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The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ (Genesis 3:8–9)

The three of them had been so close; they used to just go for walks in the garden together. Now, however, they were ashamed and covered up their nakedness and hid behind some trees as God looked for them.

ONE LITTLE LETTER, ONE BIG PROBLEM Adam still had some fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil stuck between his teeth. The first word out of his mouth describes perfectly the effect of eating that fruit. He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’ (Genesis 3:10)

The effect of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil can be summarised in just one little word. Adam repeats this little word four times in that verse. That one little word is the Bible’s explanation of what is wrong with the world. It is just one little word that causes one big problem. It’s not even one little word; it’s actually just one little letter—I. Never before have we seen Adam saying that word. Never before had he thought about himself. He had only cared about creation, loved his wife and enjoyed God. But now Adam says in verse 10, ‘I heard, I was afraid, I was naked and I hid’. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not about knowing more. The tree was all about being in control. It could just as easily be called ‘The Tree of Deciding What is Best for Me’. Eating from that tree was all about ‘me’. The bold claim of the Bible is that we are just like Adam and Eve. The Bible says that they both represent us and we follow in their footsteps.5 That might sound unfair, but just think: if someone asks you how your national sports team did, you happily say that ‘we won’, even though you were not

The Cross by Edward Surrey  

Why are people still talking about a carpenter’s son who lived 2000 years ago? What is the go with this thing called a cross, and why do we...