Last week I shared how to study a topic in depth with careful reading and asking questions. This week I wanted to dive into one of the subtopics and verses found from last week.
In Hebrews 12:2, Paul wrote:
2. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
How did Christ despise the shame of the cross? That’s an interesting phrase.
As we know, the Romans had a tortuous method of death. From the Bible Dictionary we read this description of crucifixion:
“A Roman form of punishment, usually inflicted only on slaves and the lowest criminals. The Lord was condemned to it at the request of the mob on a nominal charge of sedition against Caesar. The purple robe, the crown of thorns, and other insults to which He was subjected were illegal. The punishment was preceded by scourging. The criminal was made to carry his own cross to the place of execution, which was always outside the city. His clothing was the perquisite of the soldiers who carried out the sentence. The cross was driven into the ground so that the feet of the prisoner were a foot or two above the surface. The cross was watched by four soldiers at a time until death took place, which was sometimes not until the third day.”
Christ suffered the death of the lowest of criminals. It was a death of shame, being on display for all those that pass by, as an example to others of not offending Rome.
In Matthew 16, Jesus said to his disciples:
24. …If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Luke further records:
Luke 14:27. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Earlier, Jacob’s sermon in 2 Nephi 9 reiterates that those who endure crosses while despising the shame of it will have eternal joy by going to where their God is who set the example.
18. But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.
Rewording the phrase, Jacob later said we should “bear the shame of the world.” (Jacob 1:8)
In a world that calls evil, good, and good, evil, anyone who stands for truth and believes there is moral right and wrong is going to offend the devil, be mocked and scourged by the world, and eventually crucified (at least figuratively) for their beliefs. Taking up the cross implies a revocation on the world. It’s this process that makes people into saints.
The letter Tav is the last letter of the aleph-bet (Hebrew alphabet) and has a value of 400 in Gematria. In Ancient Hebrew text, its symbol was a cross, just as our modern English letter ‘t’ is a cross.
As the last letter, it is the final stage of development of the language before it departs this world. It is the final fulfillment or highest manifestation of life. This is deeply symbolic of our journey.
The word Tav (תָּו) in Hebrew (not the letter Tav) is spelled with a T and a V (Tav-Vav), as there are no vowels in the Hebrew aleph-bet.
The V is Vav and represents a joining concept, a hook. It joins the Tav to something unseen. What is the T joined to? In my non-scholarly view it seems to me that going to the cross is what joins us to God. The hook draws us into a world beyond this one. Where the T/Tav is the cross, the V/Vav is connecting us to Christ so he can truly draw us unto him, somewhere beyond the reach of this world, where we can inherit eternal life.
The word Tav is used only 3 times in scripture. It means a mark (in attestation), a signature, or a desire.
First in Job 31:35 where Job says it’s his “desire…that the almighty would answer me.
Then in Ezekiel 9:4 and 6, he has a vision of a future event where a “mark” is set upon those that mourn for the abominations done in Jerusalem. They are the only ones to be protected when the destruction comes upon the city.
Literally, Christ went to the cross because his great and noble desire was to legally mark us with his signature.
We know in a coming day, a mark will play a prominent role. We will either have the mark of Christ, or the mark of the beast. (search: mark +beast)
Now think of the hook more like a shepherd’s staff with a curved hook on the end. That’s a little like what Vav looks like, a staff with a hook at the top.
Now these verses become more interesting. Speaking prophetically of his death, Christ told the Jews:
John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
After his resurrection, he then told the Nephites in America:
3 Nephi 27:14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
For Christ to mark us, we have to be willing to be marked with his signature, the marks of the cross, him drawing upon us so he may draw us closer to Him.
Until studying this during the week, I’d previously thought this word draw was like drawing water from a well, pulling a rope, etc… Now I’m going to read this as Christ is literally drawing on me in order to draw me to him.
If we bear the wrong marks, he will reject us for not having his signature upon us.
How do we bear our cross? Every personal impediment to obtaining divine nature is the carnal man ego that needs nailed to the cross.
Every individual is different. For one Christ said:
Mark 10:21 …One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
To Joseph Knight he said:
Doctrine & Covenants 23:6 Behold, I manifest unto you, Joseph Knight, by these words, that you must take up your cross, in the which you must pray vocally before the world as well as in secret, and in your family, and among your friends, and in all places.
Whatever our fear, the thing that gives us anxiety and doubt instead of faith in Jesus Christ, needs led to Calvary and put to death. Let God prevail every day. Facing our fears is taking up our cross. It is in sacrificing ourselves that we become sanctified. We take up the cross and despise the shame of it. Paul summarized it well stating:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (Romans 1:16)
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