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Timely updates, teaching, videos and inside information about what's happening at First Fruits, written by staff members and guest contributors.

The Execution Stake in Texas

On our way back from Phoenix, Boaz and I just drove past the biggest cross in the western hemisphere. Well at least it used to be. Its 190 feet tall but apparently a 198 foot cross has been recently constructed in Illinois. Here’s a picture of it.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the Master’s words in Luke 9:

And he said to them all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Obviously cross here does not refer to literally dying on a cross but is the idea of a self sacrificing life for the Kingdom of Heaven. In rabbinic literature the idiom of crucifixion is used to illustrate dedication to Torah. Here’s an example:

"'Of them that love Me and keep My commandments,' refers to those who dwell in the Land of Israel and risk their lives for the sake of the commandments. ‘Why are you being led out to be decapitated?' 'Because I circumcised my son to be an Israelite.' 'Why are you being led out to be burned?' 'Because I read the Torah.' 'Why are you being led out to be crucified?' 'Because I ate the unleavened bread.'" (Mekhilta on Exodus 20:6)

The Master asks us to give up our lives for him and in essence this is the same thing the Sages are saying about the Torah. After all Yeshua is the living Torah.

PS Sorry about the title. A little Messianic Judaism PC for ya’ll

About the Author: Toby Janicki is a teacher, writer, and project manager for First Fruits of Zion and Vine of David. He contributes regularly to Messiah Journal and has written several books including God-Fearers: Gentiles and the God of Israel.

Discussions & Comments

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Archived Comments


Unfortunate link - the Texas cross - I found the statues and images and the " find jesus at the waterfall" thing offensive. Just the cross picture would have surficed to accompany the comment.

However the link to israeltoday was interesting - lots of people out there re thinking Torah or militantly holding on to their christian "freedom".

sarah | July 22, 2007 12:10 PM

Shalom all, Great story Brother Toby! Oh Brother Daniel, those fellows in Minnesota better watch out, they can get hooked on that. They really have the 'lines' don't they? I sure hope it's 'reel' to them!!

James Bauers | July 19, 2007 3:17 PM

As you all are well aware, other than the cross, another early symbol of Christianity was the fish. Here are some large, roadside religious symbols from my homestate of Minnesota:

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/walleye.html

This makes me reflect on the text that says, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."

Garrison Keilor of the Prairie Home Companion claims that he knows of an obscure Lutheran sect that follows a textual variant which reads, "Follow me and I will make you fishermen." Allegedly these Lutherans--all men--religiously spend their Sunday mornings on the lakes of Minnesota casting and reeling and casting again, faithfully removing fish from our ten thousand lakes. It is a simpler type of discipleship. Very appealing when you think about it. Not so many theological squabbles I imagine, and halachic debates probably revolve around the issue of appropriate bait.

D. Thomas Lancaster | July 18, 2007 7:23 AM

Speaking of big crosses...
I read this story yesterday

http://www.israeltoday.co.il/default.aspx?tabid=178&nid=13459

...and I love how the rabbinic imagery of crucifixion is actually connected with the unleavened bread of Pesach.

Baruch HaShem!

Crispin
South Dakota

*Toby* Interesting link! Thanks for sharing it.

webmd | July 17, 2007 11:32 PM

Thanks Toby! You remind me to stop and think about the basics when I need it most. Shalom!

Scott L | July 17, 2007 11:31 PM

Ufdah.

The bigger the cross
the harder to bear

Thanks for the amusing link

Crispin
South Dakota

webmd | July 17, 2007 11:30 PM

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