Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Cross

"Jesus... Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried"

The next line of the Creed affirms the historical truth that Jesus was indeed crucified. He truly died, and He was buried. There are those who theorize otherwise. They would say that Jesus only appeared to die. Some would try to deny the event altogether. But it is historically verifiable. He was crucified. Romans were masters at this cruel means of execution. To propose that on this occasion they botched the job would be miraculous in itself. But, they did not botch the job. Jesus was attested to be dead before He was removed from the cross. Then He was buried. There were a number of eyewitnesses as to where the tomb was. They would return to it on the third day after His crucifixion to find He was gone. But, alas, I'm getting ahead of myself.

What does Jesus' death mean to us? It means we have been set free from sin and death.

Death came into the world because of sin. God warned our first parents in the Garden to refrain from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. "For in the day you eat of it, you will surely die." Death was not a punishment for disobedience, it was the natural consequence of it. It is the same as if we warn our children not to drink poison, play in traffic, or play with fire. The natural consequences are not punishment. They follow as a matter of course. It is the very reason we warn them against it- because we love them. So God loved those whom He had made in His own image and warned them accordingly so they would not die. But they chose sin over God and death over life. Since then, sin, and death, have reigned over all humanity.

But then our Lord Jesus Christ came. He stood strong and stalwart against every kind of temptation that assails all people. He never wavered. He came through completely victorious. The last enemy to be faced was death. But when death seemingly claimed our Lord, He rose victorious again to live forevermore. But again, I'm getting ahead of myself.

At the cross, our Lord took upon Himself the just penalty due to us as sinners. "He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him. And by His stripes we are healed." In addition, it was by dying that He destroyed our death. Through death, He conquered death. On the cross, God "made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that we might be the righteousness of God in Him." The cross was the great exchange. He took what we deserved and gave us grace and life in return.

The cross is the pivotal moment in the life of Christ and in the history of the world. Now for all who believe there is an escape from sin and death and an entrance into the eternal life of the kingdom of God.

Christ calls all who would be His disciples to "deny yourself, take up a cross, and follow Me." It was the way of the Master, and it is the way of all true disciples. There is no other way. The way of the cross is the way of death, which is the way to eternal life. As His death led to life, so our dying to self and sin leads to eternal life in Christ. To all who read these words, heed the words of our Lord and Savior. Take up a cross and come, follow Jesus!

1 comment:

Joni said...

What a great post. It is so essential for us to remember that the cross is truly the central and most important part of Christianity. The cross and the resurrection set apart our faith from that of any other religion. Our "leader," Christ, laid down His life for all...our Savior, and our example.