|Create Date||April 7, 2017|
|Last Updated||June 15, 2017|
(For word document click title above) The cross 1 Corinthians 2:2 Gordon Green 26 March 2017
How can we know who God is? How can we know what God is like? How horrible is sin? Look at the cross.Where are our sins forgiven? Look at the cross. “The death of Jesus on the cross is the centre of all Christian theology. All Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ.” – Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God
You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, i didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. – Message Bible.
4 things we don’t often consider when we think of Jesus’ death on the cross
- Don’t be too quick to explain what the crucifixion means.
We feel we have to explain everything. There should be something in us that is horrified, astounded. “How can this be? That tortured dying man nailed to cross is God?” The source of all being, of life, put to death. The creator crucified by his own creation. Before trying to explain that just tremble.
- The cross - from evil to icon.
It was devised as a torture machine to implement the most profound humiliation and abuse. Its purpose was to keep a human being alive as long as possible and in as much pain as possible until his very breath was violently ripped from his body through excruciating suffocation. Who originated the cross? If God did then we worship a cosmic abuser who created a means to torture human beings in the most painful and abhorrent manner. No - the cross originated with human beings. And God submitted to it. He willingly climbed onto our torture device and met us at the deepest and darkest place and by submitting to it he destroyed its power. Incredible - he submitted to it before the creation of the world (Rev 13:8). He knew what the cost would be. That God’s own children, the highest order of creation, would one day make the final attempt to kill life. God submitted to this torture machine and transformed it into an icon and monument of grace, so precious to us that we wear it around our necks, have it in our homes and churches. That should tell you that there is nothing you can do that is so evil or broken that God won’t climb into it with you. The cross, once the greatest attempt at destroying life, has become our most precious symbol of the God who is hope for us all. When Jesus said to his Father forgive them he said “Of course - you have always represented me, always shown the world what I’m like. Yes. This is what we do. We absorb the sins and we recycle it and forgive.” Does that make sense? No!
- Jesus wasn’t alone when he was crucified.
You probably know the old hymn “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Yes – you were there, in a way you may not have thought about before. “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). But Paul wasn’t the only one with Christ. “You died with Christ,” he told other Christians (Col 2:20) “We were…buried with him,” (Rom 6:4). What does that mean? We weren’t there on the cross with Jesus! So what was Paul saying? Just this: all of us have shared in the cross of Christ.
What does it mean? We might say that we were represented by Jesus. His death was payment for our sins. Everyone, because of the guilt of their sins, had a responsibility for Jesus’ crucifixion. We were all accomplices to the murder of our Lord and saviour. But our involvement in the death of Jesus is much more than being an “accomplice” to his murder.
We were also included in his sentence of death (2 Cor 5:14). “We are convinced, that one died for all, and therefore all died.” Your nosy neighbour, your nearest and dearest, your worst enemy, your loved one locked in suffering, the hungry child in famine, those caught up in the tragedies of earthquakes and tsunamis, your boss at work, those trapped in false religion: they all died in Christ Jesus (5:19) on the cross, God “was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” Jesus died for everyone who has ever lived and who shall live. No one was excluded from the effectiveness of his sacrifice. Everyone was involved in his death. No exceptions. That means our past, no matter how desperate or depraved, was nailed to the cross, through Jesus’ sacrifice we have all been forgiven whether we accept it or not and everyone, irrespective of race or religion, was crucified with Christ.
- This means that there is hope for us all.
Romans 6:8; “If we all died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s a call to believe in the one who loves and gave himself for us – the one who, has freed us from our sins by his own blood” (Re 1:5). Jesus not only died for us, he rose for us as well. Were we there when they crucified our lord? Yes we were there.
Paul ties it all together: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom 6:4). Buried with him, risenwith him, living with him.
We have a new identity. Just as Jesus was not alone, neither are we. We are buried with him, and we rise to new life with him, and he lives with us. In our trials and in our successes, he is with us, because our lives belong to him. He shoulders the burden, and he gets the credit, and we get the joy of sharing life with him.
Jesus urges us to take up the cross and follow him. Identify with him. Accept that your life is united with his. Let the old be crucified, and let the new life reign in your body. Jesus invites us: “Come and share in my abundant, new life.”