Published in Challenge Weekly 2011
As we come to Easter and we consider the death of Jesus, it is good to ponder what it means.
First, the cross speaks of our salvation. On the cross Jesus, completely without sin, took upon himself the corruption of all humanity, and died in our place for us. Jesus, both our high priest, and the final sacrifice for sin took to himself human depravity and all its consequences. He extinguished it in the seeming humiliation of brutal death by crucifixion. Because of his righteousness, God raised him from the dead on the third day. Now, God offers us in Christ, the ultimate final sacrifice for sins, the gift of salvation. If we accept his completely free offer by saying yes to this Jesus as saviour and Lord, we will experience the power of the resurrection and receive eternal life with God and his people –a life that begins now! The cross then represents our justification, where God's voice booms out over all creation saying 'pardoned, acquitted, not-guilty, right with God, righteous!' It sings of our redemption, our release from slavery to corruption and its effects. It tells of our reconciliation, where we are reconciled to God in Christ. It guarantees us our resurrection as we are crucified with God in Christ, so that the life we now live is in Christ, by faith. The cross averted the wrath of God, it cleansed us from sin, from guilt and shame, it made God's enemies his friends – it saved us. It marks the death of death itself, the resurrection marks the launch of a new humanity and a new creation – glory be to God!
Secondly, the cross speaks of how we should now live. The cross tells of a reversal of the power patterns of the world. For most, power is found in the ability to exert coercive influence over another, whether through armies, intrigue, sheer force of numbers, beauty, wisdom, wealth, charisma, status, or otherwise. The cross subverts this. On the cross Jesus showed us what true divinity looks like. It looks like the creator and rightful king of the world, voluntarily choosing not to use his power, privilege and status to his own advantage to subdue and control, but rather coming among us as one of us, to win the world through serving and laying down his life for it. Jesus refused to meet the expectations of a Davidic Messiah Warrior King or to impress the Caesar and the Romans with brilliant reason and might. Rather, he humbled himself and became obedient to death. He showed us what true humanity looked like as walked the Via Dolorosa to his death to save his world. In so doing he showed that the true power of the universe is found in love and not violent force or intrigue. As such, the cross now lays down for us a pattern of what it means to be truly human. It reveals the cruciform ethic that should characterise God's people as they lead, gather in churches, engage with one another and his world. We do so as servants bearing the marks of suffering with a cross strapped over our backs, with a towel in one hand and the 'sword' of the Spirit in the other, that they would see who God truly is. Go deeper!