Friday, April 14, 2006

The Cross

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Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for sin. What does the cross represent to us today? To the feminist it is an act of violence that has lead to other acts of violence and the victimization of women and children:

When Christians identify the central story of their faith as the intentional sacrifice of a "beloved son" by God, his own father, they unwittingly make a story about child abuse into a narrative of salvation. Believing that Jesus willingly submitted to crucifixion out of obedience and love, Christians have advocated an ethic of self-sacrificial love that can trap those most vulnerable to violence ‚— women and children. For theologians Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker, this version of Christianity tries to make violence ‚— intimate, family violence — into a form of redemption.
There are those who look at Jesus' death as an opportunity to make a statement about a cause they support:
The militant pro-animal group PETA said the activists would be suspended from crosses with crowns of thorns on their heads.

The slogan of the protest action would be "We suffer and die for your sins of nourishment."

PETA said its aim was to catch the attention of consumers who ignored the suffering of animals.
And then there are some who scorn and ridicule the cross and have done so for thousands of years:
The original Jesus Dress Up fridge magnets! This beautiful 11"x 8" magnet kit has been hand designed and finely sculpted for your enjoyment. Over 30 different articles of clothing to choose from!
A magnet of Jesus, dead on the cross, that you can dress up in different outfits.

Even while Jesus was on the cross He was mocked and ridiculed:
Matthew 27:39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, 'I am the Son of God.'" 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Why should we be surprised that Jesus was mocked? God's word said that He would be:
Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 "He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"
And today when Jesus' sacrifice is mocked, we see the fulfillment of Paul's words:
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
To the Christian the cross represents something completely different than what the world sees. We see it as our redemption and atonement for sin:
Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
It is a sign of peace and reconciliation:
Colossians 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
Christ sacrifice on the cross is our example of perfect love and sacrifice and of obedience to the Father:
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him
And finally it is a sign of our union with Christ:
Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. 20 It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I could easily write so much more about Christ's sacrifice since the pages of Scripture are filled with it. There are shadows and types of throughout the Old Testament and passages in which it was prophesied and all the New Testament is written because of it.

Today we remember what Jesus did on are behalf, today we focus on the cross. Praise be to God the symbol of death has been transformed by God into an symbol of love, peace, reconciliation, redemption, salvation, and perfect obedience to God. Praise be to God, that thought the world does not understand, He revealed this truth to us.

(image by ChristArt.com)

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7 Comments:

  1. prairie girl said...
    Michele,

    Thanks so much for that post. It was perfect for reflection all day today.
    michele said...
    I'm glad you were blessed by it. I'd hoped that it would help set our heart on Christ today and what His death means to us.
    Jana said...
    Wonderful post! Very insightful.
    Susan said...
    Great post Michele
    michele said...
    Thanks!
    SupComTabz said...
    Very cool post... have a great Easter!
    michele said...
    You too. I'm plugging your new blog with the other new ones either tonight or tomorrow.

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