At cross purposes
… but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles…
1 Corinthians 1:23 ( ESV)
As the header scripture above demonstrates, humanity often gets confused and at cross purposes about the meaning and purpose of the cross.
Jesus confronted the world with his core message of self-giving love at the Passover season. He did not choose Tabernacles or the Day of Atonement (when the sins of the nation of Israel were covered). Passover is about God rescuing Israel from slavery in Egypt where he won the victory over Pharoah and his hosts and redeemed his people. But the Old Covenant Passover was never about forgiveness of sins.
Easter is about a new exodus: the ‘departure’ (Greek: exodus) of Jesus at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31), and a new creation. The new exodus story is about God redeeming slaves to become sons and daughters, and heirs of God: ‘… if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new creation culminates in a new heaven and a new earth.
To bring about a new creation it was necessary to conquer sin and death and the powers of evil. The cross is a message about the power of love triumphing over the love of power exercised by the religious, civil, and spiritual authorities (including Satan, the ultimate Pharoah) of this world.
It is interesting to note that God finished his original work of creation on the sixth day, and rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:1). Jesus finished his earthly work, concerning the new spiritual creation, on the sixth day (Good Friday), with his words on the cross “It is finished” (John 19:30). He then, as it were, rested in the tomb on the seventh and was resurrected on the eighth day.
The cross was not about a vengeful Father pouring out his wrath on his Son but, ‘…By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, [the Father] condemned sin in the flesh…’ (Romans 8:3). On the cross God did not condemn his Son, but sin in the flesh.
Sin and death are inextricably linked: “The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20). In order to conquer death, sin must first be conquered. On Easter Sunday the sin-bearer, Jesus, was resurrected. God was announcing that sin, death, and the powers of this world, that put Jesus to death, were conquered.
The good news of Easter is that because of the work of Jesus, our salvation is secure in him, since ‘…he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.’ (Hebrews 7:25).
Almighty God, we thank you for the self- giving of your Son, which, by your grace, was the determined will and action of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Study by Eddie Marsh
About the writer:
Eddie Marsh attends the Sheffield congregation of Grace Communion International.
Please email the local congregational contact (see below) for information about the Sheffield congregation’s meeting venue and time.
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