Discipleship

At The Cross

The Way of the Cross. Photo Credit: wikimedia_commons

The Way of the Cross. Photo Credit: wikimedia_commons

At the cross everything is possible: the sinner can be a saint, the broken hearted can be healed, and the condemned can be redeemed.

The cross of Jesus Christ is a central tenet of Christianity. It is an object but it is also a place of extreme contradiction. It is a place where criminals are condemned to die but also a place where the condemned are justified and given a shot at eternal life.

AT THE CROSS, REDEMPTION IS COMPLETE. It begins with a calling from God. It’s not something that anybody can made up. The call on the burning bush to Moses, the shepherd’s call of God to David, the call to become fishers of men for Peter, Andrew, James and John, and so on and so forth. Most importantly our own personal and unique encounter with God.

When Christ said “it is finished” (John 19:30), those words brought down the gates of hell. In the original Greek text, “it is finished” is rendered “tetelistai” in Greek and in Perfect Passive Indicative tense. It signifies an action that has been completed and the result of that action is on-going and with full effect. Now that is amazing because it means that the vicarious sacrifice of Christ is enough once and for all to redeem mankind.

AT THE CROSS, GOD’S HOLY THRONE IS APPROACHABLE. The tearing of the temple veil in Mark 15:38 is an important symbol that signifies a deep spiritual meaning. According to Josephus, a Jewish historian in the first century, in his book The War of the Jews (Book 5, Chapter 5 – A description of the temple, paragraph 4) the temple veil is a gigantic curtain that measures 55 cubits high and 16 cubits width[i]. A cubit is equals to 1.5 feet.

Early Jewish sources like the Talmud and the Mishna describes the thickness of the temple veil as about a “handbreadth”. Another interesting note is that allegedly the temple veil is so heavy that it took 300 priests to carry it and put it in place. Although this could be an exaggeration.

The word “veil” in Hebrew means “screen, divider, a separator that hides”. So what does it hide? It hides God’s holy presence from sinful men. When the temple veil was torn, it signifies that all men, whether Jews or Gentiles can now approach God because Christ has entered God’s throne on our behalf. A free access to God is now available to all who comes through Christ (Hebrews 10:19-22).

AT THE CROSS FORGIVENESS IS AVAILABLE. In the days of Moses, the nation of Israel is to celebrate annually the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:7 / Leviticus16:20-22). Two goats are chosen, one (1) for blood sacrifice or atonement and one (1) as a scape goat to carry away the sins.

According to the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism, the Jewish people has a tradition to tie a scarlet cord to the scapegoat. As the scapegoat is released into the wilderness, away from the city, the scarlet cord turns to white to symbolize God’s forgiveness to all the sins of the people for that year. However, the Talmud says that the scarlet cord on the scapegoat stopped turning into white in the year 30 A.D (or, 40 years before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD). The rabbis cannot explain it. (Yom Kippur – the day of Atonement. “The Torah Observance”)[ii].

One of the criminals who was crucified with Jesus received forgiveness. For some, he represents a person who is beyond redemption, a person who cannot be forgiven due to the many detestable crimes he committed. And yet Christ said to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise”. (Luke 23:39-43) Nothing else was required. Just plain and heartfelt repentance.

AT THE CROSS, VICTORY IS ATTAINABLE. In Acts 1:3 Luke, the physician and companion of the Apostle Paul, talks about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The phrase “many convincing proofs” is equivalent to “tekmerion” in the original Greek text. It is the strongest type of proof imaginable[iii].

The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the assurance of victory. By conquering death, He reminds us that in Him we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37-38). Wherever we are, whatever our situation is, God wants us to overcome any obstacle that stops us from receiving His blessings. Even the worst adversity cannot hinder God’s plan to make us victorious.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Romans 5:8 NIV

 

References:

[i] http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/war-5.htm

[ii] http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Fall_Holidays/Yom_Kippur/yom_kippur.html

[iii] https://bible.org/article/evidences-resurrection

 

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