Jesus and the Cross.
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Mark 27:33, 37-39
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
1 Corinthians 1:17-19
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Have you ever heard someone minimize or mock Jesus or his death on the cross? Either acting like it was no big deal or making fun of it as if it was silly or some meaningless event of the past? For such people, the cross does not make sense and they have not yet grasped it’s meaning or what truly happened there. The Apostle Paul says in 1st Corinthians, that for such people, the cross is “foolishness” – just some crazy religious belief that has no relevance or basis in reality.
We live in a culture where people increasingly see Christian faith, as a myth, a fairy tale or even dangerous because of it’s moral teachings. At best, some may see it as merely unscientific and uninformed. They fail to see the reality of God and unseen things, including the truth of our human condition. If there is no God then of course it is foolish to put faith in a man who died on a tree thousands of years ago. But if there is a holy and loving God who created and cares for people, then it is the most powerful act of love ever demonstrated.
If sin is real, then we are lost; hopelessly dead and separated from the perfect and loving God who can give us new life. Without the cross there is no way to be declared righteous, no way to ever pay enough for the wrongs we have committed, no way to be cured from the disease and curse of sin, no way to ever be worthy of being in God’s presence or of being called his child. No matter how hard we may try, even one sin would disqualify us. We sin both because we are sinners and because we continue to sin making ourselves sicker. And yet, on the cross, the One who actually was without sin, chose to die, taking the punishment that should have been ours, becoming sin for us and forever paying the price for all sin for all time – asking only that we believe and trust Him with our lives in return.
What happened on the cross?
- Jesus finished and demonstrated his perfect obedience to the will of God and His act of sacrifice and righteousness now stands in the place of our acts of rebellion.
- Jesus absolutely an unequivocally satisfied the justice of God and the required payment for all sin for all time that we might be completely and freely forgiven.
- Jesus exhausted the wrath of God forever.
- Jesus made a way to remove our sin from the presence of God.
- Jesus redeemed us from the curse of sin.
- Jesus made the way for us to be reconciled to God, to restore our relationship.
- Jesus made a way for us to become fully righteous and holy in God’s site.
- Jesus made a way for us to be forever secure and safe in our relationship with God.
- Jesus made a way for us to become true children of God; co-heirs with Him and brothers and sisters in God’s royal family.
For those who recognize their sin and sickness, the words of an old hymn say it well, “O, what wondrous love is this, O my Soul, O my Soul, that caused the Lord of bliss, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul”. When we truly grasp the wondrous love of God in Jesus on the cross, everything changes. It is no longer foolish or far away but now “the power of God” for salvation; the door to experiencing true forgiveness, grace, and real relationship with God our Father.
Beneath the Cross of Jesus
Beneath the cross of Jesus, I fain would take my stand
The shadow of a mighty rock, within a weary land
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day
Upon the cross of Jesus, mine eyes at times can see
The very dying form of One, Who suffered there for me
And from my stricken heart with tears, two wonders I confess
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness
I take, O cross, thy shadow, for my abiding place
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss
My sinful self, my own shame, my glory, all the cross
Jesus, help me to grasp the meaning of the cross; its purpose, power and payment. Help me to see that it is my only hope and glory. Amen.
- Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.
- Read the words of the hymn out loud, reflecting and using it as a prayer as you consider its meaning and message.
- Respond to the following questions by posting your answers in the discussion:
- How do you feel about the cross? What main emotions, thoughts and reactions does it stir in you when you consider what Jesus did there? Why?
- Describe a time when you had to pay for the sin or wrongdoing of someone else? How did you have to bear the pain, responsibility or burden of what they did? How did you feel?
- If we as sinful people feel that others should have to pay or be held accountable for their actions against us, how much more this must be true of a holy God, and yet, instead of making us pay, He paid for it all Himself. Describe what you think this means about who God is. How is it different than what you tend to assume He is like?
- What do you think it means about the seriousness of sin that the cross was God’s only solution?
- Describe your thoughts on how what Jesus accomplished on the cross should impact your work as a social worker.