The Wonder of the Cross of Christ

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Christianity 101 tells us that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to its theology. Jesus, the very Son of God, came to earth and lived a sin-free life as He taught and demonstrated of the nearness of the Kingdom of God.

He ultimately revealed the depth of His love for all mankind when He willing went to an awful death by crucifixion. As He did, He supernaturally bore the weight of the entirety of the world’s sin on His person in order that ordinary folks like you and me could be saved for all eternity.

The Apostle Paul sums this all up for us in his letter to the Roman church: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 NIV)

I would gladly welcome conversation on any of the above at any time, including questions, concerns and uncertainties. But let’s do that during another post. For today I want to focus on the physical cross itself that Jesus was crucified on. I believe that God is still calling us to Himself and that much of the invitation still lies in and around that wooden implement of death that God has wondrously turned into an invitation to life.

I have been giving some thought to the physical cross. I know that much of Christian art has depicted Jesus carrying an entire cross up Calvary’s hill. However, research seems to have shown that the Lord carried only the cross piece as the longer vertical pole would have been left in place for re-use.

Joseph Zias, an anthropologist with the Israel Department of Antiquities, and Eliezer Sekeles of Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem state that, “One can reasonably assume that the scarcity of wood may have been expressed in the economics of crucifixion in that the crossbar as well as the upright would be used repeatedly.”

If they are correct, and I have no reason to doubt them on this, that means that the crossbar that Jesus carried and died on was used again, possibly many times.

I think it unlikely than any of those being put to death by crucifixion by the Romans of that time for treason, speaking against the government, rebellion or murder (the crimes most often punished by this means) knew of the previous carriers of their cross-piece. Word of who Jesus was and what He had done was still confined to a relatively few people at the outset. How sad to think that the very piece of wood that had held the Savior’s body was unknown to them.

Conversely, how wonderful is it that we live on the other side of the event of the Cross of Jesus! Because He took the place of all sinners (that’s you and me again!) and willingly paid the price for all of our transgressions, we can know that our forever home has been secured with Him.

Yet as we celebrate this greatest news ever presented to human beings, let us not forget how it came to be. In other words, let us not lose sight of the significance of that cross-piece that Jesus carried. We have the opportunity to know why His Passion had to play out as it did.

As you contemplate that awesome truth again today, I ask that you also remember those who have no knowledge of what Jesus did (and is doing). Many are trudging through life carrying a burden that can only be relieved by the One who cares for us all. Please, if given the opportunity today, won’t you share the incredible story of God’s love for all as it is represented in the Cross?

Thanks for reading.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

What Can We Do?

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Like so many other countless others, I watch in horror and deep sadness at the senseless violence that continues to occur within the United States and around the world. I simply cannot fathom how a family or friends deals with the news that they have lost a loved one to any of these mindless acts of terror that have been perpetrated.

Again with the majority, I find myself asking why? What drives a person to carry out these cold-blooded attacks on innocent people. Actually, I know at least some of the answer: We live in a broken and evil world. Because of this, hatred has a strong foothold on the minds of many. Only through a heart blackened in this way can someone be capable of carrying out one of these horrendous acts.

Even knowing this, the question persists in my mind and the minds of many others. The rationale seems to be that if we could only figure out the motivation, we could somehow stop these acts from occurring.

Another course of action mentioned more frequently in light of these attacks is gun control. I do not own any firearms myself, but some of my friends do. These folks have them for hunting and yes, home protection, but these are also standout citizens who exercise their right to legally own weapons. These are civic minded people, many of whom are devoted followers of Christ. The thought of doing violence with one of their weapons is unthinkable to them.

As I have mentioned on this platform previously, I have no political agenda on my blog. Having said that, I do not believe the solution to these acts of violence lies in the restriction of people’s right to possess guns. Illegal firearms have always been available to those who desire them, and I am certain always will be.

This leads me to circle back to the original question: What can we do? To start with, I do not know that you or I have within us the capability to stop this wickedness on our own. The hatred seems too deep and so widespread that the efforts of single individuals appears helpless.

But those of us who claim faith in Jesus Christ are not merely individuals. We are united through the Spirit of God as a family of believers. If ever the saying “there is strength in numbers” were true, it is here!

As fellow believers, I call on you to celebrate this unity in several ways. First, let us be intentional in our prayer lives. By this I do not mean that we share a common shopping-list of prayer requests to God. Rather, I call us to respond to God in the way He told Solomon we should: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) NIV

As believers in Christ, we are called to turn from the sin in our own lives and humbly ask God to forgive us of these things. It is when this occurs that the body of Christ can be most powerful. We are not to just look in dismay at the world around us, but first to look inward, to search what needs to be eliminated from our own hearts. God promises to forgive and purify us when we do this (1 John 1:9). As our hearts our cleansed by God, we can pray with confidence that He will fulfill His promise to heal our land.

The other action you and I can take is another one I have mentioned here before: Love one another. Jesus, as He neared the end of His earthly ministry, instructed His disciples to love each other as He loved them. When they/we do this, we show the watching world that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus and that His love is a real and tangible thing.

I am convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that only love, a love that God provides us by the way (1 John 4:19), can be an effective deterrent to pervasive hate. We who proclaim Christ as Savior are called to love one another.

Please join me in praying that God responds to the love-filled prayers of the faithful and begins a grassroots movement of love and peace in our land and across the world. As He does, may you and I proclaim His goodness always and everywhere as we allow the light of Christ to shine through us and into the darkness, bringing hope to the hopeless and comfort to the hurting.

Thank you,

Pastor Chuck