Cross of Jesus Christ: What is the True Meaning of Jesus' Death on the Cross?
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. 1 Corinthians 1:18
The cross is a mystery.
How can suffering and dying on a cross be the power of God?
The Jews viewed anyone who died on a tree to be "cursed". (Deuteronomy 21:21-23, Galatians 3:13) In fact, crucifixion was devised as a gruesome execution method to ensure a particularly painful, slow, humiliating and torturous death.
Then how is it that what the world viewed as a "curse" can be the power and victory for Christians?
It is important to look beyond the cross. The cross itself is not extraordinary, for it was a common execution method to terrorize and warn the public against committing crimes. Many others in those days were hung to die, even the two criminals who were crucified next to Jesus.
But for Jesus, death on the cross did not end at death. He overcame death and resurrected.
Can you imagine a more fearful and hopeless thing than death? Even the most powerful king could not escape the final resting place of the cold, fearful tomb. Death is greatly dreaded. There is an undeniable humanistic fear of suffering and dying.
As the time of his arrest neared, even Jesus prayed and cried out to God on Mt. Gethsemane. Conclusively, he came down the mountain to carry his own cross to where he would be crucified.
Since Jesus came in the flesh, surely he could feel human pain too. One can naturally wonder, where did Jesus get this strength to even pray in the face of the suffering and death to come?
There is understandable fear in death, but the important thing to remember is that our God is a living God. He is beyond the humanistic and earthly limits. God is in heaven and He reigns eternally unlike other kings. God is the one who even makes eternal life possible. This is tremendously hopeful to know, and Jesus certainly knew and believed this. Jesus knew that His heavenly Father would resurrect him, and that the future of everlasting life is incomparable to the present suffering and death on the cross.
The cross and resurrection always go together. The greatest message in Jesus' life is in these two defining words, which He demonstrated using the example of his own life - that when you die, you live!
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. (Romans 5:7) But Jesus took that cross and suffered with love for all of sinful mankind, the ones who actually deserve to die. God sent His blameless Son to take the curse of mankind upon himself, sparing us from death, because of love.
The cross is a sacrifice, and a difficult thing to accept. To self-empty, suffer and die for others... is not easy at all. Yet it is possible with love. Giving up my life for others is the ultimate act of love, which Jesus did. But His sacrifice didn't end there. It now gives eternal life to others. Love is powerful!
Disciples of Jesus are called to follow the path of Jesus. This means to follow the path of the cross - that of sacrifice, giving out and emptying oneself with the heart of love. Then we can experience the power of resurrection.
The world teaches us to gain for ourselves first, then others. But the gospel is quite the opposite and may even seem foolish.
- When you give out, you will be filled!
- When you sacrifice for love and with love, there will be greater joy!
- When you lower yourself, you will be exalted! (Philippians 2:3-11)
There is wisdom of the highest level in the Cross. It is the secret and power of a Christian's life. Even the highly educated Apostle Paul resolved to know nothing except Christ crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2) Everything else, he considered rubbish. (Philippians 3:8)
Fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let us keep our eyes on the cross and all its richness.
Christ in me is to live
To die is to gain
Christ in me is to live
To die is to gain
He's my King, He's my song
He's my life and He's my joy
He's my strength, He's my sword
He's my peace, He's my Lord
Lyrics to "Christ in Me" by Maranatha Singers.
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