Friday, April 6, 2012

Whatever your question, the cross is the answer.

Mk 15:22-24 (ESV) And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull).  And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.

Lk 23:33 (ESV) And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.

Mt 27:33 (ESV) And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.

Jn 19:16-18 (ESV) So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.
When you or I hear that a new Friday the 13th movie is coming out, we don’t really need to know the plot to know what is going to happen.  There’s going to be a group of teenagers, the phone line is going to be cut (or nowadays they’d have no cell service), someone is going to act like a total and complete goober and separate themselves from the group (and end up getting killed), and one by one the members of the group are going to get picked off by this homicidal maniac.  The same could be said for a new reality TV show with a group of people playing potential suitors for some attractive person’s attention or a new romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan.  We don’t need all the details spelled out because in our heads we kinda know what to expect. 

That is one way to imagine the reaction to the very sparse description of what happened to Christ on the cross by the gospel writers.  They all report, in one fashion on another, that Christ was taken to Calvary and that “there they crucified Him”.  Those four words, to a reader in the 1st century AD, would have conjured up images so grotesque they’d make many people want to vomit.  I won’t bore you with a lengthy description of what went on since you could Google that.  I mean, we’ve all learned in Sunday School how the Romans had perfected crucifixion as the most cruel mean of execution by torture that the world has ever seen.  The gospel writers no more had to tell their audience what a crucifixion looked like than we would need someone to tell us what would happen in a new Friday the 13th film.  They could see it in their minds eye.  What they couldn’t know, and what we need to know, is that by the horrible, bloody death Christ suffered, He gave us the only thing in this world that could make everything in our lives finally, completely make sense. 

She had caught him.  He thought he’d covered his tracks well enough, but somehow she had found out that her husband had been cheating on her with an online mistress.  His heart raced—his mind was a blur.  If he’d ever needed an excuse, it was now and it needed to be good.  This could be the last straw with all the job problems he'd had lately.  As his wife cried and wailed, a mixture of anger and sadness, he tried to assure her that it was she who had pursued him—she had made the indecent proposal.  He never meant to hurt her.  He loved her and their son.  And it was in that moment, as he tried his best to spin the situation and do as much damage control as he could, that he realized what he had done.  He hadn’t sinned against his wife, or his mistress.  He’d sinned against God and nothing he could say or do would change that.  He felt the weight of his sin and as his wife sobbed his heart broke, not just for how he had wronged her, but for how he’d wronged God.  He began to weep, and it was then that in his mind, he could see Christ hanging on that cross and that his awful sin against these women, and against God, was paid for as Christ bled and died on that cross.  He saw his sin and what his sin cost.  He saw in the cross his only hope for peace with God—the only peace that matters. 

Her father was respected in the community.  Everyone loved him.  He was a deacon, chief of the volunteer firefighters, and he still held the record for most touchdowns in a single season at the local high school.  He’d also molested his from the time she was 7 years old.  Every day, in her heart, she carried the anger, the hurt, and more than anything in her life, she wanted to see him suffer.  She wanted to see him punished.  As she read in her Bible one day, she came across the passage in Isaiah 52 which said

Isa 53:4-5 (ESV) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

And she realized that her father had been punished—that the awful abuse she had suffered for all those years had, in fact, been avenged.  God poured His vengeance, His wrath, out on Christ on the cross.  As this realization flooded her mind, tears streamed down her face.  God hadn’t turned His face away while her father humiliated and tormented her.  He turned His face away when He punished His Son for that sin. 

Every problem in our life makes sense only when we look at it through the lens of the cross.  God became the just and the justifier of all of us who would repent of our sins and trust Christ when He poured out His wrath on His innocent Son for our sins.  When we look for justice, we look to the cross.  When we look for redemption, we look to the cross.  The cross is our only hope.  Whatever your question, the cross is the answer.

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