It’s Easter week and I thought we might share the time leading up to Easter reflecting upon various aspects of the cross. I’ve noticed in popular culture, as well as in many church settings, that the cross is used as a symbol that we’re all expected to understand, but we don’t necessarily detail what exactly it’s symbolizing. We use vague references like
“Jesus died for us” but the direct implications of that often go by unnoticed or unappreciated. On the other spectrum, you can read lengthy treatises about the subject that are so far in the theological realm that they lose their personal significance. I was a bit hesitant to write a series of posts like this – I’m not a theologian or scholar – but as Easter approaches, my thoughts and heart have been centering on the cross, and I wanted to share that with you. What follows for the next few days are some meditations about what the cross of Christ means to me personally and the ramifications of what was won and lost there. I hope that wherever you are in your walk of life that these posts will be a blessing and encouragement to you in the days leading to Easter.
I was brought up in the church and from the time I first could form coherent sentences I was taught that Jesus died on the cross for our sin. As a child that sounded simple enough, but as one grows, the complexity of that statement starts to magnify. What sin? Why did Jesus die for it? Why did anyone need to die? How did His death help? Central to Christian doctrine are the two themes of man’s sin and God’s grace. The first is not a comfortable discussion, but we are all acutely aware that we live in a broken world and none of us can claim perfection to overcome it. Our perfect communion with God, each other, and creation is shattered and the final result is death. We hate this reality and God hates it too. His ultimate goal is to restore His creation and to do that He needed to deal with the sin problem. That was the purpose of the cross. As the Holy Perfect One, God was the only being in the universe with the authority to destroy sin. So the One who formed man from the dust of the earth assumed a body of flesh and allowed Himself to die under the weight of sin. The Scriptures record that “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (I Peter 2:24). As Jesus hung on the cross, He assumed the full burden of all the sin of the world and accepted the fatal consequence. A cosmic war was waged on sin and death and Jesus felt the full brunt; but His resurrection proved His utter triumph.
As the verse from 1 Peter iterate, Jesus’ victory over sin takes away its ultimate power over us and creation. We still deal with the presence of sin, but its ability to have eternal effects is nullified. What a glorious reality! We can find personal forgiveness as well as the assurance that our relationships, our circumstances, our world will be restored and perfected because God has borne the penalty of sin Himself and we are free! The Bible tells us that God does not remember the sins of those who claim His forgiveness – they are completely erased. That itself is beyond comprehension and enough to provide joy forever. But God does something so much more profound. He takes away our sin and gives us His righteousness. One of my favorite names for the cross is the “Great Exchange” because it is on the cross that Jesus wore our sin and shame and He clothed us in His purity. We can enter relationship with Him and know that He sees us as He intends us to be – perfect, whole, and completely filled with joy in His presence.
Blessings to you,