Thanks for joining me in this journey through the Easter story, which is more than a story since it actually happened. I’d like to take one last post to answer some questions that I didn’t have time to touch on in my earlier posts.
What’s the significance of Jesus dying on a cross? Symbolism in writing is such an important element. God, the author of the Bible, is the Master at using symbolism. The Roman government took an extensive amount of time and effort to devise a form of execution that would 1) be as public as possible, to deter others from breaking the law; 2) be as painful as possible, to drive the severity of the offense home; and 3) to be as prolonged as possible, to teach the severity of the consequence.
The crucifixion of Jesus exposed His humanity in many ways. Contrary to the portraits of Jesus on the cross people were crucified totally naked, all modesty was discarded by the executioners (that’s why the guards fought over Jesus’ only worldly possession, His clothes). The blood that flowed from the nail piercings was nothing compared to the torn flesh on His back from the scourging He received before the crucifixion actually began.
Most importantly, the cross raised Jesus off the ground when He gave His life up. People who witnessed the execution had to look up to Heaven to see the ultimate sacrifice being made on our behalf. God looked down from Heaven seeing His only Son offering Himself for the people who could come to Him no other way.
Is there anything significant about the cross itself? Yeah, the shape of it. The vertical post in the center of the cross shows the reach of Jesus’ death from sinful men on Earth to Holy God in Heaven. The crossbeam shows the horizontal out-working of this salvation to all mankind. The Jews were quite proud of the fact that they were God’s chosen race. The Messiah would come from their line to establish the everlasting peaceful kingdom that was promised to their King David. Jesus’ commissions to His followers told them to go to ALL the earth proclaiming the good news of salvation to ALL mankind.
This vertical-horizontal symbol is also a means by which we’re designed to live out our Christian walk and life. When we face challenges in this life our first response should be to look up to find our source of hope and strength. Our immediate second response should be to reach out to aid our fellow travelers on this cursed planet to help them find that same source of hope and strength. Remember Jesus’ response to the question as to what the greatest commandment is (Matthew 22:35-40)? Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the Lord your God…”then He quickly adds Leviticus 19:18: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Does Jesus dying this way make Him more important? To answer that we have to join the Apostle John (yeah, the same John who walked with Jesus) in the future. Yeah, you read that right, John was allowed to see things that are yet to happen (I hope you haven’t forgotten that God is sovereign; He has everything under control).
In the book of Revelation John is shown a scroll that has seven seals around it. A search is made for anybody who’s worthy to open the seals and read the scroll. I imagine all the rulers of the world were marched by while great scientists and writers of importance looked on; but nobody was found capable of the task.
John broke down and wept bitterly, until an elder approached him. “Don’t cry! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He IS able to break the seals and read the scroll.”
John describes seeing a Lamb that appeared to have been slain being the only one worthy to open the seals and scroll. Those titles and description belong only to the Jewish Messiah whose name is Jesus. Read the fifth chapter of Revelation to see the amount of worship that goes on before the seals and scroll are opened. That is reserved for only One Person!
So, how does any of this impact me now? That’s the most important question you can ask of anything you read or hear. The quick answer is: It depends on you.
Look at this Jesus as merely a great man who spoke magnificent truth and performed incredible miracles and you’ll be no better off than anybody who never heard the name of Jesus. Once you die you’ll face a judgement from God that awaits every person who ever lived. He’ll ask you why you deserve to enter into Heaven to spend eternity with Him. There’s only one right answer. Miss it and you miss your one shot at peace forever.
The answer is found in John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s an extremely bold statement. What’s so special about Jesus that He can say that? I’m glad you asked.
First, Jesus was no ordinary individual. Remember His birth, actually His conception; His mother, Mary, was told she would have a son. Her immediate response was of confusion. “How can this be since I haven’t had sex with a man?” The angel Gabriel assured her that the word ‘impossible’ was not in God’s vocabulary. Her egg developed without any sperm because Jesus had to be born without a sin nature.
That leads us to the second reason for Jesus’ statement: He never sinned… Never. That can’t be said of any other person either before or since. Even when Satan himself tempted Jesus face-to-face Jesus never failed. How could Jesus possibly go through His entire life without having even one wrong thought go through His head?
Because, third: Jesus is God in a human body. God had to give Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for us to spend eternity with Him.
Please accept that as a reality for your life and…
I’ll see you later. Wade