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He Was Crucified

They crucified Him– John 19:18

I expect it would be difficult if not impossible to find a person in this town who could not tell you that the Christian symbol is a Cross.  Like many things familiar to us, we sometimes find it difficult to appreciate.

Do you realize how incredible that is? It is like having an electric chair, or a hangman’s noose because it represents the means by which a criminal was executed.

But the reason it is the symbol must not be lost on us.  It is the heart of the gospel.  One third of the 4 gospels describe Jesus’ last week and 1/2 of John is concerned with his last 24 hours.  Someone has said that the gospels are passion narratives with introductions and conclusions.  It is even reflected in our language by words like “crucial” and “crux”.  Charles Spurgeon summed up his theology–“He died for me.”

Despite that, my impression is that many Christians will not even hear the crucifixion story read this week. (today Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday few Good Friday).  I am afraid many are like the one who wrote this letter to Oswald Hoffman:

“I don’t see how you can say that it is important
for me to believe in the death of Christ. I did
not ask Him to die. I did not exist when He was
here. How could He have died for my sins?”

That question gets to the heart of the Cross.   Even many who accept Jesus’ death as having meaning for us often see it as only as displaying the courage of a martyr or a great lesson of love, the tragic death of a good man.

What is the Cross?
It is the world’s verdict on goodness. We are shown a basic antagonism to good which can lead to persecution. The Sermon on the Mt. assumes persecution for right. There are numerous Biblical references which indicate it:

“I have not come to bring peace but a sword.”
“all..will hate you because of me.”

It is also a way of life.

“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live,” (Galatians. 2:20)
“He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live for themselves,
but unto him.” (II Cor. 5:15)
And Jesus says, those who loose life will find it.

But most of all, the cross is the means of our salvation.  These are just a few of the Bible texts which proclaim it:

“He laid down his life for us.”(I Jn. 3:16)
“Christ died for our sins.” (I Cor. 15:3)
“The blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sin.” (I Jn. 1:17)
And finally, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (I Pet. 3:18)

It is in fact the cross which joins us to Jesus.

All those get Biblical ideas (as mysterious as they are) finally come down to this.   The Cross is how we can be saved—escape the power of sin in our lives, and anticipate eternal life.

Let us never forget. He was crucified and it was for us, you and for me.  Have you surrendered your life to him?

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