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Don’t Forget. He Died for You

“They crucified him….Jesus said, “It is finished.” –John 19:18, 30

Strangely enough, many Christians will arrive next Sunday at Easter having missed any real talk about the cross/Jesus’ death. Yesterday was Palm Sunday and in many churches that was the focus of the service. Unless, a special service on Thursday or Friday is attended (which for a majority of Christians is unlikely) little mention of the cross will be made. That is a major distortion of the Gospel message.

The New Testament is clear we are saved by Jesus’ death. Consider just a few examples:
— Jesus’ own words on the cross- “It is finished.”
— We are “reconciled by his death.”
— We are “baptized into his death.”
— In communion- “we proclaim the Lord’s death.”
— He “suffered for our sins.”

Easter may be more exciting and more appealing but the message is “he died for me and for you.” (Romans 5:8)

Of course, Easter, the resurrection, needs to be proclaimed and celebrated. In no way should it be minimized or diminished. However, without the cross, an essential element is missing. The early Christians did not disconnect the resurrection from the crucifixion. Without a real understanding of Jesus’ death Easter loses its meaning.

 

A Week Like No Other

Christ died for our sins,
He was buried,
he was raised to life -I Corinthians 15:3 & 4

This week is different than any other time in the Christian calendar. It is the only time when several specific events are directly connected to form a whole.

There are seasons in which the emphasis looks to a specific event in the God story. Advent looks ahead to the birth of Jesus. Pentecost is a season where an event is celebrated. Even Easter has a season, Lent, connected to the actual event.

But this week is different. From the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), to the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday), the crucifixion (Good Friday) and the resurrection (Easter) historical events are uniquely joined. They are all components of The Passion. The events of that week in Jesus’ life clearly are the focus of God’s action for our salvation. Notice how much of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) are dedicated to telling about that week. Beyond that think about how much of the rest of the New Testament is predicated on it. I don’t mean to imply that all history is not in some way the stage for God’s work. But this is where it all comes together.

I challenge you to read it this week. Then be “mindful” of it and all that includes. Think about it, absorb it and live in response to it.

What an amazing message—“He died for me (you) and my (your) salvation.” And He lives.

He Promised

Matthew 28:6b- he has risen, just as he said.

A one time popular Christian TV personality once told a TV audience: “The Christian life is just so great that I think I would become a Christian even if it wasn’t true!”1 Tim Keller says, “As a young Christian, I had come up through mainline churches, I was a religion major at a secular university. The common message he got about the stories of the resurrection was that they “were literalistic, symbolic representations of these higher spiritual truths.”

And then I read what the Apostle Paul wrote: “If Christ is not risen…your faith is useless.” The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is greatest event in human history. It is in fact the hinge; it is the pillar on which our faith stands. Continue reading

Don’t Get Over It

 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Romans 5:6 (NLT)¹

Some years ago I read about a story Garrison Keilor told of a family Thanksgiving dinner:

The table was laden with food. But the hostess made the mistake of calling on Uncle Joe (not real name) to give thanks. We all knew that Uncle Joe would talk about the cross and when he talked about the cross he would cry. Sure enough he did.

There’s nothing that makes people more nervous than to hear a grown man cry. We shifted from foot to foot.

“We all knew that Jesus died for our sins, but Uncle Joe never got over it.”

I wonder if a lot of us haven’t gotten over it.  We’ve moved on to God helps me in my troubles, comforts me in my sorrow, heals my sickness, provides resources to make me successful at my job, in my relationships.  All good and important things. But the bottom line is Jesus died for our sins.

Dear God, don’t let me get over it.

¹Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

Doubting?

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” -John 20:28
Even “Doubting” Thomas believes. It took an encounter with Jesus, but it happened. To meet Jesus changes everything.

The Power of the Cross

heart-cross-thumb12673094the message of the cross…is the power of God. -I Corinthians 1:18, also Mark   15:22-39; Romans 5:6-10

The Cross is the power of God.  The NT says there is power in Jesus’ death!  Let me repeat that.  Maybe I need to say it a third time.  But no matter how many times it is repeated, there is dissonance, an incongruity. 

It is not that the words Death/power don’t belong together.  Death has power.  It is pervasive, it is inevitable, it is unavoidable.  In fact I think Saul Bellow was right when he expressed the philosophy of this generation by saying, “Death is God.  This generation thinks—and this is its thought of thoughts—that nothing faithful, vulnerable, fragile can be durable or have any true power.  Death waits for these things as a cement floor waits for a dropping light bulb.”1

The New Testament denies that.  It is says that God took the enemy’s biggest weapon, his most powerful and most destructive act and not only experienced it but used it to accomplish his own purpose.  It is through death that      Jesus entered Satan’s stronghold.  Jesus’ dying, the event, the act, has power to effect you, me, all of creation, then, now and for all time.

We are inclined to minimize the cross, the death in order to magnify, the resurrection, Easter.  In the gospels, in contrast, the “spotlight is on the passion”.  The New Testament exalts the cross as the central act of our salvation.  Malcome Muggeridge called the cross the intersection of time and eternity.  Paul, the apostle makes explicit what all the New Testament breathes: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Cor 2:2).

The good news is that Jesus died for you.  His death has power and it becomes effective when we, by faith, surrender our lives to Jesus.  John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, struggling with faith and life found that true one night. He described what happened:

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

            “I did trust in Christ” is the telling fact.  That is how you can experience the power of the cross.  For help click here or contact me.         

 

1Christianity Today, 9/18/87, 20).