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The Biblical Revelation of the Cross
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THE FAITH ONCE DELIVERED
THE CROSS OF CHRIST FROM AN EARLY CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
Why the cross of Christ? It’s a simple enough question. Why did God make a sacrifice of His Son?
To know the truth, we must seek to understand the beliefs and perspectives of the first Christians. For answers, we need to go back to the beginning …
The death of Jesus did not just happen privately, in secret, unannounced. His death was made a public spectacle for all to see. In just a few short years of ministry, this ‘son’ of a carpenter from Nazareth, as was supposed, had become renowned throughout all Judea and Galilee as a preacher of righteousness – as one who had worked miracles of healing and who attracted large crowds wherever He went. The news of His crucifixion reverberated throughout all Jerusalem and its environs. Many had been wondering if He were the promised Messiah or a prophet of God and undoubtedly the expectation of His arrival in the city for the Passover had given rise to great excitement. People had witnessed His coming as one who had taught with authority and power – not at all like the rabbis with whom they were familiar. Nevertheless, to members of the Sanhedrin, Jesus was to be feared as an outspoken rival – a thorn in the side, whose teaching had threatened to undermine their own positions of authority and the established order. It had become expedient for them to conspire that He should be charged with sedition and be put to an exemplary death – that He should be made to appear as one openly despised and rejected of God – accursed, hanging from a ‘tree’. Yet, in so doing, the Jewish leaders acted as was foretold in the very Scriptures they purported to uphold.
Nevertheless, what this shows is that the Lord did not appear among us in the flesh simply to die. Although it was possible for the incarnation, death and resurrection to have happened without public revelation, it was necessary that He should minister openly and have witnesses who were able to testify and confirm faithfully to His bodily resurrection and to all that He did and had taught – for the purpose of our salvation and reconciliation with God. For it is through the Gospels that we learn about Jesus Christ the person and come to understand what it means to know Him and to be one of His disciples, in Spirit and in truth – and it is through Him that we have the revelation of the Father Himself.
Man’s sins scourged and pierced His mortal flesh. In His body, therefore, He truly bore man’s sins – but also in His heart. He was burdened by those sins and came that He might take them away. He laid down His life in holiness and true righteousness to glorify the Father in faithful witness to the love and the power of God over all sin and death – that we might come to believe, repent and be saved.
By the grace of God, because God is love, Jesus Christ, the Word of God, was revealed from heaven for our salvation, to redeem mankind from sin through the offering that He made of Himself for the sake of all who truly believe, that they, receiving forgiveness of sins, should die unto sin themselves and live unto God in Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit and the righteousness which is by faith.
The Son of God came that He should ‘bear witness to the truth’ (John 18:37, NKJV). Yet, perhaps the greatest truth of all: ‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Cor.15:3, NKJV), remains for many the greatest mystery.
To God be the glory. Amen.
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