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Every Good Friday I usually go outside to pray when the time is approaching 3 PM. That’s when he died. He who transformed my life.
There was a time when I didn’t care at all about Jesus. He was cool, sure, but he didn’t have as many superpowers as Superman and he was far less badass than Samus Aran. The church, in my opinion, was a boring museum. The Bible was hard to read and lacked pictures.
But when I was confronted with my own mortality and understood the message of Easter – that he died for us to live forever – then I could not get enough of him. I opened the gospels and read. I can honestly say that I have never encountered so much wisdom and love from any other person, before or after.
Some want to reduce Jesus to a non-divine moral teacher. As C. S. Lewis has pointed out, it is impossible. A reasonable moral teacher does not claim to be the Son of God, the light of the world, and the door to eternal life – unless it is true.
But I understand why people recognize Jesus as wise and moral. He is! That’s what makes the painful killing of him so incomprehensible and wrong.
God died on that cross. God himself died for our sake so that we would have the eternal life we in no way deserve. This eternal life, in eternal happiness, is greater than anything we can imagine. No other gift is so great and as wonderful as the gift of living in paradise.
All the peace and justice we long for will be realized to its fullest in heaven. That’s no reason to stop promoting such Kingdom-values here. On the contrary, when we truly have the eternal perspective we will become even more zealous to bring God’s Kingdom to earth. As John says:
“Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as Christ is pure.” (1 Jn 3:1-2)
What I realized 13 years ago is that when we celebrate on Sunday that Jesus arose from death, it is not just that we are happy for His sake. His resurrection shows where we are going if we follow him. His path is the path of life. A life that never ends. It is because of his painful death on the cross that we can go that way.
Today at 3 PM, think of Jesus and pray to him. He loves you so much that he was subjected to one of the world’s most evil execution methods. He gave everything for you. You are too precious and loved to be lost in the bottomless darkness of death. God, your Creator and Friend, calls you to eternal happiness.
Written and performed by me. No copyright, spread it on, to God be the glory.
Sand and scorching heat
Bloodstain on the street
Tortured and betrayed
Vision starts to fade
All our guilt and sin
Carries He within
King of light
God of life
Chokes and dies
Land and heavens shake
For the Kingdom’s sake
Demons flee away
Now that we are saved
All our guilt and sin
Carried He within
King of light
Breaks the night
As evil dies
King of light
God of life
As evil dies
The guy to the right is my friend Botros. He had been living a tough life, involved in much sh*t, but somehow he finally became drawn to the Church. One Sunday he was in the Pentecostal Church of Uppsala, but he hadn’t yet decided to follow Jesus.
Suddenly he saw a vision. The people on the platform at the front faded away and there was instead the cross of Jesus. Botros could see the Savior himself, nailed and tortured, and needless to say he was quite surprised. “I saw it as clearly as I see you now,” he told me.
While he stared at the cross, Jesus lifted his head, looked straight into the eyes of Botros and then a voice said: “For you, Botros’. Then the vision disappeared.
When Jesus died on the cross, it was for our sake. He took our sin, our punishment and our darkness upon Himself and destroyed it. He killed death by dying, so that we may receive the eternal life we do not deserve by the death He did not deserve. The Bible says:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. “- Romans 5:6-8
We’ve just finished a very intense and Spirit-filled festival here at the Jesus Army in the UK, and the theme for the three-day event was “A Cross-Centered Church”. One of the most charasteristic things with the Jesus Army is our red crosses. Sadly, the cross has to many become a piece of jewelry, pieces of gold and silver which middle-class Christians hang around their necks to pretend to follow Jesus’s words in Luke 14:27 while they go on with their Mammon lifestyle. The Jesus Army just uses simple material as wood and plastic, and paints it all red to remind people on the blood of Jesus. A true cross isn’t a shiny golden relic, but a tool for torture and execution.
Jesus Army’s motto is “Love, power and sacrifice”, and on this cross-centered conference the focus has been on the latter. Why have Jesus Army succeeded with still practicing community of goods 40 years after it started when so many other Christian communities have ended after less than ten years? Well, they have emphasized from the beginning that it requires commitment and sacrifice. Jesus spoke a lot about denying yourself and leaving stuff behind when you’re following Him. He’s not calling us to comfortability, but to commitment.
A cross-centered church is a Jesus-centered church, and it’s not the cosy, lamb-petting Jesus that you see on postcards but the naked, wounded, dying Jesus with nailed hands and a pierced heart. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”, He said (John 15:13), and He truly showed it by dying for us so that we through His blood may receive eternal life. He died our death so that we may share His life.
An awesome article from Jesus Army’s Streetpaper.
You can’t get away from it. It’s everywhere.
In homes, in films, in paintings, in pop videos. Worn as an earring, on a necklace. Stitched or studded onto leather or denim. Tattooed onto skin…
What would Coca Cola or McDonalds give to own a symbol that millions wear round their necks every day?
The cross is the universal Christian symbol, acknowledged by millions of Christians everywhere as the single visual sign of their faith.
Which is weird, isn’t it? Because the cross was originally a symbol of suffering and defeat. The Roman Empire killed thousands of its enemies by nailing them to wooden crosses.
It’s like wearing a gibbet round your neck. Or hanging a little golden lethal injection from your necklace.
So the kids I like to play with tend to reject the doctrine of penal substitution, the idea that Jesus took the punishment for our sins in order to satisfy the wrath of God. A recent article on the Sojourners website gives a good example of this:
Essentially, the cross is explained exclusively in legal terms. You and I are the criminal, God is the blood-thirsty judge and executioner, and Jesus becomes the one who steps in between us and lets the angry judge beat and kill him in our place. Having killed an innocent person, this judge is somehow satisfied and a little less angry, so he sets friends of the innocent dead man free as he awaits the “end times” when he’ll finally get to let the bodies hit the floor and feel good about himself.
It’s actually quite twisted when you break it down. Jesus protects us from God? Or, if you accept the inspiration of Scripture (which I 100 percent do), it gets even more uncomfortable when you see Jesus say things like: “If you have seen me, you have seen the father, for we are one,” or in Hebrews, when it is stated that Jesus is the “exact representation of God’s being.”
Accepting both the inspiration of Scripture and the penal substitution theory of the atonement, one could actually say that Jesus died to protect us from Jesus.
Which is quite silly, really — from one aspect this makes God look schizophrenic, and on the other, it makes the cross look like a bad case of domestic violence — something I personally find offensive.
With hardly any Scriptural quotations at all, Benjamin Corey goes on claiming that penal substitution is responsible for the capital punishment and crual legal system of the United States, and like many other critics of the penal substitution theology he claims that the idea was founded by Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century and that no Christian believed in it in the first millenia of the church.
Allow me to disagree.