Why the Cross is the Most Epic Thing Ever
This last Saturday was the first Extra Life Ministries Bible Study. We’re off to a good start.
We spent about forty minutes talking about — as you may have caught in the title — why the cross is the most epic thing ever. I’ve posted my notes below, after the link to the recording.
After the study, we shared some lunch and hung out. I can heartily recommend Safeway-brand frozen lasagna, by the way.
Plans are already underway for next month’s study. We’re gonna try to have it in a local comic book shop. The lesson, I’m thinking, is gonna be about how holiness is practically a superpower. More details to come.
Until then, thank you so much to everyone who came on Saturday, and everyone else who follows XLM as it develops into what God made it to be. Here’s our first Bible study.
Why the Cross is the Most Epic Thing Ever (.mp3)
We say things all the time like “Jesus died for your sins.” We call Him the “lamb of God.” We sing songs like “The Wonderful Cross.” All of Christianity seems focused around this one event: the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s a big deal. And today, I want to talk about why.
It’s not just that the cross was an important event. I think it was the most incredible thing that ever happened. I think it was absolute genius. And I hope that once we explore it a bit today, we’ll appreciate it that much more.
There’s a verse in 2 Corinthians that sums it up very nicely.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
-2 Corinthians 5:21
We could spend the rest of our lives talking about the implications of this verse. In fact, I’m planning to spend the bulk of our time talking about the first half of that sentence. It’s intense. The cross accomplished so many things, I can’t even say. Today, I want to focus on a few of them.
First, the cross solved the problem of sin.
There’s a big concept we need to get straight right off. What does sin mean?
In this case, the Greek word is hamartia. According to Blue Letter Bible’s lexicon, it means “to miss the mark… a violation of the divine law.”
Okay, what are the consequences of sin?
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Now, notice this one.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
See the shift there? Sin leads to death — spiritual death. But Paul also refers to it in the past tense, too: “when you were dead.” It’s not just that we do bad things and they have bad consequences. It’s that we were broken. Hopelessly broken.
Back in the day, God set up a system for Israel to deal with their brokenness. He gave them a set of laws that would at least show them the difference between right and wrong. He gave them the law, and they broke it constantly. So he also gave them a system of sacrifices.
The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the LORD, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.
“‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD. You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. You are to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
Atonement, kaphar, is a crucial word there. It means “to cover over.” God gave them a method of covering their sins, of taking care of them. It involved sacrifice. It involved blood.
The thing is, sin incurs real debt. It causes real harm, to the sinner and those around them. It takes a sacrifice in order to be cleansed.
So, there would be a big ceremony once a year where the priests would sacrifice on behalf of the sins of the whole nation. God also set up sacrifices for if you realized you sinned during the year. As you can imagine, the blood flowed pretty much constantly.
It was a temporary fix. It was a placeholder. And most of all, it was to show us that we couldn’t take care of sin by ourselves.
But what if there were a sacrifice that could take care of everyone’s sin, for all time? It would have to be absolutely pure. And it would have to be extremely valuable. And it would have to be offered by someone voluntarily.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Let’s look back at 2 Corinthians 5:21 again. He who had no sin. Jesus, the Son of God, was the purest sacrifice there could ever be. And He offered Himself for us. He solved the problem of sin.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
-1 John 4:7-10
Not only does the cross solve the problem of sin, but it shows us what love really is.
We’ve all spent large portions of our lives wondering what love is all about. Waiting for it. Hoping for it. We get messed up over it.
Jesus shows us what it is to love. It means self-sacrifice. It means mercy and forgiveness. It means patience and kindness. It means giving yourself for the good of another. It means humility and vulnerability.
There’s a passage that gets quoted here and there by very conservative types that don’t like women having power.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Okay, but read the next verse.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…
Girls, if you can find a guy that does that, you’re set. Guys, if you can be that guy for a girl, then you’re doing your job.
In this chapter, Paul reveals something profound. Marriage — ideal marriage, the way it’s supposed to be — is just a metaphor for Jesus and the church. Think about how deeply we crave romance. Think about how far we’ll go for it. Think about it. That love, in it’s purest, best form, is just a metaphor for God’s love for us.
One more thing I’ll mention. The cross proves God’s power and holiness.
Christians say “Jesus died for your sins” all the time. But if that’s all you say, you miss one of the most important things about the cross: Jesus overcame it. Yes, He died. But then, He came back.
Think about that, in light of what we’ve discussed so far.
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Here’s that passage in a nutshell: Jesus is so good, so absolutely perfect, that he took on the burden of every sin ever committed, from all time, including those that haven’t even been committed yet… and still emerged holy. He obliterated the power of sin. He crippled it.
All that’s left for us is to accept His solution. That’s what the last half of 2 Corinthians 5:21 is about.
He did what we couldn’t. He solved the problem we couldn’t overcome. He showed us what love is. And He showed us how powerful and how good He really is. Now, He offers us His life if we follow Him.
The cross was the most epic event in all history. And the best part is, it was just the beginning.
Posted on October 24, 2011, in Christianity, Fun, Geekery, God, Holiness, The Bible and tagged atonement, Bible study, Christianity, cross, crucifixion, God, Jesus, Judaism, love, redemption, religion, sacrifice, spirituality, The Bible. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.