Jesus and the Cross
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
For Christians, the most important historical event is the death of Jesus. So, we may ask the question, Did it really happen? Well, the answer is a very strong yes! Of all the events that are portrayed in the four Gospels; Jesus’s baptism and crucifixion, according to historians are the two most certain events that occurred.
There has been extensive research done by both Biblical and non-Biblical scholars around Jesus and His death. All have come to the conclusion that it happened. Famed Biblical scholar and historian John Dominic Crossan, states; The crucifixion of Jesus is as certain as any historical fact can be.
But is this the right way to approach this central event of Jesus’s life. It is nice to know. And we certainly can start our own process of discovery of the Risen Christ knowing this is certain. But Jesus and his death is far more than a checking of the facts. Jesus’s death isn’t just a one-dimensional historical exercise. For me, it’s more about knowing the purpose of the crucifixion and how it relates to the 21st-century believer.
Likewise, we can turn to the meta-physical aspect of His death as something we may also try to understand. He did die to save us from sin. In this death, Jesus erased of all aspects of our failings. Jesus also created Himself as our mediator with God. Because Jesus died to absorb our sins, we are freed. Released to be able to speak to and receive the grace of God through Jesus.
And how exactly does this work? God is pure and untarnished and while most of our acts as humans are to do good. Not all are. Which means that if we go directly to God, meta-physically we tarnish God. Hence, the need for Jesus as our go-between, and the value of the cross. This is why when we pray, we say, In Jesus’s name.
The Apostle Paul explains this in Romans [3:24], and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Now that’s the metaphysical argument and explanation of the value of the crucifixion. But even knowing this doesn’t fully explain how we experience and know the value of the crucifixion.
Both knowing history and the meta-physical justification won’t get us there. If we stay just with this knowledge, we become passive Christians.
Now earlier I mentioned that most acts of humanity are good. There are very many who would and always do disagree with me. Some say, that humanity is totally depraved. Some will say, I have a very rose-colored lens about the state of the human condition. But total depravity is not what I have seen or experienced. I have seen far more good than bad. I believe there is good in all people. But even the resolution of this argument is a dead-ended path to the purpose of the cross. For even if there is one act of evil in a lifetime, it still requires the cross.
Which means that now philosophy can’t assure us of the purpose of Jesus and the cross.
Knowing the history, meta-physics nor philosophy will fully get us to have faith in Jesus and the cross. It might get us close, but not over the line.
It only comes from answering the inevitable knock by Jesus on our faith door. A compelling call by Jesus to know Him. This doesn’t come from the study of history, the metaphysical or philosophy. It comes from our own and very unique relationship with Jesus.
A relationship which requires our complete yes to having this relationship. A movement from the tangible to the not tangible. A surrendering of ourselves and wants. A yearning to desire Jesus.
Jesus is always ready for this relationship and died for this connection with us. When we cross over to this side of being with Jesus, history won’t matter. Nor will philosophy or meta-physics matter. We will just know why the death on the cross was necessary.
And this is faith. This is the crossing over. This is the moment we believe all. It is a moment that the world dims and we see everything differently.
It doesn’t mean we are better people; it means we are faithful people. It means our hearts desire both good and Jesus.
It doesn’t mean we will never fail, because we will. It doesn’t mean we won’t have cringeful moments, we will. It doesn’t mean we won’t let people down through our mistakes, we will. It means we know we have another chance to correct a wrong because Jesus died on the cross. It means we will continue to try to be better, because our heart is now inflamed by Jesus to be better.
I can always prove that Jesus existed and died on a cross and I have plenty of places to go to prove he died on a cross.
I can always explain the meta-physics to the most astute scholars of logic.
I can always philosophically discuss the inherent sin in humankind.
But none of this is remotely as valuable as truly knowing Jesus in our heart. This is the place we should search. This the place Jesus wants us to go.
In all of humankind dwells the Spirit of God. A Spirit that we release from bondage when we accept Jesus in our heart. A Spirit that is constantly trying to get to the surface of our being. A Spirit that will give us the knowledge about Jesus that we need. A Spirit not interested in what we know but desirous of us knowing Jesus.
Jesus is only real when we let Jesus into our hearts.
Have a Blessed Easter!
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Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
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