Alright, there is something I want to ask you and I really don’t want to sugar coat it. So if you don’t mind, let’s just get down to it. What did the cross really do? I mean, let’s be honest, either we believe it happened or we don’t. There really isn’t a middle ground on this subject, right?
And just so we’re clear. When I say the cross, I mean the virgin birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
If it didn’t really happen, well, then there is just a whole bunch of people who’ve been bamboozled and all of this is “just something you choose to believe”. It’s just another world religion. You could probably even call it a cultural kind of thing.
Where does that leave the billions of people throughout history that have devoted their lives to this cause, this Christianity?
But if the cross really did happen, well what did it accomplish. I mean, really. When I compare the “I don’t believe” group to the “I do believe group”, there are often more similarities than there are differences. And it makes me wonder – why Jesus? Why the brutality, the gruesome death and the mysterious resurrection?
So let’s look at life before the cross.
Religion had a firm set of rules. If you followed the rules, you belonged. If you didn’t follow the rules, well you had to either go through a ritual or simply absolve to be “lost” or “out”. And truly, to be righteous was an almost impossible task. But people turn to religion for hope, for strength, for peace. We seek God because deep in our souls we long for a secure belonging, a refuge of true love in the midst of a sea of pain.
Before the cross we were searching.
If we’re really honest with ourselves, this struggle is still present today. Just look at all the empty soul-places people fill with a myriad of things. Even so-called christians are still searching.
Then Christ arrived. And by all historical accounts, He disrupted culture profoundly. He touched the untouchables, He taught women, and preformed miracles on the days the church was supposed to be closed. He sort of started a revolution and this wasn’t just discussed in the Bible, it’s in various historical accounts across jurisdictions. Jesus did what religion couldn’t. He brought true love to life.
And then the terrible happens. He is accused of blasphemy, by none less than the “righteous” leaders of that time. In a flurry of events, He is placed under the death penalty and led away to His crucifixion. Brutally beaten, horrifically nailed to wood, and left for dead, it appears religion has won. But instead, He looks to heaven and says “It is finished.”
In that moment it appeared all love was yet again stopped by some religious code, some overwhelming list of standards and judgements. But it didn’t stop there. Love wasn’t finished. Love had just begun, as it rose from the depths of brokenness.
Jesus came to earth and taught us more about Love than any written word, any list of conditions. And as He entered the grave, He buried the binding ropes of religion. The check lists we so eagerly attach to qualifications, those became dust. When he emerged from those depths, He turned religion on it’s head and flipped our sense of belonging backwards. Or rightwards.
The cross may have split time in half, but it really gave us what we cannot conjure up on our own. We cannot make ourselves feel love, or peace. We cannot force joy or pretend to forgive. Jesus gave us what we cannot find by our own doing, He gave us hope. He showed us truth faith.
He finished the search, the search for belonging and secure hope. He finished the desperate cry for Love.
What the Cross really gave us was true life, full life.