3 Things to Remember About the Cross After Easter

During the Good Friday service, our pastor gets up and quotes Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

‘Although there are many ways that God shows His love towards us,’ he tells the congregation, ‘tonight is a time for us to reflect on the Way He loved us.’

What he said stuck with me. It is true: God shows His love towards us in so many different, beautiful, unique ways.

Every sunrise. A farmer’s field of crops. Birds singing on wind-blown power lines. Morning sun rays bouncing off a sidewalk. The drawn-out hum of laughter.

All these things are amazing gifts from God that proclaim how much He loves us.

But as wonderful as these things are, none of them compare to the Way that God proclaimed His love for us.

The cross was and is and forever shall be the greatest gift God ever gives us.

In this article, I want to share with you three things to remember about the cross after Easter – three reasons why the cross is the most incredible gift we have ever received.

1. The cross reminds us how much God loves us.

One of the most amazing things about the cross is the extent of love it demonstrated towards us as sinners.
‘For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:6–8ESV)

the cross was and is and forever shall be the greatest gift God ever gives us.

Christ didn’t choose to die for us because we were righteous or pious, or because we had attained some nearly-perfect superhero status.
Far from being saints, we were sinners. We were ungodly. We deserved every nail pounded into His wrists.

The miracle of the cross is that Christ knew all this about us and yet He chose to die for us anyway.

He sealed His love for us with His blood.

2. The cross reminds us how seriously God takes our sin and spurs us on to desire holiness.

When we sin, it can sometimes be tempting to try to justify it.

It’s not that bad. My really good friends do it. Just once won’t matter.

The cross, however, silences all such excuses and reminds us: God takes our sin seriously.

Our sin is so serious to God that no sacrifice other than God Himself was enough to atone for it.

His back was flogged, His face was struck, His body was broken—d all of this was required to redeem us.

The seriousness of the cross should spur us on to desire holiness.

‘Conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.’ (1 Peter 1:17–20ESV)

3. The cross should fill us with an unquenchable joy because it points to the resurrection.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a catastrophe as ‘a final event; conclusion; generally, an unfortunate conclusion, calamity, or disaster.’
Before the cross, catastrophe was our story. We sin. Consequences follow. End of discussion.

But God didn’t want the story to end there. So He created a eucatastrophe.

Eucatastrophe is a word that was coined by J.R.R. Tolkien to mean a ‘good catastrophe’—something completely unexpected that takes a seemingly hopeless story and gives it a ‘happily ever after’ ending.

Tolkien said that ‘the Resurrection was the greatest “eucatastrophe” possible.’

What happened on the cross was incredible, but the Bible tells us that without the resurrection our faith is worthless.

‘And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.’
(1 Corinthians 15:17–19ESV)

The cross was the turning point in our story. The resurrection was the instant the battle was won.

Thus, the cross should fill us with joy because it points to what happened afterward: Christ didn’t stay there!

And if you ask me… that’s definitely a reason for unquenchable joy.

 

used by permission: therebelution.com

In The Book

‘Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will enter.’ Revelation 21:27 NCV

One night in 1912, Titanic, the largest passenger steamship in the world and considered by many to be unsinkable, struck an iceberg and sank in the icy Atlantic. Many people died. Following the disaster, the scene outside the White Star Line office in Liverpool was one of anxiety and grief as friends and relatives of those on board the ill-fated vessel crowded the building.

On both sides of the main entrance notices were posted. One said, ‘KNOWN TO BE SAVED’; the other said, ‘KNOWN TO BE LOST’.

From time to time a company official walked out with a piece of paper which contained the name of another passenger. When he held it up, a deathly stillness swept over the crowd as loved ones of the missing waited to see which side he would write the name on.

The day Jesus was crucified, God looked down from Heaven, wrote ‘KNOWN TO BE SAVED’ on the cross, and started writing names in ‘The Lamb’s Book of Life’. And the message of the cross hasn’t changed. You don’t have to be a scholar to understand it. In fact, most people who come to Christ don’t know a lot about the Bible. All they know is they need a Saviour and God loves them. All you have to do to receive eternal life is repent of your sin and put your trust in Jesus. The instant you do that, God writes your name ‘in the Lamb’s book of life’ and you become a member of His family, guaranteed a place in Heaven.

And it can happen for you today.

SoulFood: Gen 22:1–18, Luke 23:26–49, Ps 22, Isa 53

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2019

Today’s Readings

Genesis 22:1–18 ()

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22:1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Luke 23:26–49 ()

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26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Psalm 22 ()

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To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

22:1   My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
  O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
    and by night, but I find no rest.
  Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.
  In you our fathers trusted;
    they trusted, and you delivered them.
  To you they cried and were rescued;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
  But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
  All who see me mock me;
    they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
  “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
  Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
    you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10   On you was I cast from my birth,
    and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11   Be not far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and there is none to help.
12   Many bulls encompass me;
    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13   they open wide their mouths at me,
    like a ravening and roaring lion.
14   I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
  my heart is like wax;
    it is melted within my breast;
15   my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
16   For dogs encompass me;
    a company of evildoers encircles me;
  they have pierced my hands and feet—
17   I can count all my bones—
  they stare and gloat over me;
18   they divide my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.
19   But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
    O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20   Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dog!
21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!
  You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22   I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23   You who fear the LORD, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24   For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted,
  and he has not hidden his face from him,
    but has heard, when he cried to him.
25   From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26   The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
    May your hearts live forever!
27   All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the LORD,
  and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.
28   For kingship belongs to the LORD,
    and he rules over the nations.
29   All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
    even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30   Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31   they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.

Isaiah 53 ()

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53:1   Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
  For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
  he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
  He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
  and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
  Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
  yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
  But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
  upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
  All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
  and the LORD has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
  like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
  By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
  that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
  And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
  although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10   Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
  when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
  the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11   Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
  by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12   Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
  because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
  yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Fri 19 April, 2019


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