The season of Lent is here once again, reminding the faithful of the sacrifice of Jesus to bring salvation to mankind by his suffering and ultimate death.
In God’s providential will and prophetic purpose, Jesus Christ became the “most excellent sacrifice” for the sins of the whole world (Hebrews 10). Countless messages about the cross will be preached and studied during this special 40-day season.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians: “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). It is an honour and an urgent necessity, in these days of diluting the biblical message, that the Church remains steadfast in upholding the crux of the New Testament gospel message; namely, Christ paved the way to reconciliation of sinners with a holy God only through the ignominious means of the cross.
Jesus Christ, crucified, is the only hope of man. His sacrifice is far superior to any other sacrifices. Not only is he a better priest who secures and delivers a better covenant, he also became that great and final sacrifice that accomplishes for all of eternity what any other human methods could ever accomplish.
Let the church of Jesus Christ make much ado about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and gloat in it by way of sincere challenges to the faithful to be circumspect in following their Lord’s example.
Sadly, our messages these days miss out the cross or bypass it in its entirely as the following lesson would confirm.
Many years ago, there stood a chapel in England over whose arch were written the words “We preach Christ crucified.”
For years, godly ministers preached there, presenting a crucified Saviour as the only means of salvation. But as their generations passed away, there arose a new generation who considered the cross and its message too antiquated.
So they began to preach salvation by Christ’s example, rather than by his blood.
They didn’t see the necessity of his sacrifice.
Meanwhile, ivy had crept up by the side of the arch and had covered the word “crucified.” The arch, then, read: “We preach Christ.”
And preach Christ they did, but not as having been crucified.
After some more time, the congregation began to ask why the sermon had to be confined to Christ and the Bible. So the preachers began to give discourses on social issues, politics, philosophy, and moral issues.
The ivy continued to grow, wiping out the third word, rendering the phrase “We preach” alone.
The cross of Christ quite frankly separates Christianity from every other religion in the universe. Every other tradition is man-centred and work-oriented. Only the Christian faith makes us totally dependent on God.
God chose us. It is He who saves us.
Every other faith has to do with man trying to work his way to heaven. It is sad to see that they are literally chasing the shadows without substance in them.
Think of most of our neighbours who spend life going through the trinkets and religious works, believing these would bring them access to God.
Christ alone provides complete forgiveness of sins just because he is the real and final sacrifice – the most excellent sacrifice that God demands.
Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary was effective and acceptable to God because that was God’s will all along anyway. This plan was in the mind of God before the world was even created.
Still today, at Lent, a lot of people would think, “O poor Jesus, he came to Earth, things didn’t work out, he got killed!” That’s entirely a misconception of the theology of the cross.
Jesus came to Earth knowing exactly what was supposed to happen to him. He even talked about it before he arrived on Earth.
When Jesus died on the cross and when we put our faith in him, we become truly sanctified or ‘set apart.’
This Lent season and beyond, let us set ourselves apart from sin positionally in our standing before God and practically in our daily lives, and live up to God’s high calling for our lives.
Narayan Mitra is the pastor of Merritt Baptist Church.
The views expressed in this column don’t necessarily reflect those of the Merritt Herald and its staff. The Herald welcomes qualified writers with views on this or other faiths to submit their work to firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for publication.