And [Jesus] began to teach [the disciples] that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are the central events of our Christian faith. Without the resurrection, Jesus would be one more Jewish revolutionary who was put to death on a cross by the Roman Empire. Instead his death and resurrection became a cornerstone event in a worldwide movement that has continued to grow for two thousand years.
So what do we as Christians believe and understand about his death and resurrection? Many thousands (if not millions) of books, articles, blogs and sermons have been written about the cross, and yet my observation is that for many Christians their understanding is often articulated along the lines of “Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for my sins.” Or perhaps some will say, “Jesus died so that I could have eternal life.” Additionally, some Christians, depending on their church stream, might say, “by his stripes we are healed.”
Is there anything wrong with these statements?
Or is there more to the cross and resurrection that we might understand?
In this short series of posts in the lead up to Easter, I invite you to meditate on what the Scriptures tell us about the cross and resurrection. I pray that they will invite you to press in a little deeper to rediscover the wonder of the cross and the significance of the resurrection for us today. My goal is not to offer a ‘new’ or novel perspective, but rather to encourage us to engage afresh with the Scriptural witness that testifies to this history shaping moment.
Questions for Reflection:
1) When you see a symbol of the cross in a church or as a piece of jewelry; on a T-shirt; as a tattoo; or maybe on a monument, what response does it provoke in you?
2) Did the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus featured in the gospel messages you have heard lead you to follow Jesus? If so, how did it impact you?