“The time of judgment for the world has come—and the time when Satan, the prince of this world, shall be cast out. And when I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw everyone to me.” (John 12:31-33).
The sanctuary of every Church has the cross positioned in the centre, directly above the altar. Although it is important to behold the empty tomb when we speak of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, on Easter Sunday, the proclamation of the death of Christ on the cross, on Good Friday, remains more central to the Christian faith.
The emphasis is not on the cross itself, but on the atoning sacrifice of Christ. The image of Christ’s body appears on the cross; hence, the crucifix and not an empty cross (Zechariah 12:10).
The liturgy of Palm Sunday opens with the joy of the triumphal entry of Jesus in the Holy City of Jerusalem. But, it very soon introduces us to “the hour” of Jesus’ passion and glorification, when he would complete the work of Redemption. (See John 17:1). This is how the name Passion Sunday arises.
Owing to the sin of Adam and Eve Jesus came down from heaven to lift a fallen world. The word “fallen” is used in the Bible to describe someone or something spiritually and morally degraded. In Amos 5:2 Israel is described as “fallen”.
In a fallen world we suffer the degrading and deadly spiritual, moral, and social consequences of sinfulness.
In a fallen world we live in lawlessness, constant frustration and warfare at every level of society. We miss out on the joy of obeying God’s rules so as to fulfill His excellent design for our lives.
In a fallen world, we forfeit the beauty, tranquility, and vitality of godly family life into a drain of sexual-identify confusion, domestic violence and broken relationships.
We lose dominion over God’s creation into a selfish exploitation of the land and the resulting ecological disaster. We fall from knowledge of God’s enlightening truth into the darkness of ignorance and the confusion of corrupt minds.
In a fallen world, we struggle with sin on a daily basis. Injustice, inhumanity, and falsehood discord and suffering are commonplace. This leaves us diseased and dying in every part of our personalities and bodies; and all creation “groans” under the consequences of our sin (Romans 8:22).
Yet, none of this was God’s original plan for humanity. The good news is that, in Jesus Christ, God is repairing His creation.
His kingdom confronts the destructive agents of the kingdom of Satan. In order to challenge death, the last enemy, Jesus had to experience it himself. Thankfully, he rose.
In John’s gospel, the cross is not seen just an instrument of torture but also the throne on which Christ rules. It is the power and wisdom of God. (See 1 Corinthians 1:23).
There is something in the Cross of Christ that keeps drawing us back to look upon our Crucified Lord, and be saved. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14–15).
“By his wounds we are healed” (Is. 53:6). This is why Good Friday is called by that name. In Jesus, God is lifting us up, restoring His friendship and giving us eternal life (John 15:15). He is restoring His design for the family (Ephesians 5:21-6:4). In Jesus, God is restoring man’s stewardship over God’s world (Romans 8:18–21).
The cross is a way of life. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there” (Galatians 5:24). When Jesus returns, he will set everything right forever (Revelation 20-22).
Did you know?
John 17: 1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: «Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.» NIV