Monday, April 10, 2017

The Meaning of the Cross

Matthew 27:11-26

Jesus Before Pilate

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
NIV   Bible Gateway.com 

   The cross—the symbol of Christianity—has great meaning to God. First of all, through Jesus' death, the Father proclaimed the value of every single human being: He offers forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who places faith in Jesus (Rom. 6:23). Second, it meant a great cost. Holy God separated Himself from His beloved Son while Jesus bore the weight of mankind's sin. (See Matt. 27:46.) Third, the redemption of man was accomplished. Jesus' shed blood purchased us from slavery to sin and reconciled us to God (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
   What's more, divine justice was carried out on the cross. Scripture tells us that death is the debt owed for sin (Ezek. 18:20). However, God requires an unblemished sacrifice (Duet. 17:1). We could not adequately pay our own penalty because we would only die in our sin. For holy God to forgive us, a sufficient substitute had to be found—one who qualified to pay for our disobedience. Jesus, the only one who was without sin, willingly took our place and assumed responsibility for our debt. All our iniquity—past, present, and future—was placed on Christ, and God's judgment upon us was carried out against Him.
   The meaning of the cross was experienced firsthand by Barabbas, the notorious prisoner who was condemned to die. God's innocent Son was substituted for him, giving the criminal freedom. Like Barabbas, we've had our death sentence commuted, and, though unworthy, we have been set free in Jesus. Today, the cross continues to offer life and freedom to the undeserving.
Stanley, Charles F."The Meaning of the Cross." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living October 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page 16.

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