Each day this month, we will consider key moments in God’s glorious plan to redeem us. We will understand both the overarching story of God and the highlights of all he’s done for us in Christ.
Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ stunned the world. It offended some, shocked others, and deeply moved many. At the time, it was the highest-grossing R-rated film in U.S. history.
Each year, at my church’s men’s retreat, we watch a specific clip from that film. Jesus is a bloody mess. I see the lacerations from his whipping all over his body. The hard spikes are punched through his hands and feet. With each blow, he cries out with piercing guttural howls. The cross, with our Savior affixed, is hauled upright and, with a thud, dropped in a hole. His own weight threatens to rip his hands from the spikes.
Crucifixion was the worst way to be executed by the Romans of the day. Once hung, the victims died slowly. As their strength gave out, they struggled to raise their bodies up to take a breath. Very slowly, they suffocated. After a few days, out of kindness, the executioners broke their legs to hasten death. The cross was a shameful way to die.
The movie could only depict physical suffering. Deep within his soul, the pure Son of God bore the punishment for the sins of the world. At the Cross, God’s righteous anger came crashing down on the one person who did not deserve it. The one who had only known the loving fellowship of his Father experienced stunning, despairing separation from him.
I see people wearing crosses as jewelry. A means of torture has now become decoration. The meaning has often been forgotten. I often forget, too, until the men’s retreat or Easter summons another stunning reminder.
The Latin for “cross” is crux. In English, “crux” now means something that is “vital, decisive, a pivotal point.” The cross was the pivotal moment in God’s story. This carpenter allowed himself to be nailed to the cross because of my sins.
He did it resolutely, out of an infinite love for us.
Father, I cannot imagine the love, compassion, and mercy behind this ultimate act of sacrifice on your behalf. Jesus became human so he could die for all humans. Jesus faced death so we could be fully delivered from death. Jesus became sin so we could become God’s righteousness in him. I can never thank you or love you enough in response to your amazing grace.
Throughout This Day: Ponder all the attributes of God that are revealed through the cross of Christ, lifting your heart in grateful worship as you go from task to task.
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