This week’s short message by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch the video or read text below.
During Holy Week, Christians call to remembrance the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The cross is the symbol of Christianity — but why would a religion want to focus so much on the death of its own founder?
At the time of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles thought the idea of a crucified prophet was ridiculous. The Jews wanted a messiah who would overthrow the armies of Rome. The Romans and Greeks also valued worldly power and wisdom. If a religious leader was from God, they reasoned, why would he let himself be tortured and killed?
But the cross of Christ was incredibly powerful. In fact, it has changed the world and people’s lives like few other events in history.
First, the cross showed that God defies our cynical expectations. Even the people and things we scorn can have a positive purpose. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he felt forsaken by God. Who hasn’t wondered the same thing when we’re going through difficulties in our lives? Jesus was rejected by society, but he came to be known as the greatest spiritual leader in history. The cross teaches us to have faith in God’s benevolent plan.
Second, the cross enabled humanity to move beyond the religious practice of blood sacrifice. In ancient times, most cultures believed in slaughtering animals — or even humans — so that God could forgive people of their sins. But the Apostle Paul interpreted the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as a mystical, universal sacrifice for all the sins of the world, for all time. God loves us so much that He sacrifices for us — and the only thing God wants from us is to live a life of goodness.
Third, when we look to the cross, we can be inspired by Jesus’s heroic example of standing up for what’s right, no matter the personal consequences. Many people throughout history have emulated his moral courage, and the world is much better for it. When we make sacrifices for our faith, we have the power to make the world a better place.