It was a day like no other.
The sky went dark.
An earthquake shook the ground.
Dead folks came out of their tombs and strolled around town.
The massive temple veil was ripped in half from top to bottom.
It sounds like a sci-fi movie but it was real. It happened on the day Jesus was crucified. That was the day everything changed forever.
A rattled Roman soldier observed the strange occurrences surrounding the crucifixion and proclaimed, “This truly was the Son of God.”
That was the day religion died.
Until then personal effort to please God was the norm. Religious ceremonies were required. Sin loomed overhead. God seemed distant.
After the crucifixion a series of jaw dropping events took place. Jesus resurrected from the dead. Soon after He launched straight into Heaven while the stunned disciples looked on. The Holy Spirit began to fill people’s lives. The church exploded.
THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE
The crucifixion is what the Psalmist was foretelling in Psalm 118 when he proclaimed “this is the day the Lord has made.”
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. (ESV)
According to Peter, the Psalmist was talking about the day God made Jesus the cornerstone of our faith. That was the day He was crucified. THAT is the day God made. THAT is the day we rejoice in.
10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you CRUCIFIED, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the CORNERSTONE. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12 ESV)
The reason we can rejoice in today is because of that day, the day Jesus died for us and became the cornerstone of our faith.
Instead of “do” from then on it was “done.” Jesus began and finished the work of our redemption. That’s the reason why the Bible calls it “good news.” It is good news because Jesus did it all, paid it all.
After the cross you didn’t hear much in the Bible about “following Jesus” or even “discipleship.” The emphasis changed.
From then on the New Testament says God placed people “in Christ.” That’s the language used 160 times in the New Testament after the cross. Ordinary believers were linked with Jesus. No separation. They were joined together with Him.
Everything changed after the cross. Everything.
- Before the cross it was about what we did for God. After the cross it was about what He did for us.
- Before the cross people hungered and thirsted for righteousness. After the cross they were made righteous.
- Before the cross people “entered” the presence of God through worship. After the cross God’s Spirit dwelt in them daily.
- Before the cross people forgave to be forgiven. After the cross they were forgiven to empower them to forgive.
- Before the cross people were reminded of their sin annually. After the cross the blood of Jesus washed away their sin.
- Before the cross people went to the house of God. After the cross people became the house of God.
- Before the cross people served God under obligation. After the cross they served God as a result of the Holy Spirit working within.
- Before the cross people knew God Almighty as God. After the cross He was known as “Abba.” That’s Aramaic for “dad.”
The cross was the eternal game-changer. Living on this side of the cross means freedom. We now live in freedom from fear, freedom from obligations, freedom from self-righteousness, freedom from condemnation, freedom from judgment and freedom from separation from God.
The crucifixion of Jesus made all that a reality. It was the day religion died and relationship with God through the cross invaded the world.
The irony today is that people see the cross as a symbol of religion. It is the opposite. It is the symbol of Jesus’ crucifixion that effectively ended religion and its merit-based approach to God.
- No longer do we need to strive to please God. Jesus pleased God for us.
- No longer do we need to earn God’s approval. Jesus earned it for us.
- No longer do we live under obligations. Jesus fulfilled our obligations.
- No longer do we need to sacrifice to God. Jesus was our perfect sacrifice.
Living on this side of the cross means living with an understanding of all that Jesus accomplished for us in His crucifixion. It means we reject the Bible soup approach of stirring up Bible verses before the cross with verses after the cross. We make a distinction between reality before the cross and reality after the cross.
It is no wonder Paul said this.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him CRUCIFIED. (1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV)
but we preach Christ CRUCIFIED, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, (1 Corinthians 1:23 ESV)
We live in the joy and freedom of knowing that what Jesus did for us is all we need. We experience the transforming power of grace.
We live on this side of the cross.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please comment openly. -Roger