I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
This coming Sunday we begin Holy Week, the commemorating of Jesus last week that began with the Triumphal March on Palm Sunday and ended with darkness covering the earth from noon until 3 pm. As we shared on Sunday from John’s Gospel the 19th chapter, when Jesus declared “It is Finished” the central event of God’s redeeming purpose was accomplished. The cross is not merely an impediment in the road as we make our way to Easter for the resurrection; it is THE central theme of the Gospel. 1 Peter tells us “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree…” It is on the cross that Jesus reconciled us to the Father and brought us new life. The cross stands at the center of God’s plan.
The Apostle Paul, understanding that truth wrote to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” For Paul, the cross was the place where he was called to lay down all his prior “credits” and “debits.” It was the place where who he once was, died, in order to become the person God had destined him to be.
A young pastor in our presbytery posted a quote from Pastor Ray Ortlund (retired pastor of Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, CA):
“Christian conversion is not adding Jesus to our lives; it is replacing our idolatrous goals and identities with Jesus alone.”
As we enter this Holy Week it is my prayer that all of us will reflect on the cross—not just the resurrection. Let us not hurry past the crucifixion and try to rush to Easter. Without the cross not only would Easter be as meaningless as chocolate bunnies and colored eggs, it would never have been celebrated at all. The resurrection is God’s exclamation point on Jesus declaration from the cross—“It is finished.” May we this week come to the cross and lay down our inadequate dreams and false identities so that together with Paul we can declare “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
With deep affection,