Wondrous Cross

cross-of-christ Over Easter weekend we attended four different church services and listened to three different Easter preachers. Each service was uniquely focused on the cross as the ultimate symbol of the kingdom of God. Each of the pastors labored to express one aspect of how the cross defines what The Kingdom looks like. One common theme was that Christ’s self sacrificial life and death are essential to life in The Kingdom. All three were clear that the wondrous love of Christ was seen in that He was willing to die for His enemies.

One pastor shared about his own struggle regarding why God allows bad things to happen to good people. He shared about gifted and committed Christians who died before their time. He went on to say he finds some comfort in the idea of poetic justice. He said that poetic justice does not merely require that vice be punished and virtue rewarded, but also that good eventually triumphs over evil as evidenced in Christ’s resurrection. When it looked like evil had triumphed…the resurrection!

A good example of poetic justice is found in the book of Esther. Haman, the highest noble of King Xerxes, insists that every royal official must kneel down and honor him. However, Mordecai, a Jew who had been taken captive to Babylon “would not kneel down or pay honor to him” (Esther 3:1-2). In anger, Haman set out to destroy Mordecai and every Jew in the Persian Empire. He made the king sign a decree authorizing the destruction of all Jews, and he started building a gallows where he planned to hang Mordecai. Ultimately, Haman himself was hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai.

On Good Friday 2000 years ago a good man died so the guilty could go free. Or as the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” This is grace. Christ invites his followers to the same. But how does this look like in practice? We were told that as followers of Christ we are to seek to do good and to proclaim the gospel to all who are oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). We are to lift up the lowly and honor them by serving them in any way we can (James 2:15-17). We are to do this not out of duty but out of the love shown to us by Christ on that wondrous cross.

Jesus ministry was not always done at the Temple but in every day places where people are found during the week. His ministry was done at tax collectors’ booths, places where prostitutes were found, in fishing camps and at recreational places where children were playing. In Africa we have several places that await the presence of Christ. In politics and business we have leaders who are arrogant, selfish and corrupt. In the highways we have men and women who knowingly and willingly infect others with HIV and AIDS. In our homes we have people who continue to abuse orphans and vulnerable children. These are the places Jesus is inviting us to join Him to help people love God, themselves and others with the God kind of love. The poetic justice of the cross transforms hearts and changes the world!

Did you communicate the message of the wondrous cross? Did the church survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died? Were the members confronted with their pride, corruption and greed, and brought to their knees in repentance? Were they challenged to be the evidence of the Kingdom of God in their vocation? May we regularly encounter the wondrous cross and remember that Christ demands our souls, our lives and our all, wherever we are found.

Lawrence Temfwe