Tag Archives: the cross

Reconciled

Why Jesus Is My Hero #46 of 52

Do you ever take it for granted that God would be on your side? That if there is a God out there, and if you could ever find a way to meet him, that he’d be really thrilled to see you? Maybe you’ve spent your whole life trying to live for him, so of course he’s a really big fan of yours!

Well the Bible says that by rights, in a world where people get what they deserve, God should be decidedly against us. By nature, there exists hostility and enmity between God and us. I phrased it that way deliberately: hostility from God towards us, as God rightly stands in judgement against our instinctive hostility towards him. As Romans 1 puts it: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

So we have a problem. It doesn’t matter how much we try and seek God, how many good works we do or how much money we try and donate to worthy causes – if we’re trying to get to God by our own efforts, then we can never overcome God’s hostility towards people who have treated him with the contempt which we have all shown towards him. The hostility is on God’s side, the wrath belongs to God, and so any solution has to come from and originate with God.

This is precisely why the message of Good Friday is such good news, as we discover that on the cross God was providing a way to remove the hostility that existed between us, and to allow for reconciliation to occur – for us to be restored into a loving relationship with him. The apostle Paul describes it like so in this wonderful passage, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21:

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.


… All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

On the cross, God’s wrath against our sin was poured out on the innocent, Jesus Christ. He absorbed that hostility that we deserve so that if we commit ourselves to him, God might now treat us as his friends – more than that, as his children! It means we can pray to him with confidence, trust him to act towards us in love for our good, enjoy spending time listening to him as he speaks to us in his word, delight in the gospel of peace full of the hope of eternal life. None of these are things that we can take for granted – none of these are privileges that we should be able to enjoy by rights. We were by nature children of wrath, and only by his grace are we now made children of light.

That’s why Good Friday is such good news, and that’s why Jesus is my hero.

The Boss

Why Jesus is my Hero #13 of 52

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Over the Easter weekend I’ve been reading Matthew’s account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. I must confess that I often fall into the trap of feeling a little underwhelmed on Easter Sunday: I tend to be all about Good Friday. Good Friday is when we remember the cross; Good Friday is when we remember that Jesus died the death that we deserved, taking the punishment that was our due upon himself so that we could be set free; Good Friday is where God’s justice was satisfied so that I can be sure of a “not guilty” verdict when I stand before the judgement seat of God. Need I spell out why I find all that pretty exciting?

But Easter Sunday… Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking of Easter Sunday as a mere epilogue to what was achieved on Good Friday. I roll out the resurrection in apologetics situations as evidence of Jesus’ identity, and I guess it’s nice that the story of Good Friday has a happy ending because the poor man on the cross didn’t stay dead and what have you, but as absurd as it sounds, I don’t often really think in terms of anything being achieved on Easter Sunday.

Well in that respect I couldn’t be further from the gospel writers and the rest of the early church. What a rebuke it was to me to read Matthew 28 this morning, and hear these words from the lips of the risen Jesus:

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'” (Matthew 28:18-20)

So yes, it was on Good Friday that the price for my sin was paid in full, but without Easter Sunday that becomes a mere transaction as cold and remote as the body that would still be lying in that garden tomb in the rock. It sounds kind of obvious when you spell it out, but without Easter Sunday Jesus would still be dead! Maybe I fail to get excited by Easter Sunday because in my heart of hearts I live as though he may as well be – I fail to believe his promise that “I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus lives! He is risen! He stands before the throne of God making intercession for those who trust in him, pleading our case before the Ancient of Days, and through his gift of the Holy Spirit he is with us still today so that we are not left alone as orphans.

It’s Easter Sunday which shows that Jesus was victorious over sin and Satan – death could not hold him because he defeated sin once and for all. And with Satan defeated, he was able to declare that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Jesus is now lifted above every power and authority, he rules as king over every nation and tribe and tongue. Because of Easter Sunday there is now nothing outside of his dominion. He deserves allegiance from every creature in existence, whether on earth or in heaven. He is the boss. And that’s why the mission that he gives to his disciples makes such perfect sense: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”. Because he’s the boss of all the world – all authority has been given to him – of course they’re to go and call all the world to follow him. The Christian message isn’t just about Good Friday and a great offer of free forgiveness for you to take or leave as you see fit – it’s also about Easter Sunday and a risen and ascended King who deserves and demands your allegiance. To stand against Jesus now isn’t just to miss out on a wonderful opportunity, it’s to set yourself up as a rebel force in defiance of your rightful ruler.

Jesus is the boss of everything and everyone. That’s why he’s my hero.

The Man Who Made Me Rich

Why Jesus Is My Hero #6 of 52

Seeing Wealth With Spiritual Eyes

Money, money, money. Money makes the world go round. We measure people by their wealth- by their car or by their phone. If we have money we fear losing it; if we don’t have it we dream of how life would be different if only we could get our hands on some. We live as though our happiness depends upon having money, and preferably lots of it.

So I’ve been challenged recently by some surprising words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians. The life of an apostle was hardly a shortcut to wealth – Paul suffered constant opposition, he was shipwrecked, he was beaten and stoned and on several occasions came within an inch of his life. And yet he writes this:

“We are treated as…having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:10)

To look at him, Paul had absolutely nothing – not a penny to his name. Yet with the eyes of faith, Paul recognised that he possessed everything that mattered – spiritually speaking, he was rich beyond his wildest dreams. He had a relationship with God through Jesus Christ – a treasure far more tangible and lasting than any iPad.

Through the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul invites us to look at the world through spiritual eyes. To live by faith and not by sight – seeing things as they really are. We often think of the “spiritual” as being somehow less tangible, more airy fairy. But Paul tells us what nonsense that is – this world is a fleeting fancy in comparison with the eternal realities that Paul invites us to consider.

It’s into this context, then, that Paul speaks this beautiful gospel summary:

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Our Poverty

The first thing I noticed when reading this verse the other day was the implicit assumption that without Jesus we are poor. So what does Paul mean by that? Compared to him (and a lot of people in the world today) I’m incredibly wealthy, if he’s just thinking about my bank balance and the quality of my life. Well, with our gospel spectacles on, he’s clearly talking about our spiritual state. Earlier on he talks about those without Christ as being “blind” and “perishing”: the god of this world has blinded our minds, to keep us from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Naturally we’re cut off from God by our sin – we want nothing to do with him, preferring to invent our own version of God or rejecting him entirely. We’re unable to recognise the good in him, we have no spiritual sight. Without Christ, we are spiritually bankrupt.

His Wealth

By contrast, Paul says that Jesus was rich. Jesus lived in perfect relationship with his Father since all eternity, standing in his presence, unblemished by any hint of sin. Spiritually speaking he had it all.

He Became Poor

The glory of Jesus Christ in this verse is that completely of his free grace he chose not to stand on his rights, but for our sake he gave it all up and became poor. He took on flesh, and lived in poverty – being born in a mangy stable. He didn’t come to a wealthy family, being born the son of an earthly king. Instead, his earthly father was a humble carpenter. But more than that, he became spiritually poor. On the cross he was cut off from God, suffering his wrath in our place. Paul puts it like this:

“For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

On the cross, Jesus was spiritually bankrupt in our place. The full extent of God’s wrath was poured out upon him, just as we deserved.

We Can Become Rich

The wonderful truth is that as a result of Jesus’ willingness to go to the cross for us, we can be restored to a right relationship with God. We can “become the righteousness of God” – treated as though we were perfect like Jesus. He became poor so that we through his poverty might become rich. I can enjoy an eternity with God, without deserving it in the least.

Having nothing I possess everything. I am rich beyond my wildest dreams. That’s why Jesus is my hero.