With its brutality, Jesus’s crucifixion in 29 A.D. touches us deeply. I recently viewed a small clip of Jesus on the cross. The scene came from a preview of the last installment of “The Bible” to be seen on the History Channel Sunday. The producer and actress playing Jesus’ mother (a married couple) both profess their love for Jesus in this endeavor. Portrayal of the crucifixion and resurrection on Sunday will climax its weekly series. Throughout Sunday, in fact, the whole series of five two-hour segments re-plays.
Today, we observe the day of Jesus’ crucifixion on a Roman instrument of execution. The public display of a man dying on a cross struck terror into the heart of the populace. That was the point, to drag out death as long as possible, with as much physical pain as possible. The warning: “Don’t even think about revolt! If you don’t watch out, you’ll end up here, too.” We remember the cross as the way a good man died because he offended powerful people in the Jewish nation. There’s more, however.
When the Apostle Paul confronts the churches in central Turkey over their retreat to a salvation based on keeping the law, he reminds them of the crucifixion. “O foolish Galatians,” he says, “who has bewitched you before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1). Paul’s use of the Greek perfect tense (an event in the past, but with continuing results in the present, crucified) reminds us that it’s not only in the historic fact of the crucifixion, however touching, that our salvation lies, but that his death continues to produce results afresh: forgiveness, eternal life. We are justified today not because of any good deeds we have done, but because of Jesus’s crucifixion.
On this Good Friday, have you experienced the benefits of Jesus’ crucifixion? Have you received his forgiveness? Do you also love him?