A couple of years ago a friend commented. “Every time I look at the cross I feel so much shame. I can’t help but to see my sin nailing Jesus the cross daily.” As I listened to his heartfelt confession, old feelings of shame and guilt surfaced in my heart.
It took me a couple of days to shake the regret and guilt. I found myself at the foot of the cross, again. Somehow it didn’t make sense to me. How can the symbol of the gospel message (good news) birth such negative feelings and thoughts?
Re-examining Our Choice
Past mistakes, regrets, shame, and remorse—those aren’t the good news of the cross! If they were, none of us would have ever decided to take up our crosses.
Have my friend, the church, and myself failed to see the true power of the cross?
I believe it’s time to re-examine why we made the choice of surrendering our lives at the cross, to fully understand the purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Sacrifices In Modern Context
To do this, we must first look into the history of God’s original people, our Jewish stepfathers. I believe there’s a lot we could learn from them— both good and bad. And by that I mean the things they got right and not making the same mistakes.
Let’s start on a positive note with what they did right. Most Orthodox Jews practiced what is called qorbanot (sacrifices or offerings). These offerings were not just animals; often it was simply giving away or giving up of something.
The ultimate purpose of the qorbanot was to bring the offerer closer to God. It was a sign of love or thanks. In fact most, Jewish sacrifices were offered out of love. Love was always the motivating factor whether it was the first sacrifice offered by Able in the garden, Abraham’s near sacrifice of his own son, and even David’s humble submission to God. Love is the spring that sacrifice flows from—not sin.
Learning From Our Past
Then came God’s ultimate act of love in the New Testament (John 3:16) While Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross satisfied the blood requirement for one of the Jewish sin offerings, the chatatot, it was love that ultimately covered the sins of humanity (Proverbs 10:12:1 Peter 4:8).
The Pharisees missed the love of God through Jesus. There were more concerned about temporary power and pointing out the sin and the lives of others. Jesus often confronted them about loving like their father Abraham (John 8:41–43).
It’s my hope that we can learn from our Jewish stepfathers and not make the same mistakes. To learn how to live crucified with Christ like the apostle Paul. It is my prayer we see the true power of the cross, love. I believe this is a better way to see the cross, instead of seeing sin, shame or regret. But, seeing the love of God, this is the true power of the cross.