Rev. Annette Wells
Special to the Guardian
We are in the middle of the season of Lent that leads up to the celebration of Easter.
Someone who doesn’t know the gospel story well could quite rightly wonder why any group of people would choose to celebrate a death. The act of crucifixion is considered to be the most terrible form of execution the Roman Empire had. If a member of the Roman nobility was convicted of a capital crime they might be allowed to take their own life in private, but most other forms of execution were public.
Given the horrible features of a crucifixion, we might well wonder why Christians celebrate the memory of Jesus Christ dying in this manner. It is important to note that Easter is made up by two different days of celebration, ending with the celebration of Jesus’ glorious resurrection from the dead.
However, Good Friday is the day that Christians remember the crucifixion.
Colossians 2:14 says, “He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” (New Living Translation). Even in the horrific nature of the crucifixion we find God’s plan at work. From the very time that sin entered the world, God has desired to bring his people back into close relation with Him.
In order for that to happen, however, the problem of sin had to be dealt with. In God’s holiness, He cannot allow sin a place in his kingdom. In order for humans to really know God and to live with Him for eternity, they need to be able to live in Heaven. But our sin, the wrong thought, actions, and speech that all of us are guilty of, keeps us from being able to enter God’s domain.
Our sin was nailed to the cross when Jesus died. The nails that put Jesus on the cross joined humans into relationship with God. The most amazing part of this is that Jesus is God the Son, and He actually chose to give us this opportunity.
Jesus was willing to leave his heavenly home, to leave the attributes of God behind and to take on the form of a human being. Not only did Jesus choose to come to earth and take on the form of a human being, because he still had attributes of God, he was the only human being to ever live without sin. He did not break any of God’s laws and did not have that barrier between himself and God the Father.
At the cross, Jesus willingly gave up his holiness to take on the weight of the sin of all the world. At the cross, the problem of your sin was taken care of. In essence, our sin, as human beings, was like an arrest warrant, or a long record of wrong-doing, that prevented us from eternal life.
As Jesus suffered the shame, torture, pain, and betrayal of crucifixion, he was taking on the deserved effect of our sin. That sin was covered by Jesus blood on the cross, as it was nailed with Jesus. The only reason we can celebrate Jesus’ death is that it brought about the opportunity for us to have the relationship with God that He has always wanted.
Jesus’ resurrection is the proof of what actually took place, and of who Jesus really was. Death, spiritual death in particular, was conquered as Jesus rose from the dead. It gives us the hope of the promise God makes of eternal life for all who accept the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Rev. Annette Wells is pastor of seniors and outreach ministries at First Baptist Church in Charlottetown. A guest sermon runs regularly in Saturday’s Guardian and is provided through Christian Communications.