March 31, 2023
By Editorial Team
Agnus Dei by Francisco de Zurbarán. Pix Courtesy : Wikipedia
“I am bleeding like water, all my bones are disjointed, they pierced my hands and my feet, they cast lots for my garments” Psalm 22: 14,16,18
The cross is the foundation of human life. Many of us imagine that in Mathew 27, Cross appears first. No, all through the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, it’s the Cross that is the centre of it all. There is no mercy outside of Jesus dying in our place
When Adam sinned, God revealed that the Messiah would have to die in his place. That’s when the first lamb was sacrificed in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3). Since then, every lamb offered as a sin offering is a picture of the Cross. Let us trace the Cross through the lives of saints across centuries in the Bible.
When Abraham offered up his son Isaac, the Holy Spirit was giving him a picture of Christ the son of God who would have to die for our sins. In that episode, as Isaac comes back to life from the knife, is also a picture of Christ’s Resurrection (Gen 22).
When Moses brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, God first revealed the Cross to the people, everyone. Every family had to take an unblemished lamb an year old and kill it and apply the blood on their houses. Each father had to do this for his family, not the Priests (Ex 12). It’s the Paschal lamb that saved the Jews and brought them out. That’s why at Pascha (Passover), Jesus explained the true meaning of the Paschal lamb, and the next day they saw the sacrifice. Our communion rite goes back to 1500 BC, where the Paschal lamb was slain to deliver and redeem the people.
In the wilderness, Moses instituted an entire system of sacrifices which centres around the offering of lambs and goats as sin-offerings. The whole of Leviticus points to the Cross. And these sacrifices were the centre of the Temple at Jerusalem after it was built.
Fast forward a few hundred years when David established the Kingdom. While Saul founded it, it was David who settled things, instituted administration, military victories and also had Worship going on 24×7. David’s Kingdom is the most perfect picture of what Lord Jesus will accomplish when He comes next to Rule and reign over the world. And this prophet David wrote 70+ Psalms, he also wrote Psalm 22. To me this is the most weighty Psalm. This is a first person account of Jesus on the Cross. You may want to read it prayerfully again and again to understand the depths of human suffering of Jesus there. Even the Gospels don’t cover it, because it was too gruesome, but David saw it by the Holy Spirit.
Many people read Isaiah without knowing that Isaiah 53 is the foundation for Isaiah’s salvation and understanding of God and his mercy. Keep this as a central thought when you read the prophets. Micah spoke of the Judge of Israel being smitten on the cheek. Zechariah spoke of a bleeding saviour, one pierced (Zech 12:10). In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness (Zech 13:1).
Coming to the disciples, Peter in his letters speaks of the Cross very tenderly. By whose stripes you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24) . John refers to the Lamb, in Revelation about 30 times. Lamb means Crucified Christ. John held the Crucified Christ in such high esteem.
So we can see that from Genesis to Revelation, the saints believed in Christ’s death on the Cross for their Salvation and Eternal life. So as you read the scriptures, do keep it as a central thought that all these saints knew about the Cross. The only difference between us and them is that we have seen the Cross, while they believed in it and waited for Jesus to come to the earth. Don’t read the Old Testament imagining some sort of salvation for Israel because they were chosen people etc. God chooses no one by a whim and a fancy, whoever believes in the Cross is chosen. Israel believed in the Messiah and his death, and so were chosen.
How often do you visit the Cross? Spend time there by reading the Cross chapters, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Gospel accounts etc. It is the only place of True Mercy. There is always some relief for us, when we come to see Jesus on the Cross. It also brings about a true estimate of ourselves and keeps us humble.
Also the benefits of the Cross are too many to be even numbered. As the Anglican communion liturgy so beautifully describes it, “that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion.” Grace is released at the Cross, there is healing of the body, deliverance from demonic and oppression. Blood of Jesus protects us from harm, the entire forces of Heaven fight for those Blood marked saints. There is true direction here, there is community here, reconciliation with one another, friendship with God and heavenly benediction. In all their affliction, He was afflicted. (Is 63:9). Whatever your sorrow, pain, sickness, trial, prison, Jesus experienced it all. And the best of it all, He Triumphed over it. As you meditate on the Cross, May God release the life of Christ into you and your situations this season.
Jesus truly suffered for us. See his physical bleeding, the nails in his hands, sicknesses, his back scourged, bones dislocated, thorns on his head. It was the most gruesome capital punishment ever in eternity, no man was put through such pain, wounds, shame and loneliness like him. All for my sins and yours and for all flesh. All we can say is, Thank you Jesus.
“Then shall I bow in humble adoration and there proclaim, My God how Great Thou art.”
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