What makes Christianity so unique, so transformative, so powerful is that our hope is not in a philosophy (we don’t have to think our way salvation) or in a law (we don’t have to earn our way into salvation); our hope is in a person. Jesus Christ.
In the midst of all the hopelessness and brokenness in our world, Jesus came to show us that the creator God has not given up on us, that He loves us, and that He is committed to making things right again. He also reveals that in the midst of all of the violence and greed and injustice in our world there is another way to live.
When we begin to follow him this hope bursts forth into our life. Peter says it becomes a living hope. It radically changes our value system; our aspirations and ideals. All of our hopes and desires begin to change. To the point that we begin to feel out of place with this world. Suddenly what seemed so important to us and everyone else around us isn’t so important anymore.
Our consumer culture begins to lose its allure.
Our individualistic culture begins to seem lonely.
Our materialistic culture begins to seem vain and empty.
Our celebrity culture begins to seem ridiculous.
This new hope makes us strangers living in a strange land. Foreigners, aliens, exiles. And nowhere is this more clear than the cross.
Where the world sees humiliating defeat, we see ultimate victory.
Where the world sees foolishness, we see the wisdom of God.
Where the world sees a common criminal, we see a king.
The cross changes everything.
It is on the cross where Jesus Christ most clearly reveals God’s heart and love for humanity; and it is on the cross where Jesus shows us a radically new way to live.
The cross is the shape of our hope.
1 Peter 2:24
He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
The cross is the way to God. But not only that, it is the way to live.
The cross is our salvation and our calling.
The cross is our forgiveness and it is how we are to forgive others.
The cross is how Christ defeated evil and it is precisely how we are called to do battle.
The cross is not only hope for heaven, it is hope for the new heavens and new earth, a creation restored, the kingdom of God, and it is the way in which this new kingdom comes into our lives, into our church and into our world. The death of Jesus on the cross is the center of all Christian life and theology. If we want to know who God is, who we are, and the way to ultimate truth and life the best thing we can do is look at Jesus upon the cross.
The cross is not just a religious symbol
The cross is a radically new way to live!
If you understand the cross and you receive the beauty of it into the center of your life, it will revolutionize your attitude toward daily life. Which is all the more crazy since crucifixion was designed to be ghastly and hideous. But this is the mystery of the cross; the brutal crucifixion of Jesus Christ, followed by the glory of the resurrection, this is the axis of Christianity around which everything else revolves.
At first glance the cross looks like anything but success. It looks like failure. It looks like defeat. It looks like death. But it is also the power and wisdom of God.(1 Cor 1:24). The cross is the mysterious beauty that saves the world.
“The centerpiece of the message of the New Testament is that we worship a God who defeats evil by dying out of love for enemies rather than by killing enemies.” - Greg Boyd
Here Peter is writing to Christian slaves, but instead of telling them that they should rise up in revolt against their masters, he tells them to obey, and to show respect. Christ’s suffering serves as the example.
1 Peter 2:21
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
Peter is inviting followers of Jesus to inhabit the extraordinary story of the cross. To embrace it as their own. NT Wright says, “He is urging them to realize that somehow, strangely, the sufferings of the Messiah are not only the means by which we ourselves are rescued from our own sin; they are the means by which the world itself may be brought to a new place, through the life of his people.”
Jesus said, “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14v9).
This is the good news of Christianity: God is like Jesus. Jesus didn’t come to save us from God, Jesus came to reveal God as Savior!
If Jesus’ life is the definition of God, and the defining moment of Jesus’ life is the cross, than the Cross is the clearest revelation of who God is. The gospel of John says, “God is love… This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 4:8, 3:16). When we look at the cross we don’t see what God does to sinners, we see what God does for sinners.
The cross reveals who God is and who he has created us to be.
- Pastor Paul