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Confronting Sin is Violent


Reflecting on the Cross

This week is a great time for us to focus our lives on the most central event in our Christian faith – the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Too often, we get sidelined and sidetracked by different things going on in our lives and in our churches. This is a chance to remember what we believe and why. Each day this week, I will be posting about a different truth relating to the Passion Week.

One of the realities of living in Dallas is the constant flood of car accidents taking place all around you. When you take the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States, throw in a constant stream of construction, drivers on their cellphones and kids in the backseat, metal is bound to twist.

It’s a default reaction to be stuck in the traffic and get annoyed by the 10-15 minute delay in your schedule, never thinking about the ruined day or week that the victims ahead of you are now experiencing. Not to mention, some of their lives may be forever changed.

I gained a new appreciation for the people behind the flashing lights when I found myself in a messy five-car pileup during rush hour traffic several years ago. The driver of a pick-up truck decided to enter my lane while traffic was coming to a complete stop. He slammed into me, sending my car into two other vehicles. The car he cut off also ran into him afterward. Fortunately, no one was hurt but it did tremendous damage to all of our vehicles. My car required over $11,000 in repairs and still doesn’t drive well to this day. The driver of the pick-up refused to take the blame, triggering a year-long lawsuit between my insurance company and his. To this day, I still suffer the consequences of that afternoon as I am constantly having my car repaired and realigned.

The cross has become a symbol of Christianity for centuries. It’s central to our worship and our salvation. You will see it Facebook profiles, necklaces, and t-shirts, yet we easily lose sight of its violent realities. But like a car accident on the side of the road, we never stop to think about the true pain and violence endured by our Savior until we are forced to face it head-on.

We forget that the cross wasn’t an instrument of death but an instrument of torture. We forget that Jesus was whipped within an inch of his life by a cat of nine tails beforehand. We forget that his hands and feet were pierced with nine-inch nails that hung his body in such a way that every joint would have been dislocated. We forget that it all happened while he was naked and mocked by the bystanders.

His back was ripped to shreds, his face marred beyond recognition, his hands and feet pinned to a crossbeam, and that still wasn’t what killed him. The cross forced its victim into a condition known as asphyxiation. While Jesus could inhale by pushing up on his pierced feet, exhaling would have been very difficult. The carbon dioxide typically expelled through normal breathing would have built up inside Jesus’ body, slowly poisoning him to death.

The cross was violent, humiliating, and a symbol of shame for the Jewish people being occupied by the Roman government. So terrible was this punishment that a Roman citizen was exempt from it. It’s hard to believe that the Savior of the world would be exposed to its horrors. Yet this is what it took to put our sins to death.

It’s easy to pass over our sins, annoyed by their presence and eager to stop thinking about them. Sometimes we have to be reminded of the wreckage they cause. While Jesus could have called down angels to rescue him and ended it with a single prayer, he didn’t. He refused to because such violence, horror, and agony was what it took to end the carnage caused by our moral failures. As the only sinless one, he was the only suitable sacrifice.

To God, sin isn’t an annoying little reality. It’s an offense to his very character. It was so important for him to rescue us from it that he was willing to subject his own Son to a Roman crucifixion. It’s embarrassing to think that we wouldn’t treat our sin with the same abhorrence.

I’m simply thankful that God did.

Posted in: Miscellaneous, The Cross

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  • Rick

    Great insight….

    • Matt Morrison

      Thanks Rick! I hope things are going well.