Part 1 – How could a violent act, perpetrated against a single man over 2,000 years ago, have any relevance to us today?
Believers and non-believers alike have asked this question for almost as long as that. Why? Because the answer can tell us an infinite amount about who God is and what he’s like.
“The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend“, laments Christian songwriter, Pat Sczebel. Haven’t we all pondered this thought at some time? But there is no great mystery here at all. Nothing is hidden from us–it is the most important piece of news in the history of the world, and it’s all in the Bible.
When we read the Bible, we often don’t see the meaning it once had. This is because we bring along baggage that we have collected over the years. This is especially so if we have attended church for most of our lives. This baggage is all the teaching and experience we have collected along our journey. Some will likely be good and some not so good. It affects our image of God, and what we understand when we read his word. If we believe that God is an angry judge, then we will see God as an angry judge in the Bible.
But we can’t learn anything new if we think we already have all the answers. We need to be reading it to draw meaning from the text, and not to fit our understanding into God’s word.
Our understanding of the Word may also be affected by our cultural context. Jesus’ crucifixion took place in the country of Israel, when it was part of the Roman Empire, more than 2,000 years ago. Life was very different then compared to now. Another point to bear in mind is that there was no printing press in those days! So God’s people (the Jews), learned the scriptures in depth and committed most of them to memory. The New Testament is often written with people of this background in mind.
So let’s put our baggage down as we look to the Word. Let’s do our best to understand it within the original historical context. Just as the first readers would have.
What’s the result?
“The Atonement” is the name of this story. The name comes from the words “at-one-ment”. The atonement was a gift to all humanity from God. When we give our lives to Christ and accept his atonement gift, it affects us in two liberating ways:
- It restores our relationship with God
- We are no longer trapped in a sinful nature
We will cover these in more detail as we progress.
Over the next few articles you will also begin to see how and why Jesus’ death on the cross caused us to come back into being one with God. We’ll also begin to see more about what God is really like. Is he an angry monster who wants to send us all to hell? Or is he someone we might actually want to know?
Join me on this journey as we find the answers!
Continue to Part 2.