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Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Cross and the Resurrection

The cross on which Jesus died had been prepared for Barabbas, a criminal. Like the other two criminals nailed to the crosses beside Jesus’ cross, he deserved to be punished. However, Pilate set Barabbas free and sentenced Jesus to die on Barabbas’s cross. Yet, Pilate could find no fault in Jesus. So Jesus, who was innocent, died in the place of Barabbas, who was guilty.

That substitution extended far beyond Jesus’ dying in Barabbas’s place. Because the name Barabbas means “the father’s son,” we see that our Savior, another Father’s Son, died in the place of all the sons (descendants) of Adam, our first father. As the apostle John pointed out in 1 John 2:2, Jesus was the sin offering for the whole world. He died not only in Barabbas’s place but also in your place and mine.

Further, Jesus voluntarily died for us. No one took His life; He freely laid it down for us, according to Galatians 1:4. Although His subsequent resurrection was supernatural, so was His death. He did what no one else can do: He dismissed His spirit (Matthew 27:50).

The hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” communicates wonderful truths, but perhaps we should rethink one of its statements: “And I love that old cross.” Our love should not be directed to the cross but to the One who died on the cross. John proclaimed, “We love Him, because He first loved us.”

Three days after dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus arose bodily from the tomb, proving that God accepted His shed blood as full payment for our redemption and justification. Consequently, all who trust in Jesus as their personal Savior enjoy forgiveness, peace with God, and the assurance of eternal life. Because He lives, we too shall live.

May the wonder and hope of Jesus’ death and resurrection fill your heart with joy this Easter.