The Crucified Christ
1 Corinthians 1:23 – 24 “we are preaching a crucified Christ: to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over, to the gentiles foolishness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is both the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
To be crucified on a cross in the ancient world is seen as the worst way for a person to be tortured to death. To hang upon two wooden beams made from a tree, be nailed to it, and raised above the ground, results in an extremely painful death by suffocation, as one needs to fight against gravity to breathe whilst still bleeding from the wounds inflicted from the nails and other injuries sustained during the carrying of the cross. To die this way is considered by many as a curse, a punishment for the worst criminals, so it is not surprising that, as written in the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, many will find it difficult to believe that Jesus Christ the crucified Lord is the Christ and Son of God, unless they accept God’s call and teaching that humanity has fallen because of sin and that God’s Son died to pay for our sins and to raise us to eternal life by His resurrection from the dead.
God’s love is manifested in the humility of Jesus Christ His Son, who obeyed the Father’s will, so that He will lead us to salvation, as we see in the following verses taken from the letter to the Hebrews,
Hebrews 2:9 – 10 “but we do see Jesus, who was for a short while made less than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he submitted to death; so that by God’s grace his experience of death should benefit all humanity. It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should, in bringing many sons to glory, make perfect through suffering the leader of their salvation.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ reveals from the onset of His public ministry that He is always aware that He comes from God the Father, and is destined to save us by dying on the cross and rising from the dead to give us eternal life. We see this in the following verses spoken by the Lord in the Gospel of St. John,
John 3:13 – 15 “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of man; as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
In light of the revelation of God the Father by Jesus Christ His Son, we can see that since ancient times God already had the salvation of humanity in mind, when He instructed Moses to build a bronze serpent as we see in the Book of Numbers:
Numbers 21:7 – 9 “The people came and said to Moses, ‘We have sinned by speaking against Yahweh and against you. Intercede for us with Yahweh to save us from these serpents.’ Moses interceded for the people, and Yahweh replied, ‘Make a fiery serpent and raise it as a standard. Anyone who is bitten and looks at it will survive.’ Moses then made a serpent out of bronze and raised it as a standard, and anyone who was bitten by a serpent and looked at the bronze serpent survived.”
As both the Old Testament and New Testament shed light on each other, Moses, the people of Israel who are the children of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Twelve Patriarchs, and even items like the bronze serpent, all point to the coming of the Son of God and the Kingdom of God that all humanity and creation awaited for, which is fulfilled by the coming of Jesus Christ and His founding of the Church. We can see God’s patience with humanity represented by the chosen holy nation of Israel, throughout the history of salvation, even though there were people among the beloved holy Jewish nation who did not have their hearts wholly with the Lord as described in the following verses taken from the book of Psalms,
Psalm 77(78):36 – 38 “They tried to hoodwink him with their mouths, their tongues were deceitful towards him; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant. But in his compassion he forgave their guilt instead of killing them, time and again repressing his anger instead of rousing his full wrath,”
God has been very compassionate and patient with humanity since the beginning. The compassion of God the Father, as revealed in the very person of Jesus Christ His Only Begotten Son is well explained in this canticle found in the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians,
Philippians 2:5 – 11 “Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. And for this God raised him high, and gave him the name which is above all other names; so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
It is to the glory of God the Father, when anyone accepts and believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Saviour of all humanity. For God loves us so much since the beginning He already planned to save us. Because when God created humanity, God had intended for humanity to dwell with Him for all eternity, let us trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and glory in His victory over sin and death through means of His Crucifixion and Cross. We invite the Holy Spirit to help us become more aware of the redemption and healing obtained for us by the Cross of Christ which is the sign of the Divine love of God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. Let us glorify God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from them both:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.