Imagine for a moment that we were able to achieve time travel. Instead of going back in time, what if we brought forward in time a person living in Jerusalem in 30 A.D. Now, imagine that we were to take this person from 30 A.D. and walk them around Norman, Oklahoma. What would surprise them?
Electricity, cell phones, airplanes? Of course those would be amazing to the ancient . . . but those things also would be UNFAMILIAR: items not found at all in the world they knew. From what they RECOGNIZE, what would surprise them? Maybe style of dress, size of home, or accessibility of running water. But what else would be shocking?
Let’s say that our 2,000 year old friend arrived on a Sunday (and we were not under a “stay at home” order) so you took them to church. You walk into the lobby, grab your bulletin, and head into the worship center. At that point, the ancient Jerusalemite would SHRIEK in horror. Why? Contrary to what some might imagine, their jaw would drop not at the lack of a robe or tie on the preacher or the presence of drums and electric guitar on the stage. What would shock them would be the presence of a LARGE WOODEN CROSS on the wall. That’s right . . . the cross would freak them out.
Well, we have not seen a crucifixion, but the ancient has. In the first century, Rome had “perfected” this heinous form of execution. It was such an awful form of torture that the Romans would not inflict it on their own citizens (unless ordered by Caesar himself!) The famous Roman politician of this era, Cicero, commented that crucifixion was not something that Romans should even talk about . . . it was so awful.
And yet, here in 2020, featured in a prominent way on the wall of our WORSHIP CENTER, highlighted by lighting and sung about in songs, is a giant wooden cross. The ancient would look at this item and assume we were both deranged and dangerous. Why would we celebrate such a thing?
So, what happened to change the cross from something educated people did not talk about to something people wear as jewelry and hang on the walls of hallowed halls?
“ [Jesus] who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:6-11
By going to the cross, Jesus changed the perception of the cross forever. Not because crucifixion became less brutal, but because the crucifixion for ONE (Jesus) brought about forgiveness, hope, and eternal life for MANY. Through that one crucifixion, Jesus not only changed the perception of the cross, but the eternal destination of us forever.
This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our 11AM Livestream, we will be continuing our “Defeating Death” sermon series by looking at Matthew 27:27-44 in part 7 of our series. We hope you make plans to join us at wildwoodchurch.org/live and invite all you know to join us as well! There are plenty of “seats” in this virtual auditorium as we will explore the most important event in the history of the world. “See you there!” for this Palm Sunday event.