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I saw a film about a courageous gladiator name Spartacus. The film may or may not have been based on a true story but at the end, our hero Spartacus had been captured and hung on a cross by the Romans.
As a matter of fact, there were thousands of others crucified with him, so that mighty Rome could show the folly of messing with it.
And I had a question because it came home to me, perhaps stronger than ever, that Jesus wasn’t the only one to suffer and die unjustly on a cross. Why do we Christians make such a big deal of it? Didn’t Spartacus and his buddies suffer as much?
Jesus’ death stood apart for three incredibly important reasons:
The first difference was “WHO” was on the Cross.
God was on the Cross!
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him …” (Col. 1:15-19)
The second difference was “WHAT” he was doing on the Cross.
Spartacus was just dying. Jesus was working, paying the price that the justice of God demanded for our sins, reconciling the world to the Father by his death on the Cross.
“and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” (Col. 1:20, 21)
I suspect that Jesus did even more than we dream. When he’s talking about “reconciling to himself things on earth or in heaven, what’s he on about? Things on earth would be us—rebelling sinners restored to the Father.
But, things in heaven? Would that be those who died in the faith before Jesus came to die on the Cross? I think so but even more it seems to be talking about “thrones … powers … rulers … authorities” in heavenly places. I think there are some things that were restored that we’ll know nothing about until after this life. We’ll probably find that the Cross shook the universe far more than we had imagined.
The third difference is the “DIFFERENCE” that makes in my life and yours.
I suppose that Spartacus gives us a good example for standing up for what is right, but the ending of the story doesn’t leave a lot of hope.
With Jesus though, it’s different. He died but He rose again the third day. That same resurrection power works in the man who comes to God in repentance by faith in Jesus and it revolutionizes his life.
“ But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-“ (Col. 1:22)
In the family! Holy! Sins forgiven! Justified!
“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Rom. 8:11)
“… nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God …” 1 Corinthians 6:10-12 (New International Version, ©2010)
For Spartacus, his cross put to death a noble dream—freedom. But the Cross of Jesus-Christ birthed a noble dream—freedom! Spartacus was just dying. Jesus was dying so that we could live.
Good advice to teachers..
“People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.” Blaise Pascal (in Pensées)