The most important event in all of human history was the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Calvary was more than a single event; it is a continuous river of liberation for every tribe and nation and kindred and tongue—all those who want to be freed from the curse of sin and death—throughout the ages.
St. Augustine of Hippo believed we must not see the cross on which Jesus was nailed as an instrument of horrendous affliction and torture. Yes, Jesus suffered, but the victory of the cross transformed his suffering into joy (Hebrews 12:2). Augustine insisted we should see that cross, above all, as the pathway that leads us to God.
Crosses were designed to inflict maximum physical suffering and shame on the person nailed to them. But the cross of Jesus was an instrument of triumph! Christ has overcome the world!
The cross was an instrument of execution; it became a symbol of reconciliation and hope. The cross should have brought only shame; it became a symbol of life and forgiveness for the followers of the resurrected Christ. The worst that Jesus’ enemies could do could never overcome him. The cross and the tomb were transformed into markers of hope and eternal life.
The chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, and even the elders mocked Jesus, saying, “He saved others, he cannot save himself; if he is the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will; for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:41–43).
But coming down from the cross was not an option. Jesus was always one hundred percent God and one hundred percent human, which means that he could have easily saved himself. But to save himself would be the end of all humanity. Jesus of Nazareth was not a victim of the government but the Savior of everyone who believes in him. He could not abort the process of the cross because he knew the Law, and the Law said, without blood, there is no remission of sin (Acts 20:22). The blood that poured out of the sinless Son of God on the cross possessed the power to save all who believe in it. The cross provided the world with the only way of escape from God’s wrath to come.
Therefore, he paid no heed to the mockery of Israel’s leaders but went on to the end.
What the Roman cross meant—torture, shame, death—lost its meaning because of Christ. A cross today points to our wonderful Savior.
The apostle Paul declared that the cross of Christ was “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24). We cherish the cross!
The cross is the most powerful expression of God’s love for us. Christians should never forget it. Every year we celebrate another anniversary of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ has become, especially in the United States, another day of great consumption. And in many tropical countries, it is a beach weekend, where alcohol, drugs, and other illicit activities reign. It seems there is an insidious plan to dishonor and forget the day of our total redemption.
I call for the entire Church of God of Prophecy and Christians everywhere to offer thanksgiving and praise in this season, because our Savior preferred to suffer on the cross so that you and I may have Shalom, the life, peace, and well-being of God. The cross brought peace with God and peace from God.
That peace, the Shalom of God, transmits a desire for health, harmony, inner peace, calm, and tranquility amid a world full of pain and sadness. It is at the cross where those who believe and practice the teachings of Jesus receive eternal life; therefore, this date should be sacred for all of us. I urge you to share with someone during this month the story of the cross. It is a time to celebrate that God demonstrated his great love for you and me, in a flowing river of redemption and deliverance from the punishment and consequences sin produce. Shalom to each of you
Bishop Gabriel Vidal, DMin
South America General Presbyter
As published in the March 2023 issue of the White Wing Messenger