Ordinarily I do not particularly like focusing on law but instead spend the majority of my time focusing on grace and the gospel. In the sunday school I teach I always try ensure that no matter what passage we are focusing on, we always look to Christ and that our focus is Christ. This, I believe, is how it should be (1 Corinthians 1:22-24) after all Christ is the centre of the Christian message. Perhaps even further, Christ is the Christian message. Having said this however, it is through the law that we know what sin is and hence know our need for Christ (Romans 7:7). To neglect the law is, in fact, to remove much of what Jesus has done. In fact neglecting the law will inevitably lead to us have less to be thankful to God for and will cause us to love both God and others less (Luke 7:47).
For this now, let us take a look at the story of Jesus crucifixion, focusing on particular people:
- Those calling for his crucifixion
- Those mocking him whilst he was on the cross
- The person or people who whipped him
- Those who twisted and placed the crown of thorns on to His head
- Those who nailed him to the cross
So the question to ask then is what would we have done in these situations. Can we look at Pilate and say 'I would never have done that'? What about the crowd of people shouting 'free Barabbas!' could we say that we would have stood up and called for Jesus' release? When He was on that cross, battered and broken, seemingly helpless would we not have hurled the insults at him like the others did. Are we really in a position to say that if it were our job to twist that crown of thorns, whip him or place and pierce his hands and feet with those nails we wouldn't have done it?
It is easy for us to look at those people in this story with an attitude that we are different, that they were especially bad, especially evil. No, if we are to take a good hard look at ourselves, we could be any of them. To say otherwise is to just deny how sinful we really are. It is to look on ourselves with the 'Yes, I'm not perfect, but him over there, he is a lot worse than me' attitude. It is an attitude in itself that is sinful, it is one quite simply puffed up with pride. It leaves us with being forgiven little and hence loving little.
The beauty of the cross is not seen in what is good about us but what is bad. The Christian message is not at its most powerful in our good actions but in the forgiveness we receive thanks to Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. I pray that we will be able, like the Apostle Paul, to acknowledge ourselves as 'the chief of sinners' (1 Timothy 1:15) for then, and only then can we see in all its glory what Christ did for us on that cross at Calvary.