Christianity 201

April 18, 2017

The Crucifixion in Street Language

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.

Isaiah 53:5, NKJV and NLT


From The Street Bible by the late Rob Lacey*

The macabre scene moves slowly up Skull Hill. They get there and the Roman Death Squad shove a cocktail made of wine with myrrh into Jesus’ face. He takes a sip but spits it out, flat refusing to drink the stuff.

They pin Jesus to the rough crossbar leaving him to die. Him and the two hardened criminals — one on either side. Jesus says, “Dad! Don’t hold this against these people — wipe their slates clean. They’ve got no idea what’s going on here!”

The Death Squad rip his clothes off and start playing gambling games to see who “inherits” the clothing mementos.

Time check: Friday 9 AM. One of the soldiers grabs the multi-use Offence Placard, writes up Jesus’ “crime” and then pins it just above his head. It reads, “Jesus: King of the Jews”.

The other two victims with him — the terrorists — one on either side of the central focus point, Jesus… bite back their excruciating pain and add their jibes to the mix… “Aren’t you supposed to be The Liberator? Get liberating, won’t you? You need it and we need it!”

But the other guy calls across, “Don’t you have no respect for God? You’re getting what you had coming to you, but this guy’s done nothing wrong. So shut it!”

The second career criminal turns to Jesus and says, “Jesus, don’t forget me when you sit on your throne, okay?”

Jesus answers him, “I’ll tell you today — no lie — you and me, we’ll be in paradise together.”

Time check: 12 midday. It goes dark, totally dark, for three full hours right across Judah. Nothing except the chilling sound track of three men inching toward Death. Later, about three in the afternoon, Jesus freaks those still left there by shouting, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Translation: “My God, my God, why’ve you abandoned me?”

Some of those within earshot hear the “Eli, Eli” bit and get the wrong end of the stick, saying, “Listen, he’s trying to connect with Elijah!”

Knee-jerk reaction for one guy was to offer some soured wine to the sufferer, hoisting a soaked sponge of the stuff up to Jesus on a stick. Others are going, “Whoa! Hang on. Wait to see if Elijah’s going to turn up like a one-man SWAT team and rescue him.”

Jesus shouts on out one more time and finally allows his spirit to be torn out of his broken body.

He cries out, “Dad, I trust you with my spirit!”

His last words.

He dies.


Quotations about The Cross:

God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, “I love you.” ~ Billy Graham


All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them, and all His plans have death to self in them. –E. M Bounds


The Blood deals with what we have done, whereas the Cross deals with what we are. The Blood disposes of our sins, while the Cross strikes at the root of our capacity for sin. ~ Watchman Nee


Today Jesus Christ is being dispatched as the Figurehead of a Religion, a mere example. He is that, but he is infinitely more; He is salvation itself, He is the Gospel of God. –Oswald Chambers


The Gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales. ~ John Stott


*Note to overseas friends: In the USA and Canada, The Street Bible was published as The Word on the Street.

April 11, 2014

The Power of the Cross

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  II Cor. 5:21 (NASB)

The above passage is very familiar to us and ends a  six verse section (16-21) in which Paul is telling us what we become when our lives our placed in Christ. I’d like to offer my own paraphrase of verses 16 to the end of the chapter:

Before we entered into friendship with Christ, we looked at Christ the same way we might look at any historical figure: A significant person who made a difference in the world, but fundamentally a person just like any other. Just as we were wrong then, it’s important not to be wrong about other Christ-followers.

The reason for this is that in Christ, they (and we) have become something that never existed before.1 They are not who they were before, a transformation has taken place.

This is from God, but God passes on to us the task for presenting this opportunity to the world. Just as Christ became mediator between God and man, there is a similar (though obviously not the same) sense in which we then mediate this offer of salvation to our small corner of the world; our friends, extended family, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students, etc. Part one of the gospel is “taste and see” and part two of the gospel is “go and tell.” 2

(Paul then says this again for emphasis.)

For this reason, sharing a verbal witness becomes an imperative; there is (or ought to be) an urgency to this. We are Christ’s voice in the world — there is no plan B — it is through us that He speaks today. If we sound like a skipping CD (or a broken record) it is because of the gravity of the situation.

We walk around containing this good news,3  that is to say, not only having this message to communicate, but being fit or appropriate or made worthy to carry this message to a world in need, because we have already been the beneficiaries of the work that enables this transformation.4

And that is made possible only because Christ took our sin, the only sinless one becoming the perfect sacrifice for all time.5

It is this final thought, of Christ becoming sin for us, that leads into today’s video, the very powerful song The Power of the Cross by Stuart Townend.


1I once heard someone say that the Greek on this passage is not talking about a metamorphosis like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but more like a caterpillar turning into a “winged elephant.” In other words, anyone in Christ becomes (his words): “a species of being that never existed before.” So we are all not who we were, we are changed and are being changed.

2I Cor. 11:23 demonstrates this

3see previous chapter, verse 7

4In other words, the person who presents the good news to someone else is no better except insofar as they arrived at the table of grace sooner or beforehand. From beyond this point, the ‘older’ follower may disciple and mentor the younger, but they are no different.

5This is why I put this clause after the other; to complete the thought of we, as redeemed people being an agency of His grace, and then to say that all this is possible only because of his redemptive work. Hebrews 10:12

March 24, 2013

The Power of the Cross

God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, “I love you.” ~ Billy Graham


All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them, and all His plans have death to self in them. –E. M Bounds


The Blood deals with what we have done, whereas the Cross deals with what we are. The Blood disposes of our sins, while the Cross strikes at the root of our capacity for sin. ~ Watchman Nee


Today Jesus Christ is being dispatched as the Figurehead of a Religion, a mere example. He is that, but he is infinitely more; He is salvation itself, He is the Gospel of God. –Oswald Chambers


The Gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales. ~ John Stott

As we approach Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I wanted to include this worship song by Stuart Townend which can be part of your Holy Week service or used as a communion song throughout the year. If you can’t play the video in your region, take some time to read the lyrics.

Col 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 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.

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath-
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Every bitter thought,
Every evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
“Finished!” the victory cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the power of the cross:
Son of God-slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Two other songs also posted here fit well with this theme and have been posted here previously:

Quotes: Tentmaker, Christian Quotes

March 1, 2011

At The Cross I Bow My Knee; There’s No Greater Love Than This

Seven million people have watched this.  With Easter coming, here is a song to ask your worship leader to include in a worship service this year.