14. COMPLETING THE CROSS
By Felix Ngunjiri Gichuri
Reading: ‘Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us, for it is written, ‘cursed is everyone hanged on a tree,’ that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that we may receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.’ (Galatians 3:13)
Christ Has Redeemed us From the Curse of the Law
Jesus Christ completed redemption for all humanity on the cross. “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30 [HCSB]) Redemption means the action of saving or being saved from sin, debt or evil. It is the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.
He offered and made available His body to be laid all the sins of humanity so that whoever believes in Him shall have his sins forgiven through the washing by His shed blood for, “According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb 9:22) [HCSB]
God Established a Vertical Relationship Between Himself and Man
God established vertical relationship between Himself and man through the cross. The door to heaven was opened and the curtain was torn into two to offer for those who seek God direct access to His throne in the Holy of Holies of God’s sanctuary to receive mercy through the redemption work Jesus did and completed on the cross. “But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last. Then the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing opposite Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “This man really was God’s Son!” (Mark 15:37-39) [HCSB] “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30 [KJV])
The vertical relationship between man and God was attained by Jesus Christ when He offered His body to be sacrificed on the cross for the atonement of our sins if we confess and abandon our sins.
Earlier “Jesus told Thomas that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) [HCSB] Jacob had foreseen in a dream that a prophet would come who would be like a ladder connecting heaven to earth in Genesis 28:12 “And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground with its top reaching heaven, and God’s angels were going up and down on it.”
When Jesus started His ministry and was recruiting His followers, He said to Nathaniel, “I assure you: You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51) [HCSB]
But we have a role to play to complete that relationship in our lives when we confess the work He completed on the cross horizontally when He was nailed on the cross, His spread hands on the horizontal beam. If it was all about God (like the way some people sing that ‘All I need is Jesus’), they would have used only one beam (the vertical beam as was being used to crucify some convicts those days) and nailed His two hands together above His head using only one nail and one nail for nailing His two feet together). They used a total of three 9 inch nails to crucify him on the tree/cross so that one nail would pin His two legs one on top of the other onto the tree while the other two nails would nail each of the hands on the two extreme ends of the cross bar of the cross.
The Cross Has the Vertical Bar for Vertical Relationship with God and Cross Bar for Horizontal Relationship with Others
The cross bar tells us to share to others the good news of salvation brought to whoever believes in the redemption plan that was completed on the cross at Calvary two thousand years ago. “It was as He reclined at the table with them that He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him, but He disappeared from their sight. So they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” That very hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and those with them gathered together, who said, “The Lord has certainly been raised, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they began to describe what had happened on the road and how He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:30-35) [HCSB]
As we relate to God vertically, He expects us to relate with others horizontally by sharing the word, witnessing and spreading the Gospel. I believe the first church was enjoying the fellowship with the Holy Spirit and forgot the commission they were given by our Lord Jesus before He ascended to heaven when He told them that “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”(Acts 1:8) [KJV]
That may have been the reason God decided to disperse them by force for them to preach the gospel horizontally, not to be looking up to heaven for blessings. He wanted them to be a blessing to others by taking the good news of the Kingdom of God to every creature. And because they were just enjoying the trappings of power after being anointed with the Holy Spirit, they got excited with the power they were wielding: casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, even the shadow of Peter and handkerchiefs from Paul were healing the sick.
“And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women. Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” (Acts 5:14-15 [KJV])
“And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them:” (Acts 19:11-12 [KJV])
God had to disperse them even if it required persecutions to do that so that they would take the gospel to the outermost parts of the earth. We are ordered to preach the gospel here on earth to every creature. And after that, the end shall come. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
“Afterward Jesus appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:14-20 [KJV])