A Tale of Two Crosses

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’  Mark 16:1-7 (NRSV)

"Can Christianity exist without the cross?" is the question BrettBlair asked on Sermons.com. Not surprisingly, his answer is that it can't and I agree.  But Christianity has more than one cross, it is a tale of two crosses: the crucifix and the empty cross. They are the hinges that of  the Kingdom’s door.  In our historic creeds, they rest at the center, "he was crucified, dead and buried," AND "the third day he rose from the dead."  And they are central in Mark’s story of Easter morning

It all hinges here: "You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who WAS crucified..."

Without the Crucifixion, Easter doesn't happen. Without Good Friday, we don't have an Easter Sunday. And the Church Universal becomes a creed without a cause.
Jesus' own creed made it clear in Luke 19:10 when he said to a crowd, after the tax collector Nicodemus choose to follow Jesus, “the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost" (Lk 19:10)

"He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him."
And without an Empty Cross, the Church is nothing more than a sect without a savior
Our wounds too great, our sins insurmountable. Describe it how you will, the truth is we were, and we are, a people in need of help. Without the cross, churches become nothing more than a Jewish sect led by a disgraced carpenter turned Rabbi.

The Prophet Isaiah saw it this way:  "He suffered and endured great pain for us, but we thought his suffering was punishment from God. He was wounded and crushed because of our sins; by taking our punishment, he made us completely well. (Isa 53:4-5 CEV)"

He was wounded for the sake of our wounds. He saved from our sins. He became for us not only the high priest but the healer of our wounds and the complete sacrifice for our sin, making us complete and whole before God. There is no Good News without the Suffering Truth.

We live in a world of divine design. When I was entering my Junior year of High School, I wondered about the design of my life. As all my friends were making decision about their futures, I was aimless. Until I bumped up against the Divine Design. At the crucifixion, I discovered church was more than just a belief system: The Church is about LIFE LIVED. I discovered that wasn't then end though. There was an empty cross and I was introduced to the Savior, Jesus Christ and a relationship with God, the One at the center of religion and ritual. The one whose Divine Design has shaped and continues to shape this world.

We can't get to Easter Sunday without Good Friday. We can't get the Empty Cross without Jesus Crucified. And we can't get to the empty tomb without them both! It is a tale of two crosses, and I hope, it becomes a tale of your life, that you hear the Good News that your life, no matter what has happened before this day, can be made new – because of Jesus' two crosses, you can experience the divine design God has for you!

  Ken is the Associate Pastor at Cumming First United Methodist and lead preacher for the NEW 9:51 Worship service meeting each Sunday morning.  Follow Ken on Facebook or on Twitter: @jedipastorken

  Learn more about the variety of worship experiences, the many ministries and the incredible people of Cumming First United Methodist Church, Cumming, GA.  A Traditional Church for Contemporary People!


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