The Work of Jesus Christ, part 2 – His Death

We are in the second week of our three-part series looking at the work of Jesus – His life, death and resurrection. (If you missed part one, click here). I am pleased to introduce our guest WholeLifeWorship blogger, Pastor Brad Twitty. Brad is, among other things, a new daddy (August, his son, was born on March 6th). Brad is also Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries at Community Church Rancho. Today, he will look at Jesus’ great work through His death on the Cross. – DL

One of my favorite devices that is in our house is the Alexa. The Alexa device really is designed to make our lives easier. You can hook your TV up to it, essentially never needing your remote again, you can play games on it, send notes, emails, or messages. It holds your to do lists, you can reorder grocers w/out even getting up from your couch. Alexa will notify you when you have a package on your doorstep and adjust your thermostat without lifting a finger. Of course, you can have Alexa play music all day long if you wish. 

But I’m embarrassed to say that, for all its capabilities, I haven’t used Alexa for any of that. I use Alexa for only one thing: to turn on or off the lights in our bedroom…that’s it! How underwhelming is that? It’s designed to do all this stuff by speaking a simple command yet, for me it only amounts to a glorified light-switch.

You might be thinking, “well, it’s Alexa, so however you use it is up to you!” But the question is: if we are willing to reduce something like Alexa to less than what it’s designed for, could we also not reduce the work of Jesus – particularly His sacrificial death on the Cross – for something far less than God intended?

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been guilty of this on so many levels. I’ve reduced the work of Jesus on the Cross – the single most triumphant moment in human history – into a mere transaction: Jesus died on the Cross for me, so I say a prayer to Him, and – presto! – my sin is forgiven! I don’t think that’s how Jesus wants us to view or live out the great work he has accomplished.

Jesus’ work through his crucifixion has massive implications that shift the cosmos, as well as profoundly alter our personal lives. Here are some that come to my mind:

1. Jesus’ work on the Cross destroyed the curse on humanity. Beyond the fact that we need forgiveness for our sin, the greater need was to destroy the curse that had been brough this world through Adam and Eve (see Gen. 3:14-19). Think about that: this curse has marred every person since the Fall, and that curse was dismantled by Jesus going to the cross for us. This curse no longer has the power to put you under its thumb!

2. Jesus’ death re-established our unbridled access to God. Before Jesus’ death on the cross, there was a barrier that couldn’t quite be overcome between us and the divine; and it wasn’t God’s fault or his lack of caring for us. If we see anything in scripture, it’s that God constantly and fervently pursued us every step of the way, in spite of how messed up we are. It was our choice to sin that created the barrier between us and God. And it was Jesus’ death that eradicated it so that we can have access to God.

3. Jesus’ death created a way for us to live into our true selves. Because of Jesus’ work we can now step fully and confidently into the image of God he has placed in our lives. Jesus’ death frees us to simply “be” a follower of Jesus into real life, rather than manically “do” religious things to earn a better life. There is a vast difference between the two.

Philippians 3:7-11 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It challenges me to move away from all the “do’s” of Christianity to the “be” of simply following Jesus:

The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’srighteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it. (The Message) 

That, my friends, is an apt description of WholeLifeWorship! It’s all about knowing Christ personally, following his example of dying to our (false) selves daily, and experiencing resurrection power in every moment.

As we seek to be WholeLifeWorshipers, let us not reduce our life-giving relationship with Jesus to only “sin-management.” Instead, let us reclaim all the ways that Jesus’ good work on the Cross gives to us by having our lives transformed by Jesus 24/7/365. 

As we move into Holy Week and remember the Passion and the Death of Christ, I encourage us to reflect on these questions: 

1. What new ways can you apply the work of Jesus’ death on the Cross in your life every day?

2. Do you typically fall into the category of sin-management or transformation? If you want to move toward transformation because of the work of Jesus, what would you need to change to get there?

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