Before Your Very Eyes
When I gather with my brothers and sisters on Easter Sunday, our meeting vibrates with life. The resurrection is the focus. But the tenor of the Good Friday evening service is different. It’s subdued. Why? Because at this gathering we allow the Spirit of God to help us remember, to go back to what happened two thousand years ago when a Nazareth-raised Jew from Galilee hung naked on a tree with his arms stretched out between two thieves until he cried out, “It is finished!”
It’s as if we were right there. We can see it. We can see him. And those who believe fall down in reverence and thanks because, as Paul has been telling us in Galatians, Jesus is the one who gave himself for our sins.
The Apostle Paul’s preaching about the cross of Jesus was so vivid that when he reminds the believers in Galatia about the cross, he says it was like they stood in the crowd and actually witnessed the execution. But Paul in the previous part of the letter said far more.
Paul didn’t just say we remember the cross, he said we were there and when Jesus died, we died (Gal. 2:20). Our old sinful nature was crucified with Christ. Jesus transferred our guilt to himself and that is why we now stand before God the Father and he declares, “You are my righteous children!”
This is the wondrous, incredible fact that when we accept the Gospel, Jesus unites us with himself so that when he died, we died, and when he rose, we rose. And it’s this new resurrected life, this new person, that the Spirit of God generates and he turns our heart into his home. And for anyone who has received this union with Christ, this gracious gift of forgiveness, this new resurrected life, to ever want to go back under the Law that condemned us—well look what the Apostle Paul has to say about those who want to do this:
“Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus, the Messiah was portrayed as the one who was crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law or by putting your faith in what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit will you now be brought to completion in your spiritual lives by your own human effort? Have you suffered so many things for it all to turn out to be worth nothing—as if this could ever be? So then, the One who is providing you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, tell me, does he do this because you keep the Law, or because you put your faith in what you heard?” Gal. 3:1-5
LORD, may your Spirit move powerfully as your children all over the world focus their eyes on that old rugged cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain. LORD, I cherish your Son and I cherish what he did for me. For me everything depends upon simple faith and your precious gift of the Holy Spirit who came to live in my life when I saw and believed.
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