To the GateWay family
The Power of the Cross (Part 2)
The sight of Christ hanging on the cross was physically ghastly, every part of His body oozed blood and He was surrounded by a baying crowd of hate-filled religious people yelling obscenities at Him. Yet, for a small number of people on that world-affecting day, seeing Christ lifted up became a life-changing experience. But this small number of people became the forerunner of a much greater tsunami of humanity that, down the centuries, would find salvation at the Cross.
We have seen how one of the two thieves hanging with Christ looked beyond the horrific scene of injustice and called upon Christ to remember him when they entered the ‘after-death’ realm. He received the marvellous promise – “this day you will be with me in paradise”.
Then there was a Roman Centurion, an army officer who was part of the occupying force in Israel, a man well used to brutality. The soldiers who crucified Christ abused Him for sport and got a lot of fun from their mockery of the Lord in the Judgment Hall. But after being a witness to all that was done to Christ and hearing His response of forgiveness, this officer went through a total turnaround in his perception of Christ – “surely this man was the Son of God”. He would have heard Pilate question Christ as to who He was but now he was convinced. He was the Son of God. As he gazed at Christ hanging on the cross a transformation happened in him and the words of Christ were literally fulfilled – “if I am lifted up I will draw all men”.
We look now at Barabbas, a rebel and a murderer. What a shock when his cell door opened but instead of being led to the horrors of crucifixion he was released and allowed to walk away a free man. Someone else had taken his place. Barabbas means ‘son of the father’, no doubt given by a proud father at the birth of his son in anticipation of the joy his son would give him. But it went so badly wrong and the son became an angry rebel against society who was eventually caught and convicted for murder. After his release he must have at least walked past Golgotha and must have thought as he saw Christ on the cross meant for him, ‘that man took my place’. He saw the true ‘Son-of the-Father’ hanging in his place. The Bible is silent on what happened to Barabbas after his release but he walked free because of that man on the cross.
The last of the four men changed at the cross is Simon of Cyrene, an African from what we now know as Libya. A man caught up in the drama of Calvary when he was forcibly compelled to carry the cross of Christ, no doubt seen as an unwelcome intrusion into his travel plans to return to his North African home. There are some tantalising glimpses of a Simon of Cyrene in the New Testament and if it is the same man then not only did he become a disciple of Jesus but his wife and two sons, Rufus and Alexander, also were converted.
Four unconnected men, a thief, a soldier, an African and a terrorist who saw Christ lifted up at Calvary and for three of them for certain, it was a life-changing encounter.
God's richest blessings
Pastor Jim Dick
Gateway Elim Church is an Elim Pentecostal Church that seeks to reach and share the good news about Jesus Christ with the people of Yate and the surrounding area. Our desire is to see many people experience the joy of having a personal relationship with Jesus and living according to His Word (the Bible).
Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance Registered Charity: 251549