The victory Jesus won for us on the cross

Part 7 – The Kingdom and the Cross

Never did Jesus traipse round towns and villages yelling out, “OK everybody, gather round, I’ve got great news; the time has come for you to repent of your sins so you can all go to Heaven.”

His focus was entirely on the launching of God’s Kingdom here, not saving souls for Heaven. But for many Christians the announcing of God’s Kingdom is a bit of a mystery, because if we’re all going to Heaven one day, why does it matter what happens down here – except that by doing good works and being good church members we get ourselves a decent-sized reward when we arrive at the Pearly Gates?

We’re living in a Christian culture where little attention is being given to the connection between Jesus’ preaching about the Kingdom and why he died on the Cross. That’s not meant to condemn anybody because we all make mistakes, and Christians all through the ages have said and done some really stupid things, and we’d readily confess our own embarrassing contributions to that too, right? But admit it; we’ve got ourselves in a pickle and painted ourselves into a corner, because entire denominations representing the heart and soul of Christian preaching, and many well known preachers on TV too, have got stuck in a groove that leaves out a whole chunk of why Jesus came here and why he died.

We can’t criticize the Jews, then, for missing the connection between the Kingdom and why Christ died, when many of us Christians have missed it too. The Jews knew about the Kingdom, yes, but they didn’t connect it to Jesus having to die. We Christians, meanwhile, believe in Christ’s death, but we can’t see how it connects to his preaching about the Kingdom. The Jews, therefore, got a huge surprise when Christ died, but Christians get a huge surprise too, on discovering that Jesus’ death has nothing to do with going to Heaven.

And on both scores the surprise happens because the connection between the Kingdom and the Cross is STILL a bit of a mystery. How would you answer the question, for instance, “Why did Jesus die on the Cross?” If you say, “He died to forgive our sins,” yes, that’s true, but what if you were then asked, “What has forgiveness of sins got to do with setting up God’s Kingdom on this Earth?” What would you say then?… (continues tomorrow)

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