The Defining Moment of the Cross
“Most people aren’t fortunate (or some would say cursed) enough to have their life’s work come down to a single, defining moment…to have your defining moment in front of you for all the world to see, and to know the importance of that moment ahead of time, is something few people experience.” (King of the Cowboys, viii) These were Ty Murray’s words about his ride on Hard Copy, the bull that he needed to ride to win his seventh All-Around World Title. It had been on his mind since he was a kid. It was his dream. He had pursued it with all his might for many years,
We left off with God in pursuit of us. We were running the opposite direction (for about 1000 pages in my Bible), towards what we thought was freedom. Through bondage and liberation, through slavery and independence, dark times and times of strength, the nation of Israel, God’s people, ran from Him. He just kept trying to win their hearts, to top their idols on the list of importance. The law was given, to point them forward to something even greater…and he arrives finally on the scene and with him a defining moment for the people of God.
Jesus was sent into this world to give himself up as a sacrifice, as a ransom. He was sent into this world for the cross. It was on the cross that his love, God’s love, was on display for all eternity to look at.
In the cross we see a horizontal bar, the romans called it the patibulum. It points to the left as a reminder that Jesus death on the cross takes care of our past failures, hurts, and sins. It also points to the right, as a testament to God’s promise to take care of our future. Three days later, Jesus would rise from the dead, leaving his tomb empty, proclaiming once and for all that death holds no power over him. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that works in us. Our future is not bound by our past! He can change us…
The cross also has a vertical beam called the stipes. It points down, showing us that Jesus is in the here and now. While on that cross, the defining moment of the entire world was present. The defining moment of our lives became a reality, even years before we came about!
In John 1, Jesus meets a Nathaneal, who has been awaitng the Messiah. As he apporaches, Jesus says “I saw you sitting under the fig tree.” At this Nathanael confessed him as “the Son of God, the true King of Israel.” Then Jesus says something profound. “You shall see even greater things than that!” In the book of John, we are just getting started. Jesus says, “You stick around and your future will never be the same!” In the moment, can you trust Jesus with the future?
In John 5, Jesus meets a man laying paralyzed by a pool. He has been there for 38 years. Jesus walks up to him and asks him one question: “Do you want to get well?” In other words…are you ready to leave your past and move forward? In the moment, can you trust Jesus with your past?
In John 11, Mary and Martha have just lost their brother Lazarus. He died two days prior to Jesus arriving. When Jesus shows up they have some words with him about his tardiness. “If you had been here, Lazarus wouldn’t have died!” Jesus answers them, but that answer doesn’t quite satisfy. They respond with another statement: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day!” They know that Jesus could work in the past and he can work in the future…but can he take care of today? In the moment, can you trust Jesus today?
When we approach the cross we are witness to the past, present, and future all coming under the power and love of Jesus Christ. We hang onto our sin and refuse to forgive our past failures. The cross of Christ takes care of our past. We worry about the money, bills, jobs, and health, Jesus work on the cross shows that he takes care of our present. Everyone has questions about what happens when we die…Jesus death on the cross provides us a future in the presence of God.
Having your past, present, and future provided for, taken care of, and secured, is the type of defining moment that Jesus had on the cross. The type of defining moment that Ty was describing.