Let us cling to an “old, old story” in this era fixed on what’s new. Across the world, we are increasingly like—but now rapidly exceeding—those ancient Athenians who “would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21, ESV).
The information and digital outlets available to us have opened a swirling vortex of telling and hearing new things. Meanwhile, we Christians hold to our admittedly (and truly glorious) ancient truths. Truths that seem so out of step with the world, but precisely what we need most to regain our bearings and restore our spiritual sanity.
“Crucified” became a kind of identifying descriptor of our Lord even in the immediate aftermath of his resurrection. The angel spoke to the women at the empty tomb: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:5–6, NIV).
Not long after that, Peter healed a lame beggar and was been subsequently arrested for it. He was on trial, and having been asked, “By what power or what name did you do this?” (Acts 4:7, NIV), Peter replied, “By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead!” (Acts 4:10, NIV).
For the apostles and early church, Christ’s crucifixion was not accidental or peripheral. The early church didn’t try to hide the crucifixion, but push it front and center. The Son of God had not only taken on our flesh and blood, but he had given himself, sinless, in our stead, to execution at the cross. Through Jesus, the very person and heart of God for his people is revealed. God is love! (1 John 4:8, 16).
The cross represents the whole of the Christian faith not to minimize the resurrection, or to in any way downplay its essential importance. The cross draws us near to the God. The cross slays all worldly wisdom and expectations—only Christianity puts God on the cross: “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again” (Isaiah 43:25, NLT) and “I will remove the sins of this land in a single day” (Zechariah 3:9, NLT).
How essential it is to approach God on the basis of Christ’s forgiveness. “I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul says. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, ESV). The cross is new life: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24, ESV). “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14, NKJV).
Forgiveness has freed us to live a life of love. Christ is risen—he is risen indeed, and all the world in its wisdom cannot see any value in this. So, let us praise God and follow. At the tomb, the women didn’t remember God’s promise, but when they were reminded of what He said, they believed; so will I. Let us believe in all the promises of God: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20, NKJV).
Jesus left the tomb behind. The disciples left the tomb to follow Jesus, so will I. They followed the word that Jesus shared, so will I. As the disciples took time to go to Him, then so will I. Jesus’ death on the cross opened the way to new life. Let us cling to the “old, old story!”