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Cross without the Ministry?

17 Dec 2017


Cross_without_the _ministry_bannerJesus Christ is world renown as the man who lived as a prophet, died without complaint, and supposedly came back to life to confirm His identity. He is the very bedrock of the Christian faith, and more specifically, His redemptive act there on Calvary.

But did those last three days exceed the significance of His previous three years of ministry? What about the 30 years that preceded His ministry – did they play no part in the later legacy that would follow in His name? In that final moments of Jesus’ breath, was it pardon or propitiation being extended out to the whole world. Were there specific sins that were atoned for, or was a more broad stroke salvation package presented to mankind? Such a climactic event as the crucifixion of Christ would carry a special genre category all on its own, but what of the rest of Jesus ministry? Was it merely an unexpected privilege for the disciples to receive their training by the Son of Yahweh? What about the significant factors that would follow this timeline-defining event, such as the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2? Jesus may have been modest in ministry, but what about outside of it? It would be around twelve years of age that the boy Jesus would have undertaken the apprenticeship of his fathers trade. That would be about eighteen years of quiet labor among the citizens in and around Nazareth. Surely He would have caused some kind of effect prior to His calling as a Rabbi.

What would Calvary have looked like without the disciples closely following in His ‘trail of passion’? Furthermore, what kind of impact would one man (who ever He is) have on the greater Roman province to precipitate a most horrid execution? Would Pilate still find Him guilty without the pressure of the Sanhedrin? Would the Sanhedrin have found cause to lawfully find Him worthy of meeting in the middle of the night? Would He have been found crazy if it were just Him? Would others have stepped up and requested to be taught by Him, and would He have received them? Of course, this is all rather baseless and hypothetical, except for that complex theological point of “free will”. If Jesus was fully man, He would have had it just like every one else. He could have chosen any path, despite what prophecies had obscurely described of future Messiah’s actions. If He was indeed filled with the Spirit like all Christians are, wouldn’t he have had specific spiritual gifts and strengths? Were there things we expect of Christians that we didn’t see Jesus do? Did He heavily encourage Bible study? What was His approach to the gathering of the brethren (or for them, synagogue)? How often did Jesus visit the House of The Lord?

My point in all of this is to contrast the image of ‘the Christ of the cross’ with the actual life of Jesus Christ. He certainly made a substantial impact following the resurrection and subsequent ascension. There were certainly those who had known His healing hand and His warm, intimate counsel. But those He died them everyone else as well, was there any indication that Jesus died for Caesar Augustus, for Barabbas, or the Jewish high priest? Rather than contemplating how the gift was apprehended early on, it is easier to think about how the seeds were solidified and established. How significant were the twelve disciples to the Kingdom of God on earth in reaching the logistical ends intended in the long plan of God? Was Jesus ministry really more important the event of the Spirit of Yahweh entering human hearts for the first time? Could God have found another way to prepare hearts to receive that kind intimacy with God? If you respond ‘no’, why is the sovereignty of God not capable of carrying His plans out in ways beyond our comprehension?

I write this during the Christmas season, which receives a pretty polarized celebratory treatment: It’s either Jesus’ birth or Santa and the elves. Both of these can bring joy and promise into our hearts, and both can prompt feelings of anticipation and warmth. These two traditions don’t have to be mutually exclusive, as long as we recognize the spirit behind both of them. Yes, Jesus came to bring salvation to the world, and yes, this needed to follow certainly prophetic guideposts to credit Yahweh as true to His word. But if the character and true-to-form message of God is to be grasped fully, doesn’t the attributes of stability and reputation factor into the final ultimate climactic moment we are so familiar with?

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