In the New Testament and in Christian history the sacrificial death of Christ is of central importance. The Cross is as crucial in the Christian message today as it was when the Lord’s own apostles first proclaimed the Gospel. Christ’s gospel is a cry from the Cross that all is finished. The New Testament view of man’s sin and guilt requires, and its conception of forgiveness and salvation explicitly provides, adequate propitiation through the merits of the divine Saviour’s sacrificial death. How eternally appropriate that the cross of Christ has become the universal symbol of our faith.
But we err in our day when we consider the Cross chronologically. We must look backward to the death of Christ at Calvary. Only as we look in retrospect on Calvary and view it through the Resurrection do we have proper perspective. The sacrifice of the Cross is meaningful only in the light of the triumph of the Resurrection. Beyond death is life. Beyond sacrifice is glorious victory. Beyond the Cross is the risen Christ. Beyond Calvary is the central fact of human history: He “is risen indeed” (Luke 24:34)!
CHRIST IS ALIVE
In his very helpful volume Christ Is Alive! Professor Beasley-Murray relates an intriguing incident from the travels of W. Y. Fullerton. Fullerton was visiting the mimic Calvary in the tiny Swiss village of Dono d’Ossala. The shrine there consisted of a series of chapels in memory of various scenes in our Lord’s Passion. The first depicted Christ before Herod; the second, Christ receiving the cross; the third, Christ taking the cross on himself; the fourth, Christ bearing the cross, and so on. Beasley-Murray writes:
The climax of the scenes was in the Church itself where there ...1
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