by Fr. Dr. Eapen, Mysore
The distinctive feature of the Christian Religion, which lifts Christianity above all other religions in the world, is the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit; born of the Virgin Mary; suffered, died, was buried, rose again and ascended into Heaven; and He will come again as the Judge. The first disciples knew and adored Jesus as Christ. Jesus Christ is a person and we believe in Christ as a living contemporary. The Christ in Him we believe today is the same person who was born, was born of Virgin Mary in the days of Herod. He lived then, He is living now, and He is an eternal Person. Christ has an eternal mission to perform which is the salvation of the entire humanity.
Jesus died a cruel, agonizing death on the cross. What did that death accomplish? Does it have any effect on you and me? To the arrogant and merciless Roman soldiers He was just another criminal. To the pious and the hypocritical Jewish leaders, He was a threat that had to be eliminated but to those of us believing Christians He was and is something far different.
What do we mean by the sacrifice of Christ? Could there be more to the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross than what we have realized? The death of Christ certainly has far more significance than what most of us have ever understood.(Heb:5:8-10).
His passion was the voluntary sacrifice made by a Divine Being for us men and for our salvation It constitutes the irresistible appeal to the allegiance of human souls. It is still true as it ever has been in His own words: "I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me" There is no faith so inspiring so redeeming as the faith in the Son of God who died upon the cross that He might be the Savior of the World. We love Him, because he first loved us. What return can we make for a sacrifice so condescending, so enthralling ,so awe-inspiring? Through the sacrifice of Christ, He made it possible for us men to live as he lived It has the power to transform our carnal minds into spiritual minds, enabling us to take on the very nature of Jesus Christ. St Paul said "I have been crucified with Christ It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me".(Romans 6:6,8,9-11) And the life which 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). Thus we have the chance to emulate the character of Christ in us. Christ is an example to follow in life; when trials and tribulations come, when you feel discouraged when life is unjust do we consider the sacrifice that Jesus has underwent? Do we look up to Him for encouragement and inspiration? We should! Remember Christ who endured such hostility and prayed for his persecutors.
The way Jesus responded to His tormentors should help us to control our urge to strike back in anger. Having this powerful example before our eyes, we can put our lives in proper perspectives and help us radiate right attitudes. By His death for us, Christ became our Heavenly High Priest. He will intervene on our behalf sitting at the right hand of God. Because of the death and resurrection of Christ we have access to God the Father and thus through Him we inherit eternal life.
The lesson of the sacrifice of Christ then is that the divine Son of God who was the supreme actor in the passion was higher than man and because of His exaltation above humanity He was able to render man a service which nobody else who has lived upon the earth has ever rendered or could ever have rendered, by His revelation of God, by His exemplification of Gods' moral law and by His emancipation of poor, sinful human nature from the thralldom of evil.
So the story of our Lords passion creates or confirms the belief in His Divinity. Let us focus our attention on Jesus Christ His Cross which transformed many lives .Let us meditate on Christ and fall prostrate before His cross and repeat "He died for me". Let us talk about Christ. Act like Christ. Let us try to be like Him in everyway.
Let Christís' tremendous sacrifice motivate us to emulate Him in everyway. For to me "To live is Christ"(Philip 1:21)
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