The Cross of Christ – Foundation of Redemption
Shane Johnson describes what we might see if we passed the pearly gates and entered God’s imaginary museum. He thinks we might see the manger, Christ’s tunic, and in the most prominent place, the cross of Christ, which he believes is the foundation of redemption.
God’s Imaginary Museum
Imagine if when you arrived in heaven God had a museum set up to display His work of redemption on planet earth. As you walked through the pearly gates red carpets, spiralling staircases and roped off aisles studded with golden globes mark the way. And what would you expect to see in the exhibits?
I imagine the first thing we we’d see would be a manger filled with the swaddling bands. It was there in that manger that it all began. The manger is the beachhead where God invaded our world. From Bethlehem he expanded into the streets of Nazareth, and from Nazareth he moved to deploy Himself in Galilee, in Cana, Capernaum, and Bethsaida. From there he traversed the desert region of Judea bringing the redemption of God wherever He went. Lastly, He scaled the mount Calvary and there gave His life as the foundation of redemption, actuating in time what He had already planned to do from eternity past. The manger is the first exhibit of God’s glory.
In many cities you will find heritage homes of famous people preserved for tourists and historians to walk through and observe. The childhood homes of politicians, inventors, explorers, humanitarians and other contributors to humanity now seem so significant to us in light of what these people accomplished through their life’s work and sacrifice. In my own hometown, the home of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, stands preserved. He was one of the inventors of the world who made it possible for us to live more connected to one another. As a result, the furniture of his home, the little trinkets he was working on, the early phones he made, all have been preserved for spectators to see, handle and admire.
God’s Childhood Home
The manger is like that. The manger was God’s childhood home, so to speak. The record of it has been preserved for us in the Scriptures for all to see and marvel. God who dwells in a Temple not made with hands came down to lie in the feeding trough made filthy by donkey fodder. Never was there a king so high that came down so low in order to redeem us from the pit of judgment.
Going a little further in God’s museum, I imagine, you would find a “tunic, without seam, woven from the top in one piece.” John tells us in his gospel that the soldiers did not want to tear it but cast lots for it, seeing it was a garment of some value. This was the Lord Jesus only property that we know of. He truly owned “just the clothes on his back,” though in reality He owned everything. But he was rich became poor that through His poverty we might become rich (2 Cor.8:9). He literally gave us everything He had – including His tunic, apparently.
So if God has a museum in heaven, I think we would see that tunic on display. It was in that tunic that He went about Galilee doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). It was in that tunic he ministered to thousands as he crisscrossed the land of Israel healing the sick, giving sight to the blind and raising the dead. On one occasion a woman reached forth her hand to touch the edge of that tunic and was immediately healed, for power had gone out from Him (Luke 8:44-46).
God who is clothed with majesty and power, for a short time, laid aside His heavenly robes to don a servant’s tunic in order to minister to us in our needs. In contrast to Aaron, the first high priest, who was clothed with garments of beauty and glory, our Lord Jesus had no beauty that we should desire Him – at least no outward beauty. To the human eye He looked as plain as guy across the street. But to get to know Him personally was to be face to face with unmistakeable beauty, the beauty of holiness and humility perfectly combined. Indeed there was and is no one like Him.
The Cross Of Christ
Now if you have ever been to a museum exhibit they usually save the greatest showcase for last, all other exhibits serving to build momentum and anticipation for the last and crowning display of accomplishment. In God’s museum the culmination of redemption is none other than the cross. In a room of its own, standing alone, stands the cross of Christ, the centre and culmination of God’s plan of redemption. In fact, the cross of Christ defines redemption. The cross declares God’s love. The cross display God’s justice. The cross proclaims, Not by works which we have done but by His mercy He saved us. For all eternity we will see and remember the nail prints in His hands. The cross is the foundation of redemption, never to be forgotten nor minimized.
As we exit this museum of imagination there is one final display to see. There on a rock slab in the middle of a massive rock quarried out of granite lay the graveclothes and facecloth of our triumphant risen Saviour. A quiet but loud sign hangs on the wall: He is not here. He is risen, just as He said. The scene is victorious, the wonder profound. The work of redemption is finished. God’s glory is like a museum, set up and put on display for all to see and His work shall define Him for all eternity.
You can listen to pod casts from Shane Johnson’s show, “Christ Up Close,” by clicking here.
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Images Courtesy of:
Manger: Stefan Wagner
Wooden Cross: John Ng
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