Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

At the Foot of the Cross?

At the Foot of the Cross

[This article is available in Urdu here.]

Now I can trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down at the foot of the Cross
– Don Moen

This is the chorus of a popular song that we sang at our church meeting last Sunday. There is a lot I love about this song except that I have a problem with the phrase about laying every burden down “at the foot of the Cross”. I cannot find in the Scriptures the notion that we can, or should, lay our sins, problems, or burdens at the foot of the Cross.

Perhaps I’m too unimaginative. Or perhaps it has something to do with my aversion to Christian sentimentality. The reality of the gospel, however, is far greater than our imaginations and far more profound than sentimental notions.

The Cross

Jesus death on the cross was a true, historical event. On the cross, Jesus was humiliated, insulted, and degraded. On the cross, Jesus suffered an agonising, torturous, and cruel death. On the cross, Jesus effectively paid the ransom price for our redemption from sin and death with his innocent life blood.

But Jesus is no longer on the cross. His saving act was successfully completed – once and for all. The crucifixion is a past event. The cross no longer exists. Thankfully, however, the amazing blessings which Jesus secured for us on the cross are eternal.

The Exalted Lord

Jesus is no longer the suffering sacrifice on the cross. He is the triumphant Saviour and victorious Lord situated in the heavenly realms. He is resurrected, exalted, and glorified, and seated at the right hand of the Father. And he intercedes on our behalf from this amazing vantage point (John 14:12-14). Jesus brings our prayers and needs directly to God the Father who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Therefore [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25

The Early Church worshipped Jesus as the exalted and glorified Lord. The many surviving Christian hymns from the second and third centuries are mostly praises to the exalted and glorified Jesus. Very few are about the Cross or Jesus’ suffering.

Heavenly Realms

If we keep looking back at the past event of the crucifixion our faith may be less powerful than if we are looking forward and heavenward. I believe that how we see Jesus – on the cross or in glory – will affect our prayers and the way we approach God.

How we see ourselves will also affect the way we pray and approach God. Not only has Jesus been exalted to the heavenly realms, but the Scriptures tell us that we are somehow there also.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6

We need to raise our thoughts higher. We need to raise our thoughts to the reality that Jesus is the powerful victor over sin and death whose role right now is as our mighty intercessor. We need to raise our thoughts to the fact that right now we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven and have access to the heavenly realms through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18;  cf Romans 8:26-27; cf. Colossians 1:13).

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1

Conclusion

Should we place our sins, problems and burdens at the metaphorical (or imaginary) “Foot of the Cross”? Or should we hand them over to God the Father through the real, resurrected and exalted Jesus Christ?

I am grateful to the Lord Jesus who sees my situations, knows my thoughts and hears my cries – who is able to help me, bless me and love me in ways beyond my understanding and imagination. I can confidently give my prayers and my trust to God the Father (1 Peter 5:7), knowing that Jesus is the powerful, effective and loving mediator between myself and God the Father. I don’t want to rely on an imaginary or metaphorical cross when I have a real, heavenly intercessor!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3: 20-21


Disclaimer: I have several Christian friends who, when they pray, mentally place their issues at “The Foot of the Cross”. They see a sacrificial aspect in placing their sins and burdens at the “Foot of the Cross”. I am aware of at least one very remarkable and quick answer to a prayer request placed at the “Foot of the Cross”. Thankfully, God’s grace and mercy does not depend on “correct” theology in our prayers. However the more we truly know God and the amazing Salvation that is ours because of Jesus’ sacrifice, the more we are able to expect, experience and appreciate all that God has graciously made available for us.


Posted June 14th, 2011 . Categories/Tags: Christian Living, Christian Theology, Salvation and Eternal Life, The Holy Spirit, Worship and Prayer, , , ,

Unkind, judgemental, bizarre, and off-topic comments will be deleted.

10 comments on “At the Foot of the Cross?

  1. Becky says:

    Marg, you have given me something to consider. I’ve been a Christian for a long time and never thought of this.

    Is communion an invitation to consider the cross? It kind of works that way for me.

    I have to admit I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about Jesus being in heaven, yet of course, that’s where He is!

    Thank you for this.

  2. Marg says:

    Hi Becky,

    I do think of Jesus and his crucifixion. This week I spent some time thinking about it and was struck again by the profound humiliation and degradation of the experience.

    Crucifixion was a shameful, utterly disgraceful way to die. (Roman citizens could not be crucified, only slaves and trouble-makers.) Shame and honour was the social currency at that time, so people strenuously tried to avoid shameful situations. But Jesus willingly allowed himself to experience not only the pain but also the very public humiliation of being crucified – practically naked – on our behalf.

    Jesus and Paul certainly seemed to indicate that we were to remember Jesus sacrifice – his broken body and shed blood – at Communion. Most Communion messages focus primarily on Jesus’ death; however this may not have always been the case. Interestingly, in the Didache (which was a widely used church manual from around 100AD), Jesus’ death is not spoken about in the context of Communion (or the Eucharist). Rather, the Didache gives prayers that are all about thanksgiving. (Eucharist means thanksgiving.) In fact, Jesus death is not mentioned at all in connection with the Eucharist! (Instead there is a referrence to the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand.) The Early Church, unlike us, understood the disgrace of crucifxion. So they focussed on the glorified Jesus.

    I do think it is important to think about all that Jesus has done for us, including his death on the Cross which was the very act that secured our redemption. However, I do believe our prayers should not be directed to the suffering, dying Jesus on the Cross, but to the exalted, triumphant Lord who is seated at the right hand of the Father in power and glory. The reality is that Jesus is now glorified in heaven. Moreover, glorification is what we also look forward to! (Philippians 3:20-21)

    Eric wrote about Communion and the Didache here.

    You may also be interested in my article on The Creed of Philippians 2:6-9 which covers some of the points above.

  3. Marg says:

    FYI: Here are the sections from the Didache concerning Communion (or the Eucharist.) At this time Communion was probably a full meal shared by the Christian community; and not a stylised ceremony such as we have today. (Note: No mention of the Cross or Jesus’ death.)

    Personally, I’m not sure what to make of the differences between the Didache’s version of Communion and modern church practises of Communion.

    Didache Chapter 9
    1. Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks as follows.
    2. First, concerning the cup: We give you thanks, our Father, for the holy vine of David your servant, which you have made known to us through Jesus, your servant; to you be the glory forever.
    3. And concerning the broken bread: We give you thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you have made known to us through Jesus, your servant; to you be the glory forever.
    4. Just as this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and then was gathered together and became one, so may your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom; for yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.
    5. But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been baptized into the name of the Lord, for the Lord has also spoken concerning this: “Do not give what is holy to dogs.”

    Didache Chapter 10
    1. And after you have had enough, give thanks as follows:
    2. We give you thanks, Holy Father, for your holy name which you have caused to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you have made known to us through Jesus your servant; to you be the glory forever.
    3. You, Almighty Master, created all things for your name’s sake, and gave food and drink to men to enjoy, that they might give you thanks; but to us you have graciously given spiritual food and drink, and eternal life through your servant.
    4. Above all we give thanks because you are mighty; to you be the glory forever.
    5. Remember your church, Lord, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in your love; and gather it, the one that has been sanctified, from the four winds into your kingdom, which you have prepared for it; for yours is the power and the glory forever.
    6. May grace come, and may this world pass away. Hosanna to the God of David. If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not, let him repent. Maranatha! Amen.
    7. But permit the prophets to give thanks however they wish.

  4. Becky says:

    Yesterday when I took communion I prayed a little bit differently and I thought of Jesus as exalted, in heaven. Thank you for posting the didache above, I found the prayer in Chapter 10 quite inspiring.

    I wonder how many other ways our churchly customs have changed over two thousand plus years?

  5. Marg says:

    Christian theology and church customs and practises have changed considerably over the centuries. Mapping these changes makes for an interesting study.

    I’m glad the Didache was helpful. (I thought including it might have been excessive.)

    One thing that disturbs me about the Didache is that its instructions are already moving away from the freedom of the gospel. It regards prophets as priests and seems to exclude women as candidates for leadership ministry. And the Didache was only written at around the turn of the 1st century.

    The more I read early church literature that wasn’t included in the New Testament canon, the more I realise how inspired the New Testament writings are. The New Testament is also remarkably gender-inclusive, especially when compared with the writing of the Early Church Fathers.

  6. […] Yesterday I posted a link on my facebook page to an article that I had written a while ago.  The article is about whether we should, or can, place our sins, problems or burdens at the foot of the cross.  […]

  7. trishan says:

    There are 2 sides to the cross on one side u see the physical sufferings and pains but the cross also reps redemption grace sanctification…Yes he is not on the cross but we believe in the Power of the cross

  8. Marg says:

    Thanks for your comment Trishan. I think we are in agreement.

    I agree that the message of the Cross is powerful (1 Cor 1:17-18). The Cross is where redemption took place. It is the the message of redemption that lives on and is powerful.

    My point is that the Cross, as a real object, no longer exists, and Jesus is no longer on that Cross. Jesus is seated in heaven, and so, when I pray and share my needs with God, I direct my prayers to him in heaven, and not to a Cross that no longer exists.

  9. […] At the foot of the cross? […]

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