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

Jesus is no longer on a cross

Jesus is no longer on a cross

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”. Some people had a problem with the article. One person responded with a beautifully written but, I believe, theologically flawed comment which follows:

“God is beyond time and space and if we are to believe that he did not leave his divinity behind when He became man in the form of our beloved Jesus the Christ then He brought His timelessness (or if you prefer timefullness) to earth with Him. So just as he is eternally the fresh babe in Mary’s arms and eternally one with the Father he is also eternally on the cross. Our silly human minds can’t really handle timeless concepts – look at what it did to Einstein’s hair – but the reality is that God is neither here nor there, now or then. But always and everywhere. So whether you prefer to pray at the foot of the cross, kneeling in the straw of the stable or with your face turned up to His glory at the right hand of the Father is of no consequence for wherever your heart seeks Him, He will be found.” Shan Thiel (Used with permission.)

My reply, which is not nearly so eloquent (and has been edited slightly) was this:

I absolutely get that God is beyond space and time, and that many things about our faith and spirituality are beyond space and time. This makes Jesus’ willingness to condescend and become a human being – temporarily limited by space and time (as we are) – truly remarkable.[1] However, I simply cannot find anything in the Bible that suggests that Jesus is eternally a newborn baby or eternally suffering on a cross.[2]

I do not pray to a baby or to a man nailed to a cross. I pray to the risen, triumphant and victorious Saviour and King who is seated at the right hand of God in heavenly realms.

As well as being our Lord and King, Jesus lives in us through his Spirit and is our closest, most generous, most faithful and compassionate friend. This relationship is only possible because of Jesus’ finished – completed – work on the cross. When Jesus had shed his innocent life blood on our behalf, he said with his final breath, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The writer of Hebrews said that Jesus died “once, for all” (Heb. 7:27; 9:11-12, 25-26; 10:12). The penalty for our sin has been paid in full for all time.  There is no further need for a redemptive sacrifice. Jesus is no longer on the cross.

But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.  Hebrews 10:12.

I suggest that it takes imagination for us who are outside of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and living 2000 years after the events, to pray at “the foot of Jesus’ Cross” (which would be decayed by now) or at “his manger“.[3] Jesus, however, is not imaginary; he is real.

The fact that Jesus successfully conquered sin and death is real. His resurrection and ascension were real events (in the past). The fact that he lives to be our intercessor and mediator is a present and powerful reality (Heb. 7:25). These are things the apostles wrote about – truths that have been preserved in Holy Scripture.

These wonderful truths are beyond our imagination – much greater than our imagination. If we seek God using our own imagination we may end up praying to an imaginary “god”. I prefer to be led by God’s Spirit when I pray, and not use my imagination which is limited, flawed, and can be misleading (Eph. 3:20).

One more verse:

“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”  Romans 6:9-10


Endnotes

[1] I believe that Jesus was fully human and fully God while on earth but that he temporarily laid aside his divine privileges and powers and relied completely on the Holy Spirit’s power during his ministry (Phil. 2:6-8). I believe that Jesus remains fully human and fully God.

[2] I am actually disturbed by this thinking. What is the point of Jesus being a newborn baby eternally? And do people really think that Jesus is eternally suffering on the cross for our, already forgiven, sins? If we take this further: Is Jesus eternally a 6 year old or a 16 year old? Apart from being unbiblical, these thoughts seem illogical and pointless.

[3] I, personally, cannot see the purpose or benefit of praying “at the foot of the cross” or to “the baby Jesus”.


Related Article

At the Foot of the Cross?
The Creed of Philippians 2:6-11
The Righteous for the Unrighteous – 1 Peter 3:17-22

Posted April 9th, 2012 . Categories/Tags: Christology, Worship and Prayer, , , ,

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

22 comments on “Jesus is no longer on a cross

  1. TL says:

    I had not heard this theory before. Thank you Marg for addressing it with Scripture and reason.

    • Mark Rogers says:

      For Christ also suffered ONCE for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,”

  2. Marg says:

    Hi TL, My facebook corresponders are persisting with this line of thought and are also saying that Jesus is always suffering. What a sad picture of Jesus. I believe that this picture is incorrect and, dare I say, imaginary.

    I maintain that since Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit without measure (limit) he must have been a joyful person, as joy is often referred to in the context of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. And I know that the Holy Spirit brings me much joy!

    Jesus often spoke about joy, and was a joyful person himself (Luke 10:21, John 15:11; 17:13). And, while love was the main motivation behind his earthly ministry (John 3:16), Jesus was also motivated by joy.

    Hebrews 12:2 says “Jesus … who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

    Just saying . . .

  3. Verity3 says:

    This is interesting. I’ve actually pondered before what it means that God the Son was separated from God the Father for three days… what that means for an eternal Being. Is it like He has forever lost Something of Himself? But then, how much more does He live forever!

    And your Scripture references, particularly Hebrews 7:25 and 10:12, make important points.

    I think the “point” of His being eternally newborn, six years old, twenty-five, etc. might be to emphasize His ability to understand us as our High Priest. (But it’s not like He’s unable to identify with, say, octogenarians, women, etc.) Maybe, though, His human attributes are finite, and it’s His divine attributes that enable Him to remember? Just rambling at this point… (definitely holding these thoughts loosely!)

  4. Marg says:

    I think it’s good to think about these things, even though there are many aspects of Jesus’ divinity and human nature that are difficult to reconcile and understand.

    Here are some of my thoughts: I don’t think that Jesus was separated (or disconnected) from the Godhead – God the Father and the Holy Spirit – for three days. Jesus seemed to be separated from God when he was bearing our sins on the cross (Mark 15:34), but as he died Jesus said, “into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Jesus believed that his spirit was going to be with God, and I think Jesus knew what was going on (John 10:17-18). I think the separation was short-lived.

    I think that Jesus can identify with us, not because he is eternally a human child or eternally a human suffering on a cross, but because he remembers what it was like to live as a human being in earth; and more especially because he has great empathy. (I also think the fact that Jesus was tested like we are is more for our benefit. We can be sure that Jesus really understands us. However, I think he would have undertood us even if he hadn’t come to earth to live as a human being for thirty odd years.)

    “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

    I do not believe that Jesus is eternally a baby or eternally on the cross. I believe that the Scriptures are clear about where Jesus is right now. I do not pray at a manger or at a cross. I direct my prayers to God the Father himself, because of Jesus (or through Jesus), with the help of the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18).

    I’m learning a lot from the current discussions and I’m realising that the Bible is pretty clear about where Jesus is right now (relative to our present position in time and space.)

  5. Kristen says:

    I agree that in His humanity, Jesus entered into time and lived within it for 33 years. That time is now over and the victorious Christ is in authority over this Creation until its final end. That is the state in which Christ in His humanity lives now. In His divinity He can be present at every point in human history, but that does not make the human history itself somehow eternal.

  6. Marg says:

    Thanks Kristen. I am also inclined to believe that human history is not eternal.

  7. Retha says:

    Another thought: It seems to me if being eternal means that Jesus is forever on the cross, then our being eternal (we have an eternal future) would mean that for eternity, we will remember and have all our earthly pain.

    That time a cement block fell on your foot? You will then forever experience the pain of those seconds before you could get out from under it.

    The most humiliating experience you’ve ever had? If eternity mean being forever there, do you really want to live forever?

    I don’t think eternity means that. The Lord will wipe all tears from our eyes. (Rev 7:17, 21:4). If he can do that for us, He can certainly do it for himself, I would guess?

  8. Marg says:

    I think you’re right, Retha. I don’t believe that Jesus is eternally the cross. I don’t even think that he’s purposefully remembering the pain and degradation of the cross.

    Similarly, do mothers revisit and recall the pain of chidbirth when they think of the result of that labour – their children? It would be a waste of time if they did.

  9. sailka says:

    Catholics do not, have not believed “Christ is eternally On the Cross”; 100% opposite of why We Only among all thre thousands of Christian sects Keep Christ on the Cross to remind us what worst tortures he endured for Us sinners: The Crucifix is a powerful reminder of our Founder. The 1.25 Billion Roman/Orthodox Church Christ founded is the Only one Living, Practising The Bible Fully, as Christ intended. I Emphasize Living and Teaching All the things Christ taught. Everything we do is In the Bible; NOTHING (No Thing) is contrary to The Bible. Interesting note, The Holy Bible was Never intended By God to be The Authority on anything, esp individual verses. Pls read 1 Timothy 3:15 on where Earthly Christian authority and wisdom Is: In the then ‘church elders’ (The Aplostles, proven by their letters to the early churches to Teach them, resolve Issues; Continued non-stop in the first Bishops (Leaders) to always following The Magesterium: Council of all Bishops, from the Apostles “Council of Jerusalem” to Select someone to succeed Judas, and resolve whether requiring numerous converts to continue following Jewish laws like blood sacrifice, circumcision, etc.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Sailka, I’m glad to hear that there are Catholics who do not believe that Jesus is eternally on a cross. But I know of others who believe this strongly.

      I do not think Christians need a crucifix as a reminder of Jesus. Jesus told us to remember his death by the symbols of wine and bread. He did not tell us to remember him with models of crosses with a half-naked, tortured figure on them.

      Also, while the crucifixion was necessary for redemption, I think there are many other wonderful things that we can think about when we think about Jesus. I truly believe that Jesus would want us to concentrate on his present triumph and not his past humiliation.

      Moreover, as followers of Jesus we have his Holy Spirit living inside of us. What could be a more powerful, continual reminder of Jesus presence and ministry that that?

      I do believe that the Bible is God’s Word, that it is authoritative and uniquely inspired by God. I also know that the Holy Spirit illuminates God’s Word and teaches us. I would not want to rely on earthly authority. The earthly authorities of the Roman Catholic Church have clearly made mistakes in the past. Some of these mistakes were enormous and caused the death and suffering of countless thousands.

  10. Tobius says:

    The main point here is this……a crucifix, a cross, an icon, an image, kneeling, prostrate, standing, sitting, communion, reconciliation, confession, mesmorized prayers, personal prayers, crossing yourself left to right, right to left, or not crossing yourself at all, full submersion baptism, sprinkling of water baptism, Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost, beleif in saints, angels, guardian angels, etc etc……it doesn’t matter as long as the focus is on God. Whatever it takes for people to focus on God, to turn toward God instead of away from Him is awesome. God loves us. He seeks us. Whatever it takes for people to focus on Him is fine by me. Remember one thing…..God is perfect. Humans are not. We will make mistakes. God knows this. He knew the mistakes I make before I was even born. Yet he gave me free will. God does not fore you to love him. But if you need to beleive God is forever a babe in Mary’s arms as well as always suffering on the cross, so be it. At least the focus is on God. These articles are great as well. Although some things it these articles I don’t always beleive, I thank God for the forum to focus on God. Praise be to the God of Israel, Jesus the Savior, and the Holy Spirit…three yet one……unity as the Trinity.

  11. Marg says:

    Tobias, I understand your point. Some people are helped to connect and focus on God if they have some sort of image in mind or in view. Yet God warns about man made images of the divine or images of the created world for the purpose of worship (Ex 20:4-5).

    If I focus on God I want to have an accurate understanding and “picture” of him. I want to know him in truthfully. I do not want to focus on a ‘god’ of my own imagination.

    Jesus is not a baby, Jesus is no longer on the cross. Jesus is the triumphant Saviour and Lord seated in heavenly realms. And we can connect with him directly through the Holy Spirit. Saints and angels are of little use with that.

    Jesus said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24 (NIV)

    We should not replace the spiritual with the material and we should not replace the truth with falsehood or imagination.

  12. clare mateer says:

    Jesus is no longer on a cross but the cross is central to the christian life.
    Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16: 24)
    Even Paul the Apostle said ” For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2: 2).

    • Marg says:

      There’s no doubt whatsoever that Jesus’ crucifixion is central to the Christian faith. Though I can’t see that the disciple’s “crosses” have many parallel’s with Jesus’ unique crucifixion which dealt with the power of sin and death. Instead, “cross” in Matthew 16:24 is used as a metaphor for a readiness and an attitude to live sacrificially, even to die if necessary.

      It is true that, towards the beginning of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul emphasised Jesus’ crucifixion. (cf. 1 Cor. 1:17-18). Paul did this as part of discussion contrasting his own frailty, humility, ineloquence, and “foolishness” with the pride of some Corinthians (1 Cor. 4:8, 10).

      Here’s 1 Corinthians 2:2 with some context:

      When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words . . . 1 Corinthians 2:1b-4a

      Towards the end of his first letter to the Corinthians, however, Paul emphasises Jesus’ resurrection, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead” (1 Cor. 15:14-15).

      The message about “Jesus Christ and him crucified” includes the resurrection and ascension into glory.

      In his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

      The Christian life is about life, not death! Jesus’ one-time death made this life possible, but Jesus is no longer on a cross. Jesus is alive!

  13. clare mateer says:

    You are right there is no comparison between the disciple’s “crosses” and Jesus Christ’s crucifixion – Christ who was the atoning sacrifice for our sin – the sacrificial lamb. Also, I see what you are saying about the “cross” in Matthew 16:24 as being a metaphor for an attitude to living sacrificially and to die if necessary… to put other’s needs before our own.. to live selflessly….to die to self. I see that you have put the message about Jesus Christ and him crucified in its full context, which includes the resurrection and ascension into glory of Christ. Jesus is no longer on a cross and is alive… True. Christ’s resurrection secures what Christ accomplished on the cross.

    Paul does acknowledge what Christ has accomplished on the cross and what that means for him as a follower of Christ … “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God….” Who is experiencing the Christian life like Paul the Apostle?

    All that we have received is because of Christ’s sacrificial death on that cross… Christ poured out His life of holiness, one that no-one could ever live, in his holy blood to redeem us from slavery to sin. We are covered by the blood of Christ the lamb the spotless righteousness of Christ given to us by God.

    All that we are is because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross – we are justified, redeemed, reconciled, adopted as sons by the holy blood of Christ. God raised Christ from death and exalted Christ to the highest pinnacle of glory because Christ fulfilled God’s plan of redemption on that cross at Calvary.

    Applying the cross to one’s life may mean “realising” that we are freed from bondage of every kind because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. What if someone is struggling with fear – should you say Christ is risen and you should be free from fear if you really believed in what Christ has accomplished on the cross. Have to say that approach only makes someone feel even worse. Who is living in the realm of triumphalism?

    • Marg says:

      If someone is living with fear I would indeed point out that Christ is risen and ascended. I would not say, however, that he should be free of fear, but that there is now the real possibility and potential to be free of fear. With Jesus there is hope, not to mention compassion and comfort.

      Jesus lives and he intercedes for us who are still living with weaknesses and difficulties. He intercedes from a position of power. None of us will reach his level of victory and triumph this side of eternity.

  14. clare mateer says:

    Thank you for your reply – it is extremely helpful. Actually, thank you for all your replies and your level of understanding.

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