Some of us have just been on ‘The Cross Weekend Away’. This week, Rhiannon, a member of the 6pm, writes about how it’s she’s been reflecting again on the Jesus’ death at the cross.
I've found that it can be easy, especially if you've been a Christian for a long time, to be over familiar with the cross.
The recent weekend away, helped us to think about different aspects of what the cross shows us, what it achieved, and why it's the centre of God's plan.
I was really struck by the idea that the cross is a place where we see God's character, particularly his justice and love.
We saw that God's righteous anger was dealt with at the cross through Jesus' death: sin must be punished, and Jesus was punished at the cross. God's wrath was poured out on Jesus for both our past sins and the sins of the future. This means God's justice isn't compromised - he's still a just God who takes sin seriously.
At the same time, the fact that Jesus willingly substitutes himself for us on the cross, giving himself over to suffer a humiliating death, shows God's tremendous love. Jesus' death was costly - and he paid the price for people who hated him.
It can be so easy to feel overwhelmed by the injustice that we see around us in the world, and it was helpful to be reminded of how the cross shows us that sin does not go unpunished, either in the past or in the future.
At the cross, we see the God who carries out justice - and wonderfully this is the good and trustworthy God with whom we will spend eternity if we are Christians.
The alternative to this justice, of course, is far worse. If Jesus hadn't died, we would still face God's wrath as sinful people. On the other hand, if God just chose to 'overlook' sin, he wouldn't be very just! Following a just God is a great thing, and hearing that made me want to thank him for his justice, and pray that I would trust in him totally when I see bad things happening around me. I've also been thinking about how seriously I take the sin in my own life - because God takes it very seriously, and without Jesus' death I would rightly deserve punishment.
And yet, seeing God's love demonstrated on the cross means I won't face God's wrath and that should make us want to fall to our knees in thankfulness. This love is undeserved in the greatest possible sense: we were God's enemies and yet he still sent his son to die for us to make us right with him.
Seeing these two aspects of God's character together at the cross - his effective love and his effective justice - convinces me that I have put my trust in a God who loves me enough to carry me to eternity, where I will be because I have been made right with him through the justice exacted on Jesus at the cross.