By Michael Risley
A common theme in literature, movies, and in fact, any tool of story-telling, is “good versus evil.” When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, I watched more westerns and war movies than I care to count. In all of these, there was a battle or war between the good and the bad: those who fought for righteousness and truth, and those who were profoundly immoral and wicked. In Scripture, we see the ultimate “good versus evil” scenario in the war between God versus Satan. We see this play out in Genesis, where Satan brought evil into the world, and then all the way through Scripture until the book of Revelation where God triumphs over Satan, a final victory for goodness, truth and righteousness.
However, before this final victory in Revelation, there was the biggest victory at Calvary! After “the fall” into sin in the Garden of Eden, both justice and mercy were desperately needed because all of us are lost in sin and cannot save ourselves. It was like we were on “Death Row,” deserving death as justice for our sin–“BUT GOD is so rich in mercy and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4-5). You see, sin and injustice were punished at the cross of Christ and it is only because the penalty of sin was satisfied through Christ’s sacrificial death that God extends His mercy to undeserving sinners who look to Him for salvation. In other words, at the cross God’s justice was delivered in full upon Christ, and God’s mercy was extended in full to all who believe.
There is healing at the cross. It is not something we escape, but it’s something we embrace. That cross (though it exposes me, “warts-and-all”) is my victory. Peace and mercy are available at the cross. PEACE—being reconciled to God; and MERCY—having the divine removal of my sins. Furthermore, the power and significance of the cross of Christ is seen throughout history. Jesus’ death on the cross is remembered by more people than any event in history. The cross is the most widely recognized symbol in the entire world: it marks more graves, is on top of more churches, and graces more jewelry than any other image. It changed from a symbol of torture to a symbol of God’s love; from a symbol of death to a symbol of hope for eternal life. As Jesus was on the cross, “A sign was fastened above him with these words: ‘This is the King of the Jews'” (Luke 23:38). The Roman Governor Pilate wrote this statement in three languages: Hebrew–language of the Jews; Greek–language of the culture; Latin–language of the Roman empire (John 19:20). Interestingly, Christianity has outlasted every empire and earthly power!
In his famous little book On Christian Truth, Harry Blamires suggests that we think of the human race aboard a hijacked jetliner flying through time. He writes, “God himself directed its takeoff from the divine control-tower. The initiator of all evil, whom we call the Devil, managed to get a boarding pass. When the plane reached its cruising altitude, the Devil produced his weapons, threatened the pilot, and took control of the aircraft and all its passengers.” So the plane went fearfully through history from airport to airport until, he writes, “It was caught on the tarmac at Jerusalem, an outpost of the Roman empire, in the reign of Tiberius Caesar, where the Son of God offered himself as sole hostage in exchange for the passengers and crew.” It was that triumphant exchange that brought freedom for all of those who trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Yet at the same time, there were many who still sit on the plane, not believing it has been hijacked and refusing to accept the freedom that has been offered to them. How about you–have you accepted the freedom offered to you? Have you placed your faith in Jesus, the One who exchanged His life for you by dying on the cross and paid the penalty for your sins? If not, or if you are not sure, go watch this video at the top of our homepage when you click on “Gospel.” This short video explains the Good News of Jesus Christ!
Colossians 1:13-14 expresses this same story of the battle of good and evil and the freedom and rescue that is provided through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It says this: “For he (God) has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”
May these words from the hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul,” lift our hearts in praise for the victory and freedom of the cross of Jesus Christ:
“My sin–O, the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin–not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”