Jesus was crowned King of Kings on the Cross. His crowning act was to love mankind so much that He would lay down his life, completing God the Father’s repetitive acts of forgiveness toward man.
The first time I read the Old Testament quickly through, I was in seminary school, and it was assigned as a speed read. It was probably the most memorable assignment I can remember. Reading the Jewish Testament slowly or piecemeal, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by its pieces and parts. But reading it rapidly, one gets the overwhelming feeling of God giving His chosen people repetitive opportunities and they, time and again, falling down miserably. Moses goes up Mount Sinai to meet with God and receives His guidelines sculpted supernaturally in stone. Moses’ face is shining from exposure to God’s radioactive radiance, His glory. But as he descends he sees the people God just delivered from slavery in Egypt having an orgy. What’s worse, they’ve built a huge golden idle and are worshiping it. This cycle repeated over and over until the final solution came: Jesus.
Of course, we realize that the story of His people is just a stand-in for the story of mankind. And if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s my story and yours. That is until Jesus. So finally we have God conceiving a son with a virgin woman. He conceives a Son, the Son, the only begotten son, as the Bible says. The eternal seed of God, or to be more graphic, the sperm of God, impregnates a human egg and the result is the savior of mankind.
God’s ultimate act of raising up humanity out of its addiction to sin is to become one of us. And from the inside out He changes our future forever. In the Garden of Eden humanity derailed itself from a life of perfect ease and companionship with its creator. God met us on Mount Sinai, and countless other times He met us individually and as a people, and as many times we relapse into sin. To be clear, I view sin as idolatry and not loving others. We are commanded to love God and to love others. Every other form of sin is a derivative and a symptom of the two biggies. Chasing them down can become a distraction from the pursuit of the big two. That is why Jesus said, “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Jesus is Emanuel, God with us, He is God in us. Before Jesus, we were constantly losing every skirmish and battle. But Jesus turns the tide of the war. Jesus takes us into himself, and because He is in the Father, Jesus takes us into the Father with Him. All of humanity, past, present, and future is now in God the Father, in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. It is a done deal. When Jesus incarnates, God takes flesh in a marriage of man and God. And this God-in-the-flesh continues eternally, outside of time. After the resurrection, Jesus still bears the wounds of the cross. We see it when He takes Thomas’ hand and places it on the wound so Thomas can believe. Picture Jesus in the heavenly realm, in God’s dimension, seated on the right hand of the Father, as the Bible says. He’s radiant, He’s beauty itself, He’s perfect love…and His crown is in the shape of the wounds that somehow take the ultimate redemptive act of the cross into eternity.
The cross is a culmination of the incarnation. It is not God’s choice to have His son be tortured and killed so His own desire for “justice” can be served. Man’s concept of justice is retributive, punitive, and vindictive. God’s justice is always redemptive, never punitive. Jesus is tortured and killed on the cross because humanity is sick and could not embrace a perfectly loving being. Not because God the Father needs a whipping boy to get over His anger. Jesus refuses to use force against His executioners because the Kingdom of God He brings is a kingdom of love, not force.
Let me conclude with a thought to contemplate: “the Gospel is not the news that you can receive Jesus into your life, The Gospel is the news that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has come and He has received you into His life.”* Receiving salvation is not praying a prayer, it’s not doing good deeds, it is believing what He has done.
* From a sermon by Baxter Kruger