An abuser uses fear and intimidation to compel their victim into silencing the truth. It is a vicious expression of evil manifested throughout human history and perpetuated both in small and large scales today. The ancient Roman empire used the cross as one of its chief tools of intimidation to keep people in line. In an especially brutal expression after quelling a rebellion the Appian Way victory parade was lined with 6,000 crucified slaves. The message was clear.
One hundred years later there was another death on a cross. This one changed human history. This rebellion looked different but no less a threat. We see the attempts throughout the life of Jesus. When Herod discovered from the magi that a king had been born he had all of the male children in Bethlehem slaughtered (Matthew 2:16-18). Oh what depths we will go to for the protection of our status and position.
As we look at Jesus on the cross we see one who endured all the force of evil at work. John 3:19 describes it in these terms; “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” Those forces had to be confronted but amazingly they were confronted in such an unusual way. A new way of being human was established in this moment in history, one that became a way for connection between us and our Creator. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” - 2 Corinthians 5:21
The script was flipped. The symbol of greatest oppression became the tool for the liberation of humanity, not from external forces but from the internal slavery of sin. The apostle Paul described it in his letter to the Romans as, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” -Romans 7:19 This is the oppressive force of sin in our lives and what Jesus died to liberate us from. John’s gospel records Jesus words this way, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” - John 8:32
We receive this liberation through faith in the finished work of Jesus. Jesus invites us all to join him in the work of believing and living this truth. May we give deep consideration to these powerful truths.