This week is sometimes called ‘Holy Week,’ beginning with Palm Sunday, then Good Friday, and ending with Easter Sunday. It is a time when we especially remember and celebrate Christ’s death on the cross at Calvary and then His resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday; it is a time for believers to reflect on these important and central doctrines in our faith: the atonement and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Let’s start with Calvary.
REVELATION OF THE CROSS
Approximately twenty years ago, the Mel Gibson film ‘The Passion of the Christ’ was released. I will never forget going with my wife Dorothy to the Dock Theater in Excelsior to see this movie. It was an awesome movie and a stunning, numbing experience, to say the least. A phrase kept going through my mind as we sat in the darkened theater, ‘All this have I done for thee . . . ‘After the movie had finished, Dorothy and I drove out into the country, not wanting to lose the impact of watching the death of Christ on the cross. You see, when you get a revelation of the cross, you get the ultimate revelation of the love of Father God. How deep, how wide, how long is that love (Ephesians 3:17-19).
John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son . . . .’ You want to see the Father heart of God, then get a revelation of the cross, the crucifixion, the death of Jesus, the Son of God.
THE IMPACT OF THE CROSS
Years ago, I came across a story that brings it all home.
One day early in the eighteenth century, a German artist, Stenberg, walking through the marketplace of his hometown, was attracted by the face of a dancing gypsy girl. He invited her to come to his studio and sit for him, and with her, as a model, he painted his ‘Dancing Gypsy Girl.’ The little girl was much taken with what she saw in the artist’s studio and watched him with great interest as he worked on a painting of the Crucifixion.
One day she said to Stenberg, ‘He must have been a very bad man to have been nailed to the cross like that.’
‘No,’ the artist said, ‘He was a good man. The best man that ever lived. Indeed, He died for all men.
‘Did He die for you?’ asked the girl. That question set the artist to thinking, for he had not yet given his heart to Christ. One day he chanced to go to a meeting of the Reformers, who opened the Scriptures to him, showed him the way of salvation, and brought him to Christ. Then he went back to finish his painting of the Crucifixion, working this time not only with an artist’s skill and technique but with the love that comes of a believing heart.
What happened to the artist Stenberg? He received a revelation of the cross that brought him to salvation in Jesus Christ.
So, in the art gallery at Dusseldorf, there was this picture of the Crucifixion by Stenberg, a masterpiece begun with little religious fervor and finished in a blaze of devotion. Below the picture were the words –
All this I did for thee,
What hast thou done for Me?
One day a wealthy young man drove into Dusseldorf, and while his horses were being groomed at the inn, he wandered around the town, sightseeing. He walked carelessly into the art gallery, paused before Stenberg’s picture, and read the challenging lines.
It is said he stood there still as stone, not for a few minutes only but for hours. Other visitors arrived and departed. The light faded. The curator, waiting to go home, became impatient and at last tapped the nobleman on the shoulder. The two went out together.
Returning to the inn, the young man drove on to Paris – but he was a different young man, for he had dedicated himself to a new way of life and was to become known the world over as the founder of Moravian Missions.
He was Zinzendorf.
What happened to Count Zinzendorf? He received a revelation of the cross that changed his life and reached out to the world. It was at Hernnhut on Zinzendorf’s estate that the 24/7 prayer meetings began that went on for 100 years and even now are being revived through Houses of Prayer all over the world.
Yes, we need the revelation of the cross, but we also need to remember that this was not the end. For on the third day, Easter Sunday, Christ rose from the dead. He was alive, and He is alive today. Luke 24:5-6 records the words the angel said, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but He is risen.”
The tomb is empty. Christ is risen, and He is alive forevermore. We serve a risen Savior!
Once more, we are coming to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The problem we face is that we know the Easter Story so well that it no longer impacts us as it should. If we don’t watch out, we can suffer from the ‘sin of familiarity’ because the cross has become too familiar to us.
May we pray that this Easter, we get a fresh revelation of Calvary and, consequently, a fresh revelation of both the sacrifice of Jesus and the love of Father God.
‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.’
– 2 Corinthians 5:19
It is a revelation of the love of the Father that, in time, can motivate us to fulfill our destiny in Christ, just like Zinzendorf.
“All this I did for thee
What hast thou done for Me?”