Why the cross? – part four

When I was a kid in elementary school nobody talked about ADD or ADHD.  If there was another kid in your class that was disruptive all the time, people would call him hyper.  “Wow that kid is really hyper.”  Of course labels suck and wrong diagnosis is tragic.  Still you have an appreciation for the word hyper and probably don’t know it.  For these kids, hyper was short for hyper-active.  There are a bunch of other words that include hyper in their root.

Hyperbole is a good example.  Hyperbole is a gross exaggeration.  It is “over the top” so that it is unbelievable but makes a point.  If you are standing in line and it is taking a while you might say “am I going to wait for an eternity?”  Or maybe your child misbehaves and you declare “I will kill you if you do that again.”  (OK that may have been me in the past but praise Jesus I use better words now)  Another example might be hypercritical.  Maybe you had a boss or co-worker that was hypercritical.  Do I need to explain or will you become hyperirritable thinking about your hypersensitive response to a hyperbolic assessment of your poor work performance?  I am being too hyperdimensional right now?

This word hyper comes from a Greek word that can be spelled the same way or as “huper.”  Interestingly this word is the root of “super” from the Latin.    So we have an “over the top” and “above and beyond” sense of the Greek word hyper or am I being uber literal in my observations?  Uber is the German derived word of the same Greek origin.  Are you getting the picture?

This word is used in the Bible a number of times.  Here are a couple of examples:

Matt 10:24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.

The word “above” is the Greek word “hyper.”  Pretty clear how this one is used, right?  It is a positional reference.

Luke 22:20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

The word “for” is the “hyper” word.  You could read that phrase as “poured out for the benefit or betterment of you.”  OK, here is the definition of hyper (the Greek one):

hypér (a preposition) – properly, beyond (above); (figuratively) to extend benefit (help) that reaches beyond the present situation

Can you see that the “hyper” word increases or makes something bigger (or better) just like in English.  Sensitive to hypersensitive.  Get it?

Now check out this verse:

Matt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The word “for” is the Greek word “gar.”  It is not the same as “hyper” but gets translated to the same word “for.”  Confused yet?  You could read this phrase as “Repent because the kingdom…”  Here is the definition:

1063 gár (a conjunction) – for. While “for” is usually the best translation of 1063 (gár), its sense is shaped by the preceding statement – the “A” statement which precedes the 1063 (gár) statement in the “A-B” unit.

I’ve been leading the witness, so are you ready to get zinged?  Here you go:

1 Cor 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures (ESV)

So which Greek word is it?  Does this say “died because of our sins (gar)” or “died for the betterment of our sins (hyper)?”  Which way have you “heard” it or been taught it before?  Give up…DOOR NUMBER TWO.  The word is “hyper.”  Jesus died for the betterment of or the improvement of or over and above or “something that reaches beyond the present situation.”  Are you surprised?  I’m not.

When we begin to see that the cross for what it is, everything changes in our hearts.  This is why Paul was so adamant about knowing Jesus and Him crucified.  God forgives without a payment.  That is the definition of forgiveness.  If you “forgive” because of something else, that is retribution or payment.  Forgiveness requires nothing other than the giver of forgiveness wants to do it.  There is no balance.  Forgiveness is a pardon, a dismissal…yeah it is getting off the hook when you don’t deserve it.  That is God’s nature.  He forgives.

So the cross isn’t a payment to a deficit God.  The cross is a demonstration of love.  The cross is a revelation of our Sin and God’s nature towards our Sin.  We see how we can reject GOD and kill GOD and beat GOD and dismiss GOD and judge GOD and sentence GOD (hyperizing our Sin) and what does He do in return?  When we see Jesus, deformed and disfigured and despised (taking our Sin), what is He doing?  He is forgiving us.  He is raised from the dead and walks among us (defeating our Sin) and what is He doing?  He is forgiving us.  He walks the earth knowing that we will kill Him as a common criminal (Immanuel with our Sin) and what is He doing?  He is forgiving us.  So when He dies “for the benefit of or improvement of the Sins of us” what is He doing?  He is forgiving us.  His life and death and resurrection is a demonstration and revelation of a true human and a loving God.  His non-violent approach to loving each other including our enemies is carried all the way to the cross and into the grave at the hands of brutally vicious murdering sinners.  And what is He demonstrating?  He is showing us what true forgiveness looks like.

God knows that we are the ones who just can’t let it go.  We are the ones that are keeping accounts.  We are the ones who think they are “good enough” or “suck beyond saving.”  We are keeping the ledgers and lists.  God knows this.  Now imagine the outrage when Jesus shows them a God that is not like us.  Imagine their wrath when they see a God who says forgiveness and not judging and turning the other cheek and accepting everyone is His heart.  Can’t you hear the screaming. They are standing there in front of God yelling…I have these offenses that must be accounted for…we have to have balance…we have to have retributive justice!!  They couldn’t let it go and it manifested as killing our savior.  Aren’t we doing the same thing in churches today?  Maybe that is why Paul says this:

Col 2:14 Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross. (AMP)

Can you see now that the hand written record of debt that Paul is talking about is in our handwriting?

If God was like us and was bound to a legal code that supersedes even Himself, then of course He is responsible for some balance, justice and payment.  We could hold up the legal decrees to the face of our creator and say He has to comply.  But He isn’t like us (fallen us).  God is outside the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  His “sense of balance” is to love unconditionally by humbling Himself as a servant to His creation as one of His creation joined to His creation.  He serves us to the point of death knowing that we can’t possibly accept a God who would just let us off the hook.  Our response is to say “that kind of teaching and thinking is so blasphemous that it must be from the devil.  Anyone who would forgive and turn the other cheek and love his enemy can’t possibly be from God.”

When we make a God of our fallen image after eating the poisoned fruit we have a poisoned image of God.  He begins to look like all the other g.o.d.s of the cosmos over the ages.  The g.o.d. of man’s image is the one who requires sacrifices to make him happy and requires blood to satisfy his blood lust and requires dead children to appease his anger and rage against imperfection.  That is a g.o.d. of man’s making.  That is the g.o.d. that we present the writ of offenses and declare “justice must be served.”  This is why Jesus had to come and show us who God really is.  He is not that angry and imaginary violent g.o.d.  He is a God who loves us so much that we can’t offend Him.  He is unoffendable.  He only wants us and all of us.  When we give all of ourselves to Him we become the humans He made us to be.  We become extensions of Himself as His children on the earth bringing His glory to His creation.  That was always the plan.

If there were ever a reason for a g.o.d. to punish his servants, it would be what we did to Jesus on a cross.  Instead He forgives us in our Sin.  He makes better our Sin condition by letting us put it on Him while He is forgiving us.

Yay God!


2 thoughts on “Why the cross? – part four

  1. ‘Can you see now that the hand written record of debt that Paul is talking about is in our handwriting?’

    I’ve been thinking about 1 Cor 13:5 — Love keeps no record or wrongs. Strange how I always read that and thought, “of course God doesn’t keep a record of wrongs!” But every time I read Col. 2:14 I assumed the list against was God’s list. I guess God doesn’t change!! I guess HE IS LOVE. I guess I’ll change my mind about that!! 🙂 Isn’t repentance fun?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sas for the comment. Yeah, right?!?!! Is what comes to mind. It is like God has been speaking to us and like rocks we hear nothing. Still He is so patient. 6000 years or more and He is still trying to reach us. 2000 years and His own death and we are still trying to hear. When we do hear it is like duh! all over again. Yay God!


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