Before I went down for surgery they placed a cross on each foot. Apparently it’s so that the doctors can take my pulse quickly in the middle of the surgery, should my heart do something unexpected.
But I’m lying in my hospital bed thinking about the Cross of Christ and all it means. And then they come and put two crosses on my feet. We often consider the stigmata to be a physical sensation of pain in the hands and feet, a spiritual/emotional response to the crucifixion. Or Paul’s comments in Galatians 6:17. Here he says, “I bear in my body the marks of Christ.” By this he means he has been whipped and beaten, suffered because he’s a disciple of Jesus.
For me, it’s not suffering at all. But the marks on my feet bring to mind the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for me, that he was whipped and beaten, spat upon and vilified, most of all that Jesus died so I could be set free.
It is great to be coming home today. There is a feeling of release and freedom. And this is why this Friday is good. On the first Good Friday we celebrate the truth that Jesus paid the debt owed for sin. Not just for the world but for you and for me. It was my sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. He took the punishment I deserved when he died on the cross.
And that freedom I feel as I go home today is as nothing compared to the freedom I have in Christ.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Galatians 5:1
The Cross of Christ means that we no longer need to be slaves to sin & Satan. This is not just a cliché. Sin is about going your own way. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ we will inevitably do this. We act selfishly, in our own interests, because that is all we know. Moreover, Satan is trying to help us turn our lives into a car crash. Broken relationships, dependence on substances that harm our bodies, habits that cut us off from people and from God.
But because Jesus died for us, that sin which cuts us off from God is paid for, washed away, done for.
Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.
It means we can lead a different kind of life, have a different kind of future, both in this life and eternally.
Isaiah Berlin was the first philosopher to talk about positive and negative liberty. Negative liberty is the absence of interference from other people, whereas positive liberty is access to resources that allow you to flourish.
Jesus gives us freedom in both senses. He removes the sin that binds us, captivates and controls us. He also gives us his Holy Spirit to enable us to live a free life.
In dependence on Jesus we can make different choices, live for the love of God and neighbour. Jesus has done it all for you and for me. He has paid the price. He has shown God’s love by dying for us.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!