Dear Strand Baptist and Friends,
When Archimedes, the Greek mathematician, working with a simple lever, said, “Give me a place to stand on and I will move the earth”, he was asking for a base for his lever’s fulcrum necessarily outside the cosmos. When asked for an illustration of his contention that a very great weight could be moved by a very small force, Archimedes apparently used a large and fully laden ship and to have employed a mechanical device by which any man was enabled to move it himself. The power of leverage! Now a fulcrum is a firm centre base that can support and implement a mechanism used to move another object. It is succinctly defined as ‘the point or support on which a lever pivots’. But here is the issue: in order for the lever to lift an object, the fulcrum for the lever must be outside of the object it is acting upon. I hope this is not either labouring the obvious or ‘mist-ifying’ (that’s not a spelling mistake!).
Do you likewise look for the fulcrum of life, that has the ability to lever your life above your present cul-de-sac’s and treadmills, burdens and bondages? Now the Cross of Christ is such a fulcrum, and in preparation for Good Friday it will do us good to be in awe of its peculiar power. The Cross is a veritable power and truth that stands rock-like and safely outside of us, eternal in the heavens. Paul says, ‘For us who are being saved, the cross is the power of God’. The message of the cross has the power to transform us and pull us out of ourselves, into that other world around us where, ‘behold, all things have become new’.
It is in that unique book of Hebrews that this ‘alien’ message is sounded out. Let us turn our minds and hearts there. As we read chapter 6, we hear the writer say, ‘we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain where Jesus has gone.’ As Jesus took His shed blood into heavens holy of holies, He was completing something on our behalf, doing something eternal and infinite for us outside of us, outside of humanity, outside of the earth and universe, but inside the very presence of God. And what did Jesus do once He had presented His blood as His provision for the responsibilities of all our sins? He sat down, waiting until His return. Oh, the cross of Jesus and the finished work of Christ for the world. Not the wood, or the physical agony, or the supposed magical qualities of the blood of Mary’s son – but the life which He gave up in death as an offering for our sins. He took all our guilt and sin, and having borne the reproaches of God that should have fallen upon us, He accomplished atonement (‘at-one-ment’) and reconciliation and cleansed the heavenly realms for us, once and for all.
The writer in Hebrews clearly states that Jesus has now ‘made purification for sins’ (1:3), has ‘PUT AWAY sin’ (9:26). The Greek word used for ‘put away’ (athetesis) is only used twice in the entire New Testament, here and also in 7:18. In chapter 7v 18 (read it please) it is used in the sense of ‘to set aside’, or ‘abolition’ or ‘set at naught’ – for the Levitical priesthood is no longer necessary, it is obsolete. Through His Cross, he abolished the old ceremonial machinery of the Old Covenant. It is a strong Greek word, with our English ‘abolish’ a fitting equivalent. So in the Cross, Christ absolved and abolished the power of sin. Marcus Dodds says of 9:26, “This was the great object of Christ’s manifestation, the annulling of sin, its total destruction, the counteraction of all its effects’. Hallelujah! Where the Old Covenant called sins to mind by the perpetual and regular sacrifices, He sacrificed Himself, once for all, and thus annulled sin (note: as He made purification for sins plural in 1:3, so here in 9:26 His total victory is over sin singular, that is, sin in its comprehensive and total power. Every word of God is inspired!) Absolute atonement was achieved. No higher cleansing can be reached in dealing with sin. Sin was vanquished, set at naught. The curtain is now torn, man can come in Christ before a Holy Father. Redemption is achieved and effected. What a gospel. Regardless of what sin is still doing in the world of men after that first Good Friday period, something final in Christ has occurred. This we must always preach. What good news it truly it!
Finally, going back to Archimedes. When king Hieron asked him whether a crown of gold made for him actually contained some proportion of silver, the famous scientist was initially puzzled. Then one day as he was stepping into a bath the solution dawned upon him. He was so overjoyed at the solution in his mind, having been rankled by the problem for some time, that he supposedly ran home without his clothes, shouting ‘eureka, eureka’ (Greek for ‘I have found it, I have found it’). Now readers, when you freshly discover the objective Truth of the Cross, and what it means for you and your relationship to God and the world, I would not be surprised if you did similarly!
With love, Pastor Paul