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The Resurrection Verifies The Centrality Of The Cross (via Fleming Rutledge)

The resurrection life is central to Christian experience, but the resurrection life derives its meaning in the completed work of the cross.
From Fleming Rutledge:

What then is the resurrection? It is the vindication of the crucified One. The resurrection doesn’t cancel out the crucifixion as if it were only a passing episode to be noted briefly (or not) on the way to Easter. You here today are blessed because you know, or you have suspected, that Good Friday is not optional. You understand, or you are on your way to understanding that the Day of Resurrection finds its meaning from the cross. The resurrection does not reverse the crucifixion. The resurrection vindicates the crucifixion (vindicate, meaning to verify, confirm, authenticate). The work of Jesus is brought to completion on the cross. That’s what “it is finished” means. The Father and the Son together, in the power of the Spirit, are saying to us, the work that the Father gave the Son to accomplish is consummated, completed, finished as he dies. The saying is just one word in Greek: tetelestai. The Latin is particularly good: consummatum est. So you see, the resurrection does not cancel out the cross. It verifies and confirms that the cross was the main event.

Fleming Rutledge, Three Hours, Eerdmans, 2019, pgs 67-68.


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No Common Criminal’s Death (via Fleming Rutledge)

Fleming Rutledge observes that the execution method which Jesus suffered was one that was carried out upon those guilty of a particular crime against the state.
His execution marked him as an enemy of the state.
It served as a warning to any who might resist its authority.
This is the means by which Jesus demonstrates that he overcomes the world.

In this saying from Luke’s Gospel, the two — Luke and John — show a similarity: Jesus is pinned to an instrument of torture, completely helpless, at the mercy of sadistic torturers and mocking passersby, and yet he is reigning from the cross as a King.
A King, and yet crucified between two thieves. The traditional word is thief, but that’s misleading. This is not Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread. These are bandits, brigands — lawless, full-time professionals who were a serious threat to the famous Roman rule of order. Crucifixion was the supreme penalty (summum supplicium, Cicero called it) for a particular type of criminal, guilty of the impermissible offense of sedition (rebellious disorder, in the archaic sense of the word). These men have often been described as “common criminals,” but that’s not quite right. The Romans didn’t waste their time crucifying small-timers. These two men were a serious threat to the system. So they’ve been tried by the Romans and condemned by their laws, presumably with justification, for one of them actually admits that he was justly convicted for being an insurrectionist, for the term used by Pontius Pilate “perverting the people’ (Luke 23:14).

Fleming Rutledge, Three Hours, Eerdmans, 2019, pgs 17-18.


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On Needing Resurrection Power To Endure Suffering

In John 13 Jesus tells Peter “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”
Jesus is speaking of his death on the cross and the resurrection life that will be shared as a result.
Peter will learn that his own suffering would consume him without resurrection life within him.

Paul speaks of this in Philippians 3 when he writes in verse 10 “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”.
Jesus suffers, and is resurrected.
Because of his suffering and resurrection, for Jesus’ disciples the order is reversed.
We know the power of his resurrection, and because of that we are able to endure the sufferings that follow.

We could not endure going where he went, until he had first gone there alone.
Having gone and triumphed, we can now go there in his power.


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The Character Of Jesus Revealed On The Cross (via Fleming Rutledge)

Fleming Rutledge on Jesus’ remaining completely in character while on the cross.
And what a character it is.

Jesus waging a battle on the cross. The whole business of the two thrives dramatises the intensity of his struggle to absorb into himself the malice of those who were reviling him, while at the same time turning his attention toward the one who was looking for a work of redemption. Jesus, in his death as in his life, was entirely directed to the ultimate welfare of others. His entire ministry was directed outward from himself. The kinds of things that preoccupy you and me apparently did not enter his mind. Things like, how am I doing, did I get enough praise today, does that person appreciate me, is that other person over there getting ahead of me, am I slipping behind, am I letting people walk over me – these kinds of things had no hold on him. He was so utterly secure in himself that he was free for others in a way we can scarcely imagine. Therefore, it is exactly in character for him even in the midst of his agony to be mindful of the criminal hanging nearby. Such a thing appears to have been in his nature.

Fleming Rutledge, The Seven Last Words From The Cross, Eerdmans, 2005, p. 75.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 16

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 16

40.
Q. Why did Christ have to suffer death?
A. Because the righteousness and truth of God are such that nothing else could make reparation for our sins except the death of the Son of God.

41.
Q. Why was he “buried”?
A. To confirm the fact that he was really dead.

42.
Q. Since, then, Christ died for us, why must we also die?
A. Our death is not a reparation for our sins, but only a dying to sin and an entering into eternal life.

43.
Q. What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross?
A. That by his power our old self is crucified, put to death, and buried with him, so that the evil passions of our mortal bodies may reign in us no more, but that we may offer ourselves to him as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

44.
Q. Why is there added: “He descended into hell”?
A. That in my severest tribulations I may be assured that Christ my Lord has redeemed me from hellish anxieties and torment by the unspeakable anguish, pains, and terrors which he suffered in his soul both on the cross and before.


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The Most Compelling Argument For The Truth Of Christianity Is The Cross At Its Center (via Fleming Rutledge)

From Fleming Rutledge:

“Religious figures are not usually associated with disgrace and rejection. We want our objects of worship to be radiant, dazzling avatars offering the potential of transcendent happiness. The most compelling argument for the truth of Christianity is the Cross at its center. Humankind’s religious imagination could never have produced such an image. Wishful thinking never projected a despised and rejected Messiah. There is a contradiction at the very heart of our faith that demands our attention. We need to put a sign on it, though, like the signs on trucks carrying chemicals: Hazardous material, highly inflammatory cargo. Handle at your own risk.”

Fleming Rutledge, The Undoing of Death, Eerdmans, 2005.


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The Burden On The Privileged Reader Trying To Understand The Crucifixion Of Jesus (via Fleming Rutledge)

The fact that Jesus died by crucifixion is an integral aspect of God’s redemptive work. Appreciating the fullness of what Jesus endured for our sake is difficult for those whose social position shields them from personal experience or exposure to the fullness of the injustice of it all.
Difficult, but not impossible. But we do have to accept that we have a blind spot and effort to empathise is required.
From Fleming Rutledge.

The all-important connection between the method used to execute Jesus and the meaning of his death cannot be grasped unless we plumb the depths of what is meant by injustice. There is much irony here, for injustice is a threatening subject for the ruling classes who have the time and inclination for reading books like this one. Those who suffer most from injustice are the poorly educated, the impoverished, the invisible. Justice is involved with law and judges; the people most likely to suffer injustice cannot afford good lawyers, do not even know any lawyers, whereas lawyers and judges are the ones who have the money to buy books. In other words, those most likely to be affected by the issues raised in this chapter are least likely to be reading about them. This puts an extra burden on the privileged reader, but such challenges are not unrelated to Jesus’ teaching that the one who does not take up his cross and follow him is not worthy of him (Matt. 10:38). Trying to understand to understand someone else’s predicament lies at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian.

Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion – Understanding The Death Of Jesus Christ Eerdmans, Grand Rapids MI, 2015, pp 106-107.