I don't generally post about topics based on the "church calendar" but I was pleased to see Eric Carpenter's post this morning: A Pilgrim's Progress: Cherishing the Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ. We live in an era with myriad errors but none more dangerous than the abandonment of this doctrine.
As important as the teachings and ministering of Christ were, and they cannot be underestimated, nothing compares to the atonement. Many would like to remove the offense of the cross by deforming the atonement from a sacrifice for sin into a political event. We must not do this. Jesus didn't die on a cross because He was in the wrong place at the wrong time or because He was a thorn in the side of the Empire. He was there because it was the will of both He and the Father that He hang on a cross and bear the wrath of God against sin. Jesus wasn't a Middle Eastern Che Guevara or Cesar Chavez, He was God in the flesh and the entire reason He came in the flesh was not to teach us how to be more moral people or how to be nice to our neighbor but to place Himself in our place to save a remnant from the wrath of God against sin.
Many seem to want to avoid talk of the cross because it seems so primitive, so violent but this is still a primitive, violent world. We might get our chicken in uniformly sized pieces on a foam tray but a chicken still died a violent, bloody death to get there. We can talk ourselves in circles about redeeming the world right now but the cross was about a future eschatalogical event, the judgment of all mankind. I understand that some in the church tend to skip the ministry of Jesus, going from the virgin birth straight to the cross and then Paul's teaching but many more seem afraid or embarrassed by the cross.
Give Eric's brief post a read. We desperately need to recover the Biblical vision of the cross. When we fail to understand the cross we fail to understand sin and that gets us into the state of the church today where the only sin is "intolerance". It is not an exaggeration to say that without the substitutionary atonement of the cross there is no grace, no church, no Gospel and no hope.
If you want to understand mercy, look to the cross.
If you want to understand real justice, look to the cross.
If you want to understand grace, look to the cross.
If you want to understand love, look to the cross.
If you want to understand the Kingdom, look to the cross.
If you want to understand the Gospel, look to the cross.
If you want to understand Jesus, look to the cross where He hung.