“The Cross Has the Final Word”: Pardon me, what?

I love Kari Jobe.

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Her music is great, very prayerful. Her ministry, both as a worship pastor in Texas and as a travelling musician/worship leader have no doubt borne fruit in the hearts and lives of thousands of people. My favorite song of hers is probably “Forever”, which I have posted before and which you can listen to here.

On Good Friday, she and a number of others took part in a massive worship service to commemorate the death of Jesus. She posted a bunch of great pictures and videos on her Instagram story from the event, but there was one in particular that caught my attention:

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My immediate reaction was precisely, “pardon me, what?”

The whole point of Easter, of Christianity, really, is just the opposite…that for once the cross does not have the final word. True, on Good Friday it looked to the disciples that in fact the cross had won, that Jesus was dead and gone forever. He had promised not to leave them orphans (Jn. 14:18), and had even taken the time to explain that he must suffer in Jerusalem and be killed, and that on the third day he would be raised. (cf. Mt. 16:21) Despite all of this, in those final moments on Calvary it’s pretty understandable that the disciples would wander away in sadness; the one in whom they placed their trust was just like the others: fallible and weak, another fake Messiah. Even on the day of the resurrection when the tomb was empty, the disciples had to step into it and see for themselves that it was empty, since “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” (Jn. 20:9)

But for us, removed from the drama of the events as they unfolded in their particular way in those particular moments in time, we know better. We know the way the story ends.

It is not the cross that is victorious, but the Christ. The cross does not ever have the final word; death and all of its instruments are conquered, and the sin that nailed Jesus to that cross is forgiven.

Of course, I know that Kari was acting in good faith and probably we mean the same thing. By the cross and his death upon it, Jesus conquers death. It’s St. Paul who says that “the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18) What the Romans and Jews of old called “torture” and “loss”, we can rightly call “victory.” The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is, well, impossible without the cross.

It isn’t the cross itself that brings us victory, but the obedience and sacrifice of the One who willingly hung upon it. The cross, that instrument which wrought our salvation, is now a symbol of the victory of Christ, but it does not have the final word. The final word is, of course, the Word himself who is both beginning and end, the first and last, the almighty. (cf Rev. 1:8)

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“Where, O death, is your sting? Where, O death, is your victory?” 1 Cor. 15:55