Kaka D. Iralu
For over 2000 thousand years, mankind has been only looking at the frontal part of the cross at Calvary.
An indeed man cannot be blamed for looking so because grace forgiveness and everlasting life radiates from that front part of the cross into a world of darkness, evil and eternal death. Man cannot be blamed because from that broken body of Christ, radiant light shoots forth peace into a war torn world and hope for a universe that is covered with the dust of death. And I too join the heavenly host and all the saved of earth in shouting Hallelujah for all that Christ has done for me on Calvary.
But has anyone ever bothered to look behind that cross at Golgotha to look at the other side where the body of Jesus is not hanging? If we are to look carefully and think very deeply, perhaps that is where we should be hanging. Hanging there not in order to save ourselves from death; but hanging there, to die to ourselves and our egos. After all, did Jesus not tell us that all those who would follow him must take up their own cross and follow him? And is the cross not the symbol of death?
Come Easter season, everyone of us talks about “LIFE after DEATH” in connection with Calvary and the resurrection. But is Calvary just a message about life after death? Does Calvary have nothing to say bout
DEATH while still ALIVE? Indeed, Jesus himself had again and again taught us about the necessity of death to self while still alive, so that we can have an abundant life both here on earth as well as in the next life (Lk.10:29-30). He had even said:”For whosoever will save his own life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt.16:25). Indeed, as W. Tozer had aptly put it: “When Jesus calls us; he bids us, Come and die.” As for Jesus’death, we all know that he died so that we might have eternal life (Jn. 3:16). But having received the guarantee of that eternal life, are we not next called to die to ourselves so that others may also have benefits from his death? And what are those benefits?
THE POST CALVARY
After his death on Calvary and resurrection, Jesus did not command us to keep looking up at the cross for our future salvation and do nothing else in our entire lifetime. No, he instead directed us to the world and gave us a commission to go and “teach all the nations, to observe all the things that he had taught us and the Disciples (Matt. 28: 19, 20).
And we must here take note of the three words that Jesus taught us to teach the nations. The three words are: “All the Things.” Now “all the things” means not just one thing but “all the things” that he had taught us. The next question naturally would be, what are “all the things” that he has taught us? The obvious answer is- THE ENTIRE BIBLE! This is because Jesus did not teach us only from Isaiah chapter 53 where the scriptures foretells us about the crucifixion of Christ for our physical and spiritual salvation. In fact, though we cannot go into details here, in his 30 or so years of ministry on earth, he taught us from the entire Bible with the exception of the Epistles (which were written after his ascension to heaven).
He himself also told his disciples that all the scriptures had foretold about him, and that he had come to fulfill all those foretold prophesies about him (Lk.24:44;Jn.5:39). As for his teachings, he did all these teachings, in the villages, synagogues, in the Temple and even on the mountains and seashores all his life (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Mk. 14:49 etc). In his teachings, he taught the people many things like the fact that he had not come to abolish the Law of Moses but that he had come to fulfill it. He also told them that not even one jot or title from the law would be removed until the end of the earth (Matt. 5:18). He also condemned the Scribes and Pharisees for keeping the outward forms of religion but ignoring the weightier matters of the law which were Justice, mercy and faith (Matt.23:23). Yes, in thirty years of ministry, he taught the people and also all of us many many things about God’s nature and his ways.
But on the theme of this Post Calvary Commission, I want to end by highlighting one particular point which is today very relevant for Nagas who have been suffering under foreign occupation for the past 70 long years. But here, in case someone would object to my mixing politics with Calvary, yes, I know that during his trial, Jesus had replied Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world. But what then was his kingdom and where is it? Here, if we want to know what and where his kingdom is, we can go to Ephesians 1:20-23 and see. In these verses, Paul after describing the believer’s position in Christ, gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ kingdom in the heavens in the following words: “Which he (God) wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come.” Jesus’ kingdom then is a kingdom in heaven which is far above all the kingdoms of this world. From the scriptures we also discover that besides Paul, Stephan and John were also shown glimpses of this heavenly kingdom of Christ in heaven (Act.7:55, Rev. 4:1-3 etc). Also in contrast to this heavenly kingdom, during Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, the Devil took him up to the top of a high mountain and after showing him all the glory of the earthly kingdoms, tempted him to bow down and worship him in exchange for authority and rulership over all those earthly kingdoms. Jesus of course refused the offer because he did not come to earth in order to establish a political kingdom in this world.
But the important thing to be remembered here is the fact that Jesus wants his kingdom principles to rule in the kingdoms of the world. That is why he taught us to pray: “They will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”(Matt.6:10). To put it in Munroe’s beautiful words: “The ultimate goal of God the creator was to colonize earth with heaven and establish it as a visible territory of an invisible world.” In this context, Calvary was the gateway for the re-establishment of this invisible kingdom of God on this visible earth. This earthly kingdom of man which was originally planned by God for man to have dominion over it was usurped by the devil when man fell in the Garden of Eden. This original plan of God was clearly stated in Genes 1:26 where God had said: “Let us make man in our image, after our own likeness and let THEM have dominion… over all the earth, and every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” But after the fall, the rulership of this earthly kingdom of man was transferred to Satan so that in the temptation, he could show Jesus the glory of all the kingdoms of earth and boast: “All these things will I give thee, if thou will fall down and worship me (Matt. 4:9).
In the context of this original plan of God and its restoration, we must clearly understand that Calvary was NOT the restoration of something that had gone wrong in heaven. On the contrary, Calvary is the restoration of something that had gone very wrong on earth. One aspect of the victory of Calvary is the restoration back to man, the ruler ship of this world through Jesus’ victory on the cross. In this restoration work, Jesus had clearly declared that the Prince of this earth had been overthrown. For example, in Jn. 12:31 he had said: “Now is the judgment of this world (not heaven); now shall the Prince of this earth be cast out.” Again in Jn. 16:33, he said: “…be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” He also assured us in 1 Jn. 4:4:”Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Then lastly, in Mathew 28:18-19 he commissioned us with the following words:” All authority is given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations…teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”
In the Post Calvary Commission, besides the preaching of the gospel, we are also therefore, commissioned to re-conquer the world for God’s glory and rule of his righteousness. We are empowered to do this by the power in us which is greater than the power that is in the world. (See for example Lk. 4:16-21)
Christian saints all down through the ages have turned their worlds upside down with the power of the gospel. They are man like Wilberforce who abolished slavery in England and even America. He did this because slavery was contrary to what Jesus had taught us. Another example was General William Booth who brought security and equality to the exploited mass laborers during England’s finest as well as darkest hour of the industrial revolution.
Then coming closer to our own times, Martin Luther King abolished segregation and racism in America because it was contrary to the kingdom of God principles. The list of Christian heroes who were fired by the Post Calvary Commission and brought great religious, economic, racial and political salvations to the world is countless. What about you? What have you done in response to Calvary’s victorious cry of Jesus where he had declared: IT IS FINISHED. Today, there are many evil things going on in Nagaland. And in this -perhaps-her darkest hour; what will you do for your Nagaland?