We live in a multi-cultural world. The flow of monetary trade, immigration of people, and information technology is accelerating our global awareness of ethnic values and customs. Into this mix of tribes and tongues and traditions enters the biblical story of Jesus and his crucifixion. We might say the crucifixion story is cross-cultural, and that phrase is not meant as a play on words.

The words of Jesus in the Bible continue to interrupt our quest for life and happiness by focusing attention on our greatest need; the need to have our sinful guilt and condemnation taken away. Jesus angered the people of his day when he said they would die in their sins if they refused to believe in him. When they demanded to know who he was, Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, you will know that I am he. You will know that these things I do are not by my own authority but that I say only what the Father has taught me . . .” [John, chapter 8, verse 28].

Following a joyous entrance into Jerusalem by people who praised him, Jesus struggled within himself because he knew that very expression of praise would soon turn into shouting calls for his death. He spoke these words: “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people toward me. Jesus said this to show how he would die” [The Gospel of John, chapter 12, verses 32-33]. John also wrote a brief letter years later to believers and reminded them that Christ “is the way our sins are taken away, and not only our sins but the sins of all people” [1 John, chapter 2, verse 2]. All people? Are all people from all the countries of the world being drawn toward Christ whose death on the cross provides salvation?

Unfortunately, not all people who make up our multi-cultural world are attracted to forgiveness of sins. Is this because of God’s predestined preference? Is it because of language barriers or poverty and under-privileged education? The word all in biblical scriptures most often refers to all types or manner of. For instance, the apostle Paul wrote about the problem of loving money because it “causes all kinds of evil” [1 Timothy, chapter 6, verse 10].

When Jesus was crucified, his enemies did not intend for that horrible act to become the universal symbol of atonement and saving faith. Jesus’ sentence to death was the ultimate insult of humanity against the holiness of the Creator.

No one witnessing the dying of Jesus on the cross immediately perceived God’s reason for such agony and humiliation. We know that at least one soldier, standing at the foot of the cross, sensed the connection between the darkened skies and the trembling earth quakes and the goodness of the man he helped to execute.

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