The Biggest Spectacle
Into the spectacle-loving world, with all of its spectacle makers and spectacle-making industries, got here the grandest Spectacle ever devised within the thoughts of God and led to in world historical past—the cross of Christ. It’s the hinge of historical past, the purpose of contact between BC and AD, the place all time collides, the place all human spectacles meet one unsurpassed, cosmic, divine spectacle.
The act of crucifixion, repeated 1000’s of instances within the Roman Empire, was a spectacle assured to draw consideration. The nailing of dwelling our bodies onto bushes alongside public roads was a Roman bloodsport for the plenty—public and visual, not confined to the world. Symbolically, crucifixion was the flexing arm of Rome’s ruling energy earlier than gawking spectators in public. So vile was the punishment that, by regulation, Roman residents couldn’t be crucified. The cross was reserved for the general public dehumanization of insurgent slaves, a type of intimidation to maintain Rome’s massive servile class suppressed, intimidated, and ordered.1
The purpose of crucifixion was nothing in need of the “elimination of victims from consideration as members of the human race,” a “ritualized extermination” of offenders unfit to stay.2 It was function play, says one theologian—“the mocking and jeering that accompanied crucifixion were not only allowed, they were part of the spectacle and were programmed into it.”3
Crucifixion was masochistic participation. “Everyone understood that the specific role of the passersby was to exacerbate the dehumanization and degradation of the person who had been thus designated to be a spectacle. Crucifixion was cleverly designed—we might say diabolically designed—to be an almost theatrical enactment of the sadistic and inhumane impulses that lie within human beings.”4
Because the Gospel of Luke tells us: “the crowds . . . had assembled for this spectacle” (Luke 23:48). Scripture foreshadowed that Christ would see the plenty “stare and gloat over me” (Ps. 22:17). This theatrical enactment of sadism contained in the human coronary heart drew a big crowd. They usually noticed a present! A person mocked, scorned, overwhelmed, bloodied, and raised up on a tree. However in addition they noticed creation shudder. The earth winced. The temple curtain cut up high to backside. The noonday solar was eclipsed for 3 hours. Tombs broke open.
Demise to Life
The lifeless our bodies of many Christians have been raised to life. The demise of Jesus Christ was not simply one other crucifixion spectacle; it was the head of all crucifixion spectacles. For the Romans, “every cross was a mocking throne for rebels,” however in line with Scripture, the cross of Christ “was a parodic coronation and enthronement.”5 The cross of Christ was the best spectacle in cosmic historical past for what it mockingly subverted. There on the hill of Calvary, Christ “disarmed the powers and authorities,” and in his victory, “he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15 NIV). To die on a tree was to die beneath the curse of God. However by hanging on a tree, Christ turned a curse for us.6
In a single massive subject, we may recrucify each one of many tens of 1000’s of prisoners and slaves and vanquished enemies in Roman historical past, or a minimum of recreate the scene with CGI know-how, however this crucified King stays in himself the grandest Spectacle.
The demise of Jesus Christ was not simply one other crucifixion spectacle; it was the head of all crucifixion spectacles.
From this second on, God meant all human gaze to heart on this climactic second. It’s as if God says to us: “This is my beloved Son, crucified for you, a Spectacle to capture your heart forever!” Or, as Augustine mentioned within the age of Roman spectacles, “Do not think, brethren, that our Lord God has dismissed us without spectacles.” No, for there may be nothing higher on this planet to see than this: “the lion vanquished by the blood of the Lamb.”7By divine design, Christians are pro-spectacle, and we give our total lives to this nice Spectacle, now traditionally previous and presently invisible.
By religion, this final Spectacle is now the life I stay. The supreme spectacle of the cross brings a cosmic collision with the spectacles of this world. And we’re within the center. I’ve now been crucified to the world, and the world has been crucified to me.8 Our response to the final word spectacle of the cross of Christ defines us.
Relying on the way you see it, the cross is one among two spectacles—the mocking of a pretend king, or the coronation of the true King of the universe. The cross was both a tragic misunderstanding and a ruthless homicide of an harmless man, or it was a preplanned spectacle orchestrated by God to show to the world a magnificence unsurpassed.
The spectacle of Christ is pushed dwelling in conversion once I look again on my life and see that my sins stabbed holes within the bloodied physique of Christ. He who loves me, I’ve pierced.9 To unfallen eyes—and to redeemed eyes— the cross was a spectacle that this world has by no means, and can by no means, rival in weight or significance or glory.
Historical past’s Climactic Second
So it’s wholly acceptable for theologian John Murray to model the cross of Jesus Christ as “the most solemn spectacle in all history, a spectacle unparalleled, unique, unrepeated, and unrepeatable.”10 Just like the venomous snake solid in bronze and raised up as a therapeutic spectacle to remedy 1000’s of poisoned our bodies, Christ’s damaged physique was raised up on a Roman cross as a therapeutic spectacle to revive tens of millions of sinful souls.11 Christ risen up at Calvary marked the head spectacle for which all different spectacles in world historical past won’t ever attain, the preeminent spectacle of divine life and divine love, freely provided to the gawking world.
The axis of the cross marks the turning level for God’s plan for this universe.12 The cross factors in 4 instructions because the spectacle that brings collectively heaven, earth, all nations to his left, and each nation to his proper. Rejected by earth, forsaken by heaven, this cross-beam held the Savior’s arms open huge. Right here divine wrath and divine mercy collided. Much more expressive than the worldwide flood, the cross of Christ was a public show of God’s righteous anger towards billions of sins, as soon as handed over, and now judged within the full manifestation of his wrath in seen human historical past.13
In gentle of this supreme spectacle, Charles Spurgeon rhetorically requested: “Was there ever such a picture as that which God drew with the pencil of eternal love, dipped into the color of Almighty wrath on Calvary’s summit?”14 Reply: no. This wrath-bearing burden of Christ, invisible to the bare eye, is the truest Spectacle throughout the Spectacle, a climactic second in triune historical past when the complete cup of God’s wrath was handed to the valuable Son to drink all the way down to the dregs.15 He who knew no sin, turned sin, turned our sin, and embodied the complete ungodliness of our iniquities.16
1. Martin Hengel, Crucifixion (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1977), 51–63.
2. Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Demise of Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015), 91–92.
5. Peter J. Leithart, Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Daybreak of Christendom (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Educational, 2010), 24
6. Deut. 21:22–23; Gal. 3:13–14.
7. Augustine of Hippo, “Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John,” in St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. John Gibb and James Innes, vol. 7, A Choose Library of the Nicene and Put up-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Collection (New York: Christian Literature Co., 1888), 50.
8. Gal. 2:20; 6:14.
9. See David Clarkson, The Works of David Clarkson (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864), 1:108. 10. John Murray, Redemption Completed and Utilized (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015), 76.
11. Num. 21:4–9; John 3:14–15.
12. Eph. 1:10.
13. Rom. 3:23–26.
14. C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 10 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1864), 359–60.
15. Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jer. 25:15–16; Rev. 14:9–10; 16:19 in connection to Matt. 20:22–23; 26:39; Mark 10:38; 14:36; Luke 22:42; John 18:11.
16. 2 Cor. 5:21.
This text is customized from Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ within the Media Age by Tony Reinke.
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