Since I was a new Christian I heard that we Protestants were better than Catholics. We were purported to have a personal relationship with Jesus, we relied on faith in Jesus, and we saw Jesus as resurrected.
Over time I’ve abandoned these prejudicial concepts. After being in the Protestant church for many years I realized this was all bigotry. It had no merit. The phrase “a personal relationship” was meaningless yet sounded high and mighty, the faith of the Protestant church is mostly unchallenged said faith and the idea that the Catholics had Jesus still hanging on the cross was a straw man. Yet I wonder.
I’ve thought more about the merit of the vision of Jesus crucified. It says so much. What an icon.
Our traditional view is that Jesus’ love for the Father propelled him to die for us to save us from Hell and unto Heaven. Through His work there is forgiveness and an impartation of His righteousness to believers. We celebrate this each communion; His body broken and His blood poured out.
I want to emphasize how he is the model. He lays His life down for sinners. When we see Jesus there on the cross we also see how we are to live. Not just crucified with him, not simply dead to sin and alive in Christ but we are emulators. We mimic His life.
When we see Him we see extreme devotion to the Father. We see the fulfillment of the Law: The command of sacrificial love. Thus salvation is being like Him. We lay our life down for others. This is eternal life. This is the result of faith. This is what it means to know Him.
The promise of the resurrection is valuable and our goal. But our means is faith that takes us to the cross of self sacrifice for the world around us. This stands in contrast to the Christian man produced by the modern Christian gospel. He rests satisfied that it was all done on the cross and reclines waiting for his reward for accepting this dogma.
But I see Jesus on a cross. Those who love Him will live a life crucified: sacrificial love for sinners. This is clone to His life.
1 John 3:16-17 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? NIV
I have been crucified with Christ…I no longer live for myself but for Him…I now live as Jesus did. This is eternal life.