[asa] The meaning of the cross

From: Michael McCray <momcmd3@gmail.com>
Date: Fri Apr 10 2009 - 14:47:41 EDT


The meaning of the cross early became associated with the concepts of
original sin and atonement, the last sacrifice needed to appease an angry
God. This concept of God, although prevalent in the Hebrew community of the
time, is inconsistent with the concept of God as a loving Father spoken of
and so well demonstrated by Jesus himself.

The list has been involved in discussions of original sin and atonement from
a biological perspective, i.e. the presence of mankind and sin in the world
before Adam, the question of a historical Adam, the necessity for atonement
if there was no Adam, etc. There may be a more direct way to approach the
concepts of original sin and atonement based upon the life of Jesus. Jesus'
life was a demonstration of the Father in word and deed. "If you have seen
me, you have seen the Father." The life of Jesus does not portray a vengeful
and angry God, but rather a merciful, kind and loving Father.

It is with this in mind that I offer the following for your consideration:


          Although Jesus did not die this death on the cross to atone for
the racial guilt of mortal man nor to provide some sort of effective
approach to an otherwise offended and unforgiving God; even though the Son
of Man did not offer himself as a sacrifice to appease the wrath of God and
to open the way for sinful man to obtain salvation; notwithstanding that
these ideas of atonement and propitiation are erroneous, nonetheless, there
are significances attached to this death of Jesus on the cross which should
not be overlooked. It is a fact that Urantia has become known among other
neighboring inhabited planets as the "World of the Cross."

          Jesus desired to live a full mortal life in the flesh on Urantia
(Earth). Death is, ordinarily, a part of life. Death is the last act in the
mortal drama. In your well-meant efforts to escape the superstitious errors
of the false interpretation of the meaning of the death on the cross, you
should be careful not to make the great mistake of failing to perceive the
true significance and the genuine import of the Master's death.

          Mortal man was never the property of the archdeceivers. Jesus did
not die to ransom man from the clutch of the apostate rulers and fallen
princes of the spheres. The Father in heaven never conceived of such crass
injustice as damning a mortal soul because of the evildoing of his
ancestors. Neither was the Master's death on the cross a sacrifice which
consisted in an effort to pay God a debt which the race of mankind had come
to owe him.

          Before Jesus lived on earth, you might possibly have been
justified in believing in such a God, but not since the Master lived and
died among your fellow mortals. Moses taught the dignity and justice of a
Creator God; but Jesus portrayed the love and mercy of a heavenly Father.

          The animal nature--the tendency toward evildoing--may be
hereditary, but sin is not transmitted from parent to child. Sin is the act
of conscious and deliberate rebellion against the Father's will and the
Sons' laws by an individual will creature.

          Jesus lived and died for a whole universe, not just for the races
of this one world. While the mortals of the realms had salvation even before
Jesus lived and died on Urantia, it is nevertheless a fact that his bestowal
on this world greatly illuminated the way of salvation; his death did much
to make forever plain the certainty of mortal survival after death in the

          Though it is hardly proper to speak of Jesus as a sacrificer, a
ransomer, or a redeemer, it is wholly correct to refer to him as a
*savior.*He forever made the way of salvation (survival) more clear
and certain; he
did better and more surely show the way of salvation for all the mortals of
all the worlds of the universe of Nebadon (Our local universe, part of the
universe of universes or heaven of heavens).

          When once you grasp the idea of God as a true and loving Father,
the only concept which Jesus ever taught, you must forthwith, in all
consistency, utterly abandon all those primitive notions about God as an
offended monarch, a stern and all-powerful ruler whose chief delight is to
detect his subjects in wrongdoing and to see that they are adequately
punished, unless some being almost equal to himself should volunteer to
suffer for them, to die as a substitute and in their stead. The whole idea
of ransom and atonement is incompatible with the concept of God as it was
taught and exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. The infinite love of God is not
secondary to anything in the divine nature.

          All this concept of atonement and sacrificial salvation is rooted
and grounded in selfishness. Jesus taught that *service* to one's fellows is
the highest concept of the brotherhood of spirit believers. Salvation should
be taken for granted by those who believe in the fatherhood of God. The
believer's chief concern should not be the selfish desire for personal
salvation but rather the unselfish urge to love and, therefore, serve one's
fellows even as Jesus loved and served mortal men.

          Neither do genuine believers trouble themselves so much about the
future punishment of sin. The real believer is only concerned about present
separation from God. True, wise fathers may chasten their sons, but they do
all this in love and for corrective purposes. They do not punish in anger,
neither do they chastise in retribution.

          Even if God were the stern and legal monarch of a universe in
which justice ruled supreme, he certainly would not be satisfied with the
childish scheme of substituting an innocent sufferer for a guilty offender.

          The great thing about the death of Jesus, as it is related to the
enrichment of human experience and the enlargement of the way of salvation,
is not the *fact* of his death but rather the superb manner and the
matchless spirit in which he met death.

          This entire idea of the ransom of the atonement places salvation
upon a plane of unreality; such a concept is purely philosophic. Human
salvation is *real;* it is based on two realities which may be grasped by
the creature's faith and thereby become incorporated into individual human
experience: the fact of the fatherhood of God and its correlated truth, the
brotherhood of man. It is true, after all, that you are to be "forgiven your
debts, even as you forgive your debtors."


          The cross of Jesus portrays the full measure of the supreme
devotion of the true shepherd for even the unworthy members of his flock. It
forever places all relations between God and man upon the family basis. God
is the Father; man is his son. Love, the love of a father for his son,
becomes the central truth in the universe relations of Creator and
creature--not the justice of a king which seeks satisfaction in the
sufferings and punishment of the evil-doing subject.

          The cross forever shows that the attitude of Jesus toward sinners
was neither condemnation nor condonation, but rather eternal and loving
salvation. Jesus is truly a savior in the sense that his life and death do
win men over to goodness and righteous survival. Jesus loves men so much
that his love awakens the response of love in the human heart. Love is truly
contagious and eternally creative. Jesus' death on the cross exemplifies a
love which is sufficiently strong and divine to forgive sin and swallow up
all evil-doing. Jesus disclosed to this world a higher quality of
righteousness than justice--mere technical right and wrong. Divine love does
not merely forgive wrongs; it absorbs and actually destroys them. The
forgiveness of love utterly transcends the forgiveness of mercy. Mercy sets
the guilt of evil-doing to one side; but love destroys forever the sin and
all weakness resulting therefrom. Jesus brought a new method of living to
Urantia. He taught us not to resist evil but to find through him a goodness
which effectually destroys evil. The forgiveness of Jesus is not
condonation; it is salvation from condemnation. Salvation does not slight
wrongs; it *makes them right.* True love does not compromise nor condone
hate; it destroys it. The love of Jesus is never satisfied with mere
forgiveness. The Master's love implies rehabilitation, eternal survival. It
is altogether proper to speak of salvation as redemption if you mean this
eternal rehabilitation.

          Jesus, by the power of his personal love for men, could break the
hold of sin and evil. He thereby set men free to choose better ways of
living. Jesus portrayed a deliverance from the past which in itself promised
a triumph for the future. Forgiveness thus provided salvation. The beauty of
divine love, once fully admitted to the human heart, forever destroys the
charm of sin and the power of evil.

          The sufferings of Jesus were not confined to the crucifixion. In
reality, Jesus of Nazareth spent upward of twenty-five years on the cross of
a real and intense mortal existence. The real value of the cross consists in
the fact that it was the supreme and final expression of his love, the
completed revelation of his mercy.

          On millions of inhabited worlds, tens of trillions of evolving
creatures who may have been tempted to give up the moral struggle and
abandon the good fight of faith, have taken one more look at Jesus on the
cross and then have forged on ahead, inspired by the sight of God's laying
down his incarnate life in devotion to the unselfish service of man.

          The triumph of the death on the cross is all summed up in the
spirit of Jesus' attitude toward those who assailed him. He made the cross
an eternal symbol of the triumph of love over hate and the victory of truth
over evil when he prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they
do." That devotion of love was contagious throughout a vast universe; the
disciples caught it from their Master. The very first teacher of his gospel
who was called upon to lay down his life in this service, said, as they
stoned him to death, "Lay not this sin to their charge."

          The cross makes a supreme appeal to the best in man because it
discloses one who was willing to lay down his life in the service of his
fellow men. Greater love no man can have than this: that he would be willing
to lay down his life for his friends--and Jesus had such a love that he was
willing to lay down his life for his enemies, a love greater than any which
had hitherto been known on earth.

          On other worlds, as well as on Urantia, this sublime spectacle of
the death of the human Jesus on the cross of Golgotha has stirred the
emotions of mortals, while it has aroused the highest devotion of the

          The cross is that high symbol of sacred service, the devotion of
one's life to the welfare and salvation of one's fellows. The cross is not
the symbol of the sacrifice of the innocent Son of God in the place of
guilty sinners and in order to appease the wrath of an offended God, but it
does stand forever, on earth and throughout a vast universe, as a sacred
symbol of the good bestowing themselves upon the evil and thereby saving
them by this very devotion of love. The cross does stand as the token of the
highest form of unselfish service, the supreme devotion of the full bestowal
of a righteous life in the service of wholehearted ministry, even in death,
the death of the cross. And the very sight of this great symbol of the
bestowal life of Jesus truly inspires all of us to want to go and do

          When thinking men and women look upon Jesus as he offers up his
life on the cross, they will hardly again permit themselves to complain at
even the severest hardships of life, much less at petty harassments and
their many purely fictitious grievances. His life was so glorious and his
death so triumphant that we are all enticed to a willingness to share both.
There is true drawing power in the whole bestowal of Michael, from the days
of his youth to this overwhelming spectacle of his death on the cross.

          Make sure, then, that when you view the cross as a revelation of
God, you do not look with the eyes of the primitive man nor with the
viewpoint of the later barbarian, both of whom regarded God as a relentless
Sovereign of stern justice and rigid law-enforcement. Rather, make sure that
you see in the cross the final manifestation of the love and devotion of
Jesus to his life mission of bestowal upon the mortal races of his vast
universe. See in the death of the Son of Man the climax of the unfolding of
the Father's divine love for his sons of the mortal spheres. The cross thus
portrays the devotion of willing affection and the bestowal of voluntary
salvation upon those who are willing to receive such gifts and devotion.
There was nothing in the cross which the Father required--only that which
Jesus so willingly gave, and which he refused to avoid.

          If man cannot otherwise appreciate Jesus and understand the
meaning of his bestowal on earth, he can at least comprehend the fellowship
of his mortal sufferings. No man can ever fear that the Creator does not
know the nature or extent of his temporal afflictions.
          We know that the death on the cross was not to effect man's
reconciliation to God but to stimulate man's *realization* of the Father's
eternal love and his Son's unending mercy, and to broadcast these universal
truths to a whole universe. [Urantia Book pgs. 2016-19]

Happy Easter
Michael McCray

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Received on Fri Apr 10 14:48:17 2009

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