Mid Year Conference is a big thing, most of us would agree. This year, it was bigger and even more significant because it was on the topic of The Cross. The topic of The Cross gets repeated in a cycle of four years. Every fourth MYC is always on The Cross, looked at slightly different perspective but exactly the same main points. Why? Is it necessary?
This year at Merroo, we had an opportunity to join more than 700 other Christian students from all over Sydney who are passionate about The Word of God. It was a chance to get away, enjoy God’s creation, have fellowship and learn from the bible without worrying about ‘life’. The programs usually include Seminars, Manuscript Discovery (Bible Study), Talks and not to forget, free times to have fun and relax. If you have never been to MYC or Focus Church Camps, Seminar is when we get together in groups (divided according to faculty or the church you are from) to look at some passages and verses and do some activities that are on the booklets. During Bible Study, we are divided into smaller groups of 6 or 7 to read and discuss related-to-topic bible passage without anyone being a leader. We read the same passage over and over again everyday for 5 days, we get trained to read the bible for ourselves in the future. Talks are really like talks on Sunday at church, except we have them before bedtime everyday at MYC. So, MYC is really a time where The Word of God is your best friend. You are never without it, even during meals you’d talk about it and you’d actually like talking about it.
Last week was my second MYC and my first on The Cross and I would say that I will come again for the second time if I can. The message that The Cross brings is an extraordinary message. Even if you can contain the main idea in a 5 day-camp, it is impossible to completely comprehend all the aspects that are affected by it and how they are affected in such short period. The Cross is an open book in a way but it is not a book for just anyone. You search it to understand it then you can marvel at the message it brings.
Why is The Cross so important for Christians all over the world? Well, it is the symbol of Christianity. But why a cross? During the time when Jesus died, the cross was always associated with death and punishment. It spoke nothing of goodness nor victory, let alone glory. Why did Jesus even have to die a shameful death? And if you’ve heard at your church over and over again that “Jesus has conquered death”, how has he done so when he died like a lowlife criminal? Well yes, the cross is important because that’s how Jesus died and it changed history, but what does history have anything to do with me today?
The extraordinary book called The Bible that God has generously given us access to for us to be able to know him, is a good start. It is basically HIS Word. At MYC, we had a chance to read the bible with minimum distraction and maximum attention over the contexts. During the seminar we learned mostly from Hebrews, corelated to some Old Testament verses. I was once again amazed by how the books in the bible are so connected between Old Testament and New Testament and how the bible speaks for itself and you don’t need to “interpret”, as you read along it fills its own gaps. To understand why Jesus had to die, we need to go back to Old Testament passages (thankfully the kind leaders had sorted the passages for us) and find the concept of blood and sacrifices done by priests. The main ideas that we learned were the importance of the sacrifices made by high priests, Jesus as a perfect High Priest that is way better than any earthly high priests and how he fulfills God’s old covenant and brings about the new. Jesus dying on the cross is a perfect once-and-for-all sacrifice for sin compared to sacrifices high priests of Israel made so many times regularly but were never good enough.
We looked at chapters 22-24 of Luke Gospel during manuscript discovery. Luke 22-24 was basically about Jesus’ death. The setting was the Passover preparation up to the time when Jesus was praying and then captured and questioned (which by the way happened overnight. They were so urgent in killing him!), died on the cross and rose again on the third day. We wrestled with these chapters for 5 days and found new things to notice and learn every single day. He was human, he was scared. We contributed to his death in a sense, too. He could have fled but he didn’t-he was completely obedient. He was The Son of Man, the saviour the prophets had talked about-he is the fulfillment. The fact that he ate, he was still ‘somewhat’ human after he was resurrected from the dead. We are called to serve because he too, served to the point of death.
The evening talks were the highlight for me. Carl stressed on the importance of, purpose of and response demanded by The Cross. If I were to sum them up into one sentence, it would be: The Cross is the centre. It is the centre of Christianity because it completely and gracefully displays God’s character that is just and merciful. Through Jesus’ blood sacrificed, we have propitiation in him and are now able to be justified by faith. God’s wrath was taken away and sinful humans like you and me can be counted as righteous before God. But remember, what is the centre? Not us. Us being saved is not God’s main purpose. He loves us, but the end goal of The Cross is to bring about glory to Him. Because through the cross, God declares His victory and sovereignty. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice to pay sin as we have understood from the seminars. In Luke Gospel (as well as other gospels), he was tempted in the wilderness, by the people who pleaded him crucified and even up to the point when he was nailed on the cross dying. He was tempted to save himself, disobey God The Father and yet he was as solid as rock to his last breath. Satan was defeated and has no power over him. Jesus came up as a victor by being once-and-for-all sacrifice so that we can be counted righteous. We now ougth to live in the light of the fact that we have a mediator and forerunner in Jesus who has sacrificed himself for us and can sympathize with us.
If God, the creator of the whole world and the one who defines all things thinks this matter is significant, let alone us, creation. Following and putting our trust in Jesus would be wise, wouldn’t it? And like he has told us to do, let’s be his disciples, tell others about him, take up our cross and serve one another above everything else. Let’s live for The Cross, the one thing that matters.
Join the fun next year? :)