Paul embraces the cross; Peter does not

The following was originally written by Martin Zender:

The cross of Jesus Christ was never presented to Israel as good news. In fact, it was something Israel had to repent of for salvation:

“‘Let all the house of Israel know certainly, then, that God makes Him Lord as well as Christ—this Jesus Whom you crucify!’

Now, hearing this, their heart was pricked with compunction. Besides, they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘What should we be doing, men, brethren?’ Now Peter is averring to them, ‘Repent and be baptized each of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the pardon of your sins, and you shall be obtaining the gratuity of the holy spirit.’” —Acts 2:36-38

Repent of what? Repent of crucifying the Messiah. This is how it worked in Israel at Pentecost, and it’s still how it works:

“CHRIST HAS BEEN CRUCIFIED!”

“OH, NO!”

It is so different in the body of Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 6:14—

“Now may it not be mine to be boasting, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world,”

Can you imagine an Israelite today—or in any day—boasting in the cross of Christ? Whenever the cross gets mentioned, an Israelite looks the other way.

I am not trying to diminish the death of Christ, not even for Israel. He was still the fulfillment of the Passover lamb, which had to die. The death of Christ, to Israel, proved that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament type. It proved that meekness and humility, even unto death, is mightier than the sword. Israel supposed that swords and clubs would pry them into the kingdom. Circumcision and the Passover lamb were supposed to have driven that thinking from their minds.

Israel needed the death of Christ, but not the cross. It was the manner of Christ’s death—and what it meant to humanity—that consumed Paul and prompted his pen.

The cross of Christ reached far deeper into humanity’s need than merely giving one sad nation a new heart. The Passover lamb was not tortured; it’s throat was slit—that was it. Not so Christ on the cross. Jesus Christ’s twenty-four hour torturefest touched an aspect of humanity’s condition that the mercifully-killed lamb could not reach. The Passover lamb leaves Israel intact; the cross wipes out everything and everyone in its path. The cross of Christ says:

The whole race is finished. Watch the depth of suffering; see the six hours on the Roman stake. We’re pulling humanity out by the roots here; that’s how deep this goes. Forget Abraham and David; we’re going back to Adam now. It’s that bad. See how bad it truly is. When this Man rises from the grave, a new creation will have come into the lives of those believing it.

Peter never taught this; he was not a new creation. The new creation eliminates Israel, and Peter has to be an Israelite in the kingdom—he has to be. Jesus told him he would sit on one of twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt. 19:28). Yet what does Paul say? Galatians 3:27—

“For whoever are baptized into Christ, put on Christ, in Whom there is not Jew nor yet Greek.”

Peter never taught this; he couldn’t. He has to be a Jew in the kingdom. Peter was not, and is not, in the body of Christ.

Paul alone discusses how one man, Adam, affects all humanity. Not coincidentally, Paul alone boasts in the cross. It is the Christ on the cross, not the Lamb sacrificed for Israel, Who undoes the condemnation of Adam.

Embrace the gospel of Paul; it is the only gospel for everyone.