The Cross

By: Diane Chandler
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

On January 3, 2007, a 50-year old construction worker from Harlem was waiting to catch the NYC subway.  As Wesley Autry waited on the subway platform with his two daughters, ages four and six, he noticed a young man beginning to go into convulsions from an apparent seizure.  Along with two other women, Autry attended to him.  After the 20-year old film student, Cameron Hollopeter, stood up, he wobbled dangerously close to the platform drop-off and then tumbled onto the subway tracks below.

Wesley Autrey

With the subway fast approaching, Autry left his two daughters on the platform and jumped onto the tracks, hoping to pull Hollopeter to safety. With the subway mere seconds away, Autry threw his body over Hollopeter’s frame, as it nested in the 12-inch depression between the tracks, in order to shield him from moving until the subway passed.

Although the subway conductor tried to stop the subway, he could not do so prior to passing over the two-tiered bodies.  In fact, five subway cars passed over them. Through bystanders’ frantic screams and screeching brakes, the subway finally came to a halt. Amazingly, both Autry and Hollopeter emerged from the tracks unscathed. The distance between the top of Autry’s cap and the subway above was less than the length of a subway ticket.

Calvary's Cross

Why would a complete stranger do something for someone else at such great risk to his own life?  Answer:  In that split second decision, Autry valued this young man’s life above his own.  As we think about Calvary’s cross, why would God send His only Son to die for us?  The Bible tells us that, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Paul wrote to the Roman church: “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Paul declared to the Galatian church: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law”  (Galatians 3:13). The reason God sent His Son to die for us is that in eternity past, God knew that all humanity would need to be restored into right relationship with God through forgiveness of their sins.  Jesus came to take upon Himself the sins of the entire world.  The One who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). Although many were involved in Christ’s death (i.e., the betrayer Judas Iscariot, complicit Jewish leaders, the Roman soldiers, and Pilate), the Scriptures makes clear that Jesus voluntarily gave Himself to fulfill the Father’s will “so that by the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19b).

In his book The Cross of Christ, John Stott puts it simply (pp. 63-66). First, Christ died for us as the Good Shepherd laying down His life for the sheep. Second, Christ died for us that He might bring us to God through salvation, as we believe in Him. Third, Christ died for our sins (1 Cor 15:3), taking upon Himself the punishment for our sins.  And fourth, Christ died our death.  The Bible makes clear that the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The sinless Son of God died the death that we deserved.

Like Cameron Hollopeter, I was laying helpless on the subway tracks with the subway fast approaching.  Jesus sacrificially jumped on the tracks of my life (leaving the 99 sheep to reach the one, who had gone astray), just as Autry left his two daughters on the subway platform to save Hollopeter.  Jesus shielded me from certain death. 

In preparing for Easter during this Lenten season, how do you respond when you think about Christ’s forgiveness of sin and His sacrifice on the cross for you personally?

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Diane Chandler
This entry was posted by on Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 at 10:37 am and is filed under Church History, Evangelism, Theology, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

8 Responses to “The Cross”

  1. Michele Lum says:

    Thanks for this piece, Diane. I found it refreshing to read about a modern day person giving up his life in order that another, who’s a stranger to him, might live. This puts things in perspective that what Jesus Christ did on the Cross more than 2,000 years ago, is not purely “just” a far-fetched, act of God that ordinary people can’t grasp. Rather, the depth of love expressed is one that an extraordinary human being would do – for their loved ones, and even fewer, who would give up their all for a complete stranger in need.

    • Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

      Michele, isn’t it amazing to think that we were as the person laying helplessly on the subway tracks, with the subway heading our way. That Jesus willingly jumped from safety (the security of heaven) and came to earth to rescue us from the penalty of our own sin is difficult to fully fathom. “Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus” who took the penalty of sin and death (i.e., like the subway ready to destroy us) and yet He covered us with His own blood and washed our sins away. It is amazing to think that there are everyday people who act self-sacrificially, as mentioned in the Blog, although they might not make the headlines or be recognized. What a challenge for us all to live a life of gratitude to the Lord and earnestly serve others!

  2. Carolyn Hudgins says:

    Thanks. This was a beautiful way to express what my God has done for me.

    • Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

      Thank you, Carolyn, for your comment. We realize afresh during this Lenten season the great cost that Jesus paid on our behalf. Oh that those who are in darkenss would see His great light.

  3. Frankie says:

    I am totally broken, yet fully redeemed and healed! Thanks be to God for His love and sacrifice, pour out upon all of humanity without measure. “Let it Rain…”

    • Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

      Frankie, I join you in proclaiming, “Thanks be to God for His indescrible gift”!

  4. It is only by His sacrificial love that we take our daily breath of forgiveness and reconciliation. He has done it! Done it all! Praise Him! Now… may we each learn to walk in the grace that we have been given through His sacrificial covering as we laid helpless on the tracks of our sinful life. Great Job Diane! Love ya! Mitch

    • Mitch, thank you for tuning into our Renewal Dynamics Blog. And yes, our only hope is in the One who gave His life for us. Now to share this hope with others. “Thanks be to God for His indescrible gift!”