We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation,[c]and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!
Hebrews 12:2 TPT
Growing up in the church I always saw the cross as the beautiful gold colored item that sat right up front on the altar. I knew it had importance but I certainly didn’t understand the impact that the Cross of Jesus Christ truly had. Years later I attended a conference in which they had a “rough cut” cross. There was no “beauty” to that Cross, it was splintery wood and just sat on a stand. However, when I touched that cross God broke through and changed my entire perception as he introduced me to the power of the cross of Jesus Christ!
Over the years we have come to understand that people have various opinions about what happened when Jesus died on the cross. Some people believe he was just a good man who was put to death. Others believe he is the Son of God who died for our sins. Still other people believe that this entire event never happened, while another group believes it is completely factual.
Think back to the Garden of Eden, the fall of humankind, and the resulting consequences of that fall as sin, death and separation from God entered the world with vengeance. Even in the midst of that, God had everything planned out, he loves each one of us so much that it was utterly impossible for him to give up on us. The cross is the very place where God’s demand for righteousness collided with God’s all-consuming love for us.
Romans 5:8 states “But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly!” You see, God didn’t expect us to be perfect (he knew that was impossible); he made a way for us to be reconciled to him, despite our sin. Ephesians 2:8 reminds us “For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ!” Oden explains it as follows: “Jesus absorbed the full force of human anger and aggression and drew it into the sphere of divine love.”1Oden, C. Thomas., Systematic Theology. Hendrickson Publishing. 2008 2:317 We cannot earn God’s salvation, we cannot earn God’s forgiveness, we cannot earn that relationship – we just have to receive it. Now, that is exciting!
Can you begin to get a glimpse of the passion of Father God (Abba) for us? He held nothing back from us; his love goes so deep that we cannot fully comprehend it within the limitations of our human understanding. As Christians we need to understand that “The Cross is at the heart of Christianity because it is in the heart of God. Our worship centers focus on it. Our stained-glass windows portray it. Our prayers give thanks for it. Our hymns glory in it. Our pulpits proclaim it. Our private meditations concentrate on it. The deeds of all true Christians reflect it.”2Stokes, B. Mack. Major United Methodist Beliefs. Abingdon Press. 1998 p 71 It is through the Cross that we can declare that we serve a LIVING GOD! Not a God made out of stone or by human hands.
However, the power of the cross must go from a mere understanding and acceptance to the very depths of our being. Martin Luther, the great reformer of the 16th century, stressed the personal significance of the Cross for Christians when he stated “I believe that He bore His cross and passion for my sin and the sin of all believers and thereby has consecrated all sufferings and every cross and made them not only harmless, but salutary and highly meritorious.”3 Brief Explanation, SML ii. P 370 (As cited by Thomas C. Oden. The word of Life – Systematic Theology
Jesus declared in John 12:32 “And I will do this when I am lifted up off the ground and when I draw the hearts of people to gather them to me.” His desire, even with the torture of the cross, was to draw each and every person to himself; to endure the pain and suffering that should have been ours and to provide a way to the Father. He truly became the lamb that was slain.
The Old Testament saints looked forward to the coming of the Messiah (Jesus Christ). The New Testament believers are able to look back to the finished work of the Messiah. So what does this mean for me?
It means that:
- I can live forever – everlasting life!
For this is how much God loved the world – he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.
John 3:16 TPT
- Jesus Christ has already paid the penalty for ALL my sins!
For we all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God. Yet through his powerful declaration of acquittal, God freely gives away his righteousness. His gift of love and favor now cascades over us, all because Jesus, the Anointed One, has liberated us from the guilt, punishment, and power of sin!
Jesus’ God-given destiny was to be the sacrifice to take away sins, and now he is our mercy seat because of his death on the cross. We come to him for mercy, for God has made a provision for us to be forgiven by faith in the sacred blood of Jesus. This is the perfect demonstration of God’s justice, because until now, he had been so patient – holding back his justice out of his tolerance for us. So he covered over the sins of those who lived prior to Jesus’ sacrifice. And when the season of tolerance came to an end, there was only one possible way for God to give away his righteousness and still be true to both his justice and his mercy – to offer up his own Son. So now, because we stand on the faithfulness of Jesus, God declares us righteous in his eyes!
Romans 3:23-26 TPT
For sin’s meager wages is death, but God’s lavish gift is life eternal, found in your union with our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.
Romans 6:23 TPT
- I can ask for forgiveness and my sins will be removed from me as far as the east is from the west. They will be remembered by God no more.
…’And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.
Jeremiah 31:34 NLT
So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One. For the “law” of the Spirit of life flowing through the anointing of Jesus has liberated us from the “law” of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2 TPT
- I can forgive myself for the wrong choices that I have made, because God has forgiven me. I don’t have to beat myself up, the price has already been paid.
For it wasn’t that long ago that we behaved foolishly in our stubborn disobedience. We were easily led astray as slaves to worldly passions and pleasures. We wasted our lives in doing evil, and with hateful jealousy we hated others. When the extraordinary compassion of God our Savior and his overpowering love suddenly appeared in person, as the brightness of a dawning day, he came to save us. Not because of any virtuous deed that we have done but only because of his extravagant mercy. He saved us, resurrecting us through the washing of rebirth. We are made completely new by the Holy Spirit, whom he splashed over us richly by Jesus, the Messiah, our Life Giver.
Titus 3:3-6 TPT
- God desires relationship with me and does not want anything to stand in the way!
For you bring me a continual revelation of resurrection life, the path to the bliss that brings me face-to-face with you.
Psalm 16:11 TPT
Just what is the Cross of Jesus Christ? It is God’s love, pouring out upon humankind. This cross offers not only forgiveness for our sins but relationship with God! It is God defeating death and paving the way for us to spend an eternity with Him. It is love, hope, and victory all wrapped up in the power of the cross of Jesus Christ! WOW!
- Do I believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was an actual event or just a story in the Bible? What impact does this have on my life?
- How would my life be impacted if Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead?
- How would my life be different if I allowed God to transform (change) me into His image?