ON THE CROSS

The cross stands at the center of Christianity.  Christianity without a cross would be empty and without purpose.  Paul would say, “God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of the Lord Jesus.”  Usually in looking at the cross our thoughts run to the suffering Jesus did there.  His suffering is certainly a worthy topic because it was horrendous and we need to remember what he went through for us.  But I suspect the physical suffering was minor compared to the emotional and spiritual suffering going on.  The writer of Hebrews indicates this when he challenged us in running the Christians race to keep our eyes on Jesus the beginning and the completion of our faith, “who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame and set down at the right hand of the Father.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Think today about the things that were accomplished on the cross.  On the cross he purchased the church with his own blood.  In Acts 20:28 Paul was talking with the shepherds from the church in Ephesus.  “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of God which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God which he purchased with his own blood.”  In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said he would build his church.  He not only built it, he bought with the blood poured out intentionally on the cross.  When a person tries to deny the value or need for the church it needs to be remembered that it cost Jesus his own blood.

On the cross Jesus gave himself for the church that was to be his bride.  In Ephesians 5:25-27 Paul was talking about husbands and wives and comparing that relationship with the relationship Christ has with the church.  “Husbands love your wives as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her.to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”  Jesus often compared his kingdom to a marriage.  He talked about wedding suppers and told of a wedding feast that he attended and where he performed his first miracle of turning water to wine to keep the host from being embarrassed.  He said the kingdom was like a wedding in that the bridegroom would come through the streets to get the ones invited to the wedding.  Among the virgins waiting for him there were five wise and five foolish ones.  The wise carried their lamps full of oil plus an extra container if needed.  The foolish carried their lamps filled but nothing extra.  The bridegroom came and the wise were ready for him but the foolish were running out of oil and wanted to borrow from the wise.  The wise said they couldn’t loan any of their oil or they too would run out and told the foolish to go and buy at the market.  They went but before they could return the bridegroom had arrived and they were not allowed to go in.

Also in John 14:1-4 when Jesus told then to not be troubled that he was going to prepare a place for them and would come again to receive him to himself that where he was they could be also, he was using a marriage allusion.  The bridegroom typically in that culture would leave to go and prepare a place for the bride and him.  He would build on to his father’s house to make room for him and his bride, then return to get his wife and return to their new home.

Jesus demonstrates for us what love from a husband to his wife should look like.  It should be a self-giving, sacrificial love that brings out the best in his wife.  His love should be purifying and the  dream should be that she would be a radiant bride, without flaws before him.  In intrigues me to notice that it was the giving of the husband that would bring about such benefits in the wife.

On the cross Jesus opened the way to God for all people.  In Hebrews 2:9 it says that he tasted death for every person.  Because of Calvary whoever will may come and take of the water of life freely.

On the cross we too were crucified with Jesus, if we follow him.  In Galatians 2:20 Paul said, “Ive been crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Instead of thinking of the cross as just an event in history, it should be seen as a personal cross for us on which we too can die to our old way of living and start a life that is no longer about us and our selfish desires but about Jesus and his will for us.  In Galatians 6:14 Paul said, May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  The very notion that one can become a disciple of the Lord and just continue to live the same old way is to grossly misunderstand and misapply God’s word.

Even before his own crucifixion Jesus said to us, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.”  We often mention some problem or challenge we have declaring that it is just our cross to bear.  But I doubt we have understood the  depth of what is meant by Jesus.  A cross is a tool of execution.  To take up our cross is to readily die to this world and the things in it.  It is a dying to the world of sin.  It is to die to my desire for things, for stuff and our determining of ones value by how many things they have.  “We brought nothing into this world and we will carry nothing out.  Therefore having food and clothes let us be content.”  It is dying to the passions that so often rule us.  It is dying to worldly standards.  It is dying to the jealousy and envy that come from living in the world.

On the cross we personally were purchased by the Lord.  In I Corinthians 6:18-20 Paul wrote, “Flee from sexual immorality.  All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with you body.”  It isn’t just the church as a whole or as an institution that is purchased by the blood of Jesus.  Personally as a Christian we were bought with a price of his blood.  To take our bodies that belong to the Lord and involve them in immorality is a horrible wrong.  Instead the challenge to us all is to “Present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.” (Romans 12:1)

On the cross the world changed.  From that day things can never be the same again.  God gave himself as a ransom for our sins.  “Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

On the cross Jesus was thinking about you and your life.  In your life are you thinking about him?  In the movie “Saving private Ryan” it showed a scene of the real private Ryan going to the grave site of the man who gave his life in saving him.  Private Ryan was now an old man.  His wife and a daughter and son-in-law were with him.  He knelt before the cross on the grave site.  Then he raises up obviously shaken and says to his wife “Have I been a good man?”  At first she doesn’t seem to hear him.  He asked again, “Have I been a good man?”  She assures him he has.  His heart was torn because he wasn’t sure he had been worthy of the sacrifice that had been made for him to live.

It is worth much for us to go back regularly to the cross and think of what Jesus did there and remember it was for us.  Are we living like someone gave his life in a horrible way for us to be able to live?

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About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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