As we mark Good Friday, let’s take a fresh look at the Cross of Jesus.
Billy Graham had a profound understanding of the Crucifixion: “The Cross splits the world,” he wrote. “Either you look at it and think – that’s pathetic or you look at it and you think– that’s powerful. If you think it’s pathetic, Paul says you are perishing. But if you think it’s the ‘Power of God’, you are being saved. But it’s one or the other”
Peter, Newman writes In The Meaning of the Cross, “Our faith must begin and end at the Cross. The trouble is that many Christians have bypassed the Cross and are trying to be moral by their willpower and self-effort rather than trusting in the indwelling power of Christ to transform them (Galatians 3:3) But if we attempt to build our spiritual life by any other foundation than Christ crucified, we are doing so by our natural strength.”
“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)
In April 2007 Decision magazine wrote: “We preach Christ crucified. This is the focal point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a picture of blood flowing from Christ’s veins as He hung on the Cross. The message of shed blood is repugnant to many, and they turn from such a gory sight, feeling that their delicate sensibilities have been outraged. Many people will accept Christ’s character, but they reject His crucifixion.”
“For the message of the Cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18 AMP)
The Truth of the Cross is that God Himself offered salvation by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die as an atonement for our sins. This atonement, a free, unmerited, undeserved gift, provides each of us the singular path to eternal salvation. While the receiving of this gift is dependent on the receiver, it is only through the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are saved from eternal damnation and separation from the Kingdom of God as adopted sons and daughters and rightful co-heirs of that Kingdom.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:1) and that name is Jesus Christ!
As RC Sproul says in The Truth of the Cross, ”The Cross of Jesus Christ is God’s intentional method by which to bring salvation. To assume that we mere humans can do anything in our own power to gain entrance into the Kingdom is blasphemy. But for the finished work of the Cross, there is no salvation, there is no hope. The Truth of the Cross is an uncompromising reminder that the atonement of Christ is our gift of grace and mercy from the Throne of God Himself. “If you take away the Cross as an atoning act, you take away Christianity.”
“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Newman, Peter; in The Meaning of the Cross says: “We must never lose sight of Christ’s triumph on the Cross. ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross… (Hebrews 12:2).’ We were saved by faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and we now over come by faith in Christ’s victory on the Cross. The Cross is the secret to our overcoming. Christ conquered satan and sin on the Cross.”
So, this begs the question – If the Cross of Jesus is the beginning and the end of our faith, then why are so many Churches removing it from view?
The Cross is our message of hope
The Cross is our message of hope and you cannot take the Cross out of the Church. To do so, negates the reason Jesus Christ died. You cannot downplay its role in the life of the Church or the believer. It is on the CROSS of Calvary that we are saved through the brutal barbaric whipping and lashes Jesus took on His body. It is on the CROSS of Calvary that our sins are buried under the blood that poured out of His crucified body. It is on the CROSS of Calvary that we are granted eternal life with Him in Heaven.
As David A. DePra says in The Centrality of the Cross, “The Cross of Jesus Christ is the central truth of Christianity. This is exactly why Satan has tried to minimize its importance, substitute for it, or, in many places, shut it out all together. The Cross is the instrument of Satan’s defeat, the means of our freedom from the power of sin, and is the doorway to newness of life. Take away the Cross, and everything else falls.”
This Good Friday, see the Cross as a place of victory, peace, joy, and newness of life. Accept Christ’s call to run to Him and find rest. Go to the Cross of Jesus Christ. The world needs this message today. This is the message of hope, peace and brotherhood. This is what the world calls “foolishness’ but what God has been pleased to call “wisdom”. What do you call it?
Written in collaboration with Michael Sullivan