Step Towards Transformation
The Cross is one of the primary symbols of Christianity because of Jesus’s crucifixion. The Roman empire put many thousands to death on the cross. It was a tool for killing people painfully while subjecting them to extreme humiliation in front of their society. Though not the same, the electric chair would be a good modern example in that it is a tool to carry out death sentences.
What make’s Jesus’ death on the cross different is what we study this week. I’d like to share what St. John Damascene (c. 675-749), who was the last of the Greek Fathers, wrote in his “What happened on the Cross.”*
By nothing else except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ has death been brought low:
The sin of our first parent destroyed, hell plundered, resurrection bestowed, the power given us to despise the things of this world, even death itself, the road back to the former blessedness made smooth, the gates of paradise opened, and we made children and heirs of God.
By the cross all these things have been set aright…
It is a seal that the destroyer may not strike us, a raising up of those who lie fallen, a support for those who stand, a staff for the infirm, a crook for the shepherded, a guide for the wandering, a perfecting of the advanced, salvation for soul and body, a deflector of all evils, a cause of all goods, a destruction of sin, a plant of resurrection, and a tree of eternal life.
If you understand the implications of Jesus’ death on the cross, your life will change. Mine did.
When Jesus Christ was put to death by being nailed to a wooden cross, the Jews and others thought they were just executing a man who was disturbing their way of life. They did not realize that the Cross was planned by God from the beginning of the world.
A. GOD DEALS WITH ALL SIN
Through His Son’s death on the Cross, the great Creator God was dealing with every person’s sin, suffering and sorrow. Jesus was dying in the place of every individual in the world. Receiving personally what He has done on the Cross brings the answer to all our needs.
B. NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THROUGH THE CROSS
Because God is so holy and righteous, sin separates us from Him. No one with sin in their hearts is able to be in His presence.
So, not only by dying on the Cross did Jesus suffer for our sins in our place; but also He made it possible for us know God personally and to experience the love, peace and joy which fellowship with Him brings.
“His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Eph 2:13-16).
C. FREEDOM THROUGH THE CROSS
Jesus’ death on the Cross was a great victory for us. Because God dealt with our sin on the Cross, it means also that all the misery and suffering which is a result of sin was also dealt with.
The Cross has won great freedom for us!
D. LOVE AND JUSTICE MEET AT THE CROSS
The Cross is the place where the love of God and the righteous judgment of God meet. His righteous judgment demanded the death penalty for sin – the shedding of blood. His love met His own demands and Jesus, the Son of God, died in our place.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Rom 5:8-11)
E. THE CROSS IS THE CENTER OF HISTORY
The Cross of Jesus Christ is the center point of mankind’s existence on earth. From the moment the first man and woman sinned (see Genesis 3), it was pre-planned by God that Jesus would die on the Cross.
From that time on, people looked forward in faith to what God promised. He would do on the Cross to save them. Today we look back and, by believing what Jesus has done for us on the Cross, receive forgiveness and new life.
Today I put my whole trust in what God was doing for me when Jesus died on the Cross. I believe He took the punishment for my sin. I receive the forgiveness that God is offering to me. And I thank Him for the relationship this now gives me with Him. I make a decision today that I will live each day in this personal relationship with God and commit myself to share this truth with others.