People of the Cross

When it comes to Christianity there is something that separates us from all other religions and that is the thing we call the cross. It was the worse way to die and it was made to be a deterrent to anyone who thought about committing a crime or going against the Roman government.

This thing called the Cross is strange in so many ways because it is about God coming to earth and being humiliated for the payment of our sins. I have read that Muslims do not believe that God would humiliate Himself to become a man and humiliate Himself more by dying on a cross for our sins. “If you follow him, you will experience eternal life; if not, you will experience everlasting hell,” you will find yourself across a line of utmost contention in contemporary culture(and in the contemporary church). ” Counter Culture, David Platt, PG 15)

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

There are many reasons that people do not understand the cross of Christ but I will address two of them here.

The Cross is not understood because;

1)   People do not think they are sinners.

We like to say that we are good people and that our good always outweighs our bad. We never see the things we do as that bad or we say, “my intentions were good even if my execution was not.” We tend to see our actions better than they really are and our sins as not as bad as they really are.

The standard with God is not being good but being Holy. (Psalm 99) He is perfect without flaw or blemish and so our standard is Him not the people around us. The prophet Isaiah, who was a really good man, stood before God and cried out that he was ruined because he had unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5) When we see God we will realize just how bad we really are. On this planet we may think we are good and deserving of Heaven but when we see God we will all realize non of us deserve to be there.

Although some people and religions try to deny the existence of evil by saying that it does not exist , God came to earth in the form of a man named Jesus Christ and destroyed evil.

Philippians 2:5-11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God stepped into our world and restored an opportunity for us to be back in a right relationship with Him by paying for the sins we could not pay for ourselves. We are all evil in the sight of God.

Romans 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;no one understands;  no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;  no one does good, not even one.”

Our standard is good and God’s standard is Holy. This is why people do not understand the Cross because when you think you are good enough you do not understand the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross.  Until you see that you will never be good enough to stand before God on your own actions,  then you will never look to the Cross and see the true love Jesus had for us.

2)   People think they can earn their own way.

If we are honest, we all know we have areas in our lives that we are not perfect. We know we have a temper but we have never hurt anyone physically in our anger so we justify it to say that it is not that bad.  Even if the things in our lives do not seem major in our minds God will not allow any uncleanliness into His presence. Because we know we have areas in our lives we then try and make up for it by doing more good than bad. We are like people who do not want to diet so they try to do more exercises that will overcome the bad eating in their lives. If you have been around someone long enough who tries to outdo their bad habits they eventually lose because they cannot “Outwork a Fork”.

I am a coffee lover and I hate to see coffee go to waste. On Sundays when we are packing up it pains me to see the left over coffee being poured down the drain. With that being said if someone came up to my coffee cup and poured some poison in it I would not think twice of pouring it out. I would not add more coffee to the cup hoping the good coffee overcomes the bad coffee. I would be a fool to even take the chance in drinking it when I could replace the coffee with not only new coffee but even a new coffee cup.

The cross of Christ is foolish to people because He took our place by drinking the poison that we put in our own drink and then gave us the opportunity to receive not only a new drink but a new vessel to drink it out of. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Ephesians 2:8-9 is clear that it is by faith and not by works that you are saved. This means no amount of good deeds will get you to heaven and no amount of good deeds will put you back into a right standing with God.

The Cross does not make sense to people because we do not like substitution justice. We like Justice where people get what they deserve or they reap what they sow. We think if you do the crime you should do the time. Some believe that if they did sin then they need to pay for the sin themselves. The thought of there being a purgatory is liked by many because it would be a place that you would go to until you paid off the sins you did while on earth. The problem is that if it is true that you can pay for your own sins by going into purgatory then why did Jesus Christ die on the cross?

Jesus conquered sin on the cross and He conquered death when He rose again. It was on the cross that He said it was finished (John19:30) and it was on the cross that He bore our sins. (Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:19-20; 1 Peter 2:23-24) The Bible says that God nailed our sins to the Cross (Colossians 2:13-15) which means that God nailed the sins to Jesus as the perfect sacrifice.  It is through what Jesus did for us on the cross that we are forgiven and can be in right standing with God.

Imagine a drunk driver killing a loved one. When you go to court you are looking for them to get the justice they deserve either through prison time or never being able to drive again. As you listen to the defense plead their case they begin telling all the good things the drunk driver did so far in their life and all the good things they have planned to do in the future. After all is said and done the Judge lets the drunk driver go free because it was one mistake compared to many of the good things they have done. How would you feel? You would be furious that they got away with destroying your life. You know that no matter how many good things they did or will do will not make up for the fact that one of your loved ones is dead because of their actions.

The same is true for us and our actions and Jesus says they are  like murder and adultery. (See Matthew 5:21-30). Our sins had to be paid for not overlooked and the cross of Christ brings justice and mercy together. Justice for the wrong that has been done and mercy because Jesus paid for the sin we did. This is why Christianity is so different than almost all if not all religions. It is not about your good works but what Jesus did on the cross.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus did not point people to the way of salvation; He said He is the way. Jesus did not point people to truth; He said He is the truth. Even Ghandi , who was a good guy, said it was the cross that stood out to him because it was the guiltless for the guilty.

Our society does not like that there is one way to Heaven. This is why many believe that you can choose any path you want and they all lead to the same place. Again, if that is true then why did Jesus die on the cross? If people could earn their own way to Heaven through good works or go to a place and pay for their sins for a time then why did Jesus have to die? Either He died to pay for our sins or He was a fool.

If God made 1000 ways to go to Heaven we would want 1001 because we want to make our own way to Heaven. God made one way to go to Heaven and although it is easy to receive it will cost you everything to follow Him. (Luke 9:23)

We look to the cross and rejoice that God would love us so much that He would do whatever it took to put us back into a right relationship with Him. God knew our good works could not make us Holy again, which is the only way we can be in His presence, so He paid for our sins.

John 15:13  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus laid down His sinless life for our lives so that we can spend eternity with Him. This is why we celebrate not only on Easter Sunday but every Sunday because we are forgiven not based on our works but on what Christ did for us on the Cross.

We take communion at church to remember that it was through His sacrifice that we are forgiven.

1 Corinthians 11:26-32  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[g] 31 But if we judged[h] ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined[i] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

Matthew 26:26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

Christianity celebrates the death of their God. This is a very hard concept for some people. Christ starts with the Body and how it is broken for us. We are broken people who were separated by Godand Jesus became broken to take our place.

 

Matthew 26:27 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Christ shed His blood for us because He was sinless and therefore made the perfect sacrifice. Just like the Children of Israel accepted by Faith that the death angel would pass over them in Egypt (Exodus 12)  so by accepting Christ sacrifice for us we know that we will pass from death to life. This is by faith but in a historical person and in a historical event in which our Savior died on the cross but then rose again out of the grave.

To accept the free gift of Christ you only have to ask Him to receive it. It cost you nothing and there is nothing you can do to earn it or deserve it. If you have never asked God to receive the free gift of salvation I would encourage you to do so. 1 John 1:9 is clear that your sins will be forgiven and He will cleanse you and make you holy.

 

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