Summary: The cross was in view even before there was a single tree from which to make it. We can identify a few purposes or functions of the cross in these verses: The Cross demonstrates God's Justice and Mercy, and Gives Him all the credit!
Romans 3:25-31 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-- 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29 Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
Intro: Did you ever wonder if there was any other way for man to be made right with God than what we read about in the Bible? Why did Jesus have to die such a cruel gruesome death to take care of our sins? Could God have come up with any other plan? Many of you are probably wondering why I would even ask such a thing, but let me assure you, many people have stumbled at the idea of God demanding justice and then taking it all out on His Son.
-Several years ago Phil Donahue (who hosted a popular TV talk show for many years) listed the various reasons why he had become disillusioned with Christianity. Among them was this: "How could an all-knowing, all-loving God allow his Son to be murdered on a cross to redeem my sins?" (cited by Dr. Ray Prichard).
-Well, we will understand it better by and by… as the song says. One day it will all make sense. The Bible is pretty clear that there was no better way – no Plan B! In Revelation 13, Jesus is hailed as the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world. God knew what He was doing even before He created mankind. He knew how we would treat Him, yet He loved us anyway! The cross was in view even before there was a single tree from which to make it. There is a lot we don’t understand about the cross, but I believe we can identify a few purposes or functions of the cross in the verses we read this morning. Here is the first one.
1. The cross demonstrates God’s justice
Romans 3:25 “…He did this to demonstrate his justice….”
-God passed over the previous sins of those who put their trust in Him. Why was He able to do that without sacrificing His justice?
-I think part of the answer is found in the fact that God is not restricted by time and space the way we are. God is timeless. His existence is not governed by the sunrise or sunset. He does not sleep at night because there is no night in His presence. So, long before He spoke atomic particles and molecules into existence to form our universe, He had the cross planned out.
-Even when the first human sin was committed (Adam and Eve disobeying God), we see the first object lesson that pointed forward to the cross where God the Son would die to take away the sins of the world. Genesis 3:21 “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” This was the first death we read about. Animals were killed (and blood was spilled) to provide a covering for Adam and Eve.
-Now we get caught up with the chronology of things, but the cross was already a present reality in the plan of God – way back in the Garden of Eden. What’s another 4,000 years to God? 4 days?
-So God, who is totally fair / totally just had already provided the payment for the sins of the world – even though it hadn’t really happened yet. Jesus later paid the penalty for all who would put their trust in Him. God never bypasses justice. If He did then His righteous standards would always be changing. God would go easy on everybody, and doing right and being holy would become meaningless. Even though He is a merciful God, He is always completely fair. That is one of God’s unchangeable attributes. It shows us who He is and how He rolls! He does all things well!
2. The cross demonstrates God’s mercy
-This almost goes w/o saying. By faith we are cleared- made right with God – what an act of mercy! The whole story of God is one of love and mercy and benevolence toward mankind.