Summary: The death of Jesus is unique because, unlike the death of any other religious leader, Jesus died for a reason.
The cross of Christ is unique because …
1. THE CROSS OF CHRIST IS UNIQUE BECAUSE OF ITS PURPOSE.
What is the difference between Jesus’ death and the death of Mohammad or Buddha or any of the other religious leaders in history? The primary difference between them is that Jesus died for a reason. The crucifixion of Christ is unique because of its purpose, which is to save us from the effects of sin.
a. The Problem
… All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 NIV)
Somerset Maugham, the writer, once said, “If I wrote down every thought I have ever thought and every deed I have ever done, men would call me a monster of depravity.”
What would people call you if they knew your every thought and deed?
b. The solution
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16-17 NIV).
2. THE CROSS OF CHRIST IS UNIQUE BECAUSE IT DESTROYS PRIDE.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV)
At the heart of every faith except Christianity is the belief that I can save myself through my own good works. Other faiths teach that I can actually achieve holiness through my own effort; that through my own effort I can attain perfection! This is a position of pride and vanity and this is why the cross is a major stumbling block (foolishness), to many who cannot get past their pride.
… he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts (Luke 1:51 NIV).
Yet in complete contrast we have the Christian God who provides salvation for you without price – free of charge. There is no catch. You will never be holy enough to earn your salvation – it is given freely as God’s gift to you.
Kagawa is a famous Japanese Christian. He said that in the cross he found Christianity’s greatest uniqueness. He said, “I am grateful for Shinto, for Confucianism and for Buddhism. I owe much to these faiths. Yet these three faiths utterly failed to minister to my heart’s deepest needs. I was a pilgrim journeying upon a long road that had no turning. I was weary, I was footsore. I wandered through a dark and dismal world where tragedies were thick. Buddhism teaches great compassion … but since the beginning of time, who has declared, “This is my blood … which is poured out for many unto the remission of sins?”
It’s a good question. What other religious leader has paid the penalty for your sin?
The answer is “None!”
3. THE CROSS OF CHRIST IS UNIQUE BECAUSE IT REVEALS GOD’S PASSION.
This is how God showed his love [passion] among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9 NIV)
Islam claims to worship a god of mercy too. Every chapter in Quran starts with the words, “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” But as you read the chapters of the Quran, there is no mention of a costly and heroic display of God’s love and mercy like we see in Jesus’ example on the cross. In Islam, Allah is only merciful to those who pray, and those who give to charity and those who fast during Ramadan. But what the cross uniquely reveals about the God of the Bible is his self-sacrificing love/passion for all people. The Bible says God is love. And the cross stands out as a beacon of God’s love for and passion for you.
The cross reveals how God feels about you – he loves you to death.
Many years ago a painter by the name of Stenburg lived in Dusseldorf Germany. He was searching for a model to portrait. He chose a gypsy girl from the street, her name was Pepita. It was the first time for her to be invited to an artist’s studio. Her amazed eyes rounded here and there and suddenly stopped at a painting of the crucifixion on which Stenburg had been working. Sternburg was promised a large payment from a church that was about to be completed. He had accepted the commission not because of any firm faith of his own, but because he needed the money and the recognition.
“Who is it?” asked Pepita. “The Christ,” the artist said carelessly. “But what are they doing to Him?” “Crucifying Him,” he answered and asked her to stop speaking while he is working. After posing, Pepita continued her questions. Once for all Stenburg explained the facts of Christ’s death. One day, both Pepita’s portrait and the painting of the crucifixion were finished. And for the last time Pepita came to the studio.