Summary: Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” John 2:19.
Theme: Understanding the importance of the cross
Text: Ex. 20:1-17; 1 Cor. 1:18-25; Jn. 2:13-22
The entire message of the Gospel revolves around one unique historical event: the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Writing about this, the writer of Hebrews declares in 10:14, that “By one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Perfected and forever speak of a sacrifice that comprehends every need of the entire human race, and its effects extend throughout time and into eternity. A single sovereign act of God brought together all the guilt and the suffering of humanity and offered one all sufficient solution, the cross. However, to receive God’s all sufficient solution to sin, suffering and sorrow, we must not only understand the importance of the cross but also make our way there.
The cross was God’s chosen way of salvation and restoration planned from the beginning of the world. Different people view and understand its meaning differently. According to Paul it was a stumbling block to the Jews. They believed their righteousness could be earned by obedience to the Law. They believed in their own works rather than in God. They sought righteousness by the works of the Law yet no man, apart from Christ, was capable of keeping the Law. The cross is foolishness to the Gentiles. To the Gentile a god is immortal and cannot die. According to their wisdom it is ridiculous to suppose that a god, one who is immortal, should die. The cross, however, is the power of God to believers. The cross, where Christ shed His blood, manifested the power of God over sin, Satan and death. The cross was the place of God’s redemption. It was there that God saved man from certain death and restored the relationship between God and man.
Paul, the author of most of the New Testament, initially could not understand the importance of the cross. According to his understanding of the Scriptures to be hung on a tree - that is on a cross - meant to be under the curse of God. How could someone under the curse of God be the Messiah? How could some people believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah? He was so zealous for what he perceived to be the truth that he persecuted and killed those who believed that Jesus Christ, a cursed person, was God. But his life was radically changed when he understood clearly the reason why Jesus was made a curse. Do we understand that Jesus Christ became a curse because of us, because of you and me? Do we understand that Jesus Christ became a curse because He took our sins upon Himself? He died because of our sin. He bore our sin so that we do not need to bear them. In Christ’s suffering and death, however, He bore more than our sins. If the penalty for sin is death then why did Christ have to suffer as He did? He suffered to enable us lead an abundant life. Jesus Christ took our place and endured all the evil consequences due by divine justice to our sin. If we have any need or problem in our life, there is only one place to go to find God’s provision and solution – it is to the cross of Jesus Christ.
The cross is a place of victory over sin. Christ was made sin with our sinfulness to free us from slavery to sin. He bore the sin of the whole world, past, present and future. At the cross God forgives us and remembers our sin no more. The cross is a place of victory over Satan. At the cross Jesus crushed the head of Satan and delivered us from under his rule. Christ not only defeated Satan on the cross and delivered us from his rule but has restored our dominion over him. Our restored dominion empowers us to retrieve all that has been stolen from us to enable us live the abundant lifeThe cross is a place of victory, not only from sin and Satan, but also from death. God’s righteous judgement demanded the death penalty for sin, the shedding of blood. At the cross, the sinless Son of God, died in our place that we might have eternal life.
The cross reveals the greatness of God’s love and the enormity of man’s sin. Sin led to the separation from God’s presence, the source of life. Since his separation from God man has never been free from sorrow, suffering, sickness and hardship. The cross was God’s way to save and restore man and it meant suffering and the shedding of blood. His blood flowed from His skin, His face, His back, His head, His hands, His feet and His side. As the Roman soldiers laid deep stripes on Jesus back with their whips, His blood flowed for our healing. As the Roman soldiers took a crown of thorns, a result of the curse, and forcibly drove it onto Jesus’ head, the blood flowed to free us from the curse and sanctify our minds. As the soldiers pierced His hands His blood flowed to cleanse our hands and make them fruitful. As the soldiers pierced His feet, the blood flowed to restore our victory over the enemy who has been put under our feet. And as one of the soldiers after His death pierced his side with a spear His blood and water came out providing for us a river of life to flow through our bodies. The tragic sight of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross was more than even God Himself wished to witness but He went through it for our sakes. Jesus Christ was not merely identified with our iniquity; He also endured all the evil consequences of that iniquity. In exchange, God accepts us when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.