Summary: Many people find it difficult to understand why Jesus Christ dying an undeserved and cruel death on a cross can have any effect on their own lives. In fact until we understand two fundamental truths - the extent of God’s love and our need for forgiveness
Who is Love and Justice?
The cross is central to the Christian message. Some churches display a cross, some people wear a cross as a fashion accessory. In this session we are going to examine the real meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Many people find it difficult to understand why Jesus Christ dying an undeserved and cruel death on a cross can have any effect on their own lives. In fact until we understand two fundamental truths - the extent of God’s love and our need for forgiveness – we can not fully understand the cross. When we fully understand what Jesus accomplished, the cross is good news, the cross is the place our freedom was bought and paid for by our Lord.
In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress we are given a picture of the power of the cross. A man named Christian goes through a chain of encounters desperately looking for the real way to the Celestial City (heaven). On his back he carries a huge burden of trials, temptations, failures, doubts and immorality, yet he is determined to find the correct way. Christian follows a variety of different routes, stumbling every step of the way. Then he meets someone who tells him “the only way” to be free: through the cross of Jesus Christ on the way to Calvary.
Christian struggles up a steep hill to the top where the cross stands. His heart heavy, he arrives and kneels before the foot of the cross and prays for help. To his amazement, the heavy load falls off and rolls down the hill. The change is instant. He has freedom from the burden of sins, for the first time in his life he knows what it means to be forgiven. He stands up, descends the hill and continues his journey toward the Celestial City singing: “Blessed cross! Blessed sepuchre! Blessed rather be the man that was put to shame for me.”
1 John 1 The Word of Life
1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our joy complete.
5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
The power of Good News
There is great joy when the message of the cross is understood. The demonstration of God’s love towards us is revealed. The good news that whatever our past, whatever our history of living without connection to God, whatever we have done right or wrong, we can be forgiven because of what Jesus did on the cross.
Do you remember the sense of relief when you realised that you had been forgiven?
There is a great promise in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Our old mistakes are forgiven, but we need to admit and confess them, knowing He will free us.
The cross gives us an assurance of God’s enduring, eternal connection and love for us. When John the Baptist saw Jesus walking towards him, he shouted to the crowd, “Look, this is the One who comes to take away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). The apostle John wrote, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10).
Was the cross an afterthought?
There are at least seven times in the New Testament when the death of Jesus Christ is described as planned before the creation of the world (eg Revelation 13:8). The death of Jesus on the cross was not a last-minute decision by God, God did not say “Oh dear, the people I made have sinned, what do I do next?” A careful study of the Bible, from the beginning to the coming of Jesus, clearly reveals a theme of sacrifice that culminates in the cross.