One of the most amazing things found in the bible is the message of the significance of the cross(the crucifixion). Paul was one man who had passion for the topic of the cross as we see in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “…For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”.
The main question to keep in mind as you read this today is why is the study of the crucifixion of Jesus such an important topic for sincere Christians?.
Sin is deadly
When i first started reading into this topic i realised that it is important for each individual to understand how deadly sin is. I discovered that sin separates us from God, Isaiah 59:2 explains this clearly “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.“. Jesus came to this earth to save us from our sins, “…and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” Matthew 1:21. We have all sinned and therefore we are all unrighteous in the eyes of God, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23.
Recently I came across a little book called Steps to Christ(chapter 2) and found this interesting passage:
It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Job 14:4; Romans 8:7 …The Saviour said, “Except a man be born from above,” unless he shall receive a new heart, new desires, purposes, and motives, leading to a new life, “he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3.
So based on this passage we see that humanity has fallen into the pit of sin, and that it is impossible for us, through our own strength, to escape from the pit of sin. So if sin separates us from God and if all humanity has fallen in sin, then how will anyone enter or see the kingdom of Heaven. So the main question that is then raised is ‘Since I am a sinner, Is there hope for me, how can I be saved?
Jesus as the lamb
In the ancient sanctuary service, A sinner would have to put his hands upon a literal lamb, then he would have to confess his sins, and thus transferring the sin to that substitute. Then the lamb was to be killed. That lamb is symbolic of Jesus Christ who would come to take the sin of the world.
We live in a world today in which many of us are comfortable in our sins, or we are very comfortable having sin around us. Many of us live very ungodly lives. As an example, going out to drink alcohol with a few friends is seen as form of fun or as good leisure activity, pre-marital sex is now accepted by many as part of the dating process, and the use of profanity seems to be the norm in many homes, these are just a few examples. The bible says “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness…If you fail to do what you know is right, you are sinning…Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor those who abuse others with insults,nor those who cheat will inherit the kingdom of God. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through our lord Jesus Christ. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins”, James 4:17, 1 cor 6:9-11, Hebrews 10:26.
God is Love. It is because of this love that God has provided the gift of salvation which comes through our faith in Jesus. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”, Ephesians 2:8. It is because of the grace of God that we should choose to to live godly lives.“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works”.
When a person goes into a shop, one of the most important things to consider is how much does this thing I’m about to buy cost. Using this same principle we should always consider the consequences that follow the decisions we decide to make, So therefore before you sin(as we just saw in the previous section) look at the price tag and say ‘it cost God his life for this sin I’m about to commit’. We cannot afford to sin wilfully. It cost God his life for the smallest sin that we choose to commit. Sin always has consequences. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
When Jesus went to the cross, He went there for you and me, because we have all sinned. Whenever I think of the cross on Calvary, I see Jesus being treated as a sinner, he is treated that way because of my sin and your sin. He became sin. He died the death of the greatest sinner when he was put on the cross, 1 Peter 2:22. He took the worst sinner’s place so that none of us, no matter how much sin we have done can look to the cross on Calvary and say, “Jesus didn’t go low enough for me.” All your sins and my sins were paid for on the cross, we need to understand and and acknowledge that it was our sinful state that put Jesus on the cross.
Thankfully the gospel doesn’t end at the cross when Christ died. He was resurrected from the grave, this is the power of God. He died for us that we might die with Him, and He lives for us that we may live with Him. One preacher explained it like this:
When I look at the cross I not only see Christ dying there for me in my stead, I identify myself with Him, and I say, “Lord, you are dying for me, I die with you. That is me that is dying there.” When Jesus died, I died with Him. My debt was paid. My penalty is met. The penalty has been paid. How has it been paid? In Christ. When Jesus died it was counted that I died. “If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” Romans 6:8, Galatians 2:20.
When we accept Jesus, and fully understand the sacrifice that he has presented through the cross, we cannot go back to the sinful lives that we used to live. As we saw from the bible it is because of God’s grace that we should choose to live holy lives. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works”.
One simple practical method that we can apply is to study God’s word so that we may know that we are living according to his word, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).
There is a song entitled ‘At the cross‘, it is a popular hymn which expresses the meaning of the cross in poetic language, see the lyrics below.
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!
Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His soul in anguish stood.
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.
Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
’Tis all that I can do.