THE Passion of Cross

The preaching of the cross has fallen into disfavor in many religious circles today. How tragically sad that is.  It can be very instructive to all who desire to embrace true Christianity to ponder four statements of the Apostle Paul about the cross:

1st Corinthians 1:18 "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,  but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

1st Corinthians 2:2 "For I determined not to know any thing among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.".

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live, but  Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

Galatians 6:14 "But God forbid that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.."

     These verses reveal clearly that the Apostle Paul was possessed by "the passion of the cross."  I think George Bernard knew something of the passion of the cross when he wrote:
          "On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.
           And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain.
           So Iíll cherish the old rugged cross till my trophies at last Iíll lay down;
           I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown."

     Certainly, Isaac Watts left no doubt about his passion for the cross when he wrote:
          "When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died
           My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride."

I.  AT THE CROSS THE JUSTICE OF GOD IS SATISFIED.

     Anyone who makes an honest and objective effort to understand the Bible will come to the conclusion that God is a holy God, consequently, a God of justice.
     Properly understood, the ten commandments are the perfect expression of a perfect God. At the same time, they reveal that man is sinful and cannot be saved by keeping the perfect law because he is unable to do so. Instead, man is condemned by the law because he has broken the law. It is in the priesthood and in the sacrifices that we see pictures of what Christ did to redeem mankind when He died for their sins on the cross.
    
On the Day of Atonement the high priest had to first offer a bull as a sacrifice for his sins (Leviticus 16:6). After receiving cleansing from his sins he was able to offer a goat to cleanse the sins of the people. Laying his hands on the head of the sacrificial goat he symbolically transferred the sins of the people to the goat. The goat was then sacrificed by slicing its jugular vein. The blood was caught in a container and the carcass was burned on the brass altar. The blood was then taken into the holy of holies and sprinkled on the "mercy seat" which covered the ark of the covenant which in turn contained the ten commandments. This pictured how the justice of God would be satisfied by the sins of the world being transferred to the innocent substitute, Jesus Christ, and Him receiving the punishment for their sins.
    
What God Pictured by the Day of Atonement He Confirmed in prophecy.  In order to assure mankind that they can escape His judgment and be received acceptably by Him God confirmed the atonement He would provide by Christ's sacrifice on the cross.  This is the subject of Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12.  From this pinnacle of all prophecy we share verses 5 and 6.  "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement for our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all".
    
Our New Testament Ratifies God's Chosen Means for Mankind's Atonement.  The Apostle Paul wrote, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2nd  Corinthians 5:21. 
    
The Apostle Peter wrote, "Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness---by whose stripes you were healed." 1st Peter 2:24. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God," 1st Peter 3:18.
     When we think of standing before God and  being judged for our sins by the ten commandments it can cause us to be terrified, but when we understand that Christ satisfied the justice of God on the cross we can sing with William Cowper: 
          "There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuelís veins
           And sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains:
           The dying thief rejoiced to see That fountain in his day,
           And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away."

II.  AT THE CROSS WE SEE THE LOVE OF GOD MAGNIFIED

     To gaze upon Jesus on the cross is to gaze upon One Who is covered with blood. His head is covered with blood from the thorns. His face and chest is covered with blood from the soldiers tearing His beard from His face. His back is covered with blood from the whip called the "cat of nine tails" with which the Roman soldiers beat Him. Blood flows from the spikes in His hands and feet. And now, as the soldier drives the hook-bill spear into His side, there is blood and water pouring forth.
     The Apostle Paul comments on the message of all this; "For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for a good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5:7, 8. (NASB)
     The Apostle John comments, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.   Charles Gabriel wrote,
           "I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,
          
And wonder how He could love me, A sinner, condemned, unclean.
           He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own;
           He bore the burden to Calvary, And suffered and died alone.
           When with the ransomed in glory, His face I at last shall see,
           Tíwill be my joy through the ages To sing of His love for me.
           How marvelous! How wonderful, is my Saviorís love for me!"

III. AT THE CROSS THE SINNERS NEED OF SALVATION IS SATISFIED

     Deep within the heart of every "son of Adam" is the realization that something very essential is missing to be at peace with God. This realization is a fulfillment of the statement Jesus made, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." John 12:32.  One person described this essential something as "a God-shaped piece missing in every man's spiritual nature".  Stuart Hamblen put it this way:
          "You were born to find God's love.  Life has no other quest.
           And till your soul has found it's goal your heart can find no rest."  
     Jesus said that when He was lifted up He would draw all peoples to Himself.  On the day He was lifted up the thief crucified beside Him was drawn and prayed, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise." Luke 23:42,43.
     Nicodemus, chief ruler of the Jews and Joseph of Arimatheae, a counselor of Godís law were drawn and they came and provided for His burial. (Luke 23:42, 43). 
     The Roman Centurion in charge of the crucifixion observed how Jesus bore His suffering and the words He spoke.  He beheld miraculous events of darkness in the middle of a sun lit day; an earthquake when Jesus died and a lightning bolt strike the Temple.  He, and others with him , exclaimed,  "Truly, this  was the Son of God!"  Matthew 27:54.
     The book of Acts is full of stories about those who were drawn and came to Jesus. Through the ages men, women, boys and girls, have come to Him out of every nation on earth. Those who have truly trusted Him as their Savior have found that He gives a salvation that satisfies.

IV.  AT THE CROSS THE BELIEVER IS ALSO CRUCIFIED

     Paul said, "I have been crucified with ChristÖ" Galatians 2:20 (See also chapter 6:14).
     At the cross the believer dies to the old life of "no hope" and receives a new life with "blessed hope". 
           (Ephesians 2:12, Titus 2:13)
     At the cross the believer dies to the old life of fearing Godís wrath and receives the new life of "no
           condemnation...in Christ Jesus"  (Romans 8:1).
    At the cross the believer dies to the old life of being powerless to stop sinning and receives the  new life of
           being motivated and empowered for righteousness.  (Ephesians 2:1-2, Philippians 2:13).
    At the cross the believer dies to the old life of self where he or she is the center of the universe and
           everything and everybody revolves around him or her.  They receive a new life where God is the
           center and we revolve around Him.  (Colossians 3:9-11).
    At the cross the believer dies to this worldís system which passes away and receives a new life in Godís
          eternal system that will never pass away.  (1st John 2:15-17)
    At the cross we die to the old life of the "Now Generation" and receive a new life that brings us into the 
         "Forever Generation".

    The cross of Christ symbolized all that is involved in passing out of our lost, hopeless and condemned condition into our eternal inheritance as a child of God.  A beautiful chorus that only Christians can understand goes, 
                    "Let me lose my life and find it Lord in Thee,
                     May all self be slain, my friends see only Thee  
                    Though it cost me grief and pain, Let me find my life again.
                     Let me lose my life and find it Lord in Thee

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted.

 

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