The centerpiece of God’s plan to redeem sinful mankind—yea, of history—is the cross of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the “word of the cross” (I Corinthians 1:18). The cross is “the power and wisdom of God” (23–24). The cross is the great “peacemaker” between Jew and Gentile and between God and sinful men (Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20). Christians should therefore glory in the cross (Galatians 6:14).
The cross significantly demonstrates so many extraordinary facts
- The awfulness of sin. Most people glorify and laugh at sin, but God and His Son did not and do not. Sin is so repugnant to Deity it took the horrors of the cross to save us from it. The Righteous One suffered on the cross for the sins of the unrighteous (I Peter 3:18). Without His shed blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22b). Only by His sacrifice could He “put away sin” (v. 26b).
- The love of God and Christ for Mankind. God’s love caused Him to give His Son to save us (John 3:16). God demonstrated His love for sinners in the death of His Son (Romans 5:8). Christ expressed His love for us on the cross (II Corinthians 5:14). God so loved us that He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (I John 4:10). God’s love and the cross are inseparable (John 3:16).
- The price of redemption. Christ gave himself a ransom for all (I Timothy 2:6). He “purchased” the church with His blood (Acts 20:28). He “gave himself up” for the church (Ephesians 5:25; Titus 2:14). He redeemed us “with precious blood” (I Peter 1:18–19). He “gave himself for our sins, the he might deliver us out of this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). There could be no redemption without the cross.
- The wickedness and cruelty of men. Isaiah foretold that Jesus would be “despised and rejected” (Isaiah 53:6–8). Judas betrayed Him for 30 coins. At Jesus’ first trial, Peter, one of his “inner circle,” denied three times he knew Him. The Jewish rulers so hated Jesus that they violated the law and ignored justice. A frenzied and irrational mob cried for His crucifixion. Pilate and Herod abused Him, and Pilate delivered Him to the cross, publicly admitting He was innocent. The cross revealed the depths of cruelty and wickedness to which sinful men can plunge as they slew their only Savior.
- The nobility of meekness. To the many taunts and wild charges, “he opened not his mouth” in self-defense (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:14). Although His captors spat upon Him, struck Him, mocked Him, scourged Him, and finally nailed Him to the cross, He offered no resistance or defense. “When he was reviled, he reviled not again” (I Peter 2:23). He refused to call the angelic army, awaiting His orders, to rescue Him (Matthew 26:53). Truly, they did not take His life; He laid it down (John 10:18). Jesus on the cross is meekness perfected.
- Unqualified obedience to God. Jesus came to do His Father’s will (John 6:38). He went to the cross because God required it for our redemption—there was no other way (Mat. 26:39). Jesus’ obedience took Him to the cross—the ultimate demonstration of obedience (Philippians 2:8).
The first stanza of John Bowring’s poem says it well for every saint:
In the cross of Christ I glory,
Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.