The Message of the Cross
Download Audio (14.7MB)
When you go throughout the world, you see many churches with steeples. When the Communists tried to outlaw religion in Russia and in Eastern Europe, they forgot that the cross was on many of their churches and cathedrals. The cross is worn on the necks of so many people, but they don’t know what it means. What does it mean to you tonight?
First, the cross shows us the depths of our sins. We don’t realize what sin is in the sight of God—how deeply it offends Him and how it separates us from Him. Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed in Gethsemane. He was agonizing, sorrowful. He prayed to God, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”1 He looked into the cup, and what did He see in that cup? He saw the sins of the whole world! He saw murder, war, racial prejudice, adultery, lying, and fraud.
People ask the question, “What is sin?” Sin is coming short of God’s righteousness. God is righteous and holy. He cannot look upon sin. A diamond may be perfect to the natural eye. But if you take it to a specialist and he looks at it through a glass, he sees a defect in it. And God looks at us that way… The Scripture says all have sinned. We have all come short of God’s requirement…
The Bible says that we are sinners by nature and by choice. James 4:1–3 says: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”2 We are all that way. Sin has affected our minds. The Scripture says, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”3
Sin also affects your will. Jesus said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”4 There’s something of which you are guilty. You can’t break this habit. You would like to, but you have no power to do it. You are a slave. You cry for freedom, but there is no escape. But Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”5 Then He said that He was the truth.6
Sin also affects your conscience. Every one of us has a conscience. Sometimes it’s a little red light that comes on every time we sin against God. But you can have a conscience that doesn’t work any longer. You have gone against your conscience for so long that it’s dead. You are no longer shocked or offended by sin around you or sin in your own life.
There’s a penalty to sin. The wages of sin is death. The Cross says to the world tonight, “You are a sinner. You are under the sentence of death.” That means spiritual death, eternal death. But not only does the Cross show us our sins, it also shows us the love of God. God is saying tonight, “I love you. No matter what you have done—how bad you have been—I love you.” And the death of Christ is what makes the good news. God is saying to you, “I love you. I forgive you because of what Jesus did on the cross.”
The Cross is a pardon; it’s a reprieve from death for people who don’t deserve it. None of us deserves to be saved. None of us deserves to go to heaven. But God is love,7 and God is grace and mercy. “Grace” means something that you don’t deserve, something that God just gives you. God offers you a pardon tonight. He offers you forgiveness; He offers you assurance of heaven if you die. And that can happen right here tonight. “God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”8 …
Jesus died on the cross for you, and the Scripture says that you can never be the same once you have been to the Cross: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”9
Do you feel that your life has been a failure? Is your life turned upside down? Do you wonder which way to turn? The choice you make tonight will affect your whole life. It will also affect where you spend eternity. Where will you be a hundred years from now? You won’t be here, but the Cross guarantees a future life. The Cross is followed by the Resurrection. The death of Christ was not the end. There’s a Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Scripture teaches that Christ is reconciling the world unto Himself. He’ll reconcile you. You are separated from God by sin. But when you come to the Cross, you are united with God, and you become a partaker of His own nature.—Billy Graham10
Symbol of our faith
Why is the cross the symbol of our faith? To find the answer, look no further than the cross itself. Its design couldn’t be simpler. One beam horizontal, the other vertical. One reaches out like God’s love. The other reaches up as does God’s holiness. One represents the width of his love, the other reflects the height of his holiness. The cross is the intersection of both. The cross is where God forgave his children without lowering his standard.
How could he do this? In a sentence: God put our sin on his Son and punished it there. “God put on him the wrong who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”11 Or as another version reads, “Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.”12
Envision the moment. God on his throne. You on the earth. And between you and God, suspended between you and heaven, is Christ on his cross. Your sins have been placed on Jesus. God, who punishes sin, releases his rightful wrath on your mistakes. Jesus receives the blow. Since Christ is between you and God, you don’t. The sin is punished, but you are safe, safe in the shadow of the cross. This is what God did, but why, why would he do it? Moral duty? Heavenly obligation? Paternal requirement? No. God is required to do nothing. Besides, consider what he did. He gave his Son. His only Son. Would you do that? Would you offer the life of your child for someone else? I wouldn’t. There are those for whom I would give my life. But ask me to make a list of those for whom I would kill my daughter. The sheet will be blank. I don’t need a pencil. The list has no names.
But God’s list contains the name of every person who ever lived. For this is the scope of his love. And this is the reason for the cross. He loves the world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”13 As boldly as the center beam proclaims God’s holiness, the crossbeam declares his love. And, oh, how wide his love reaches. … It’s nice to be included. You aren’t always. Universities exclude you if you aren’t smart enough. Businesses exclude you if you aren’t qualified enough, and sadly, some churches exclude you if you aren’t good enough. But though they may exclude you, Christ includes you.
When asked to describe the width of his love, he stretched one hand to the right and the other to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know, he died loving you.—Max Lucado
Moses said that without the shedding of blood, there’s no remission of sins.14 That was the Law, but Jesus said, “This is the new testament in My blood.”15
Jesus died on God’s altar, the cross, believed upon by every Christian, trusted by every son and daughter of God who believes Jesus Christ for their salvation and His blood shed for their sins. He was the final ultimate sacrifice for sin. He was the final ultimate Lamb of God slain for the remission of your sins. He took the punishment of your sins in His own body on that tree, the cross, and that was the last sacrifice of blood for sin as far as God was concerned.
It cost a priceless gift for you to get saved, and that was Jesus and His blood. That’s the highest-priced gift anybody could ever receive, the highest cost anybody could pay for your salvation, and only Jesus could do it. No matter how much you sacrifice and try to pay for it by your own works, the price is too high for you. Only Jesus could pay it! God Himself spared not His own Son, Jesus Christ, but let Him die on the cross in order that He could freely give us all things. Such love!—David Brandt Berg
Revelation of God
The cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in time or eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made redemption the basis of human life; that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.
The cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” … The cross is not the cross of a man but the cross of God, and the cross of God can never be realized in the human experience. The cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the cross is the gateway.
The center of salvation is the cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened—but the crash is on the heart of God.—Oswald Chambers
Published on Anchor April 2017. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
Music by John Listen.
1 Matthew 26:39 NKJV.
3 1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV.
4 John 8:34 NKJV.
5 John 8:32 NKJV.
6 John 14:6.
7 1 John 4:8.
8 Romans 5:8 KJV.
9 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV.
11 2 Corinthians 5:21 MSG.
12 2 Corinthians 5:21 CEV.
13 John 3:16.
14 Leviticus 17:11.
15 1 Corinthians 11:25.