We make a big deal of the cross that Jesus bore. Where I live, that seems confusing to most of my neighbors. There are several reasons why. I want to share a few of those reasons, briefly respond to them then give the reason we as Christ-followers glory in the cross.
- If the cross was where Jesus suffered, why would you choose to be reminded of Jesus suffering instead of his life?
Actually, the cross doesn’t make us happy. It doesn’t make us sad. It brings us joy.
- If Jesus died in an electric chair, would you wear that on your neck?
- Isn’t it better to glory in the resurrection instead of the cross?
No. It’s best to give both achievements their due respect. Jesus deserves glory for both.
The reason why we glory in the cross:
- The cross brings us joy because it is the means by which God saves transgressors.
Isaiah 53:11-12 says “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
If you are a transgressor of God’s holy law, the only hope you have is in the death of Jesus which satisfied the righteous requirement of God. Paul says in Romans 5:8-9 that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
If you are a sinner, the cross is the doorway to your salvation.
- The cross is a symbol of our salvation and our way of life.
Jesus said that if any man would come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me (Luke 16:24). We don’t believe Jesus was referring to a small trinket on our neck. That image only reminds us that the cost of being a Jesus follower is a willingness to follow him even to the extent that we too hang from a cross as he did. Today, ISIS is crucifying Christians demanding them to die like Jesus died. Their martyrdom is the cross Jesus was referring to.
Paul said in Galatians 2:20 that “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but he who lives through me and the life I live, I live for the one who loved me and gave himself for me.”
The cross is just as much a symbol of Christ’s death as it is our own. If our lives have been given over to him, there is no place we will not go in his name, even if he calls us to a death like his.
- The resurrection is our guarantee that the cross was sufficient.
Jesus wasn’t the first person to be crucified. Rome had already employed crucifixion as a form of capital punishment. They killed people in many ways, but crucifixion was by far the cruelest. It was intended to be the longest (sometimes it took days), the most excruciating, the most humiliating, and the most public.
Jesus told Nicodemus “as the Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15). When the soldiers at the cross offered him wine mixed with gall to numb the pain before his crucifixion he refused it (Matt 27:34). He intended to go to the cross and he chose to suffer the cross to the full extent. But how can we be sure his sacrifice was sufficient to take away sin? How can we be sure that it was enough?
The answer is in the resurrection.
1Corinthians 15:14 Paul says that “… If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
Death is the payment for sin according to Romans 5. Death is judgement for sin. We are confident in Christ’s death because his death was swallowed up in victory. Because his death was swallowed up into victory by his resurrection, we have confidence that our death will also have no power over us. Our death is swallowed up into victory (1Cor 15:54).
The resurrection is the crowning event of Christ’s work on the cross.
Make no mistake. Disciples of Jesus glory in the cross. We do not glory in the image, we glory in the message. The message of the cross is redemption. The message of the cross is redemption by death; death of the Son of God. This death was sufficient to be a death that you can receive on your account.
Because of the cross, because of his death, you can have life. If you have life, you have no fear of death.
The cross is the greatest thing we could ever cherish.