Mahatma Gandhi, who loved spiritual songs, once entreated Indian Christians: “Sing me the song that best depicts your faith!” They sang, ‘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!’ The Apostle Paul boldly declared: ‘God forbid I should boast or glory in anything, except the Cross of Christ!’ (Gal. 6:14) Did you know the cross was once a symbol of shame and death? Today it will be like wearing a skull with bones or an electric chair! Why then do Christians glory in the Cross and count all else loss? At least for 3 reasons:
1. The Person it portrays – The Christ of Calvary. Crucifixion in the Roman world was a common way to execute vile criminals. For the Jews it was a curse to hang on a tree! (Dt. 21:23) The significance lay not in a cross but the person hanging on this particular one and what he was doing there! Jesus ‘the Son of man’ (Jn 3:14, 16) predicted that he must be ‘lifted up to die’ and will rise again! The cross without the Christ has no cure and our eternal curse remains! The One on the cross was none other than God’s promised Messiah (1Cor. 2:8)! Here the ‘Lord of Glory’ became the ‘Lamb of God’ to take away the sins of the world!
This substitutionary sacrifice of God the Son secured salvation for all sinners who come to the cross ‘just as I am’! The cross portrays Jesus as Savior (Mt.1:21; Lk.19:10; 1Tim.1:15) so we can sing: ‘Gone my transgressions, now I am free all because Jesus was wounded for me... My sins, Oh the bliss of that glorious thought, my sins not in part but the whole; was nailed to his cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord oh my soul‘It was Christ God’s anointed, glorious ‘King of my life I crown thee now, Thine shall the glory be!’ On the cross was the one Thomas confessed as ‘My Lord and my God!’ Oh that wonderful Cross!
2. The Pardon it provides – Sinners Saved by Grace! What exactly was Christ doing on His cross? Paul explains how the sinless Son was made sin for us so we may be made righteous, right with God (2Cor. 5:21). This is only possible since Jesus Christ ‘blotted out’ our transgression, how? By nailing them to His Cross! (Col. 2:14) All humans are in the predicament of sin and as criminals we stand charged as guilty and in need of pardon (Rom 3:10-23). Here, Jesus paid it all… At the cross where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away. See the significance? We must never forget the costly purpose of the Cross…
In is vital to note that Christ died, not just to forgive sins or keep us out of hell. His Cross delivers us from sinning and selfish living in this present, evil world. We can glory in the cross only if we realize, we are crucified with Christ and count ourselves dead indeed to fleshly desires and worldly lifestyles (Gal 1:4; 2:20; 3:13; 6:14). Rembrandt painted himself at the corner of his famous work Crucifixion stating, “I was there!” When He was on the cross, I was on His mind!
3. The Power it produces – Victorious Life of Christ! Archimedes once said, ‘Give me a firm spot with a lever and I will move the world!’ One spot has power to move and change this dying world – it’s Calvary and the only lever – the Cross! In Jesus’ shed blood there is wonder-working power. This is the Gospel (Rom 1:15). Our perishing world may think ‘the preaching of the Cross’ is foolishness but we know it is God’s ‘saving’ power (1Cor 1:18; Rom 1:15). It is also ‘keeping’ power lest we fall into sin (Jude 24) and daily, victorious ‘living’ power by faith in Christ’s steadfast love! We can glory in the Cross for in it is divine power to overcome sin, self and Satan. God’s wisdom was at work at the cross…
The Cross represents the one death that through death conquered the Devil and death – our last enemy! Napoleon gathering his generals on Isle Alba, spread out a world map, made one red ‘X’ mark and heaved, ‘The whole world would have been mine, except for that one red spot – Waterloo!’ So this world – you and I – would have been Satan’s, except for one red spot – the Cross at Calvary. To the old rugged cross, I will ever be true; its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then he’ll call me some day to my home far away where his glory forever I’ll share! May we pray: ‘Jesus, keep me near the Cross’ and ‘in the Cross be my glory ever!’ Today, may I know its person, grow in its power and show its glorious purpose!