The Cross of Jesus Christ
Tonight I want to speak on a subject I believe isn’t preached much anymore. It’s about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul in his missionary journeys when he spoke to the people, was to purposely do one thing, preach Christ and Him Crucified. For the Apostle Paul and those with Him, and even the other Apostles and all those who were spreading the Kingdom message at that time, focused primarily on that one thing. The Cross. Primarily because it was like an explosion that happened because of it, and it totally changed the world around them.
If there was no cross, then there would be no death and resurrection, so there would be no savior who brought redemption, saving us from our sins. The blood of bulls and rams could not save us, nor our own works, so man in the end would have been utterly condemned by our sins and judgement would be the only thing waiting for us because of our righteous God.
But because God so loved the world, we read in John 3:16, Who sent His one and only Son to be the eternal sacrifice to hang on that cross until death, to save us from our sins, and reconcile us back to Him to restore His fallen creation.
1 Peter 2:21-25, “For Christ also suffered on our behalf, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps, 22 He who did no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth, 23 who when He was reviled did not revile in return. When He suffered, He did not threaten, but gave Himself up to Him who judges righteously. 24 He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were as sheep going astray, but now you are turned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
That we might live in righteousness and again be the creation God intended.
The cross, forever a sign to all mankind and the earth, of a loving Father in Heaven, who wants His children to be with Him through eternity. As He made a way for the children of Israel in the wilderness to be saved from death by their task masters, He made a way for us to be saved from the corruption of this world and the spirit of death that covers it.
The Cross is the central and most defining piece to the Christian faith. Something that we must remember always to put foremost into our memory. The salvation that we have received from it; the deliverance of sin and condemnation through faith, it is the hallmark of our Christian walk.
The cross reveals to us the nature of God. Again reciting John 3:16, “For God so loved.”
That is the beginning of all things. It is the creation.
For God so loved, He created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 states, “In the Beginning, God.” It is always about God. Everything is about God. The earth and everything in it, the stars, the heavens everything. God!
It is all because of “for God so loved.” His creation was about love. His salvation was about love. Even judgement is about love.
When man fell due to his sin, God in His love, cast man from the Garden. We don’t think of it that way, but God could not allow the corruption of the perfect in the Garden. The garden represented heaven. It was a place of purity. Yes, sin happened in it, but when man was thrust out, purity was returned. The garden went away, because God in his love and mercy took it away for now the land was corrupt because of man. I also believe and this is not scripture, but I think the loving Father took the garden away so man would not have a reminder of his fallen nature of what he could have had and lived a life of regret. Our God in His love does not us to regret, He does not want us to look back, but to look ahead. To keep our eyes on what will be in Him.
God cast man out of the garden and limited his physical days on the earth so that man would be in the future reconciled back to Him. Yes, man had to deal with his sin, but our loving father in Heaven already had a plan. Death would bring new life.
The cross revealed to us the character of God: His love for those who were lost and orphaned from Him, and His perfect justice.
God is a God of love and mercy, but also about justice. He will have justice, He cannot go back on His word, but He as God the loving Father, wants to love us, as well as have us love Him. So God is a God of new life, and a God of renewal, a God who will give a second chance and even more. All because of His love.
If we want to grow in our love for God, which is the first and greatest commandment, then we must be growing to understand and appreciate the cross, which shows us His great love. If we want to grow in Godliness, we must grow in understanding the significance of the cross, which confronts the most prevalent of all sins, namely, pride. The cross is a glorious thing, that sets us free from ourselves, and through the Holy Spirit, we are able to humble ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus. His Lordship sets us free, and the product is peace.
Charles Spurgeon said to understand the power of the Cross, “we must recognize that Jesus was not only a man that walked the earth for a time, but we should recognize that He is God. “Not a man made into a God, nor a God degraded to the level of a man, not something between a man and a God, but, “very God of very God.” He is one with His Father in every attribute—eternal, having neither beginning of days, nor end of years. Omnipresent, filling all space. Omnipotent, having all power in heaven and on earth. “
So we must understand that the Cross is where the resurrection of Christ brought all of eternity into action for mankind. Something only God could do. Where the God of all mankind and the earth was made manifest to His creation with all power, and all anointing who was Jesus Christ. All under His Lordship.
This Jesus who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords of all creation for all time. Jesus who is the now the instrument used by God to resurrect man into His image so that we as a people and a creation would again operate in the fullness of the creation as God intended.
When we look back at creation, we only have a small glimpse of Adam in the Book of Genesis. The first man who was given such tremendous responsibility to name and manage creation.
Adam was the perfect creation who lived with what we would imagine today with supernatural capability. If he didn’t have that back in the beginning, why would we be offered it today. The 2nd Adam, Jesus came to restore what the 1st Adam lost. Jesus did that on the Cross.
Again the restoration of the event on the Cross was offered by God was due to His love. And I move back to love because it is the basis of all things as I stated earlier, just like Adam being cast from the garden. It was because of love.
Man’s life being limited was love.
The flood was love, because judgment is love. God is just, He gives us chances, when we reject Him, He must act out His justice for us. This stands to be remembered for future generations of His justice so that they who have free will, will move under His Lordship and be saved. Thus, judgement is love.
We face judgement in our physical lives so that God can draw us back into a Kingdom life of love and mercy. Again, our will at play. He gave us free will because He loved us. He didn’t create a race of cloned robots. We have will to return love to God. He wants to give love and receive love.
When we look back 2000 years ago, when it looked like we would all fall into total corruption, God because of His love, and because of His Word, His covenants, and His promises, sent Jesus.
Because of God’s love, Jesus showed us the Kingdom. The Kingdom life that we could live, but in our free will must cast off the hindrances we had in the former life, to follow Him now, and the life to follow. And we read after Jesus’ work was physically done on the earth, God gave His Only Son to die on that wooden tree. The Cross.
So Jesus dying for us on the Cross was love. The love of God expressed through death.
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
So our Jesus who hung and died on this chunk of Roman wood, would be resurrected so we would have life.
Because Jesus did not want us left alone. Because of that love, He sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also God. So God in His mercy and love for us, sent all of Himself to us.
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God wanting us to have everything we need to overcome the bleakness of this world. To overcome sin.
The Holy Spirit was to be our Helper. He was to be our Guide.
John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.”
To give us revelation, and wisdom, and for us to know our purpose. But again, all that because of the love of God. The Holy Spirit given so we who reconciled ourselves back to God because of our free will, because we accepted when He called, the Holy Spirit connects us into He who gives love. Our Father in Heaven.
That is why Jesus said that we should, as a commandment, love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Because of Jesus’ relationship with God, He knew we would need that communion with our Lord God and Father, because we would truly know what love is. The Spirit being the strand between us and God. The Spirit connecting us to the Father. A love that is supernatural and not of this earth.
This kind love is lacking in mankind, and virtually unknown by most of the world, and in only a remnant of those who call themselves Christians.
Many of us do not know what true love is. It is nothing that this world has made it out to be. It is a love that comes out of a supernatural connection with our Father in Heaven. It is a connection that can only come out of our response to Him when we are in communion with Him in the Spirit.
In that communion where nothing else matters but us being with Him, and knowing Him, and we come into a place where He fills our hearts to overflowing. It is something that will move our response to connect with the Father with such urgency, connection, and power that we will not or cannot live a life in the soulless worldly dynamic anymore. We are utterly changed from the inside out.
You can look back at the Disciples. They knew that love. That through Jesus, the love of the Father moved them to spread the gospel until they were martyred for that gospel. Their lives were totally driven by the love of God through Christ. God’s heart manifest in them by the Holy Spirit drove them to love others to the point of death. When you know the love of God, you know what true love is, and you then know how to truly love, then the 2nd commandment of Jesus becomes real to know how to love your neighbor as yourself.
Today Jesus is really pushing us here to lay everything down, all of our junk, to be placed at the base of the Cross. Because He wants us to pick up our Cross and follow Him. Jesus said,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Picking up a representation of His Cross means we have laid down our pride, and humbles ourselves, and picked up a new life in Christ.
Jesus also said in Luke 14:27, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” So the cross bears weight.
The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
As followers of Christ, today we need a change of mind, as well as a change of heart. The world and its functions have controlled us in the church long enough. Jesus is saying, move from the elementary things and move into my glory. That glory only comes from the love of the Father and it came through the Blood of the Son that was poured out.
John 17:5, “ And now Father, glorify Me with Yourself with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
And God did. Right after this scripture, Jesus was betrayed, then hung on Cross. After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, everything that was lost by the first man Adam, the 2nd Adam restored. The Kingdom of God was available to men and the Glory of God was now available to be poured out. When the Holy Spirit was revealed in Acts 2, the Glory of God was made manifest on His own. That Glory, produces fire. Fire produces a contagious boldness to not only go after God, but restore His Kingdom at any cost. That Fire is the love of God burning in us.
I have been praying for more fire. I’ve been Baptized in the Holy Spirit. I have had some fire, I want more. I want the love of God to saturate my being. When praying to the Lord about the Fire, He said to me, the Fire is My love, seek My love. Because that love will help me see from the eyes of my heart, and not the eyes in my head, because the eyes of my heart are through the Spirit. He said the heart is for My love. Seek My love and you will see with your heart.
It all begins with the Cross. The Apostle Paul preached the Cross and Jesus crucified because everything started there. Restoration started there. New life started there. The Kingdom of heaven being available to all started there. So we must go back to the Cross. Because the Cross is the life for the Believer. Without it, we would have no life.
I go back to a song we sung a lot at the Zion Revival Center the church I grew up in when I was a child.
At the Cross
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine
And bathed in its own blood
While the firm mark of wrath divine
His soul in anguish stood
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in
When Christ, the mighty Maker died
For man the creature’s sin
Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness
And melt my eyes to tears
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe
Here, Lord, I give myself away
’Tis all that I can do
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day
Songwriters: RALPH E. HUDSON, GEORGE S. SCHULER, ISAAC WATTS
It is for us to give ourselves away to our Lord and our King. He wants every bit. Because when we give ourselves away to Him, He gives away everything He has to us. It is up to us to go back to the cross so we can see, so our Father in Heaven can open up our eyes to the glory of His estate, so we become the people that He envisioned from the beginning. Living a supernatural life in our eyes, but was normal in His to be used now to bring restoration of His Kingdom on this earth so that His love will abound that none would be lost.
At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light……………