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The Cross of Christ

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

This Sunday we will be looking at Mark’s account of the crucifixion. Sadly, it is often only at Eastertide that we stop to really consider what the cross meant in Jesus’ day. In many ways, we have become so familiar with the cross that we have forgotten much of the impact it had in the first century. We see it around necks, on church pulpits, windows, and Bibles. But for people of Jesus day, the cross was a horrendous, grotesque symbol. To get an idea of how they would have felt upon seeing a cross, we can imagine a picture of an electric chair, a noose or a gallows being placed on windows or around necks. In Roman society, crucifixion was a taboo word that children were not allowed to speak.

Why then does it bring such hope? What does the cross mean to you? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” We must have a true understanding of what happened upon the cross. This is the focal point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul so poignantly proclaims,  “…but we preach Christ crucified.” (1 Corinthians 1:23).

Billy Graham wrote that the cross is “the radiant hope of the world, the end of the believer’s bondage to sin, and the love of God shed abroad in the hearts of men. A lone man dying on a cross did more to restore man’s lost harmony with God, his fellowman, and himself, than the combined genius and power of earth’s mighty. With my finite limitations, I cannot fully comprehend the mystery of Christ’s atonement. I only know that all who come to the cross in simple, trusting faith lose all their guilty stains and find peace with God.”

The cross is the most glorious demonstration of God’s love and power. Paul reminds the Romans in 5:6-8, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” He continues in Romans 8:11, “ If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

As John Bowring writes,

In the cross of Christ I glory,
towering o’er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story
gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me,
hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
never shall the cross forsake me.
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

When the sun of bliss is beaming
light and love upon my way,
from the cross the radiance streaming
adds more luster to the day.

Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
by the cross are sanctified;
peace is there that knows no measure,
joys that through all time abide.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
towering o’er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story
gathers round its head sublime.

May you bask in the brightness of the cross of Christ today, and sing with gusto, “For me He died; For me He lives, And everlasting life and light He freely gives.”