THIRTY-FIVE


The Power of the Cross

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

I’ve chosen to put this chapter last as it ties everything else together. It’s at the cross where we receive all that Jesus died to provide for us. If we preach salvation without preaching the cross, dying to self, and living a surrendered life to the Lord, then we are preaching a flawed gospel. And if we preach the cross without emphasizing the importance of a personal love relationship with Jesus, we remove the joy in serving Him. Being His disciple will cost us everything, but it will gain us everything that matters!

As believers, we tend to see the cross primarily as our provision for salvation, and indeed, it is. But it is much more than that. At the cross we find healing and freedom, strength and victory, peace and rest. Kneeling at the cross is our appropriate posture – that of humility, surrender, adoration, and gratitude. We are not strong in ourselves while at the cross; no, we identify with our Lord’s weakness and vulnerability. We lay down our self– sufficiency. As we embrace our weaknesses, His strength is infused into us. Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

At the cross, we do not race ahead with our ideas and plans; we wait for the Master to reveal His will and ways to us. We do not strategize; we listen. We lay our timetables down and hold tightly to the Eternal One. We gain His perspective and release our own. The cross is our salvation, sanctity, and sanity. It is where we find refreshment and restoration. It’s where our lack and needs are intercepted by God’s provision. We bring our stress and anxieties, lay them down, and receive His peace. We bring our problems to Jesus and find His solutions.

How dare we neglect the cross?! It is central to our lives! Our past is redeemed and our future is secured there. At the cross, our hope is rekindled, our joy is restored, and our strength is renewed. Our loneliness is satisfied, and our insecurities alleviated. At the cross our pain is validated. The cross says our pain mattered; it is felt and acknowledged as being significant. The cross sets us free from self-centeredness and trains us for reigning with the Messiah. The path to the cross should be trodden, yes, well-beaten by those who are called by the name of the Lord Jesus. May we never tire of the tragedy and majesty of His cross. It must be the center and mainstay of our lives. May we declare like the hymnist: “In the cross of Christ I glory…!”

What Did Jesus Provide?

On the cross, Jesus received what we deserved and made it possible for us to receive what He deserved. Jesus was wounded (crucified) for our transgressions and sin that we might be forgiven (Isa. 53:4-5, 12; Col. 2:13-14). He was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be clothed in His righteousness. He is Adonai Tsidkenu (Hebrew) – the Lord our Righteousness! (Isa. 53:10, 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21)

The cross reveals the gravity of our sin problem. Jesus was bruised and crushed to break the power of iniquity that we might be free from its dictating control. At the cross, we repent of and are delivered from our pride, waywardness, and defensiveness (Isa. 53:5-7,11). We mourn our sin and wretchedness, and we receive His cleansing and forgiveness.

Romans 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” The Greek word, eleutheroo, is the one used for “made free.” It means to liberate, set free, and deliver. In the New Covenant, it is used exclusively for Jesus setting man free from the dominion of sin. One of God’s covenant names is Adonai M’kaddesh – the Lord our Sanctification. He has forgiven our sin and freed us from it's power and control!

He was scourged so that we could be healed physically, mentally, and emotionally (Isa. 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24; Matt. 8:17). He bore our griefs, sorrows, sicknesses, and pain (Isa. 53:4). He is Adonai Rophe – the Lord Who heals (Ex.15:26). Jesus poured out His soul to death so that we could share in the His life (Isa. 53:12; Heb. 2:9). The enemy steals, kills, and destroys, but Jesus offers us an abundant, extraordinary life (John 10:10) of joy and peace.

He was made a curse for us so that His many blessings, including Abraham’s, are available to us (Gal. 3:13-14; Deut. 21:22-23). He took our poverty and gave us His riches, so that we can abound in every good work (2 Cor. 8:9, 9:8). Jesus endured our shame that we might share His glory (Isa. 53:3; Heb. 2:10). He was rejected, and bore our rejection that we might be accepted in His inner circle with the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the family of God (Isa.53:3, 7; Eph. 1:3-6). He came to proclaim the acceptable year of God’s grace toward us (Luke 4:19).

Jesus was beaten and tortured that we might have peace that passes understanding even while enduring stress, affliction, and adversity (Isa. 53:5). He bore our burdens that we might cast our cares on Him Who cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). He was anointed to heal broken hearts and wounded souls, and to set us free from all captivity, oppression, and bondage. He comforts all of us who mourn, replacing our ashes with beauty and our mourning with joy. He offers us a garment of praise to displace the spirit of heaviness and its manifestations of rejection, depression, and despair (Isa. 61:1-3).

The cross is for all of us, not only for those who request biblical counseling. All levels of peace, healing, freedom, and sanctification are found there. We need to run to the cross daily! In recognizing that His blood paid our ransom, we voluntarily, eagerly yield ourselves to Him. As we kneel at that altar, we will find our lives altered by the One Who hung there and rose again to secure all that He died to purchase for us.

The Apostle Andrew, who left Jesus in His hour of trial, when facing his own crucifixion years later, said: “I would not have preached the honor and glory of the cross if I feared the death of the cross.” Seeing the cross before him, Andrew said, “O cross, most welcomed and longed for! With a willing mind, joyfully and desirously, I come to you, being the scholar of Him which did hang on you, because I have always been your lover and yearned to embrace you.”

We should desperately desire intimacy not only with the cross Jesus bore, but also with any cross He places upon us. As we shoulder our cross, bowed down under its weight, we identify with His suffering. In that place of brokenness and identification, we experience rich fellowship with Him, such as is unknown to the unbroken and willful. Such intimacy with the Messiah intensifies our love for Him, and enables us to empathize with others in pain.

Not only do we find healing and deliverance at the cross, we also discover that as we view Jesus’ terrible sufferings, our own pain comes into perspective. We realize that it is worth it all to know Him intimately, to know His power, and to fellowship with Him in His sufferings. So, like Jesus, we endure the cross and despise the shame for the joy set before us – that of sharing His glory! (Heb. 12:2)

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ... that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Phil. 3:8, 10-12).