The Symbol of Supreme Love. Words like "I love you" are easily said, so much so that many times they are taken for granted. But what if God were to audibly tell you "I love you?" Would you listen? Would you believe Him?
What would it take for Him to win your love? A new car? A new home? The promise of security? A future without failure? The people of Jesus' day were looking for someone to come and deliver them from the sorrows they faced. They had a conditional view of Messiah, and Jesus met none of their conditions. They wanted power and recognition, freedom from restraint, and the ability to choose whatever they wanted.
While the physical makeup of our world has changed, in many ways the spiritual and emotional climate remains the same as that of Jesus' day. People are still running and rushing with these same desires in mind, when in actuality, what they really need is a Savior. Without Jesus, there is no peace, no satisfaction, and no hope for tomorrow. Most of all, there is no way for sinful man to be reconciled with Holy God. Christ is our propitiation for sin. His death on Calvary's cross satisfied God's demand that for every sin a sacrifice must be made.
Henry Thiessen writes: "The thought is something like this. At first God and man stood face to face with each other in perfect harmony. In sinning, Adam turned his back upon God . . . Christ's death has satisfied the demands of God and now God has again turned his face toward man. It remains for man to turn around and face God. Since God has been reconciled by the death of his Son, man is now entreated to be reconciled to God."
The Cross is a symbol of God's supreme love, sacrifice, and forgiveness.
It was there that God did for man what man could not do for himself, and that was to allow for an atonement for mankind's sins. The prophet Isaiah says, "Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors" (53:12).
This is an overwhelming thought until we turn to see the light and hope that radiates from Calvary's Cross. God's forgiveness is the anchor that holds the entire Gospel message together. As a believer, it means that God has forgiven all of your sins--past, present, and even those you commit in the future.
Another important aspect of God's forgiveness is the fact that it is unconditional. It is not based on human effort or anything you do. Instead, it is based on Jesus' death on the cross. He was the sacrificial Lamb who took away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
When you think about the Gospel message, realize that God's first declaration of salvation was meant for the Jews. We are grafted by faith into the family of God. The Jewish law demanded for there to be a sacrifice made for sin. The sacrificial lambs offered on the Day of Atonement were only a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice God provided through the death of His Son.
It was Jesus who took our place on the cross so that we would not have to pay the debt sin required. Once we understand this, we get a glimpse of God's great love for us.
God also wants us to view this marvelous gift of forgiveness on a personal basis. This means that while He saved you from sin and eternal death, His forgiveness continues throughout your life. In 2 Corinthians the apostle Paul writes: "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (5:17). The old is gone and the new has come! This is the message of the Cross. Your sin is removed, not by your own striving, but by the forgiveness of God through the anointing death of His Son.
God has given us a marvelous view of the gift of forgiveness on a personal level.
Paul takes this truth even further in Romans 8:1: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." God's forgiveness is sure. It does not change like the seasons of time. Once He forgives, He forgets. This means that God chooses not to bring up the matter again. In Psalm 103, the psalmist writes: "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness for those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us" (11-12).
There are consequences to sin, but God does not condemn you. He forgives and works with you to get you back on track spiritually and emotionally. He will never leave you hopeless and fearful in sin when you call out to Him.
There are many people in situations that to them seem to have no end. The message of the Cross is this: God has provided a way out of the darkness of your situation. When you call out to Him, He responds immediately with love, forgiveness, and compassion. The weight of your sin is lifted just as the old hymn, "At the Cross," tells us: "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!"
Paul writes: "Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV).
The word grace expresses the idea of giving favor to another even though there is no evidence that an individual deserves it.
God chooses to deal with us in grace rather than in wrath. And the message of the Cross is not the final word when it comes to God's supreme love. There is yet another chapter.
The hours of Christ's crucifixion were the darkest season of time that heaven had ever known. In your mind, walk through those last moments with Jesus, down the crowded Via Dolorosa where jeers meet His ears and crowds shake their fists in anger. Feel the burning sting of the stone pavement as He drops to the ground in complete exhaustion. Watch in horror as the spikes find their mark and the Cross on which He dies is lifted and cruelly dropped into place.
Experience the loneliness that Nicodemus and Joseph feel as they hurriedly prepare His body for burial, and witness the finality of the stone rolling shut against the door of His tomb. Sit among His disciples and listen to their voices as they mumble half spoken words through tears of shock and disbelief . . . Then ask the Lord to help you experience just a portion of the joy that burst forth the morning Mary Magdalene exploded into the room with the words: "I have seen the Lord!"
The Cross was not the end. It was the beginning to a glorious, new day. The Resurrection is God's promised hope proclaiming that what He said He would do, He completed. In your life, it is a symbol of love and forgiveness that knows no ending.
IN TOUCH MINISTRIES®, ITM, Inc.
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