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What You Should Know About the Cross

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The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation on which Christianity is built. Easter Sunday is the culmination of a week of events that start with the previous Sunday (Palm Sunday) which celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem for the last time and is recognized as the Messiah. The week concludes with Good Friday which memorializes the death of Jesus and finally Easter Sunday (or resurrection Sunday) which remembers the resurrection of Jesus three days later from the grave.
Without the resurrection of Jesus, He would have been just another martyr for a set of beliefs, but because of His resurrection, Jesus proved once and for all that He was God in the flesh and had ultimate authority over death and the grave? The entire process of what Jesus did is important. It is important because He willingly allowed Himself to die for the sins of all mankind for all time.
In order for there to be a resurrection, there has to be a death, and this morning, we are going to look at some things about the death of Jesus that are important.

The cross is based on the Trinity

Christianity is unique from all other world religions in that God has three distinct personalities. We call this the trinitarian nature of God. Each personality serves a different purpose, yet they are all the same God. This is a difficult aspect for people to grasp hold of, but wonderful in its effect. In the act of the cross, each member of the Trinity fulfills their function:

Redemption is ordained by God the Father ahead of time

Ephesians 1:3–6 ESV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
God has chose all of humanity to be saved from an eternal punishment. What I mean by that is God has made salvation available to everyone regardless of their background, social status, or gender. Salvation is made available to every person.

Redemption is accomplished by God the Son (Jesus Christ)

Ephesians 1:7–10 ESV
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Scripture is clear that without the remission of blood, there is no remission of sins. God had established His original covenant with His people (the nation of Israel) in the form of a set of laws. The law served as a reminder that man could do nothing of his own power to be saved and how much he needed a redeemer. Jesus was that redeemer. he fulfilled every aspect of the law to perfection and could then become the sacrifice that we needed to settle the debt with God.

Redemption is applied by God the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 1:13–14 ESV
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Salvation may be a one time event, but life doesn’t stop just by accepting Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Savior. It is upon our acceptance of Jesus in that capacity that we receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that sets us apart from the rest of the world to become true worshippers of God, and that is what allows us to become obedient to God and His direction and plan for our lives individually.

There is a crimson thread that runs through all of scripture

The theme of all of scripture is Jesus. Every book, every chapter, every verse points to the life, ministry, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus all for the atonement of mankind’s sin. Without the cross, the entirety of scripture would be pointless. Ever since the downfall of man in Genesis chapter 3, a downward spiral ensued. Many times, scripture is quick to point out that people “did was was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Man, under his own power will never be able to atone for his sins against God, but God had a plan, and that plan was His Son Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 corinthians
The crucifixion is the key on which Christianity rises and falls. It is only by the crucifixion of Christ that we can be declared righteous by God.

The cross asserts the true power in the Kingdom of God

By giving into temptation by Satan in the Garden of Eden in Genesis chapter 3, man took matters into his own hands. By eating of the fruit that God had strictly forbidden, man decided he wanted to be just like God, and that was strictly against what God had commanded. That shifted the power and authority on Earth from God to man. One other case of man trying to usurp God’s authority over the Earth was the tower of Babel which would become Babylon and has been know to be opposed to the reign of God over the Earth.
When Jesus came, He came as the true Son of God which shifted the power back to God and reestablished His authority in the here and now. It was through His weakness as a human that he established His authority and displayed strength through weakness. He never exploited His power and authority, but instead himself.
Philippians 2:5–6 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Philippians 2:5–7 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
He also became a servant of all which exalted Him as ruler of all.
Philippians 2:9–11 ESV
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The world may operate by its own rules now, but there will come a time when Jesus will return in all of His glory; not as a servant, but as a King and Judge to rule all the nations once and for all and to pass final judgment over all of those that have rejected His name.

The cross ushers in a new covenant

Jesus’ last night alive He spent it with His twelve closest disciples (including the one that would eventually turn Him over to the religious authorities). During the course of celebrating His last passover meal, He instituted what we as believers in Christ call the Lord’s Supper and some also call it communion. This was instituted as a remembrance of Jesus’ crucifixion, but it was also symbolic of the new covenant that Jesus was ushering in for all of mankind. Jesus told the disciples as he passed the cup:
Luke 22:20 ESV
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
God is a God of covenants. He made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis that all nations would be blessed through his offspring. God instituted the law as a system of sacrifices to remind people of their insufficiency to obtain salvation through works. Jesus ushered in the covenant of grace made available for all of mankind. There was no need for self-reliance to adhere to a set of rules and regulations that no one would be able to keep no matter how hard one tried.

The cross has defeated sin and death

Colossians 2:13–14 ESV
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:14 ESV
by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Jesus uttered one final word while he was on the cross. That word (tetelestai) is often translated “it is finished,” but it goes deeper than that. The words gives the impression of a debt paid in full. It was a word that was often used on bills once they were paid. Because of our sinful nature, mankind owes a debt that no one will be able to pay under their own power. Jesus, being that perfection, did what we could not do ourselves, and He paid that debt for us.
Jesus bore our sins for us in His body. He took on every ounce of filth that we contain and took that burden away from us.
1 Peter 2:24 ESV
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Mankind lives under a curse. The curse of imperfection and sin, and Jesus became that curse for us.
Galatians 3:13 ESV
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
By bearing that curse on our behalf, we are freed from the fear of death and the power that death holds over us:
1 Corinthians 15:54–55 ESV
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:54–56 ESV
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1 corinthians

The cross eradicates the power of Satan

Not only did the cross defeat sin and death, but the power of the cross eradicated the power that Satan has over us. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, every person has direct access to God through faith in Jesus Christ. Satan has been disarmed fully through the cross. There is no power on earth that will conquer the work of the cross. We are set free from all bonds of sin. Sin has no power over a person once they place their faith in Jesus Christ.
Colossians 2:14 ESV
by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Ephesians 2:19–21 ESV
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He proved once and for all that Satan has no power over a believer or in their life. Jesus was then able to sit at the right hand of the Father proving once and for all that there is nothing more that needs to be done on our behalf.
Hebrews 10:12 ESV
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
Hebrews 10:12–13 ESV
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.

The cross is substitutionary and sufficient

The cross is for us. The cross stands in our place and on our behalf. Jesus laid down His life for His creation. He is, according to . “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” He became the curse for us. That means that Jesus takes the place of everyone. The slave, the idolaters, the rebels, murders, thieves, adulterers, addicts, everyone. Conquering the spiritual forces of this world was the goal of Jesus, and because of that goal, substitution is necessary:
Galatians 1:4 ESV
who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
Galatians 1:4 ESV
who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
Not only did Jesus stand in our place, He was completely sufficient to be able to stand in our place in front of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
In order for us to be seen as righteous in God’s eyes, we had to have someone that could take on that burden of becoming the sin we could not bear and paying the price we could not pay, and Jesus in His perfect human life did just that.

The cross is absurd to the unknowing world

One TV show narrator said, “Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central focus the suffering and degradation of its God.” Paul asserts this fact.
1 Corinthians 1:23 ESV
but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,
The gospel is not an inherently attractive message for people until they are granted spiritual eyes by the Holy Spirit. When the world sees the cross, they see weakness instead of power and majesty. They see hate and disgust instead of love and forgiveness. The folly of the cross is not just the physical death of the Messiah, but the manner in which He was put to death which was considered so repulsive that Roman citizens were never subject to a crucifixion.

The cross carries peace, reconciliation, and unity

No matter what walk of life we come from; no matter what our skin color or our social status, we are all equals at the foot of the cross. It is only through the blood of Jesus that we are no longer estranged from God because of our sinful nature.
Romans 5:1 ESV
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is through Jesus and His atonement for our sins that we are no longer strangers to God, but we are adopted into the God’s family as children and more than children, we are considered joint-heirs to the kingdom of Heaven.
Romans 8:17 ESV
and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
When we are justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ, we are declared “not guilty” of any and all wrongdoing against God and we are then entitled to every benefit that a child by birth is entitled to.

The cross is the mission of the Church

Matthew 16:24 ESV
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Many of us have heard it said, we all have our cross to bear. This has never been more true of the Christian. Ministry is not easy. It can be burdensome. But the biggest burden that anyone should carry is a desire to see those that do not know Jesus come to know the power of His saving grace. The power to pull a person from the depths of hell and bring them back in fellowship with God. Paul set this example for everyone.
2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 2:14–17 ESV
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
We are God’s good work, created to worship and fellowship with God, but our sin and living in that sin keeps us from truly knowing that intimate fellowship with God, but through Jesus Christ, we can receive that love and forgiveness and can then share that life changing message with the rest of the world.
Paul even goes on to say that he has been crucified with Christ, and that is is no longer he who lives, but Christ that lives within him. This is the life change that Paul experienced, and it is that life change that allows us to take on a whole new mindset which is the mind of Christ:
Philippians 2:5 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
It is that mindset that renews us daily.
Romans 12:2 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
It is that daily renewing that that helps in this marathon of a race that we call life. We are not perfect people by any stretch of the imagination, but through faith in Jesus Christ, we can learn to overcome the obstacles that life puts in front of us, and we take on a completely different attitude.
The crucifixion and the cross if the cornerstone of Christianity. The entire Christian faith rises and falls on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is through Him and Him alone that we can truly know what life was supposed to be about, and that point is worshipping and glorifying God as creator and redeemer.
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