Friday, March 21, 2008

The Cross of Jesus

The cross is necessary because there is nothing we could ever do to merit the forgiveness of God. But Jesus has done it. He has done something so wonderful and precious, that we sinners can be reconciled to God. Jesus was a perfect sacrifice. He fulfilled the demands of the law. He absorbed the punishing wrath of God.

So we can trust in ourselves; in our merit; in our righteousness and by our own works and be judged by those. Or we can trust in Jesus. We can rely on His merit; on His righteousness and in His work on Calvary’s cross. The former trust will let us down and send us to hell. The latter trust will take us to God’s grace and safely deliver us to heaven.

Augustine, the 5th century bishop of Hippo, preached a sermon entitled “Let Us Too Glory In the Cross of the Lord.” Here’s one excerpt:

The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves. He loved us so much that, sinless himself, he suffered for us sinners the punishment we deserved for our sins. How then can he fail to give us the reward we deserve for our righteousness, for he is the source of righteousness? How can he, whose promises are true, fail to reward the saints when he bore the punishment of sinners, though without sin himself?

Brethren, let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim, that Christ was crucified for us; let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory.

The apostle Paul saw Christ, and extolled his claim to glory. He had many great and inspired things to say about Christ, but he did not say that he boasted in Christ's wonderful works: in creating the world, since he was God with the Father, or in ruling the world, though he was also a man like us. Rather, he said: Let me not boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I hope you know the power of His cross. This is truly Good Friday. Good for all sinners whose sins are washed away by His blood. Good for me, for I have believed in Him—therefore I “will not perish but have everlasting life.”

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