What does The Cross mean to you?
I was invited to share the answer to that question earlier this week with a Bible study group. The moment I sat down to jot notes, tears filled my eyes.
“Everything, The Cross means EVERYTHING to me” raced through my mind.
Pen and paper aside, I began to think about why that’s true. Through the tears the following realities challenged me to new levels of thankfulness for what Jesus accomplished for me personally on the day He opened the door of relationship between God and those He created. With a humbled and joyful heart, I offer the following considerations to stir YOUR heart with thankfulness.
· God created a perfect world, and enjoyed a perfect relationship with Adam and Eve.
· Sin entered God’s perfect world, shattering the perfect relationship.
· God set up a sacrificial system to teach about forgiveness of sin through a blood offering.
· It was all about the blood . . .
And that’s where I used to stop. You know, mentally disengage and think about something else. In my growing up going-to-church-years, blood talk was pretty much absent from my spiritual jargon. Oh, of course I knew that Jesus had shed His Blood for me, but the concept of it all held no practical meaning or application to my daily Christian walk.
Truth is, like many New Testament believers I heard the word blood and thought death. The Old Testament Hebrew however, heard the word blood and thought life! Living under the Old Covenant they understood that the term “covered in the blood” meant life and forgiveness of sin through the sacrificial system.
They also understood that they were guilty and that they could not, on their own merits, approach God. They knew that because of God’s perfection and ultimate judgment, they couldn’t even worship Him due to their own impurity. Their guilt needed to be “paid for.” This payment for their sinful imperfection took the form of a ‘blood sacrifice” (which meant a life sacrifice).
The best that they had – the most perfect lamb, ram, bull, whatever – they took to the altar. The priest would kill the animal, allowing its blood to drip over the altar, symbolizing that their sin-debt, for the time being, had been covered by the blood.
Yes, they were definitely at home with this practice and all the conversation surrounding it. Their FB status read, “My family is right with God today, thanks to the precious blood of our sacrificial lamb!”
So, when John saw Jesus and called Him . . . The Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world . . . the people there with him understood the concept.
You see when Jesus left Heaven and came to earth, everything changed. He plainly declared that His life, bloodshed, death, and resurrection was His purpose for coming. God’s plan all along was that Jesus would become the once and for all sacrifice for all humanity.
For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, He said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But You have given me a body to offer.”(Hebrews 10:4,5 NLT)
Now here’s the part that puts a lump in my throat. THIS WAS NOT EASY FOR JESUS! This willing act of love was torturous for Him mentally, emotionally, AND physically. He, in His 100% humanity, would have avoided it if there’d been any other way. How do I know that? Because it’s recorded in scripture.
“My soul is crushed by sorrow to the point of death” . . . He fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the awful hour awaiting Him might never come… “Father, Father, everything is possible for you. Take away this cup from Me. Yet I want Your will, not mine.” (Mark 14: 34-36 TLB)
He did the HARD part so that I could SIMPLY come.
I’LL always remember the fresh grace that washed over me during the moments right after I’d realized I’d been taking the price He’d paid all for granted. Yes, I knew about the Cross, but I didn’t really CARE about the Cross.
You can start caring right now . . . He said
And I did, and I do!
I don’t understand it – can’t explain it nor fully describe it. All I’m left with is to thank Him and enjoy what He’s done.
Because of The Cross I’m joyful when my hopes are dashed, encouraged when my dreams are unfulfilled, energized when I’m bone-tired, and filled with anticipation when it looks like it’s all over.
So as we wrapped up our sharing time that morning in the Bible study group. My new friend who is in the trenches fighting the physical, emotional, and mental skirmishes of the chemo/cancer war remarked…
I’m peaceful. I’m not afraid. He is my peace.
Oh, SHE gets The Cross. Do you?
There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness.
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood – comes flowing down…
At the Cross, at the Cross I surrender my life,
I’m in awe of You – I’m in awe of You.
Where Your love ran red and my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You . . . J-E-S-U-S
(At The Cross, Chris Tomlin)