The crucifixion of Christ on the Cross and His resurrection makes Christianity different from all other religions. The cross is unique because in it signals victory over death and sin.
The cross was a mystery that was hidden before the world began and was revealed in Christ to set humanity free. Mercy and justice met at the Cross. Those who were condemned were set free. God's Son was executed on the vertical axis of the Cross, and His mercy and grace came on the horizontal axis to cancel the penalty for our sins. What a message!
As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ, it is important for us to reflect on the reason for the season and harness and appropriate the benefit of the Cross to humanity. Some people like George Bennard authored the hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.” How I wish every believer understood the mystery of the cross the way Bennard did. Answers to all questions of life can be found in the cross. Even the purpose of life is attached to the Cross. It is old and rugged, yet the most precious treasure of life.
I have decided to join the league of people like George Bennard to declare that the cross is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I cherish it more than all the world's diamonds and gold combined. No glory can be compared with it. The cross is the emblem of shame and suffering, yet it gives us the strength, the zeal, and the hope to pursue the glory that will be revealed when Christ returns.
The message of the cross differentiates those who are being saved from those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18). To some the cross is foolishness. There are those who argue that a loving God couldn’t allow His beloved Son to carry a cross and pass through pain and excruciating death. This does not make sense to many. “So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense” (1 Corinthians 1:23).
To another group, the message of the cross is the power of God. This group understands that the power of sin and death were destroyed on the cross, that the barrier between God and man was broken, and that the work of salvation was finished on the cross (John 19:30). Those who are being saved are those who have accepted the instruction of Christ: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’” (Mathew 16:24).
The cross distinguishes genuine preachers from false prophets. Paul emphatically admonished the Galatian church to be aware of the false prophets who taught heresies and doctrines of men. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:8). To understand this clearly, we need to know the Gospel that Paul preached. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthian 2:2). Paul knew nothing except the cross of Jesus Christ and the infinite Grace of God that can be received freely, but faith alone.
Unfortunately, the message of the cross is very rare today in churches and this calls for sober reflection. There are even people who are ready to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ but work as enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ. It happened in the Ephesian Church, and it is happening today. “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18). These enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ preach the love of Christ, his blessings and prosperity, his ability to heal and deliver, but will never mention his Cross and the responsibility of Christians to be partakers in his sufferings.
“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine” (Mathew 10:38). This is the word of Jesus. How can anyone claim that they are a Christian without the cross? It is the cross that separates the wheat from the chaff.
We as believers must be willing to deny ourselves certain comforts to please Jesus. We must risk everything for him, including being insulted and attacked for the sake of His name. If God allowed His only begotten son to suffer for us, it is important that we do likewise. Remember that both faith and suffering are granted from above (Philippians 1:29).
He bled to death to save our souls. We shouldn’t just rejoice that he was resurrected, but also appreciate what he went through for our sake by embracing his cross.