Why did it have to be a cross?
A guy died a long, long time ago. Maybe he was a nice guy. Maybe he said some good things. What does that have to do with me?
There is something wrong with you, something wrong with the world. Right and wrong isn’t something we made up. It’s something outside of us, independent of us. Rape is wrong. Racism is wrong. Abuse of power is wrong. Dishonesty is wrong. It’s probably easiest to understand your internal moral code in terms of how you’d like to be treated. Whether by word, action or inaction, you’ve violated your own moral code. So have I. This is a fundamental, undeniable and yet contentious point.
I’m a good person, right?
All have sinned.
What happens after the sin? You did the crime, you do the time? This is justice. We all have a concept of justice and strongly want to see it become reality.
Repayment of stolen money is perhaps the simplest application of justice. Pay back the missing amount. We’re even. Everything is ok again. If someone else paid back the money for you – WOW! You’d be grateful, you’d be free of the debt. That’s substitutionary atonement.
What about an offense like rape or murder? There is NO amount of money that will make up for what was done. The horror of the wicked actions looms over the victim and their family for years, decades.
Justice must come from outside. It is derived from an objective source that measures the offense, determines and implements punishment. If either the victim or the offender metes out judgement, bias is inevitable. Fairness is lost.
Sin and justice. You’re still with me?
The next step to understand the cross is the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, completely righteous God. The great “I AM”! He is the standard of perfection. There is NO sin in God.
Our sin creates at least two problems. As sinful creatures, we are distant from God, unable to be part of Him. Our sin also leads to incomplete justice. We are not able to fully understand our shortcomings or pay for them. Not even close! It would seem our plight is hopeless.
We’ve established the existence of sin, the need for justice and the perfection of God. Onto the scene steps Jesus, the God-man! At the right time, He entered history, lived a perfect life and died the death of a criminal. He was not punished for His own sin, of which there was none. He suffered to pay the penalty for the sins of all who believe. His resurrection from the dead validated everything he said about himself and ignited a revolution which changed the world.
Belief in Jesus transfers your guilt to him. His suffering and death pay the price for your sin. His perfection is credited to you, allowing you to stand in the presence of the perfect God.
It’s too good to be true!
A few years ago, I received a letter from “Indiana Unclaimed”. The advertisement directed me to a website with the promise that I could log on and type in my name and BOOM - I’d get a check in the mail. I didn’t believe it. You probably wouldn’t either. A couple weeks later I logged in, typed in my name, the check came in the mail – a couple thousand dollars! Your salvation is worth infinitely more than a few thousand dollars! Belief in Jesus is the key that unlocks this incredible treasure.
I’m a believer.