The Reminder of the Cross

Today is the day in the Christian calendar when we remember and reflect on the death of Jesus Christ. There seems to be great confusion over exactly what happened on that cross and why it is such a pivotal event in human history. Many think that the cross is another tragedy of social injustice as an innocent man was executed unjustly. Others think it is a sad case of religious martyrdom, a good man who faced an unfortunate death. Yet the importance of Good Friday is monumental. The tragedy of that day was not that innocent Jesus was hung by violent, barbaric men, but that Jesus was crushed by the will of His Father. As we reflect on the great wonders of the cross – that horrific place of shame and judgement – we must remember why it is Jesus came into this world and why it was that he had to die. As a result there are a few things we must remember carefully as we mediate on the meaning of Good Friday.

The Cross Reminds Us of Our Condemnation

In the 21st Century most of us recoil at the doctrine of sin. We don't want to believe that there is anything fundamentally wrong with us or with humanity. We live in a culture in which we hate to be told we are wrong, let alone that we are deserving of judgement. Yet, the Bible teaches clearly that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23) and that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). Despite our modern presumption of naive optimism we have about our lives, the Scriptures speaks the truth that many of us do not want to hear. We are sinners who are condemned before God and deserving of His just and righteous wrath.

The cross is a reminder of our own condemnation. As we remember what Jesus went through on the cross we must remember he did so in our place. It is my sin that nailed him to that tree and it was my judgement that Jesus endured. As we look to the cross we are reminded of the wretchedness of our sin and how costly and deadly the punishment for our sins truly are. Our sin was so detestable and horrid that the only way it could be paid was through the death of His son.

The Cross Reminds Us of our Redemption

The cross not only stands as a reminder of our condemnation but as a reminder of our redemption. It was God's great plan before the foundation of the world to redeem a people for his own possession. It was God's zealous desire to spread his glory through a people that led him to send His son Jesus on the greatest rescue mission the world will ever see. Jesus entered into this world not to be just a moral teacher or a great example, but the savior of the world. The way the Messiah achieved our salvific victory was through his fatal defeat.

The cross became the symbol of Christianity for good reason; it is the a constant reminder of the great love of God towards us in the crushing of his son. It is a vivid reminder of the great cost of redemption.

The Cross Reminds us of the Love of God

There is no greater indicator of the love of God towards us than the cross. The cross is the objective reality of God's love. It cannot be doubted or thwarted. We do not have to guess if God loves us; he demonstrated his love for us at the cross. As His suffocating body hung gargling blood in horrific torture he endured the suffering as joy for us. As Jesus tells us "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13) or as John reminds us "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us" (1 Jn 3:16).

The Sorrowful Joy of Good Friday

The response to the cross should be a sorrowful joy and a mourning worship. At the cross we see our spiritual poverty and we weep over the deadly price of our own sin. Yet we rejoice in worship that God in his unshakeable love for us sent Jesus to die in our place.

As John Stott wrote in his classing book The Cross of Christ, "As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both ‘I did it, my sins sent him there’ and ‘he did it, his love took him there'". Yes, the cross was something done by us and for us. It was our sin that placed him there but it was the love of Jesus that took him to the cross.

As you reflect over these humbling truths this day, remember the treachery of your sin, the lavish expense of your redemption, and the objective proof of God's love for you – the cross of Christ.

Yet also remember that "weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning" (Ps 30:5), and that as his body lay in the grave, resurrection is coming.

Stop Punishing Yourself For Your Sins

The cross is a glorious, God-ordained, tragedy. The young Jewish Rabai would be arrested in the dead of night, trialed by a lynch mob, and given up to be crucified to pacify a blood thirsty crowd. Jesus would be beat. He would be whiped. His skin would be swollen from pain and his muscles exposed as he is flogged. A crown of thorns would be shoved on his head, cutting into his skull. He was forced to carry a rugged cross on his bloodly exposed back to a hill called Golgotha, which means place of the skull. On that hill Jesus wouldld hang, nailed to a tree among other criminals. The perfect son of God hung naked as he suffocated, chocking on his own blood. All the while the crowd of people stand jerring, mocking, hurling insult after insult. That was the day humanity killed God. God himself hung on that cross. The horrific suffering of the cross is enough even to make the most hardned heart tremble.

When we think about the cross we must remember one thing. Jesus paid it all. On the cross, Jesus was enduring the wrath of God that you and I deserved. Jesus did this in our place. He was flogged instead of you. He was nailed instead of you. He was suffocating instead of you.

In the 13th and 14th century there were a group of radical Catholics who began to whip themselves in order to make pennace for their sin. This self-flagelation was done in order to purify the body for sins. They were doing it to punish themselves because of their sins. In fact, there are some who even attempt to do this today.

Although must of us don't particpate in self-flagelation, often times we do try to punish ourselves for our sin. We try to make ourselves pay for our short comings, punishing ourselves for our disobedience. We want to experience what Christ experienced. We want to suffer like Christ has suffered.

I suggest to you that this is a very dangerous practice. There is some truth to these desires. Our sins do deserve punishment. However, the beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus has bore our punishment for us! We do not have to make penance for our sins, Jesus has. We don't have to suffer for our sins, Jesus has done it for us! We must be so very carefeul lest we add our own piety to the Gospel. Our sins do deserve punishment, but God has provided a scape goat - Jesus Christ the righteous one.

As you dwell on the events of Good Friday, remembering the death of Christ, praise God that Christ has endured the sufferings of the cross for you. For those who have faith in Christ, your sin has been paid for. Jesus has paid it all. There is no punishment for your sins, because Jesus was punished instead of you. This is why the tragedy of the cross is glorious! Because in the tragedy of Jesus God-ordained death, we have been washed clean by His blood. We are forgiven once and for all. There is no more work to be done and no more price to be paid. As Jesus cried out with his dying words, "It is finished!"

It is Finished: Why Today is a Good Friday

Today is Good Friday.  It is the day we remember the horrific crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  It is a day we remember his scourging of the whip.  It is a day we remember the mocking roars of the crowd.  It is the day we remember hands and feet nailed to a cross.  It is a day we remember the most tragic day in history.  For it is the day that humanity killed God. It is the day the humanity killed its own savior.

You might be thinking, how is it possible to call this day good Friday?  How could an unjust execution of an innocent man be called a good day?  The answer to that question reveals the mystery of God's will from before the foundation of the earths. God, as he often does, takes the worst situations and uses them for His glory. It is God who takes the greatest evil, the brutal crucifixion of Jesus, and brings the greatest good. For we know from the Scriptures that Jesus’ death was for you and for me.  The sinless Jesus became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. At the cross, Jesus took on the sin you've committed and paid the price in your place.

Jesus didn't deserve to die on that cross.  You did.  I did.  But it was by God's great and incredible mercy that he sent His own son into the world to absorb the wrath that you deserved. That is what makes this Friday so good.  That on the cross when Jesus cried, "It is finished!", he spoke the truth.  That because of the death of Christ our sin has been paid for.  We no longer have to experience the fires of hell because Jesus saves us. Your debt to God has been paid.

For those of us who have faith in Jesus as our Lord and our Savior, we have experienced the forgiveness of sins.  If you have yet to taste the grace extended to you in Jesus, what are you waiting for? Fall on your face in desperation because of your treasonous sin. Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Live the rest of your life for His sake and for His glory!

Why would you wait to taste of this grace?  Don't get lost in distraction. Trust Jesus today. For it is by his death we are saved.

Today, as we remember the death of our Savior and Lord.  May we be reminded of our desperate state in our sinfulness, and may we remember the extravagant love God has for us.  May we fall in profound humility and be overflowed with a sweet worship.  For as Jesus said, “It is finished”.