“…and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of the Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.” John 19:17-18
You’ve heard the gospel; you’ve heard the story of Jesus. In fact, you’ve probably heard it many times…
You’ve heard about a tree in paradise and the serpent asking Eve, “Did God really say you couldn’t eat from any tree?”
You’ve heard about Adam and Eve biting the apple and sin entering the world; that mankind was separated from a holy God.
You’ve heard about God choosing the Jewish people, not for anything good they did, but because He was good and calling them His own.
You’ve heard about the laws and regulations that God established for Israel, to set them apart from others.
You’ve heard how through the people of Israel, a child was born – Jesus.
You’ve heard how Jesus lived for 33 years on earth and never sinned, having a ministry for the last three years of his life as He taught and healed.
You’ve heard that Jesus told the apostles three times that He would die, but they didn’t understand.
You’ve heard how Jesus was betrayed, beaten, and crucified, but rose the third day.
When the world thinks of Easter, it thinks of eggs, baskets, candy, and bunnies, which are fun; but for Christians we really consider one thing – the cross.You see them everywhere, don’t you? On a necklace, on a keychain, on a bracelet, on a shirt. There’s one on my Bible. We wear crosses or adorn items with them, but the cross is not happy, the cross is not sweet. It was the most brutal instrument of death that could be used on someone; it was a form of torture. A person who was crucified did not die from a loss of blood, they died because they asphyxiated, because they couldn’t breathe; not a pleasant thing.
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:19-20
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the points of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” I Corinthians 1:17-18
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Why are we pointed to the cross? Why are we asked to take up the cross? Because the cross is offensive. Because we must consider the cross. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
What does that mean? It is at the cross that we recognize who we are. It is at the cross that we see our sin. It is at the cross that we stand face to face with our sin. We are more sinful than we have ever imagined. We have gone rogue, we have rebelled against the very God of the universe. We rejoice in the empty tomb. We celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus. But, if you are truly going to see salvation, it must be at the cross. What do you see?
Do you see Him hanging there? Do you see the crown of thorns? Do you see the nails in His hands and in His feet? When we stand at the cross, what do we see? That we’re sinners in desperate need of a Savior.
One day we will stand before God, and He will not ask if we were good (we weren’t); He won’t ask if we kept the law (we didn’t). The only claim we will have to heaven is Jesus Christ and His death at the cross. And once we’ve been there, once we’ve encountered Jesus Christ, we will never be the same.