“The Power of the Cross”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” There are many powerful forces in this world; for example, a stick of dynamite, a destructive tornado, a mighty hurricane, an out of control fire. Oh, lots of things come to mind when we think about powerful forces. In many cases, there is absolutely nothing we can do to prevent or even to control them. In another sense, there is one force which surpasses them all. It is not something we can see with our eyes or touch with our hands. In fact, it revolves around something that happened a long time ago. It is the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ. The lasting effects of Him giving His life for us are immeasurable. When Jesus suffered and died, He took away our sin, along with the curse and the shame it leaves behind. It was the most powerful thing that has ever taken place! Today on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will spend some time talking about the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, and what happened on that cross. We will look at several Bible passages which tell us of the powerful effects of the Cross of Christ. Thank you for joining us for the next few minutes. And I trust you will be blessed by our Bible study.
If a survey was taken regarding the most important part of a worship service, what would be your answer? Fill in the blank. Oh, many might suggest a number of different things, but my guess would be the most common response would be the Lord's Supper, or the Communion Service. And yet it seems that by our actions and by our traditions, that does not always appear to be the case. Typically most churches spend far less time focused on the Lord's Supper than they do on the preaching service or the singing service. I'm not sure how or when our worship services evolved to what they look like today. But that leads us to ask some questions like these; What is the significance of the cross of Jesus Christ; how important is the death of Jesus to us; and, what does it really mean? I really believe, today, the cross deserves a continual reflection and not just an occasional remembrance. Jesus did not die upon the cross just so we could think about it for a few minutes on a Sunday; even though, that seems to be the case in many churches. Jesus’ death on the cross deserves our full attention. His death removes the curse of sin. It takes away the sting of death. It eliminates eternal separation from God. Yes, the cross on which Jesus died changes the course of history, and it also changes our destiny. Perhaps we know all of those things. Maybe we have heard them explained and taught in Bible classes or in sermons on numerous occasions. And all of that is good. But still the question remains, why is the cross so wonderful? Why does it deserve our continual reflection? I want to offer four observations for our consideration in today's lesson. Observation number one: The cross reveals the high cost of sin. One of the things that challenges many people throughout our world today is the rate of inflation. No matter where we live throughout this world, it seems that the cost of goods continually goes up. Year after year the cost of things gets higher and higher, and that is a problem. That is a big challenge for some people who cannot afford that higher rate of inflation. But no matter how high the cost of goods gets, there is one thing that will always be higher; it is the cost that was paid to eliminate our sin problem. The apostle Paul wrote these words, in Galatians chapter 3 and verse 13, <Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole."> When Jesus went to the cross and He died on our behalf, He took our sin with Him. In other words, He took the curse of that sin upon His shoulders, and when He died, the curse of that sin died with Him. And that's a great thought, isn't it? Jesus paid a price that was very high to eliminate our sin. We notice these words also in 2nd Corinthians 5, verse 21: <God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.> You and I deserve to die because of the sin in our life. Our sin separates us from a relationship with the One who loves us so very much; and as a result, there is no way we can be holy in God's sight. But Jesus took our sin with Him to the cross. He paid a debt we can never repay. He did something that we could never do on our own. There is no amount of money we can pay. There is no amount of great sacrifice we can make. There is no amount of number of prayers that we could ever offer that will remove our sin. It simply will not happen and it is not possible. Only Jesus has set us free from the curse of sin when He died up on the cross. And indeed, that was a very high cost to pay. But then secondly, the cross reveals the great value of people. In your mind, for just a moment, think about the most important person upon this earth. And that person might be different for you than it is for me. That person might be a high paid professional athlete in some sport. That person might be royalty in a nation. That might be a political figure who has all kinds of power and authority. But that person, in your mind, is important. That person is special. But also, in your mind, think about that person perhaps you saw yesterday on the street corner begging for some food; a person who was destitute, who had nowhere to live, no money to buy any food, and you think, for just a moment, about that person as you see him or her, but then you go on your way. In our mind, there is a big difference between those two people, and yet in God's mind there is not. In God's mind, He sees both people as important. There is no difference between them because He sees them as one who was made in His own image. In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 19, verse 10, Jesus himself states, basically, the high value God places upon people when He made this statement: <”The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost,”> Yes, Jesus came to seek and save everybody who is willing to receive that invitation. And that's what He thinks of you. That's what He thinks of me. When God looks at the people in this world through the blood of Jesus Christ, His son, He doesn't see races and religions and politics and past problems, but He sees people who are in need of a solution which only He, through His son, Jesus Christ, can provide. He sees people of great value. And through Jesus, God is seeking and finding us. God is the widow who is searching for that lost coin. God is that shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep in the field and goes to seek and to find that one lost lamb. God is also the father who is seeking and waiting and longing for his lost son to return home from a far away country. And those are parables or stories which Jesus made mention of in the Gospel of Luke chapter 15. Yes, God has provided a solution for us being lost, and that solution is Jesus. He is searching for those who are trapped by sin and who are in need of a Savior; and He will find us when we receive that invitation to come to Him. Paul makes this statement in 1st Corinthians 6, verses 19 and 20: <You are not your own. You are bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.> We were bought with a price. The price paid was Jesus’ blood. Peter states it like this, in 1st Peter 1, verses 18 and 19: <For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without spot or blemish.> Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. He was the perfect lamb. There was nothing wrong with Him; without spot or blemish, as Peter points out. And that was a very valuable sacrifice. You know, the value of silver and gold is great, and to possess any great amount of either one of those precious commodities is probably a good thing to do. It makes us wealthy. And we may want to possess more of those precious commodities, so we will have some kind of wealth, or it makes us think we have some kind of wealth; that we are valuable because we own something like a precious commodity. And, indeed, they are worth something. They are precious. But as Peter points out, there is nothing more precious than the blood which Jesus offered when He died upon the Cross of Calvary. And that is the high value that God places upon your life and upon mine. Here's the third observation: The cross reveals the incredible power of Jesus' blood. The apostle Paul writes it this way, in Romans 1 verse 16: <I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.> The word ‘power’, in verse 16, comes from the Greek word meaning dynamite. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't really want to have anything to do with dynamite. I remember times in the past when I did not let go of a little firecracker soon enough, and it exploded right away from my hand, and my hand was burned. My ears rang for a long period of time. And if a little stick of dynamite, like that in a firecracker, can cause that much damage, we know that the power is like dynamite when we think about what Jesus did for us. It is powerful. The blood Jesus shed, the sacrifice He made, blows us out of the depths of our sin, and it transfers us into the Kingdom of God. And as Paul wrote, it brings about our salvation. The Hebrews author states it this way, in chapter 10, verse 12: <But when this Priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sin, He sat down at the right hand of God.> In the days and the years before Jesus made His sacrifice on the cross, the priests always stood up to do their work, and the reason was because their work was never finished. There always seemed to be a line, a long line of people waiting to make their sacrifices to God; and they were waiting in line for the priest to handle those sacrifices. They had the bulls and the heifers and the lambs and the various other animals that were used to make a sacrifice. And through that sacrifice, the blood that was shed by those animals would be an atonement. It would appease God for a period of time so that God could look favorably upon those people. But the priests handled those sacrifices day after day. There were always more sacrifices that needed to be offered. Yet, as the Hebrew author states, that's not the way it was with Jesus. He died one time. He shared His blood on the cross one time. And when He did, it was finished. He was done. There was nothing else left for Jesus to do, and so He sat down at God's right hand. What Jesus did, when He died upon the cross, was more sufficient than everything else that had been done up to that point. And His blood was the greatest sacrifice of all that superseded all of the blood sacrifices of those animals. John stated it like this, in 1st John 2 and verse 2: <He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins; and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world.> Jesus makes amends for the sin in our life. He makes up for any mistake or error or sin or problem. And we owe a debt of gratitude to the Lord for which we can never pay. Yes, the Cross of Jesus Christ is the only power that makes us right with God; and that is the power behind the cross. Here is observation number four: The cross reveals the boundless love of God. There is no doubt in my mind, my wife loves me. Oh, there may be days when she doesn't like me because of some things I do or do not do, but she loves me. I don't doubt that. And she doesn't doubt that I love her. Oh, we have struggles and challenges, as do many other couples. But there is that undying love for each other. We're not going to go anywhere. We are committed to each other. And perhaps you may even feel the very same way about your spouse. But no matter what kind of depth of love we have for our spouse, there is no amount of love that could ever equal the love that God has for you, the love that He has for me. You are loved by God in ways you don't even know. God's love never runs out on the person next to you. God's love never ends. It is always more than enough. It is completely sufficient for all of the needs in our life. And at the end of the day, there is nothing more important to know than God loves you. Paul stated it well in Romans 5 verse 8: <God demonstrates His own love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.> Think about that for just a moment. In the midst of my sin, Jesus went to the cross. In the depth of my disobedience, Jesus died for me. In the pit of my rebellion, God's love found me when His Son died for me. That's the greatest demonstration of love God could ever have given to us. He allowed His son, Jesus Christ, His one, His only Son, to die on our behalf. There's no greater expression of love that we could ever imagine. In fact, would any of us be willing to do what God did for us? Would we allow our child, our one, our only child, or one of several children, which we may have; would we allow that boy or that girl to die on behalf of someone else? That doesn't make much sense to us, does it? But it made sense to God to do that with Jesus, so that we could understand how much, in fact, He does love us. When we think about God's love for us, we try to think of different manifestations or characteristics of that love. We think about His forgiveness. We think about all the blessings we receive from His hand. We think about His compassion. The list goes on and on; all the qualities or characteristics that describe the love of God. But there is only one thing, I believe, that that can be at the top of the list. The greatest demonstration of God's love is His Son, Jesus, and the sacrifice He made on the cross which cleanses away the sin in our life. We go on in Romans chapter 5 and find these words in verse 18: <Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.> What do we learn from that? We learn very simply that sin deserves punishment. And that is what Jesus experienced when He died. He took on our sin when He went to the cross, and He provided the ultimate solution for it. And without it, we would be condemned to die. Oh, but the good news is this: Because of God's immeasurable love, we are now right in God's sight. And so the boundless love of God can only be measured by the Cross of Christ. Well, with all of those things understood, what now is our response to the Wonderful Cross? I believe it can be summarized in just one answer: The cross demands our total surrender. The apostle Paul states that very plainly in 2nd Corinthians, chapter 5 verse 15: <He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.> Notice the words there; that we no longer live for ourselves, but we live for the One who died for us. And so we ask the question, in light of what Jesus has done for me, what am I willing to do for Him? Am I willing to make some sacrifices in my life because the Cross of Jesus Christ means so much to me? When I think about His boundless love, when I think about the sacrifice He made, when I think about the blood that He shed, am I willing to do something, am I willing to do anything to express my gratitude and appreciation to Jesus? Am I willing to give Jesus my life, as He gave to me His life? Well, it really comes down to making that total sacrifice, doesn't it? When I was growing up and attending church services on a regular basis, we would partake of the Lord's Supper, the communion on a regular weekly basis; and during that, we thought about the cross of Jesus Christ. And before we did that, oftentimes we would sing a song, “When We Survey the Wondrous Cross,” or “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross;” and that allowed us the opportunity to envision Jesus dying on that cross. Think for just a moment about Jesus dying for you. See the blood that came from His hands and from His feet as the nails held Him to that cross. Think about the pain and the anguish Jesus experienced as He suffered and died. Feel the sense of hatred that the people had toward the One who was dying for them. And see the blood that came out of the side when the sword was piercing His flesh; and the water and blood came out to signify that indeed Jesus had died. And those are opportunities for us to not only envision Jesus dying upon the cross, but to think through that and to envision what that really means for us; to think about the power of the cross, to think about the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ that eliminates our sin problem and bring us into the right relationship with our Father in Heaven, who loves us more than we could ever imagine. As we think about the powerful cross of Jesus Christ, today, I would encourage us to remember the thing that that we said at the very beginning, the one statement I want us to remember moving forward: The cross deserves a continual reflection and not just an occasional remembrance. Let us continually reflect upon God's love. Let us continually reflect upon the sacrifice that Jesus made. Let us continually reflect upon the blood that He shed, that does away with our sin problem and brings us into a right relationship with God the Father. I hope that you have allowed Jesus’ blood to cleanse you from your sin, and that you are walking in that right relationship with the One who loves you so very much.
This is a familiar sight around the city in which I live. It is the cross on the outside of a church building. And that simply represents the focus of this particular church. It is the Cross of Jesus Christ. When we think about the Cross of Christ, we recognize what Jesus did on that cross by dying for us, was and still is a very big deal. And this is representative of many of the church buildings in the community in which I live. And perhaps it is the same with you. But what if Jesus did not die upon the cross? Where would we be in regards to the sin in our life? We would have to come up with another solution; and yet, there is no other solution than what Jesus provided for us. There is no other way we can cleanse out the sin of our life. Jesus did what was sufficient, and nothing else will ever equal to what Jesus did for you and for me. The power of the cross is something special. Jesus took the burden of our sin, the guilt of our sin with Him to the cross; and there, He gave His life. And because of that, we can now have a relationship with our Father in Heaven. As you drive around the city in which you live, I hope that you will be aware of the various crosses that you might see on church buildings, or on other facilities, and take a moment to think about what the cross means to you. Think about what Jesus did for you. Think about the significance of the cross in your life. And be thankful to God for the great sacrifice He made by allowing His Son to die on the cross for you, and also for me, and for everybody else in this world.
Thank you for watching today's broadcast on “Key to the Kingdom.” This message about the Cross of Jesus Christ reminds us of the sacrifice He made on our behalf. And through it, we have the opportunity to be eternally changed by it. There are several ways you can access this message again. I invite you to go to our website, keytothekingdom.com, and there you will find several different ways to download today's broadcast. It is available in audio, written, and video format. There is no payment required and no obligation expected. Please feel free to download any of the lessons that might assist you in growing closer to the Lord. Short one minute and two minute devotional thoughts can be found on the website, and on YouTube®, as well. They offer an uplifting message for your consideration. Also, please feel free to call the number on the screen or to send us an email. We will be happy to get back to you just as soon as possible. Once again, let me say thank you for being our guest today. I invite you to join us again next week, at this same time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”