1 Cor 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Understanding Jesus’ work on the cross is at the very core of our belief in God. Without it, everything in the Bible would seem like foolishness to us.
To understand Jesus’ work that day, we must first understand that He had to die to be resurrected, and He had to be resurrected for us to receive the benefits of His sacrifice, 1 Jn 4:9, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” So, what did He do in those final few hours He was suspended between heaven and earth?
His work on the cross is His living example, a story which continues to be told, Jn 13:15, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” An example of one who has done the will of the Father, Heb 10:7, “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” showing the way to those of us who want to be part of God’s eternal family, Matt 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” His suffering on that cross teaches, those willing to learn, about sacrifice, 1 Pet 2:21, “For even here unto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” His final piece of sacrifice was His ransom for our salvation, Mk 10:45, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
He told us to love in a way most have not understood, Eph 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” and, while dying on the cross He demonstrated that love, Lk 23:34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” The thief, on the cross, showed his belief in Jesus and Jesus responded by rewarding him with the assurance of paradise, Lk 23:43, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Only the selfless love of God, which also draws us, could do these things.
His death on the cross magnified the light of His truth, so none of us has to live in darkness, Jn 12:46-47, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” showing He came two thousand years ago to save us, not to judge us. It was no accident that Jesus died on the cross in front of many witnesses; for those witnesses, and everyone who truly hears their testimony, are the lights growing brighter day by day, Acts 5:32, “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”
He taught us to have courage and not to fear, even in the face of death, Matt 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Instead of focusing on His own death on the cross, He thought of others, Jn 19:26-27, “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” Jesus took a moment on the cross to teach us to care for one another. How like Jesus to minister to us, even when He was dying on the cross, Matt 20:28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister...”
Matt 27:46, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus wants us to know that separation from God is the worst thing that can happen to us, Ps 42:1-2, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” Then, He ended His separation from the Father by giving up the ghost, Ps 31:5, “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” and Lk 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”
His death on the cross was prophecy fulfilled, Matt 5:17-18, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” and Rom 15:8, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” This was the final proof He came to save not to destroy.
He told us He came to finish the work God had assigned to Him, Jn 4:34, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” and He did just that on the cross, Jn 19:30, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” Now it is up to each of us to decide whether we will do the will of the Father, which will ultimately culminate in our hearing these words, Matt 25:23, “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
He did not die on that cross for a select few of us, but for everyone in the world who chooses to believe, 1 Jn 2:2, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Accepting His sacrifice removes everything that has separated us from God, Col 1:20, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Including the veil that separated us from God, Matt 27:50-53, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” and Eph 1:13-14, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”
Jesus did not die on the cross and rise from the grave for no reason. These events were the most profound events of all human history. The reason is no less profound; He did these things so that we might have a choice. Without His sacrificial death, we would have only one option, our own death! God wants us to know He resurrected Jesus and He will do the same for us, 1 Cor 6:14, “And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power” otherwise, we have only the hopelessness that has led so many of us to take our own lives, 1 Cor 15:19-20, “ If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”
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