Why the Cross?

In just a few short weeks, we celebrate the greatest event in all of history: the resurrection of Jesus. This is what separates true, Biblical, evangelical, fundamental Christianity from the “religions” of the world. Without the resurrection the cross is a question mark. But the resurrection is the exclamation point on the victorious work of God in overcoming our sin.

We are all under grace; that is to say grace has been made available to us all. How was it made available to us? Through the blood of Christ; through the cross of Calvary; through Christ’s sacrificial, atoning death.

In order to completely understand this, we have to understand grace. What is grace? Grace is giving something to someone they don’t deserve. What has God given us that none of us deserve? Love. Forgiveness. How did He give us that? Through the cross. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin:

  • Heb. 9:22 – “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.”
  • Leviticus 17:11 – For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
  • Exodus 12:13, 23-24 – “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt…For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.”
  • 1 John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
  • Is. 1:18 – “Come now and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
  • Heb. 11:28 – “By faith he (Moses) kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.”

So to deny the cross is to deny or nullify the grace of God. And to do that is to reject eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Acts 4:12; Eph. 2:8-9). So that then leads to the question, if we reject God’s sacrificial work on the cross as means to salvation, what does one do in order to obtain the forgiveness of sin? Where does grace come from? Are you still offering animal sacrifices, b/c that’s exactly what was prescribed pre-crucifixion. Of course, that was simply a pre-cursor, a sign pointing to the ultimate sacrifice that would take away the sins of the world once and for all, because animal sacrifices are inadequate to take away anyone’s sins. Only the one, true, spotless Lamb of God could do that:

  • Gen. 22:5-8
  • John 1:29; 14:6 – “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and he said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.’”
  • Heb. 2:14 -15 – “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
  • Heb. 7:26-27 – “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens, who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”
  • Heb. 9:7-9, 11-15, 24-26 – “But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience…But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason, He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance…For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another; He then would have to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
  • Heb. 10:4, 11-14 – “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins…And every high priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”

The Bible says we are all sinners (Rom. 3:10, 23) and that sin causes us to fall short of God’s standards (Rom. 6:23; 1 Pet. 1:16). That means in our naturally sinful state, there is no hope whatsoever of us doing anything of our own accord, nor can anyone else do anything for us to obtain eternal life or the forgiveness of sins (Eph. 2:8-9). The end result in this scenario, while disturbing, uncomfortable and perhaps offensive to some, is separation from the holiness of God; from God Himself. Our natural sinful state creates a barricade between us and the Lord (Is. 59:1-2; Matt. 27:46; John 9:31; Gal. 3:10-14; Deut. 21:22-23; Col. 1:19-23; 2:13-15). But God hasn’t left us without hope; He hasn’t come to bring us bad, disturbing news, but Good News! The News of the Gospel! The news that in spite of our sinful condition, God reached out His infinite hand of grace and mercy and made a way for you and for me to obtain eternal life, hope eternal, joy abundant, love never ending (Ezekiel 33:11; Luke 19:10; John 3:17; 14:3, 16-18, 25-27; 10:10; 1 Pet. 3:9). That’s not something to be offended at is it????? A wrathful God wouldn’t make intercession through His innocent, spotless, righteous Son to take the place of sinful man on an old, rugged cross to die a cruel and inhumane death. A hateful, wrathful, vengeful God would give to the liar, the adulterer, the alcoholic, the violent, the perverted, the thief, the homosexual, the selfish, the cruel, the cold-hearted, the greedy, the angry, the depressed, the fornicator, the bitter, the hateful, the arrogant, the lazy, the immoral, the addict, the child molester, the rapist, the imperfect, sinful sinner exactly what they deserve. He wouldn’t warn them of the impending danger they were in and He certainly wouldn’t make a way out. He would give us all what we deserve.

But God didn’t do that; instead He gave us grace (James 4:6). His grace. Merciful grace. Saving grace. Cleansing grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse from the inside out.

Why the cross? It was necessary if we were to have the possibility of eternal life. It had to be Him, because there was no other perfect sacrifice adequate to pay for our sins. And that grace came through the death of His Son Jesus on a cruel cross. A cross that may offend some, but a cross necessary for the grace so desperately needed. Grace that is available to us all, but it’s up to us to accept or reject.