Michael Bird, a minister in Australia, tells about a well-known American preacher who gave some advice to an Australian congregation.
He said, “Don’t tell people about the cross, it doesn’t work. That’s why the Franklin Graham crusades are no longer effective. Just tell them that God loves them and has a plan for them.”
The crux of his advice was that “The message of a crucified Jew is ridiculous to the modern mind… So move on to something better. A crucified Messiah is stupid, but promise them prosperity, give them emotional experiences, provide them with self-esteem – then you’ll fill the pews.”
This modernistic preacher’s thinking reminds me of Paul’s words to the Corinthian brethren “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).
To the Greeks of his day, the message of the cross lacked erudition. It didn’t meet the sophisticated standard of philosophical wisdom. They scoffed, scorned, and shunned it.
The Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah. He was not their idea of a King. They were looking for someone else. Something else. But not the lowly uneducated Galilean from the despised village of Nazareth who was crucified like a common criminal.
Today people consider the message of the cross foolishness because they don’t believe in God. They reject the Deity of Jesus. They deny the veracity of Scripture. And they repudiate the Christian religion.
But what is the message of the cross? What was Paul’s point? What does it mean to us today?
1. The Message of the Cross is a Message of Crucifixion.
It’s not a very pretty picture. Crucifixion was a disgraceful, detestable and despicable, way to die. It was a death reserved for common criminals: Murderers, Rapists, and robbers and insurrectionists.
Too often we see the cross from a more sanitized view. From jewelry to paintings and pictures in people’s homes. To images on pulpits, communion tables, and church buildings. But don’t forget the cross was a vile, vicious and barbaric death. In fact, the scourging itself that Jesus endured often killed weaker men.
2. The Message of the Cross is a Message of a willing sacrifice.
A criminal, rarely, if ever, surrenders himself so he can be executed. They run from the consequences of their lawlessness. They are hunted. Caught. And captured. And their
punished is appropriate and deserved
Jesus was innocent. He was a willing sacrifice. Jesus said, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of myself” (Jn. 10;18). His death was voluntary and vicarious.
3. The Message of the Cross is a Message of Salvation.
The Gospel is God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). Gospel means “Good News.” The Good News is that God loves you. Cares about you. And wants you to be saved. Since man is a sinner and cannot save himself, God sent his Son to shed his sinless blood on the cross for our salvation.
And the center of the gospel message is the cross. That’s why Paul said, “we preach Christ crucified.” It’s the message of God’s love, mercy and grace.
It is through the blood of the cross, that my sins are washed away when I believe on Jesus, repent of my sins, confess my allegiance to Him and am baptized into Christ (Mk. 16:15-16; Rom. 10:9-10; Ax 2:38). The cross makes baptism more than just a mere ritual. It is meaningful. Significant. And essential. Paul put it this way.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-5).
4. The Message of the Cross is a Message of Reconciliation.
Through the cross, I am no longer estranged from God. An alien. Or an enemy. Through obedience to the gospel, the cross brings me back into a right relationship with God. Produces peace that surpasses understanding. And provides an ongoing fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Eph 2;16-18)
5. The Message of the Cross is a Message of Inclusion.
The cross breaks down barriers between Jews and Gentiles. Male and female. Rich and poor. There is no discrimination in Christ. No matter how sinful your past life, you can be cleansed. Justified. And sanctified through the blood of the cross (Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11).
6. The Message of the Cross is a Message of Hope.
In a world often filled with discouragement and despair, we can discover the good hope of the gospel. A blessed hope. A better hope. A living hope that is rooted in the resurrection of Christ from the dead that offers redemption from our sins and the prospects of a heavenly home.
Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb. Up from the grave He arose! His triumphant victory over sin, death and the devil challenges us with a new and purpose driven life. And it reminds us every Sunday when we take communion of the power of the cross.
Thank God for Christ. And the wonderful saving message of the cross.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
4 responses to “THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS”
Your introduction sounds like 1 Cor. 1:18f. Paul was right!
The disciples then and the disciples now have trouble understanding the Cross. The Cross reverses the FALL.
Many Christian followers see Jesus dying on the Cross and they see Jesus as a suffering saint or martyr. They don’t see Jesus dying to sin.
Many people see the TRUTH. Many more are afraid or powerless to speak up. Many, many people just cannot see TEAM JESUS. They look but they can’t seem Team Jesus as: Mary Magdalene, Simon the Cyrene, Barabbas and Martha the wife who looked the other way. They can’t see these four as TEAM JESUS …dying to sin.
In the GENESIS FALL STORY, Three team up with a TREE and turn away from GOD and fall into blaming each other for their fall, for their quarrel—rooted in their wanting immortality and equality with God.
In the GOSPEL, The CROSS…the CURSED TREE pulls all three together and gives everyone an equal opportunity to end the blame game and re-establish the fourfold harmony that God created in the beginning. The CROSS is the PENITENT INSTRUMENT…the TURNER…SHE TURNS and SHE turns people away from being tied back to back to each other…pointing the finger of blame…and brings herself, Team Jesus and the disciples “FACE TO FACE” in communion with God.
When Christians take up the Cross and follow Jesus, they are saved from the sin of the blame game. They are loved because they have committed themselves to the teaching of Jesus that removes sin from people’s hearts. As loved people, they are expected to live in love. Christians are expected to help one another take up this Cross which forgives and binds all three Jesus’ together “face to face” with ETERNAL LOVE for one another in the household of God..with the Grace of Jesus Barabbas’ Lady aka Martha or Anna.
ETERNAL LOVE and FAITH for the other reconcile TEAM JESUS to each other with the Lady of the House of Bethany (Luke 24:50-52). The cloud they disappear with is the HIGH PRIEST Annanias, the white-washed wall. Many are fooled and think this title is one of disrespect. Don’t be fooled. Jesus is the High Priest and Jesus takes the name ANNANIAS which is a name meaning the cloud of God’s presence. People have been white-washing their cottages and homes for centuries to keep bacteria from creeping in and destroying the wall and creating unhealthy air inside. https://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-04-29/use-whitewash-instead-of-paint-for-traditional-look-and-no-toxins/
The Gospel is presented in such a way as to make the new believer work and seek his or her salvation. Modern people love to play video games and level up…work their way up to a higher level of expertise. So perhaps Christians who can appreciate the power of the Cross can find a way to inspire new believers to pay attention and suit up…put on the whole armour of God and learn how Team Jesus saves.
Very good to know the cross ok our servior lord
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