Updated: Jul 23, 2022
I write here of the Cross of Christ, the Cross on which the Lord Jesus Christ died at a place named Calvary over 2000 years ago. If an alien were to hover over the UK north to south, viewing villages towns and cities, he must soon wonder why all these crosses? Admittedly the number is diminishing, which is a clear indication of why our country, once known as a Christian country, can no longer claim such a title.
Our focus here is on the Cross upon which Jesus was crucified 3 days before He rose from death, then came out alive from the tomb where they had placed Him and was seen by many. Real Christians rightly glory in the resurrection, but we also glory in the Cross. There are many glorious truths and wonders in the Christian faith. To be reminded of them delights every believer, cheers us and despite all the trials, woes, hurts and the indifference of an unbelieving world, they shine as beacon lights which brighten our daily walk with God.
The Cross of Christ is one such wonder, central to and at the very core of the Gospel. In the Bible, the Lord God reveals to us just why the Cross is so important. To all who are willing to know, understand and wake up to what the Cross really means, to them it will ever be that which changed their life, the time they were converted. The day they became Christians!
The subject of the Cross is vast, so for such a brief article as this we can only glance in and in doing so, I trust that interest may be aroused to dig deeper. Do read the Gospels for yourself, there you will find recorded what happened at the Cross. Here are a few paragraphs each headed with a word beginning with “W” to aid memory.
First, I invite you to consider, the WONDER of the Cross. Here is a great Wonder, you will have heard of the seven wonders of the world; well, the Cross of Jesus Christ way surpasses all wonders. I invite you to take more than just a casual passing interest and apply your mind to this great Wonder. All four of the Gospel writers, each in their distinctive styles, recount for us what happened at Calvary. Many stood around and witnessed what happened. Consider, why an innocent man was crucified. The Roman governor Pilot, whose responsibility it was to authorise crucifixions, said “I find in him no fault at all” yet Jesus was crucified between two thieves.
Consider, there was an earthquake which caused the centurion and his soldiers who did the execution to fear and the centurion to say, “Truly this was the Son of God”. Consider, there was darkness over the land for 3 hours though it was midday, from the 6th to the 9th hour. Consider, that the heavy veil in the Jerusalem temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. Just four of the many things recorded by the gospel writers, St. John Ch 18 v 38, St. Matthew Ch 27 v 54, St. Mark 15 v 33 and St. Luke Ch 23 v 45. No wonder those who watched smote their breasts and departed from this scene of blood. It is possible to ponder, wonder and not understand. A friend of mine, the Church organist whom I once worshipped with, asked me one day why we must hear so much about the blood of the Cross?” Thus, revealing that he never understood the Wonder of the Cross. St. Paul puts it well when he wrote the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us who are saved, it is the power of God, 1 Corinthians Ch 1v 18. So many have no time to Wonder at the Cross, they have more important things in this busy life, earning a living, art, music, entertainment, or sport, why take time to think of the Cross? Just read over what St. Paul said again “to them that perish foolishness”, Perish!! what do you mean? There is an unavoidable, unmistakable warning here, which you need to head, Read on.
We have Wondered at the Cross. Next, I invite you to consider WORDS from the Cross. The gospel writers record 7 utterances of Jesus as He hung there before He died. People's last words often carry special weight and that is very true of Christ's Words from the Cross. Each of the 7 has powerful significance, we will confine ourselves to just one here.
You will find it in St. Luke's record, do take time to read his chapter 23, see verses 39 to 43 particularly. The two crucified on either side of Jesus spoke out and what they said is revealing. At first, they “reviled Jesus”, they railed on Him, later having witnessed those Wonders we pondered earlier, one thief realised he was being rightly punished whereas that was not true of Jesus. The other thief called out to Jesus “if you are the Christ save yourself and us”. To which the first thief replied, rebuking him saying (I paraphrase) “Do you not fear God? We are being punished for our wrongdoing this man (meaning Jesus) has done no wrong”. Perhaps he had heard the centurion say, “truly this was the Son of God”. The thief went on to say, “Lord remember me when you come into your Kingdom”, to which Jesus uttered these unforgettable words from the Cross “Truly I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise” St. Luke Ch 23 v 43. Ponder well what it must have meant to the dying man to hear these words of Jesus. Perhaps you have heard the Children’s hymn which has the line ‘Only Jesus could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in’. This WORD from the Cross should be pondered.
In this last paragraph, I invite you to consider, WHY the Cross? Why did Jesus the Son of God die in this way? Again, we investigate Scripture to find the answer. Learn to read and know what the Bible teaches you. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in Ch 53 v 5 and 6, obviously inspired by God, wrote “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed”. At the outset of Jesus' ministry, John the Baptist said of Him “behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” John Ch.1 v 29. Could it be clearer WHY Jesus was crucified? Again, I quote from that child’s hymn which puts it well “There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin, He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in”. We need to know that as St. Peter says in his second letter Ch.3 v 9 “God is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”.
Do you still not see Why Jesus died? Note well the word perish, there is a warning here. In Hebrews, you can read Ch10 v12 which says “but this man after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God”. Only God by His Spirit can open your eyes to see, know and understand this Gospel truth. He will do so when you “repent and believe” that Jesus died for you. That is WHY the Cross is such a Wonder, hear Jesus' Word from the Cross and like the thief who repented, know that you will then be with Him in Paradise. Note that the Christian Cross is an empty cross for the One who was crucified and now rules and reigns forever. Then tell others Why Jesus the Son of God, was crucified.