Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Cross

The evangelist Vance Havner once said, “We need men of the cross, with the message of the cross, bearing the marks of the cross.”

His remarks succinctly summarize not only the true cost of discipleship, but also the central message of Christianity. The cross should be more than a piece of jewelry worn about the neck or an ornament displayed in Churches. The cross is a symbol of self-sacrifice and deep commitment to Jesus Christ and the gospel to the point of death if necessary.

Jesus often called for this level of commitment, for example:

“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels”” (Mark 8:34-38).

Or simply put in Matthew’s Gospel,

“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).

The message of the cross is that the penalty for transgressions against God is so high that only by the sacrifice of the Son of God could payment be made in full. Those who by God’s grace repent of their sin and trust only in the divine accomplishment of Jesus Christ are no longer condemned for their sin. Any discomfort received by bearing this good news is a worthy sacrifice.

The apostle Paul put it this way,

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).