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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

Do you Understand the Cross? (1 Corinthians 1)

I wonder if most people don't really understand the cross. For example, do people really understand the message of the cross, what it represents, and why Jesus had to die that way? Why did Jesus have to endure the horrible pain and suffering of that cross?

In Biblical times, the cross was a symbol of torture and death for criminals. It was the most painful form of execution used at that time. In fact, it was literally, death by pain. So anyone who was hung on a tree (a cross) was cursed by God.

Deuteronomy 21:23 Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse.

That means every time we choose to do something that is against God's law, we are choosing to take the curse of God upon ourselves. We are choosing sin. Sin is a curse because it forever separates us from God.

In fact, there is nothing we can do to atone for our sin. No amount of good works can erase even one of our sins. No confession can erase even one of our sins. We cannot work out our sins after we die. We can never do enough good to erase even one of our wrongs.

That's why Jesus had to die on that cross. Only Jesus' death on the cross could atone for our sins. Jesus freed us from the curse of sin that forever separated us from God by becoming "cursed" Himself.

Galatians 3:13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

The cross reveals our self-centeredness. It reveals our "my body, my choice" mindset. That choice we make to do what we want rather than what God says is right, is what Jesus had to die for. Why? Because God said a blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb is needed for the atonement of sin. There is no perfect lamb except Jesus.

That's why Scripture tells us the blood sacrifices of an animal could never cleanse people from their sins. If they did, they wouldn't have had to keep repeating the sacrifices year after year. In fact, the purpose of those sacrifices was to show us our need for a savior, who is perfect.

Hebrews 10:1-7 [1] The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. [2] If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. [3] But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. [4] For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. [5] That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer. [6] You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. [7] Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God — as is written about me in the Scriptures."

The only blood sacrifice that could cleanse us from all unrighteousness and atone for our sins, once for all, is the blood of Jesus; His death on that cross in our place.

Why can only Jesus' atonement remove our sins? Because Jesus is God who stepped out of heaven and took on human flesh to let us see who God is and how much He loves us. Then He willingly took the pain and torture and death we deserve upon Himself.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death.

The cross shows us that God loves us so much, He is not willing to let us die in our sins, separated from Him. So He took our sins upon Himself and died the death we deserve on that cross so that whoever would trust in Him, will have eternal life.

Romans 6:23 the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Understanding the message of the cross is to realize every time we choose sin, we are choosing a curse which Jesus had to atone for through a death by pain and torture.

Jesus, who is God, loves us so much, He was willing to take that cross in our place. He was willing to take our sin upon Himself. He was willing to take the death that we deserve so that we could no longer be separated from God but have eternal life.

Today, the cross has become nothing more than costume jewelry rather than a reminder of the horrible torturous death Jesus endured in our place.

Do you think many people today truly understand the message of the cross?

1 Corinthians 1:18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

What about you?

Do you understand the message of the cross?

Do you realize that if you were the only person on this earth, Jesus would have still taken the cross for you, so that you could be forever freed from the curse of sin.

If we truly understand the message of the cross, we will repent (turn away from our sins), thank Jesus for dying in our place, and ask Him to be the Lord God of our lives.

Will you ask Jesus to be your savior and the Lord of your life, today?

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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