“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross,” wrote theologian and author John Stott. For him, the cross was an eye-opener. Everything becomes clear in light of the cross of Christ.In the light of the cross, one can see clearly the essence of sin and of salvation. Stott put it this way: “The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives that belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.”In the light of the cross, one can see the justice of God satisfied. The wages of sin have never gone down. “The wages of sin is death.” In the cross, one does not see the wrath of the Jews or of the Romans. One sees the wrath of God. Seven hundred and fifty years before Jesus the Christ came to earth, Isaiah prophesied,“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,Yet we considered him stricken by God,Smitten by him, and afflicted,But he was pierced for our transgressions,He was crushed for our iniquities;The punishment that brought us peace wasUpon him,And by his wounds we are healed.”On the cross, Jesus bore the sins of the world in his body. God’s demand for justice was satisfied. Again Isaiah writes,“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush HimAnd cause him to suffer …”Still, “after the suffering of his soul,”He would “see the light of life and Be satisfied,”In the light of the cross, one sees the love of God demonstrated. The apostle Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”Knowing the horrors of the cross, what possessed our Lord to take up his? It had to be the greatest love. He had taught, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends.” His love for us was so great that he redeemed us with his precious blood.His desire for us was like a strong thirst. Mother Theresa’s commentary on our Lord’s words, “I thirst,” is telling. She has God declaring, “I thirst for you. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe my love for you: I thirst for you. I thirst to love and to be loved by you — that is how precious you are to me. I thirst for you.”Open your eyes and look at the cross again. You will begin to really and truly see.• Ken Haskins is pastor of First Christian Church in Carson City.
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