A Protestant pastor once attended a faith initiative in his local area where he met a Catholic priest. For years he had a burning question in his heart regarding the Catholics that he had been waiting for his chance to ask. He turned to the priest and said “how come you Catholics always have Jesus still hanging on the cross on all of your emblems? Don’t you know that He isn’t on the cross anymore? Don’t you know that He has risen from the dead!?” The Catholic priest turned to the Protestant pastor and said calmly “indeed we know that Jesus isn’t on the cross anymore but you Protestants seem to forget that He was ever there.”
Romans 5:6- “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”
I was recently having a conversation with a friend who remarked “everyone wants to talk about the cross but the Holy Spirit is what we should really be focused on.” This remark reminded me of how often we make our way into “either/or” scenarios when it comes to the truth of scripture. Some might say “it’s all about the cross” another might say “it’s all about the Resurrection” and still another will say “it’s all about the Holy Spirit.” However, when it comes to the heart of the matter we can say confidently that it’s all about the Cross, all about the Resurrection, and all about the Holy Spirit! Every single one of them are inextricably connected!
So why is it that we find the Apostle Paul repeating the fact that he would focus on the Cross when preaching the Gospel? Was Paul out of balance? I mean it was Paul that famously said “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).” Why do we see what appears to be a hyper-focus on the Cross from the Apostle Paul?
As we’ve discussed in previous devotionals, the Cross is where God makes His total provision for everything we need in our Christian life. Through the death of Christ on the Cross we get the cleansing and forgiveness that we need in order to receive the Holy Spirit. Without the redemption that Jesus made on the Cross we would not be eligible to receive ANY of the promises of God. The promises of God are not for those who are separated from God through sin but rather for those who have been reconciled to Him by His blood shed upon the Cross!
This is why Paul seemed obsessed with the Cross. He had discovered the reality of its power to provide us access to all of the good things of God in our life. We should never come to a season in our life where we lose our wonder and awe of the Cross of Jesus Christ. It’s because of the sacrifice of Jesus alone that we are saved, forgiven, and filled with the Holy Spirit. All of the good deeds in the world cannot accomplish that salvation that Jesus purchased through the Cross, and that should keep us humble.
Colossian 2:14- “He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.”
I was once praying alone in my room and I felt led to ask the Lord to give me a personal revelation of His love. I had been going through a tough time and needed some encouragement. All of a sudden the Holy Spirit gave me a vivid vision of Jesus hanging on the Cross, suffering, bleeding and dying for me. The love that I felt could not compare to anything I had ever experienced. God the death of Jesus personal for me, I knew that when He hung on that Cross it was because of His love for me… The power of the Cross changed me forever!
Hebrews 12:2- “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Have you ever asked God to personalize the Cross for you? We all know that God loves us because scripture says so, but have you ever invited God to make that love real to you? Sometimes we can get into the habit of doing things for God in order to “keep Him happy” but in reality it doesn;t work that way. God wants us to serve Him not from a motive of religious performance but from a true and abiding revelation of His love!
Prayer for today: Holy Spirit I invite you to reveal the love of God to me in a deeper way than ever before. Help me to remove all of the distractions from my mind and fix my eyes upon Jesus. I pray that you will fill me with the love of God. I also ask you to fill me with the same joy that Jesus had when He endured the Cross. In Jesus name, amen.