Do you own a cross necklace or have a decorative cross hanging somewhere in your home? I do. Many of us wear crosses around our necks, in our ears, or as rings on our fingers. Maybe you have a cross tattoo. I have a set of candles with crosses on them. The cross has not only become a symbol of the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ, but also mainstream symbol of religion and simple spirituality.
For too many, all these crosses carry a superficial sentiment. It doesn’t move us like it should. Even the decorative cross hanging in my living room does not move me to tears because of Christ’s sacrifice or my guilt. It should. But I bought it at Hobby Lobby because it looked pretty. It is easy to forget what the cross is truly all about.
And on the other end of this spectrum are those who have placed too much emphasis on the cross as an object. Throughout history many have sought out pieces of the ”true” cross of Christ. Way back in 326 AD the Empress Helen (the mother of Constantinople) began to search for Christ’s tomb and the place of Golgotha. As the story goes, Helen ended up finding 3 crosses which she believed to have been the cross of Christ as well as those used to execute the two thieves who hung next to Jesus. Like those who miss the significance of the cross in light of its popular artistic merit, so some have missed its significance by looking for the wood it was made of.
How was Helen going to figure out which one of the three crosses actually held the body of Jesus? There are a couple different stories. One says that there was a woman in the city–a prominent lady who was terminally ill. One by one the crosses were brought to her. The first two crosses did nothing, but when the nearly-dead woman touched the third cross she was instantly healed.
Throughout the years many have made pilgrimages to see, touch and kiss an alleged part of the “real cross” in order to be healed and receive blessing. Sadly many have turned the cross into an idol, believing that the wooden cross beams had special powers. The instrument of torture, for many, became something to trust in apart from Jesus Christ.
But the cross is not a trinket we can put on and take off. Nor is it just an example of suffering and obedience. It is not a relic filled with healing power. It is not merely a beautiful piece of decoration. The cross is not a talisman that will bring us good luck and blessings.
The truth is, whether or not the cross on which Jesus died still exists is irrelevant. A piece of wood holds no power. The cross was a device of torture on which the Son of God secured for us the eternal forgiveness of God the father.
“He brought you to life along with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, He also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the Cross.”
– Colossians 2:13-14
The cross itself is not our hope. What Jesus did on the cross is what saves all who believe.
On the cross Jesus made satisfaction of God’s wrath.
On the cross Jesus made payment of our ransom.
On the cross Jesus was punished for our sins.
On the cross Jesus destroyed the power of sin and the curse of death.
And on the cross Jesus ensured forgiveness for those who believe in him.
This is what our study is all about. How Jesus obtained for us the forgiveness of sins by his death.
In this study we will examine many of the different facets of forgiveness. Why do we need it? How do we get it? What is the extent of our forgiveness and how should it change us?
The cross is precious because on it our Savior poured out his life for us. We received pardon and the power to forgive others. Forgiveness is our precious treasure but we can’t hang forgiveness on our walls, or drape it around our necks, but we use the cross as a reminder of the beautiful gift of forgiveness Christ gave to us.
Friends, we are so excited to begin You Are Forgiven with you this coming Monday!
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