Mark 16:6 [ESV] “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.
What does the cross mean to me? Everything. How could it not mean everything for a Christian? Paul said this in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15 verses 16-20, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
If Jesus Christ was not crushed by the Father on that Roman cross, we would have no hope in this life or the next. So what does this mean for me personally? It means that despite the fact I spit in my savior’s face on a daily basis by sinning against him, and despite the fact that I deserve nothing from the Father except for eternal wrath, he still chose to offer his son as the perfect sacrifice to atone for my sins. Jesus bore the burden of all my sins on that cross, even the little white lies, and as Isaiah 53:10 says, the father was pleased to crush the son, putting him to grief, because he rendered himself as a guilt offering.
I grew up on the Southwest side of Indianapolis, IN in a loving home. My parents ensured that my siblings and I attended church every single week and I was baptized around the time I was seven or eight years old. While I knew who Jesus was and I knew what He did for me, at that young age I did not grasp the true nature of my sinfulness and thus began a long road down the path of works righteousness.
As I grew and moved into high school, I struggled to keep the Laws of the Lord. To me, being a “good Christian” meant following a long set of rules. While that mindset kept me out of a whole heap of trouble that my friends found themselves in, it was truly nothing more than filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) to my Father in Heaven.
I attended college at Ball State University and while on campus I became heavily involved with Campus Crusade for Christ. Unfortunately, with a theological foundation built upon sinking sand, I quickly began to live a double-life, one of drinking and partying. While I never got into legal trouble, my Christianity was all but gone when I met my beautiful bride-to-be my next to last year of school.
We were married in July of 2006 and bought our current home. We were blessed with our little boy in June of 2009 and decided that after a number of years attending church off and on, it was time to get serious because we wanted him to be raised in the church. (Notice the motivation for returning to the church had absolutely nothing to do with honoring and glorifying God.)
I have no doubt it will come as no surprise to you all that before long, God’s plan of justification for my wife and I would come to fruition. We attended consecutive weekend long retreats, men first, then women, and from that moment forward a work began taking shape in our hearts. I remember a month or two later driving home from work and thinking about all the ways I had failed to put my faith and trust in Him and his work on the cross. I burst into tears in my car.
At that time, I would usually beat my wife home and as I walked in the door my knees gave out and I literally fell on my face in a heap of tears, crying out to God for forgiveness and audibly confessing my sins to Him. I would learn later that all of my life up to that point I was a false convert; someone who went to church, knew about God, but did not fully trust in Christ’s work on the cross and lead a life of ongoing, genuine repentance. I was the man of whom Jesus spoke in Matthew 7 when he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven…” and “…I never knew you.”
You see, the cross is the ultimate symbol of love, the ultimate symbol of selflessness, the ultimate symbol of our faith. If Jesus Christ did not die on that cross for my sins and your sins and be resurrected three days later, then Christianity is a sham and we’re all fools. But he did give himself up to be slaughtered on that cross and he did rise again on the third day and Christianity is not a sham! It is the label with which we proudly adorn ourselves to say to the world, “I am a Christ follower! Jesus Christ is my King! While I once was dead in Adam, I am now alive in Christ because of his work on the cross!”
Nothing you or I can do will ever be good enough to earn our way to Heaven. No, Jesus Christ did all the work and I strive daily to glorify Him and praise him and thank him for opening my eyes and providing a genuine saving faith to a low-down wretch like me. He knows I most certainly did not deserve it.
What does the cross mean to me? Life everlasting. It means that one day I will get the great honor of living out eternity in the presence of our most loving savior and Lord Jesus Christ and praising him forever. When I see the holes in his hands and feet, and the puncture in his side, I will remember the cross. I will remember the wrath which I deserve being poured out on my King in my place. I will remember my Savior taking the cup which I could never bear.
What does the cross mean to me?