“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”–Galatians 6:14
All over the world, there is the sign of the cross.
In London, on the top of the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral sits a cross. In Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, there is a 98 foot statue of Christ the Redeemer which overlooks the city. From a distance, the outstretched arms of Jesus form a cross.
At Belsen Concentration Camp in Germany stands a 25 foot wooden cross guarding the cemetery where so many people lost their lives to insane and unspeakable cruelty.
A tiny cross is buried on the snow and ice of the summit of Mt. Everest. It was put there on May 29, 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary.
Many people have the symbol of the cross placed on the cover of their Bibles. Millions of people wear a cross around their necks.
The question arises. “What does the cross mean to you?” “Why do most churches have a cross?” The whole Christian world values the cross. “Why did Paul say he gloried in the cross more than anything else?”
Paul could have gloried in his education. He had studied at the feet of one of the most respected Rabbis of his era.
Paul could have gloried in heritage. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, a tribe known for its honor in time of warfare.
Paul could have gloried in religion. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees.
Paul could have gloried in his ability to speak several languages.
Paul could have gloried in the fact that he was a Roman citizen.
But Paul did not glory in himself. He gloried in the cross of Jesus, with emphasis on the cross.
Paul could have gloried in other things about Jesus. Jesus was born of a virgin. That was a spectacular fact. Jesus was a great teacher. When Jesus spoke, men marveled. Christ spoke with power and authority. People knew, here was a Man sent from God.
Paul could have gloried in the great social work of Jesus. Jesus fed the multitudes. He healed the afflicted. He comforted people in their sorrow. Jesus had great compassion for the poor and the needy. Jesus was concerned about the hungry and the sick.
Paul could have gloried in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, or His ascension into heaven.
But Paul said, “No,” to those things. Paul said, “I glory only in the cross.” “God forbid that I should glory in anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Why would Paul say such a thing in light of the fact that the cross was the symbol of terrible punishment? The cross was a place where condemned prisoners died. It was a cruel place. A person who went to the cross, a person who was crucified had to endure unspeakable horrors and pain.
The victim would sometimes hang on their cross for several days, prolonging the incredible agony. They would have to endure thirst, and slow suffocation.
When Jesus was taken to Calvary, he was accompanied by two others.
The cold hearted soldiers of Rome whipped Jesus 39 times across his bare back. A crown of thorns was crushed on His holy brow. A heavy wooden cross was placed on His shoulders. The procession started.
Soldiers took Jesus and dragged Him through the streets of Jerusalem as a form of public shame. This was the Via Delarosa, the way of the cross.
Crowds gathered to watch the human scene of suffering. Many thought it was funny, and laughed at the condemned prisoners.
At a distance, a few friends of Jesus were in the crowd. But they could do nothing to help Him. When Jesus stumbled and fell from loss of blood, and the weight of the cross, an African man, Simon of Cyrene was compelled to carry the cross.
At the place of execution the soldiers went quickly and methodically, about their task. They took long nails, stretched out the arms of Jesus, and pounded the spikes through his hands, and then his feet. The soldiers cared nothing of the agony they caused. Their ears were deaf to the screams of pain they produced.
The crowd caught up with the proceedings. As Jesus was lifted up from the earth, someone looked at Him and said, “He saved others. Let Him save Himself!” Someone else cried out, “If this man is the Son of God, let Him come down from the cross. Then, we will believe in him.”
But Jesus did not come down from the cross. He stayed on the cross to make atonement for sin. Jesus stayed on the cross to bear the wrath of God in your place, and mine. Jesus died because of His great love for those who are to be the heirs of redemption. Jesus endured the cross for the joy which awaited Him on the other side, when He would bring many sons into glory (Heb. 12:2).
Because Jesus died, there is hope for every soul by sin oppressed. Prostitutes, alcoholics, robbers, murderers, homosexuals, people filled with racial prejudice, people who hate Jews, people who have followed a false religion, can all be forgiven in Christ. “And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
Paul gloried in the cross because it is the only way of salvation. Paul agreed with the apostle Peter who said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Many people believe there are many ways to salvation. There are people who believe that all of the major religions lead a person to heaven, and therefore should be respected. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
If Jesus is not a liar, if He is not a lunatic, then He is Lord, and must be believed and followed. Nothing else will save. No one else can save. The cross is the only way to salvation and eternal life.
Other ways of salvation seem right to many, but the end thereof is death, for individuals must meet with God on God’s terms. God has told all of humanity, “I will meet you at the cross. This is my Son, listen to Him.”
When the church proclaims this truth, many people become angry. They like to think there are many ways to be saved.
Some think their personal goodness will save them. Like the Rich Young Ruler who came to Jesus one day, individuals can look at themselves and think they are very good. They have not committed adultery. They have not denied the existence of God. They have not killed anyone. And so in their human pride and arrogance they believe in their own goodness, a goodness that will get them into heaven. But they are wrong. The Bible says that there is none righteous, no not one. All we like sheep have gone astray. Every man, woman, and child needs a Saviour.
Others think their good works can atone for any mistakes they have made, or people they have hurt. Some believe because they make a lot of money, and provide well for their family, and friends, they are good, and worthy of heaven. They sincerely believe that money can atone for their mean, profane, and cruel comments. God says to such a person, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have provided?” (Luke 12:18). The person who is not rich before God, will learn soon enough, that there is not enough money in the world that can atone for sin.
The way of salvation is not as easy as many people believe, which is why Jesus told His disciples to count the cost. The cost of heaven is a cross.
There is the cross of Christ at Golgotha, and there is the cross of personal discipleship. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
To follow Christ, means that He becomes the Lord of your life.
To follow Christ, means that you become His disciple. You do not teach Him. He teaches you. You humble yourself, and learn.
To follow Christ, means that you obey His commands. You must love your neighbor as yourself. You must take up a cross.
The cross is a place of death. So you must die to self, and then go on to live for Jesus, and others, to the point that they see Christ in you.
The cross is a place of witnessing. So you must begin to tell others that you are a Christian. Now, you cannot do this alone.
The cross is a place of new beginnings. The Bible says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Now, no one can live the Christian life in themselves. Every Christian needs the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
If you are serious about being a Christian, the Lord will come to help you. Jesus will come and give you a love, joy, and peace, that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
But first, you must come to the cross, and make the cross meaningful.
The cross is meaningful, because it exposes the depth of sin.
The cross is meaningful, because it shows the love of God. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16,1 7).
The cross is meaningful, because it shows the way of salvation. The way of the cross leads home.
The cross is meaningful, because it gives a new dynamic to live life.
Once you have been to the cross by faith, and by the Spirit, you can never be the same. Jesus changes your life completely.
The change may be gradual.
The cross is meaningful, because it becomes a motivation for serving others. When a person becomes a Christian they will want to give their time, their talents, their resources, and even risk their health to serve other people. Paul said the love of God compelled him to do good to others, and to preach the gospel. Such is the power of the cross.
Is the cross meaningful to you? When you see a cross, does it hold any value?
Perhaps the Spirit is drawing you to the cross, and to the Christ of the cross. Come then, and take your place with others at the cross of Jesus. Not with those who mocked Him, but those who stand amazed enough to ask,
“Alas! And did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die,
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?”
Paul gloried in the cross because he knew it guaranteed a future life. Because Christ died at the cross, was buried, and rose again, there is hope for a future life. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our
God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10).
What a glorious future awaits all who come to the cross, and receive Jesus Christ. Come to the cross and find forgiveness. Come to the cross and find peace.
Do not reject Jesus.
Some who came to the cross when Jesus was crucified were indifferent. They were at the cross, but they mocked. They watched. They were indifferent.
Others at the cross wept. They loved Jesus, and did not want to see Him suffer.
Some at the cross were skeptical. They doubted Jesus was the Messiah, and demanded proof.
Then there was the centurion who said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”
When you come to the cross, will you be a mocker? Will you be a skeptic? Or will you understand the significance of the death of Jesus?
Come to the cross and say, “I believe.”