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From the Pastor’s Heart

Gain a deep appreciation for Jesus’ sacrifice.

The incredible wonder of the cross! If I had to choose just one subject in the Bible to understand, I’d choose the crucifixion. It’s the foundation of the Christian faith and the heart of our life in Him.

Today we see crosses everywhere—on buildings, in art, as jewelry, in people’s homes. We sing and speak about it. But sometimes I ask myself—how much do people really understand about the cross of Jesus Christ?

There’s nothing mankind has done that compares with what Jesus accomplished in His death.

All of humankind’s achievements, no matter how impressive, will eventually be destroyed, but the Lord’s work on the cross lasts forever (2 Pet. 3:10-13). It’s the single most important and amazing event in history.
The apostle Paul was a man who understood the importance of the cross. When he came to Corinth for the first time, Paul didn’t come with eloquent speech or persuasive words. Instead, he said, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-2).
Everywhere Paul went, this was the message he considered most essential. He never wanted to do anything that would draw attention to himself, but only to the Lord. Because apart from the crucifixion, there’s no hope for the world—no salvation and no eternal glory.
We should all go through life with a deep appreciation for Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. 

So, let’s take a little time together right now to think about this most extraordinary of events.

First of all, the cross was planned and ordained by God before He’d created a single thing.

He knew the human race would fall into sin, so He planned a path of reconciliation. You never have to feel like you’re an afterthought to the Lord. Your salvation was foreseen by Him and achieved by Jesus before you even existed.

God chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4). And to accomplish this, He planned the crucifixion of His Son before He created anything (1 Pet. 1:20). 

Every detail was designed by Him beforehand, predicted by the prophets, and carried out by the Jews and the Romans just as the Lord ordained. None of it was outside His control; it all came to pass just as He set forth.
Second, the cross of Christ is the greatest demonstration of God’s love for mankind. 

He proved His love for us by sending His Son into the world to be the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. It was on the cross that the justice and the love of God met. To save humankind through love, sin had to be justly punished so repentant sinners could be forgiven.

As Jesus hung on the cross, He took the world’s sin upon Himself as a choice made in love. He willingly suffered the consequences of our wrongdoing, so that “we might become the righteousness of God” (John 10:18; 2 Cor. 5:21).
We’re all recipients of His goodness in many ways, but no blessing can compare with His expression of love toward us in laying down His life for our redemption (Acts 2:23). Now all who accept and trust in Christ’s sacrifice, and unite themselves to Him, are reconciled to the heavenly Father.

Jesus’ sacrifice is the only true path to forgiveness.
In this world, you’ll find all sorts of counterfeit ways to find redemption, but none of them are powerful enough to contend with sin and the way it harms us and the world. None of them can bring us through the gates of heaven.
It’s important that we understand Christ doesn’t need to be sacrificed again every time we sin—His work on our behalf is once and for all (Heb. 9:12). And as a result, our salvation can never be lost.
Finally, the effect of the cross reaches into the past, present, and future.
That can’t be said of any other historical event. Even though the crucifixion happened in a moment of time, it’s an eternal event and as such is not limited by time. Before Jesus came to earth, God in His mercy said, “Let the sins previously committed go unpunished,” since they couldn’t be removed by Christ’s blood until His blood had been shed on the cross (Rom. 3:25).
The animal sacrifices offered in obedience to God’s law, by the Hebrews and the Israelite nation, were never capable of taking away sins, but only covered them until the perfect Lamb of God came (John 1:29).
Those who, by faith: trusted in God before the cross; walked with Him before the nation of Israel was formed; believed in Jesus at the time of the crucifixion; and all who’ve trusted in Christ as Savior and Lord since then have been saved by His loving sacrifice.

The scope, importance, and transforming power of the crucifixion are beyond every comparison.
I hope that the next time you see a cross, you’ll pause to consider what a wonder it is. Even in heaven, we’ll be singing and praising the Lamb who was slain for us (Rev. 5:12)—Jesus, the victor over sin and death.
Let the cross and the One who willingly subjected Himself to it be the focus of your thoughts, worship, and gratitude in this beautiful season.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. I pray you’ll have a blessed Easter as you remember Christ’s death and resurrection. Here at In Touch we want to support you in growing closer to the Lord each day. Sending our free monthly devotional, called In Touch, is one way we strive to help. If you’re not subscribed, I hope you’ll try it. We’re always honored to serve you through God’s Word.