“Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14)
To the Christian community, the knowledge of the cross is understood, celebrated and held up as a symbol of our faith. To a lost and seeking world, the cross is understood as a symbol of Christendom but confusing for many just the same. Why would an image of a cruel public execution and death be held up and cherished? Why is the brutal death of the Christian religion’s founder celebrated?
What about all the talk about the “blood” of Jesus? To many, this is simply grotesque, cruel and strange. Wouldn’t it seem strange to Christians if suddenly it became vogue for the public to begin wearing images of guillotines and hangman nooses as jewelry? To understand spiritual truths like these, Jesus often used common stories to reveal a deeper meaning. Maybe the following illustration will help someone understand the deeper meaning behind the cross.
Have you ever been a victim of material loss and the responsible party is unable or unwilling to make it right? You’re not at fault but the loss fell on you and you are left holding the bag. In this situation, most people become angry, lash out and hope for evil and vengeance to come on the perpetrator so they can get a taste of their own medicine. You become consumed with the loss and it’s common to malign and despise the person privately and publicly. The problem with reacting this way is something inside of you continues to hurt, become harder, angrier and the pain never really heals and seems ever present. Collateral damage to the relationships around you begin piling up and you become darker, less joyous, bitter and something inside of you begins to die.
There is an alternative, a difficult and painful one at first but one that leads to a different outcome. You forgive the person, pay for the loss yourself and choose not to hold them accountable for the damages. In this option, you feel the pain initially, but something else happens in you. Over time you heal, you become softer, gentler, more forgiving, and more free. By letting go and absorbing the cost yourself, you refuse to let the circumstances control you.
People who have found themselves in this very circumstance will testify to the truth in this story. Yes, it’s hard to forgive when you’ve been wronged but forgiveness is a path to peace and redemption, both for you and the offending person. In like fashion, when mankind sinned against God, we created a debt, became hopelessly lost and separated from Him, and stricken with a disease causing us to die. (Genesis 2:17, Romans 6:23) But God loved us so much that he chose to extend mercy instead of judgment and devised a way to correct our wrong. When nothing else would work, when there was no other way to pay the debt, God Himself paid it for us. The Bible puts it this way:
“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19)
The cross represents the good news of our freedom won and debt paid in full by the only one who could pay it…God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. All God requires for this pardon to apply is belief and acceptance in what Jesus did for you. Friend, confess you are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness. Believe Jesus paid your debt and accept His forgiveness for your sins. Jesus broke sin’s curse of death by rising from the grave three days after His crucifixion. His victory becomes your victory and your pathway back to God. That my friend is the difference the cross makes.