PROCLAIMING TRUTH: The Cross – America’s only hope
“If you take a few minutes to read any local or national news, you will find tragic stories. They often surround a person or group of people making poor moral choices that harm themselves and others. Somehow in the process, they convinced themselves that what was wrong, was right. This is at the heart of the crisis in our nation. The battle we face is not a political or ideological one. It is a spiritual one.”
Above America’s dusty and grim skyline is an image. If you look carefully, you should be able to see it. There is one image of a long vertical wooden beam, then a second one of a shorter horizontal beam. Then slowly they come together and form the image of an old wooden cross that is blood stained. And there is a light shining from the heavens down on the cross. That is the vision of America’s only hope.
It is the sign of the cross. It is where Jesus, the Son of God, suffered and died for the sins of Americans and the whole world. And the hope of this cross lay in its purpose.
At Jesus’ birth an angel announced to shepherds in a field, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Save means “to rescue.” Rescue from what? Sin, which are the wrongs we do against ourselves, others, but primarily against God our Creator. Sin is what lives within our hearts. All of us are born with it. It is that natural bent within us to pursue our own desires, versus God’s. It is that sense of refusal to submit to His ways. Our sin is demonstrated in every lustful image in our mind, every selfish thought and act, every hurtful word spoken. It is like an inner moral rot that we are blinded to, and work to justify.
Jesus was sent from heaven to die, to recuse us from this. His suffering and death were the only means through which it could be done. The corruption by religious and political figures that sentenced Jesus to death was unjust. The crown of thorns pushed down into his head was excruciating. The tearing apart of Jesus’ flesh through gruesome whippings was bloody. Jesus’ weak body being hung on two pieces of wood, by being nailed to it through his hands and feet, was inhumane.
The horror of the cross illustrates the severity of our wrongs. Though we do not see them as evil, in the eyes of God they are. Our actions are unjust, wicked and only the cross can satisfy the punishment that is due for them.
Despite what we think of ourselves, in the courtroom of God, our horrific sinfulness requires the ultimately penalty of death. However, in the greatest display of mercy the world has ever known, God Almighty provided a better way to satisfy His justifiable penalty. He sent His Only Son to die in our place. He poured out the rightful punishment due for us on His perfect, sinless and holy Son. Jesus lovingly took our place.
And what is the validation of all this? Jesus not only died, but three days later rose from the dead and is still alive today! His resurrection means He overcame and conquered all our sinfulness that was poured out upon Him. He destroyed it all! He is the victor over sin, death and the Devil himself. Now because He lives, so can you. Because He has conquered, so can you. That is the hope of the cross for every individual and that is the hope of America!
Through the cross, a hard-hearted man can become loving, a bitter woman can become compassionate, a divided nation can become one.
A prayer for you – God in heaven, we can see the darkness of America. Evil and injustice in so many places. We are a broken people. Only you can save us! Examine our hearts O God. Help us to turn from our sin and to you for mercy. Wash us. Make us clean we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Clint Decker is President of Great Awakenings. Please share your comment with Clint at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his blog at clintdecker.blogspot.com.