Is The Cross Important?
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
During this past week, we have celebrated Holy Week. On Friday, many of us spent time reflecting on the cross and the brutal death of Jesus as He laid down His life for you and me. On Sunday, we celebrated His resurrection and the empty tomb. Yet, why do we celebrate this? Is the cross really important?
In this day and age, there are so many people telling us there are many pathways to God. A loving God wouldn't send anyone to Hell, so He has provided many prophets to guide us to Him. Whether we believe in Muhammad, Buddha, Jesus, or whoever, it doesn't really matter. They can all lead us to God and provide us the way to eternal life. Sounds good, but then why the cross?
On the day of Jesus' death, He was mocked, bruised, beaten, flogged, spit upon, bloodied, tortured, and humiliated. His death by crucifixion was a death only experienced by the lowliest of criminals. By the time He was hung on the cross to die, He had been beaten so severely that His face and features were beyond recognition. He hung on a wooden cross for six hours to die an excruciatingly painful death. And yet, in a time of prayer before His death He asked, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). It was the Father's will.
And then He died. “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom …” (Matthew 27:51). In the temple, the veil separated people from the Holy of Holies, where God dwelt. Only the High Priest of the temple could enter into the Holy place. When the veil was torn at the time of Jesus' death, it was God telling us we now had direct access to Him. Jesus Christ became our High Priest.
So why the cross? Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” That sounds immensely harsh, but the truth is that the cost of sin is death. Someone has to die for our sins. And because of His vast love for you and I, God sacrificed His only Son so that we would have the opportunity for eternal life with Him. Jesus willingly went through this brutal death because He loves us. His blood was shed to cover our sins and provide us a way out. We have been offered a gift like no other gifts. We simply have to accept it.
You see, if there was any other way than the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, why would Jesus have offered Himself up like this? Why would He have died for us? Why would God have allowed it? There is no other explanation. John 14:6 says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the way. He is the truth.
And then Jesus proved this truth through His resurrection.
“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.
Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
"Then the angel spoke to the women. 'Don’t be afraid!' he said. 'I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.'
"The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message” (Matthew 28:2-8).
Jesus wasn't just a great teacher, a great man, and a great prophet. Jesus was and is the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah! Hallelujah! He has risen!