“Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die. Would He devote that sacred head for such a one as I? At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away; It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day!”
These are the words to an old, old song that I have heard sung in worship all of my life. We sing about the cross and what took place there. But how many of us really realize and appreciate properly what did take place at the cross? Let’s consider some of the things that took place at the cross.
At the cross the great love of God was manifested for us. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us” (I John 3:16a). Most all students of the Bible can quote John 3:16: “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.” Let John further explain this great love of God that was fully manifested toward us at the cross. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (I John 4:7-11).
At the cross Jesus died to free us from the bondage and chains of sin. The Hebrew writer informs us of this when he says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste of death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). With that “precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:18-19) we are redeemed, bought back and brought back from the shackles of sin. Today when one “obeys from the heart that form of doctrine delivered,” he is made free from his sins, washed in the blood that was shed at the cross. See Romans 6:17-18; Acts 22:16. When we are washed in the blood of the Lamb, our sins “though they be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18). When we have been made free by the blood of the cross, we can truly say, “Thank God Almighty; I am free at last!” Or as Paul put it, “Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:9).
At the cross the law of Moses was fulfilled, finished and nailed to the cross. Jesus promised that the law would not pass out of existence until He had fulfilled all of it (Matt. 5:17-18). Paul tells us that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). In Colossians 2:14-16 and Ephesians 2:14-15 Paul explained how the law was “nailed to the cross,” and with “the death of the testator” the New Testament of Jesus Christ came into effect (Heb. 9:15-17). Today, when folks go back to the Old Testament and back to the Law of Moses to try to find authorization for Sabbath Day keeping, and mechanical instruments of music in worship, they show at least three things. (1) They do not understand which law governs men today (Heb. 1:1-2). (2) They indicate that they believe authority is necessary (Col. 3:17) (3) They show that such authority cannot be found in the New Testament.
At the cross the church was bought and paid for with the blood of Christ. Paul informed the Ephesian elders of this point, when he stated, “ Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). In his letter to the church at Ephesus, he also spoke of this: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). When we realize that the same blood that redeemed us (I Pet. 1:18-19) also purchased the church, it is easy for us to understand why He (Christ) is the Saviour of the body (Eph. 5:23). Those today who say that the church is not important are saying that the blood of Christ is not important, because every drop of His blood went into the purchase price of His precious body, the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). It is to this blood-bought body that all the saved are added upon their obedience to the plan of salvation clearly revealed in His New Testament (Acts 2:47). The next time you are inclined to minimize the importance of the church, remember that He paid for it with His blood. Christ must have believed that the thing purchased was worth the price paid for it. Thus the church of our Lord is of the utmost importance.
At the cross peace was made; Jew and Gentile were reconciled. Paul writes, “And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight” (Col. 1:20-22). In a parallel passage in Ephesians 2:14-17 Paul wrote, “For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” Please notice the connection between this fact and the previous one. It was in this “one body” that was bought with Christ’s blood, that peace was made and reconciliation took place.
At the cross, the price was paid for sin. The Hebrew writer states: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” The price for sin can now be marked “Paid in full!” See also John 19:32-34, Ephesians 1:7, and Revelation 1:5.
By inspiration Ezekiel wrote, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:20). How could a righteous God forgive our sins instead of requiring each one of us, as sinners, to pay this supreme penalty for sin? “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The answer is found in Romans 3:24-26. Listen as Paul explains it. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” We are able to “flee from the wrath to come” (Matt. 3:7) when we “obey from the heart that form of doctrine” (Rom. 6:17-18) by the grace of God bestowed upon us due to Jesus, as the “propitiation” paying the price for our sin.
At a time in history when the most extravagant claims are being made in regard to God’s love, it is wise to take into account Scriptures like Colossians 3:6 where the other side of the Divine nature is in view. Paul told the Colossian brethren, “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.” “Far from negating God’s love, His wrath confirms it. For without justice, mercy loses its meaning.” [Earle Ellis: Wycliffe Bible Commentary]. The New Testament is full of teaching to the effect that God has a score to settle with evil and one day He will settle it. See II Corinthians 5:10-11, Romans 11:22, II Thessalonians 1:7ff. It is only because at the cross, Christ paid the penalty for sin becoming the propitiation for those who will accept the grace of God. As we sometimes sing, “Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow.”
Paul M. Wilmoth