As the Lenten Season draws to its peak – The Passover (Easter) Celebration – the universal Church, sets its heart, mind, and hope once again on the Mount of Calvary where Jesus, our Lord and Saviour was crucified over 2000 years ago.
Firstly, I am of the view that we ought to be dearly thankful to Almighty God for another opportunity to assemble in our various churches, as Christian men and women, for worship, prayer and preaching. It is a privilege afforded to us.
Our Christian faith is hinged on the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the Cross and the glorious message of an empty tomb, which was securely sealed, there is no gospel to our proclamation as the Church.
The cross, in its historic usage, was a device which formed part of the cruelest and most gruesome punishment that could be meted out by the Roman government in Biblical times. However, after what happened to Jesus on the Mount of Calvary, by and through the cross, is what makes the cross a significant feature or image in the Church and from it, we have drawn out a life to change message as the Church.
The Cross was no accident. Jesus’ life is was destined for the Cross. In fact, it is the very reason why He left the heavenly places, took the human bodily form, descended into the earthly realm and laid down His life for us. The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph that the child carried by the Virgin Mary was to be named ‘Jesus’ (God saves) because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21 NIV). Jesus also on several occasions, according to the Gospel writers, predicted not only His death but also the manner in which He would die, when He said that in Jerusalem the Jewish council will plot, torture and have Him crucified (Matthew 20:18-19 NIV).
The Cross is of significant value to us and we must embrace it in its totality. We must embrace it teachings, particularly of the selfless love of God, the father, who gave His one and only Son, as the Paschal (Passover) lamb, to die so that we may live and be reconciled to Him; the teaching of the mercy of God, which we did not and do not deserve, but was given unto us, for the forgiveness of our sins and at Christ’s expense and the teaching of liberation, in this context being, freedom from sin and death so that we may live our best lives – lives that glorify God to the uttermost.
In addition to the Cross being a source of teaching and reflection, the Cross must also bring about personal conviction, to bring about a sense of remorse and desire for repentance. It ought to make us realise the extent to which God hates sin and that He is proved Holy and just in punishing sin. What must convict us is the fact Jesus was without sin, but He became sin and endured the punishment of God, the Father, for us. He stood in our place, He spared us and placed Himself in harm’s way and died in our place. Therefore, sin must be viewed and treated seriously, not casually! When we are tempted and we fall, we must be sensitive to the fact that we have offended God and confess our sins and ask for forgiveness from God, relying on the saving work of God, carried out through Jesus Christ. As the old hymn goes, “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood! What can make my life whole again? Nothing but the blood!”
Now, to conclude, what is the value of the Cross? The Cross is worthless, in the absence of Jesus! Therefore, it is imperative that Jesus comes to the centre of our worship, our prayers and preaching, at all times, but more importantly during this time. If ever we were to run out of ideas for Christian missions or get tired of doing good works, the Church should never cease to proclaim the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, because it is this gospel that places Jesus at the centre of every sphere of our lives and wins souls unto God!