1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. (NIV)
At the heart of our faith is a cross on which Jesus was crucified. If we take away the cross, much of our faith does not make sense. Christ taught many things about how to be good, how to love one another, and how to share our lives with other people. The only thing that He couldn’t teach us was how to become sinless. No matter how hard we try to be good, we can never avoid making a mistake; this is what makes the cross absolutely necessary.
Every week, we come before God in His sanctuary to confess our sins; every day, we ask for God’s forgiveness. This means that we regularly admit we have made mistakes and have allowed sin to contaminate our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls. We cannot become sinless, no matter how saintly, holy, or perfect our deeds might be. Jesus couldn’t teach us to become sinless, but He could enable us to become eternally forgiven. This is why the cross, Christ’s Cross, is at the heart of our faith. Our sins are placed upon Christ as He is pinned to the cross; our imperfection is laid upon Him, as He agonizingly suffers. Jesus becomes the ugliest part of all Creation as sin merges with Him on the cross.
When Christ finally dies, the power of sin dies with Him. It can no longer separate us from God; it can no longer pull us away from His love. As Peter correctly wrote so long ago, ‘For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God.’ Amen!
Questions for personal reflection
How many mistakes have I made this week? How many can Christ forgive with His Cross?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we do not fully understand how You defeated sin on the Cross, but we are totally grateful that You accomplished it for us. Thank You for dying for our mistakes, so that we may be allowed to come to God and be with Him forever. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about this message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is one of John’s Holy Week drawings called “Outside a City Wall.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Outside.