The Meaning of the Cross

W. Terry Varner
March 10, 2013

The cross is the most significant event in history, but it often means little to most people. What is the meaning of the cross? What does the cross mean to you? The cross was a focal point in the faith of the early Christians. It ought to be the focal point of our faith and life. We are told: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). Paul’s emphasis in preaching to the Corinthians was “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

The Cross is the measure of man’s sin. Isaiah 53 gives us a beautiful picture of the meaning of the cross as “the measure of sin.” On the cross, Jesus “bore our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4). There He was “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities . . . and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). On the cross, our heavenly Father “laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). Jesus died for us without complaint—“as a lamb that is lead to the slaughter, and as a sheep He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7). Jesus died “for the transgression of My people” (Isa. 53:8). It pleased God to “make His soul an offering for sin” (Isa. 53:9) in order to redeem fallen man. In bearing our sins and iniquities He willing died as He “poured out his soul unto death” (Isa.53:11-12). The cross shows the hand of God against sin and unrighteousness. A serious study of the cross of Jesus will enable us to begin to comprehend the horrendous nature of our sins.

The cross is the manifestation of God’s love. John states: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Romans 5:8-9 states; “But God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” The cross reveals God’s love as the Scripture states: “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am he” (John 5:28). In many times and in many ways, God has shown the abundance of His love for us. Some deny the love of God for sinners, yet, the rich young ruler was lost, “And Jesus looking upon him loved him” (Mark 10:21). It is humbling and at the same time uplifting to realize the beauty of heaven’s love toward us. Who can deny the unspeakable value of God’s great love to mankind?

The cross is the means of salvation. Man could have no salvation apart from the cross of Jesus. The cross is compelling. Jesus stated: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto Myself (John 12:32). It shows a compelling love. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). It shows a compelling sacrifice. Paul writes: “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15). One cannot examine Calvary without being reminded that “apart from the shedding of the blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22) and “it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin” (Heb. 10:4). Nothing is able to serve as a satisfactory payment for man’s sins except “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Conversion and Calvary are forever joined in man’s redemption. When we are baptized for remission of sins, we are baptized into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Rom. 6:3-4, 17). Remember—Jesus “loved us, and washed us from our sins by His blood” (Rev. 1:5).