40 Days of Preparation
Preparing for Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday - 2018
A Devotional for Wednesday, March 28 – Friday, March 30, 2018
The Cross … Forgiving Sin at a Remarkable Cost
A recent Lifeway Research survey for Ligonier Ministries reports that 65% - 67% of Americans take sin somewhat seriously. Many have used the time of Lent to seek God’s forgiveness and victory of sin. In fact, 2 out of 3 Americans confess to being a sinner.
However, the rest don’t see themselves as sinners (8%), don’t think sin exists (10%), or preferred not to answer the question (15%). You do the math. That means that 33% of Americans don’t feel the need to deal with sin as a personal problem. Do some additional calculations. That means that there is just a 34% variant between the two groups. The message is that Christianity and the message of the cross is much more marginalized that what many have thought.
Somewhere something has been missed in translation. There is a growing number of people in general, and Christians specifically, who believe that the do not need forgiveness of sin. This means the message of the cross does not have as much meaning as it once did.
Biblical Need for the Cross
In 1 John 1:8 it is written, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” In Romans 3:23 we read, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Bible tells us over and over again that humanity is sick and separated from God as a result of sin. Hence, we need a savior. God’s gift of salvation is given through Jesus. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
While 33% of Americans may not feel they have a need for the forgiveness procured by Jesus’ work on the cross, the message of the cross still fulfills the greatest need for all human beings. In 1 Corinthian 1:18 Paul writes, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.” The cross is the only antidote for our sin.
Preparing for the Cross
According to church tradition we commemorate Jesus’ death on Friday. While the Bible never tells us that Jesus died on Friday, it was actually on Thursday (14-15 Nissan according to the Jewish calendar) when all the lambs were being slain in the temple in preparation for the Passover. Whenever and wherever you might be this week, our focus should be on the Passion of Jesus Christ and His death of the cross. His death should mean everything to you. As you focus on the cross and meditate on its truth, read Hebrews 9–10 to gain a deeper understanding of the gift of love and forgiveness God has passed on to you through the message of the cross. Meditate on the words of this old hymn by Isaac Watts …
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Preparing for the Empty Tomb
The meaning of the cross is solidified three days after his death when Jesus is resurrected from the dead. Celebrating the resurrection is the epicenter of the Christian faith. This Sunday, all over the planet people will proclaim, “He is risen!”
While the cross fulfills our greatest need, the resurrection of Jesus is the greatest gift ever. Faith in the living Jesus gives us life abundant today and eternal life forever!
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10b
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. John 11:25
Meditate of the words of this ancient hymn celebrating the resurrection of Jesus by John of Damascus:
The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness,
The Passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
From earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over,
With hymns of victory.
Our hearts be pure from evil,
That we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal
Of resurrection light;
And list’ning to His accents,
May hear, so calm and plain,
His own “All hail!” and, hearing,
May raise the victor strain.
Now let the heav’ns be joyful!
Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph,
And all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen
Their notes in gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen,
Our joy that hath no end.