7 Things I Found at the Cross
1. The greatest forgiveness- There is no forgiveness as important as the forgiveness of God. It is the only place where sins can be forgiven. A traffic ticket can be forgiven when payment of penalty is made before a judge in the municipal traffic court. There are city, county, and state courts- there are Federal, and Appeals courts. There is the United States Supreme Court. It is the highest court in our Government. There is a higher court- a greater judgment and jurisdiction- there is the cross.
It is at the cross where we might find forgiveness for all our sins. “Come now, let us reason together saith the Lord Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow.” If you stain or soil your white linen shirt – some stains come out easier than others. There are some stains that are impossible. No fuller, no soap, no bleach can wash out sins that are Scarlet or Red like Crimson. One spot, one stain, one soiled or dirty place will preclude you from entering Heaven and the place God is.
We have more than one stain. All our righteousness is as filthy rags. We went out to play and got dirty. The moment we were born we were sinners. We need to be made clean- to be forgiven. Our record needs to be cleansed. The cross is the only place where sin can be forgiven. There it is paid for by God. “Father Forgive them.” All who come to the cross by faith and in repentance are forgiven.The first thing we will find at the cross is forgiveness.
2. I find the greatest faith.
“Jesus Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Anyone can believe in a Christ who is sitting on a throne. That is easy. Believing in a man hanging on a cross is another matter. Jesus did not look like a success on the cross. He looked like a failure. His own disciples thought He failed. They ran away. Like those on the road to Emmaus most went home. “We had hoped” they said, but they were disappointed. This thief believed while Jesus was at his lowest point.
We believe in our heroes. We invest our money with successful people. We follow winners. Jesus looked every bit a loser. To believe Him a King, while on the cross was the epitome of faith. “Today , thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” To be in pain and believe in Paradise is a great act of faith.
believed in Jesus, so should you. “Remember, me.” Unbelievers don’t think
they will be able to “remember” after death. That is all an unbeliever will
be able to do. Some think that this life is all there is. Not this thief.
He said “remember, me.” He was right. He had faith in God- He believed in
Justice. “We indeed, justly.” He believed in God. He believed in life
after death. He believed in justice, But most important of all. He
believed in Jesus. “Lord,” he called Him. Many believe in Jesus, but not
in Lord Jesus. They might believe He existed, was a great teacher, a good
man, a prophet, or founder of a great religion- This thief on the cross
believed in Jesus as “Lord.” Paul said, “If thou shalt confess with thy
mouth the “Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him
from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
3. I find the greatest family. There are families and there are families“Woman, behold thy son. Behold thy mother.” The mother of Jesus stayed with Him to the end. Mothers are the last to leave. They will stay when everyone else has run away. Thank God for Mothers.
Jesus’ brothers didn’t understand or appreciate what it was to belong to the same family as this son of Mary. They did not believe. Joseph seems to be absent from the story after the trip to the Temple when Jesus was twelve. The next time we see God’s Son eighteen years have passed. Joseph is gone.
Was Mary a widow? Did she know what it was to count widow’s mites. Did she know what it was like to go husbandless? Was there an empty chair? No home or family on earth is perfect or without its heartache. As wonderful as the household of Mary and Joseph was, there was a greater family into which we are born. There is the family of faith.
Mary would no longer look to the physical family for her support and succor. “Behold, thy son.” All she could see was the one on the cross. She was as if impaled herself. She could not leave the place even when everyone else did. Jesus was no longer able to physically embrace her. John would do that. “Behold, thy mother.”
Once, when His brothers felt He had gone too far they came seeking to take Him away. “Your brothers are outside and want you to come.” “My family,” said Jesus, “are those who do the will of my Father.”
This world is filled with broken hearts and broken homes that can find “family” at the cross. Everyone who knows Jesus and loves God is family. The moment we are born again we have a place called home.
4. The greatest fear- being forsaken by God
Nothing is to be feared more than this. With God nothing is impossible. Without God there is no hope. Financial loss with God is survivable, endurable, and tolerable. “It is God that gives power to get wealth” (Deut.8:18). A widow who has God can give away her last two mites and still have everything. Jesus said that life does not consist of the abundance of things that a man possesses.
Take away home, health, wealth, take away everything, but don’t take God away. “With God” balances every equation, answers every problem, steadies every heart. Emmanuel means “God with us.” This is not only the “Hope of the world,” it is the only hope.
Our prayers lifted up, our bowed heads have hope that God hears and help is on the way. But to be forsaken by God, turns prayer into eternal regret and painful recrimination. To be forsaken by God is just too horrible to think about. When God leaves He takes everything with Him. Love, Light, Laughter, Hope, Meaning, everything.
Genesis tells us that there comes a time when God will no longer “strive” with man. There is the possibility, the awful possibility that God will “give up” on someone. When that happens, it is the worst thing that can ever happen (and it is forever).
What happened on the cross was the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone or anything. Things turned dark and night came early that day. A wailing lamentation pierced the darkness with a razor edge of pain. The words was pronounced by the Son of God are chilling. The word “forsaken” is the worst word in the lexicon of light.
Sin will eventually bring sinners to understand the word’s meaning, but by then the sinner will be in Hell and “forsaken.” At the cross Jesus gave us a glimpse of what forsaken is and the opportunity to run and be gathered up in the arms of God while there is still time. Jesus was for a period of time “forsaken” so no one else ever had to be.
5. The Greatest Fountain- “I Thirst.”
He thirsted, that we would never have to. Jesus is the fountain. He is the rock in the wilderness. He is the word and the water of life. In arid lands blighted by famine we have seen skeletal figures dressed in rags standing in line with containers of every shape and description waiting for water. We need water to live. Few people understand the importance of water like those who live in the dessert. We take water for granted. Without water we die. We need it to drink, to bath, to swallow and even to blink. We are made mostly of water. Ever cell is a little sea. Our blood is a river of life.
We do not think about water very much. We are surrounded by water coolers. Should we want a drink, (when was the last time you used a public water fountain?) we usually just “take a sip.” People take water for granted, like …well, like they take God for granted. We “sip” Him here and there. A sip on Sunday is enough for most of us. We might not feel like another until Wednesday.
The Psalmist cried out in a “thirst for God” which he likened to the “hart, thirsting after the water brook.” When was the last time we thirsted for God like that? The fact of the matter is, we were designed to “thirst after God.” Somehow, like the woman of Sychar we are found at too many worldly wells that do not satisfy.
Jerusalem had no river. All the great cities and civilizations of the world have their great waterways. Jerusalem had cisterns. They would catch the rain that fell from heaven. Jerusalem was completely dependant on what fell from above. Jesus speaking of the Spiritual presence of God as a “water springing up out of our innermost being.” We need water. We need God more than water. Not in little sips, but in His gushing, rushing fullness to cleanse us and wash all ill away, but also in His gentle quietness as found in Psalm One.
Jesus thirsted on the cross. In those words He spoke of His identification with us. We might not understand how He could forgive. We might be amazed by how He thought of others in the midst of His own agony. All that He spoke on the cross is so much higher that we are. But in the words “I thirst” He comes right down with us, where we are. He suffered in the flesh and in His humanity. He We were designed to thirst. Thirst is a warning system that life is in jeopardy. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.
6. The Greatest Finish- There have been great finishes, but none like this. Jesus said “It is finished.” Starting is easy. We have all started. Finishing is another matter. We have all started things that were too much for us. We quit. We joined the health club, but we just didn’t have time. We quit. Some started piano lessons but never got around to leaning to play the piano. Then there are the guitars standing in the back of the closet. We had good intentions, but we never finished what we started. Not so with Jesus, He is the Alpha and the Omega. He finished the work the Father gave Him to do.
There have been great finishes before. Noah finished the ark. Nehemiah finished the wall, and Solomon the Temple. Paul said “I have kept the faith, and finished the course.” Good for Paul. We are not there yet. Jesus finished the work of redemption and salvation of Calvary. There He paid for my sins “in full.” His work was not “down payment,” or “lay-a-way. I do not have to pay compound interest and there is no mortgage due. What He did is finished, done, complete.
Some are fascinated by the “it” of the “It is finished.” They are off arguing about if that means the law, or the sacrifices, or the Old Testament, or the Sabbath. While it is true that Jesus is our Sabbath, what is finished is all that is necessary for our Salvation. The ark is completed, come in before it rains. The temple is finished, come and worship. The wall is up, enter in and be secure.
There is still much to do in this thing called life. There are still many to love, much to learn, and much to live, but we are to do these all in His grace, because His work is done.
7. The Greatest Future- “Into Thy hands I commit my spirit.” This life is not all there is. At the cross many saw Jesus die, but that was not the end. There is a thing called Heaven. There is an after life that makes this life but a shadow of greater things to come.
“Into Thy hands.” These words explain it all. The Psalmist spoke of the sun, moon and stars being the “work of His fingers.” Hands tell much about a person. There are delicate long-fingered hands of a concert pianist. There are the strong calloused hands of a longshoreman. A surgeon has delicate hands that are skilled enough to tie a knot with the fingers of one hand deep in the cavity of a patient on the operating table.
There are the hands of a mother and the hands of catcher playing in the major league. There the fidgeting hands and fingers of a guilty man on trial, and the quiet folded hand of a saint at prayer. There are good hands and clean hands, there are Pilate’s hands, and then there God’s hands.
We are never in better hands than when we are in God’s hands. We do not have to wait until we are being crucified to place ourselves into God’s hands. “Into Thy hands I commit my money, or my marriage, or my ministry.” We can say, “Into Thy hands I commit, my family, my job, my sickness or my savings.”
As a matter of fact, we are foolish when we fail to trust God with our “things.” Ultimately, when we come to the place when the flesh shall serve us no more and we stand on the threshold of eternity, we must say as Jesus did, and later Stephen “Into Thy hands I commend (or commit) my spirit. We should say that every morning and every night. When we do, we know that our future is in good hands.