The Story of the Cross

The word “love” has become numb to the world. It is just another word with no meaning and has no emotion attached to it. The dictionary definition of love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person” (dictionary.com). In a Christian sense of the word “love,” it has a stronger and more powerful meaning in which it is a “selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love” (about.com). This kind of love is called agape love. “Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for His Father and for His followers” (about.com).

God’s love cannot be explained to the fullness of who He is! “God is love” (1 John 4:8). His love is beyond our comprehension that can only be experienced by encountering His presence. The love of Christ is the most sacrificial love we will ever experience in our lifetime. His love has no bounds. Psalm 36:5 says God’s love “reaches to the heavens and [His] faithfulness [reaches] to the skies.”

Nothing can separate us from God’s love. According to Paul in Romans 8:37-39, “no, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God’s love is the most amazing gift that we could ever receive. God allowed His son, Jesus, to die on a cross so we could have a relationship with Him. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We need to take a minute to think about this Scripture. God saw us worthy even when we were still sinners. We were worthy enough for God’s son to die a painful and dreadful death. That is how much God loves us. That is breathtaking!

The Story of the Cross

In the book of Luke, chapter 23, verses 32 through 38, tells us the story of the cross. This story is one-of-a-kind. Jesus was God in human form “and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). If Jesus was God in human form, then he would have felt the same pain we would have experienced if we were tortured and nailed to the cross.

Jesus was blameless! He did not deserve to be beaten beyond recognition, carry a heavy wooden cross on His back, mocked, and nailed to a cross to suffer a long agonizing death. Even in His suffering, He had compassion for us. While He hung on the cross, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34).

If I was hanging on a cross dying and was being mocked by the people who used to love me, I do not know if I would have compassion for them. In this situation, more than likely our fleshly thoughts would get the best of us. If you were nailed to a cross, after being beaten nearly to death, you would be in extraordinary pain. This kind of pain cannot be fully described in words, because it was so intense. No other man on earth has experienced the level of pain that Jesus endured. In addition to suffering on the cross, Jesus must have felt the ultimate rejection by the ones that used to love Him. These people in the crowd, mocking Him, were those that used to follow Him and believed in His miracles. I cannot even imagine experiencing this kind of rejection. In the midst of all this chaos, Jesus did not condemn us or even reject us for our actions, but, instead, He forgave us.

While Jesus was taking His last breaths on the cross, His final words were “it is finished” (John 19:30). “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split” (Matthew 27:51). When those words were spoken, we had access to God. Jesus paved the way for us in the most tragic death.

Jesus replaced the rituals of burnt offerings in the Old Testament by giving Himself up as a burnt offering. In the Old Testament, the people in the Bible would ask God for forgiveness for their sins by sacrificing an animal, in specific terms, to honor Him. Burnt offerings was a sacred ritual. Leviticus 1:10 says that “if the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect.” Jesus is perfect in every way!

One of the most popular and memorized Scriptures in the Bible is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The agape love expressed in this Scripture is not something we can wrap our minds around. It cannot be explained why someone would sacrifice himself to save the world. This proves that God’s love is unconditional, with no strings attached.

The cross symbolizes hope, redemption, and forgiveness! The cross was a huge cost for Jesus to pay for our debts. Sometimes the cross becomes just another story. The meaning of the cross becomes numb, and we forget what it represents. We should never let the story of the cross grow numb in our hearts!

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Miracles

Miracles and blessings are an everyday occurrence. We sometimes miss them because our perspective is distorted. What we consider a coincidence is really a miracle or a blessing from God. We do not give God the glory when something good happens in our lives and we call it a coincidence. A coincidence is “a situation in which events happen at the same time in a way that is not planned or expected” (Merriam-Webster.com). A coincidence is the world’s way of thinking and it distorts our perspective on life.

God performs miracles every day. Miracles are “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs” or “an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God” (Merriam-Webster.com). According to this definition, miracles only come from God and when miracles happen we see God’s power in our lives.

Miracles come in all different sizes! Maybe someone in front of you at a fast food restaurant paid for your meal unexpectedly. Maybe God provided for your financial needs by lowering or eliminating a bill. God may have healed you from an incurable illness. Whatever it may be, we can all think back to a moment where we have experienced God’s miracles in our lives.

Jesus performed 37 miracles in the New Testament. The Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – records all of Jesus’ miracles. The first miracle Jesus performed was in the Book of John, chapter 2, verses 1 through 11. Jesus was attending a wedding and they ran out of wine. In verses 6-8, it explains in great detail of how Jesus turned water into wine. The wine Jesus made was better than the original.

In the Book of Luke, chapter 5, verses 1 through 11, Jesus was by a lake talking to a crowd of people. Jesus saw that two boats were by the shoreline and the fishermen were washing their nets. Jesus stepped “into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon” and finished the sermon in the boat. Jesus then told Simon to “’put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (verse 3). Simon exclaimed that he was unable to catch any fish all night and was physically exhausted. Simon did as he was told and “they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break” (verse 6). Back in those days, fishing was a livelihood and it depended on the catch on how much money they brought home to provide for their families. Jesus took care of their financial needs and this story was a great way to show God’s supernatural power. In verses 10 through 11, it says that Simon left everything behind and followed Jesus. Simon’s encounter with Jesus changed his life forever.

In the Books of Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-15 tells about Jesus feeding more than 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. John 6:1-15 explains in detail how Jesus and the disciples fed over 5,000 people with a handful of food. In verses 5 through 6, Jesus asked one of His disciples, Philip, where they can buy enough food to feed the entire crowd and Philip said “’it would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’” Andrew, another disciple, said “’here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”. According to verse 6, Jesus was testing Philip to see whether or not he had enough faith to know that Jesus had the power to feed the crowd with no one lacking food. As we continue reading, we find that Jesus not only fed the 5,000 but they had left overs. Matthew 14:20 says that “they all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketful of broken pieces that were left over.” In one moment, Jesus witnessed to over 5,000 people by doing something that was unexpected and impossible.

Jesus’ miracles never ceased to amaze the crowds. Jesus healed the sick, the crippled and the blind. He cast out demons and raised the dead. His works on earth showed people that His Father, God, was real and He can do the impossible. Jesus gave people hope when the world shunned them. Jesus brought light into a dark and weary world and He continues to bring hope into this world.