In this next season in the life of USMB, I’m asking our USMB staff to revel in the full breadth of God’s work at the Cross. The very center of our lives as Jesus-followers (being Christ-centered) is the Cross’s saving significance. To be clear, by the Cross I mean all the fullness of the passion, torture, nailing to, death, burial, resurrection and ascension that we know as the gospel. And for this essay I am capitalizing the word Cross for emphasis.
Ingesting into our hearts and more fully knowing the majesty and magnitude of what truly occurred on the Cross is paramount for us moving forward with renewed passion and missional urgency. As we emphasize the magnificent breadth of the atonement and focus in on Jesus’ substitution (taking our place), an essential element of our salvation, this, the message, is what we must be ambassadors for with all our effort. The message of the Cross, what Jesus did for us as he gave his life as our ransom, is life-transforming—if believed.
The incredible work of the Cross: God’s instrument of divine victory and divine revelation, illustrating God’s character and displaying his power as victor in the defeat of the enemy, Satan, the ugly one who revels in sin and death. And throughout it all, occurred because of God’s unending love for us even when we didn’t deserve it. There’s more to it than even all of that—as the full splendor of the Cross is truly beyond our full comprehension. I’m one of those who believes we can’t even know the full extent of everything that was accomplished at the Cross until we get to heaven.
Why focus on the Cross? Again, the Cross compels us into the world of life on mission as Jesus’ disciples. Mission must be our response to the grandeur of the Cross’s implications for us as a people and as individuals who follow him, love him and have been adopted by him as sons and daughters. Too often we focus on doctrine, and perhaps doxology, but neglect the effects and realities of the Cross for disciple-making. Knowing about the Cross is not just about soteriological principles but about the shaping of a disciple’s life. If we grasp just a minimalist understanding of what happened at the Cross, we’ll likely lose out on the indescribable power we can know and possess.
Ephesians 1:18-20 tells us that the power available to us as believers is the same as the power exerted when Jesus was raised from the dead. Resurrection power! Too often, we don’t even come close to realizing that kind of power and the freedom it can bring. At the least, more knowledge about the fullness of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross propels us to the world which desperately needs him and his forgiveness.
The world needs to know what happened on Calvary, that Jesus, the one without sin, took on sin for us, paying the penalty for that sin, satisfying God’s wrath and making us right before God Almighty. It is amazing, is it not? People need to know and experience in their soul the Cross—what really happened that day, who it was (God) hanging there, why he had to die and why he could not and would not stay dead but is alive (resurrected) and can and will be our Savior if we turn to him, believe and repent. “We’ve a story to tell to the nations…. A story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light.”
Don Morris is the USMB national director. He and his wife, Janna, live in Edmond, Oklahoma, where they attend Cross Timbers Church.