Read: Romans 5:8; John 3:16
If you’ve been around church or Christians for a while, you’ve probably heard the word gospel. But what does the word gospel actually mean? It means good news, but what good news? Jesus announced the good news that a new kingdom was coming. So, the gospel is the good news of Jesus, his kingdom, and the new way of life that he modeled for us.
Why is this news good? Because we are all sinners. We all mess up. We all make mistakes. We’ve all done wrong. But that didn’t keep God from loving us. That didn’t keep Jesus from dying for us.
Along with the word gospel, we are also very familiar with the cross symbol. We have it hanging in our church, we display it on the covers of our Bibles, and many of us even wear it as a piece of jewelry. It is the most prominent symbol in Christianity.
The cross reminds us of the good news of Jesus. It reminds us that Christ died for us. The cross tells us that no matter what you have done, no matter what your past looked like, you are loved. Jesus loves you so much that he died for you. There is no better news than that.
Go Deeper: If you have a moment, check out this video from The Bible Project explaining the meaning and origins of the word gospel: https://bibleproject.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwwr32BRD4ARIsAAJNf_0MrkU3F44KUIMAFJEyCN4R2tOZovGqNupzYqtn-ky7WUYY4CKKkz4aAs11EALw_wcB
Pray: God, thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for the gospel. Help me to live my life thankful and humbled because of all that you have done. Amen.
Read: 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:14
How does reading 2 Corinthians 5:21 make you feel? Are you thankful? Are you humbled? Are you overwhelmed? It can be astonishing to think that Jesus took all of our sin on himself, even though he was without sin. He made that sacrifice for you and me, so that we might become like him.
But Jesus’ sacrifice goes beyond just taking on our sin. Not only did he take on our sin, but he also gives us his righteousness. The Bible uses the language of sin having a price or debt. We had a debt because of our sin. However, Jesus paid that debt for us because of his love for us. And so instead of that debt, we are now lavishly gifted his own perfect righteousness.
Reflect: Listen to this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FHwdx5BIvc. Form your own prayer using some of the lyrics.
Pray: Create your own prayer using some of the lyrics from “Jesus Paid it All.” (Perhaps start with praise: “Oh, praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!”
Read: Ephesians 2:13-16, Galatians 3:28
Over the past few days we have looked at what the cross does for us individually. Today, we’ll take a look at what the cross does for all of us as a group. The verses today are very powerful. They show that not only does the cross create peace between us and God, it also creates peace with others.
In Paul’s time, Jews and Gentiles would not have gotten along. In Ephesians, however, he shows that with the peace we have with God, we have love and acceptance with people who were once our enemies. God has created a new community.
There are a lot of things that separate us from others. We divide ourselves based on race, gender, and socioeconomic class. But, as the verse in Galatians shows us, all of these things fall away because we are one in Christ. The good news of Jesus Christ is that the cross has the power to put to death hostility that exists between people groups.
Reflect: Who do you have hostility toward? People of a different race? People who have less money or more money that you? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these prejudices to you.
Pray: God, help me to be reconciled to those around me. Reveal the prejudices that I might not even know that I have! Soften my heart. Thank you, Jesus, that your death makes a way for me to have peace with my enemies. Help me to live into the new way of peace, love, and forgiveness that you demonstrate. Amen.
Read: John 19:30; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:11-14, 23-25
Jesus said the words, “It is finished” during his final moments on the cross. What was finished? The mission that brought him to earth. He was finished with his work of canceling the sin debt for all of us. His sacrifice was finished.
Priests in the Old Testament would make regular sacrifices for the sins of their people. The writer of Hebrews tells us that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the final sacrifice needed. Rather than making sacrifices regularly, we now have a final sacrifice that never needs to be repeated. (I love that the language of Hebrews 10:11 emphasizes the endless repetitions of sacrifices that had to be made over and over and over again.) But now, that system is over.
Because it is finished, we should encourage others with this hope and encourage each other to live a life of love and good deeds. We have a God who has demonstrated that he is good and faithful.
Reflect: Who in your life needs encouragement this week? Who can you “spur on” toward love and good deeds?
Pray: God, thank you that I no longer have to go to a temple and make sacrifices. Thank you for the work of the cross. Help me to live a live worthy of you and to encourage others.
Read: Matthew 16:24-26; 1 Peter: 2:24
We have spent some time this week considering God’s work on the cross, but we have work to do as well. Scripture says that we are to take up our cross and follow him. For the early followers of Jesus, that meant that they might have to follow Jesus to death, if necessary. They lived in a time where people were killed for being a Christian. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world still live in conditions where following Christ means risking their lives.
For us in America in 2020, it is very unlikely that we will die for our faith. But it might mean that we risk something in following God. We could lose social standing, lose friends, have to walk away from relationships, or be compelled to speak up for those less fortunate. Following Jesus means walking away from the life we once led.
Taking up our cross also means that when we say no to sin, we say yes to righteousness. We say yes to the power of God working in our lives.
Reflect: What sin do you need to walk away from? Is there something in your life that you need to give up?
Pray: God, give me the courage to live my life for you, even if that means suffering for my faith. Help me to say yes to your work in my life. Amen.
- Songs We Sing
Other Messages in Series