I grew up in a Christian home, but I was far from God until I read the story of Jesus’ death on the cross. Then, everything changed. I tell about it here.
I had known a lot about God and the Bible, but my knowledge had not changed me. In fact, while outwardly religious, I was moving farther and farther away from God, all the time feeling better than others because of what little good I was and did.
But sin and my human nature were constantly getting the better of me, until, as I tell in the link above, the death of my sister plunged me into an existential crisis of grief and meaning. Looking for comfort and hope, I began to read the Bible for answers.
Reading one night after work, I came to the story of Jesus’ Passion in the Gospel of John. As I read, His story came alive in a way it never had before. If you had asked me before that night why Jesus died on the cross, I could have given you a factual answer.
But this night, God opened my eyes to see how much Jesus (and the Father) loved the world, and how much they loved me personally. I have often said that it was like a floodlight shining into my heart and mind.
Suddenly, the immensity of God’s love and Jesus’ willingness to suffer for our sins became crystal clear to me. Their love was so amazing, I immediately knew I needed to make a choice of whether to follow Jesus, or not. Getting down on my knees, I said, “Jesus, I don’t know how to follow you; but if you will accept me, I will.”
I know He accepted me and changed my heart because in the days and weeks that followed, many things changed in my life–my desires, my motives, what I enjoyed, how I lived. It was a change from the inside out. I did not become perfect, but my heart was changed. I began to love what I had no interest in before and dislike the sin I loved before.
The Power of the Cross
Why does the story of Jesus’ death have this power to change our lives? I didn’t know much about why Jesus died back then. All I knew was that He suffered and died because He loved us and that He died for sin. But that was enough.
The reason it was enough for God to accept me and change my heart is what I am going to explore in several blog posts over the next few weeks. But here is why God can exercise His power to save through Christ’s death:
He Earned the Right. Jesus died for all human sin (1 John 2:2), and by doing this He earned the right to forgive, accept, and change us. “He (Jesus) has died as a ransom to set (us) free from. . .sins” (Hebrews 9:15).
He Gained the Authority. Through Jesus’ suffering and death, He defeated Satan. How? He resisted the devil’s efforts to get Jesus to sin in His humanity, and He showed that Satan’s arguments that it was impossible to obey, were false. God helped Jesus be faithful. So now Jesus has authority to help us too. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil. . .Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:14, 18 NIV).
The Cross is His Power Station. So much happened at the cross that allows Jesus authority and power to change our lives when we turn and put our trust in Him. Workmen are installing towers and high voltage power lines near our neighborhood. When they are finished, they will charge the lines and power will flow for miles to meet the needs of thousands. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” on the cross (John 19:30), He meant that God’s plan to provide forgiveness and salvation was completed. At that point, the power of the Spirit was released to change people through the story of Jesus’ death. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
Come to Jesus’ Cross
The cross is especially where God gets access to our hearts to change and empower us. That is so because He earned the right there. This is why the Bible calls us consider the cross, teach about it, and meet Jesus there, as these verses show:
“‘I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” John 12:32-33 NIV
“We preach Christ crucified: . . .the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24 NIV
“Christ (sent me) to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” 1 Corinthians 1:17 NIV
Will You Consider Jesus’ Cross with Me?
Would you like to experience more of God’s power in your life? Would you like to know and love Him more? I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ cross with me as I blog about it over the next few weeks.
I have learned so much more about why Jesus died than I knew at first, and because of that, I love Him even more. I want to share these amazing things with you. The more we see and understand, the more we will love Him; and the less power sin and Satan will have over our lives.
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