The Offence of the Cross and the Power of the Gospel
In Galatians 5:11, the apostle Paul says that the message of the cross is an offence, or more accurately, a stumbling block. It challenges us and tells us that we are lost and have no power to save ourselves.
The pride of man is injured by the message of the cross. But without the right understanding of the truth of what the cross of Christ reveals about our spiritual condition as individuals, the power of the message of the gospel is diminished. And that could result in our faith being built on weak foundations.
How grateful we must be that the Lord preserved the conversation that took place between Jesus and the thief on the cross.
From his words to Jesus it is clear that the crucified criminal sees himself as deserving of that punishment. His matter of fact confession is accompanied by his recognition of Christ’s innocence as well as his, perhaps limited, awareness of the Kingship of Christ Jesus (these are essentially the three steps to salvation).
It is on this basis that he turns to and leans on Jesus. And then we see Christ’s astonishingly beautiful reply in the midst of His own suffering to the thief, saying: “I tell you the truth, this day you shall be with me in paradise.”
And so, this Good News is the most positive and realistic message to a world that is decending into decline and is in desperate need of redemption. As individuals we have the opportunity offered by Christ to repent and be saved. We can indeed lean securely on Christ the rock: “and everyone who believes in Him is justified from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses.” Acts 13:39
The believer is then strongly encouraged to be a partner with the Lord in his or her own purification and cleansing: “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that You love the world in this way, that you gave your only begotten Son for our rescue, that we may not perish and through Him to have eternal life.
Cast Your light within us and help us to recognise our sinful nature and then to depend on Jesus and pace our hope in Him alone. Such that the natural result of our turning to Him will be our partnership with you and that through the work of Your Spirit in us me may become pure, just as He is pure.
In the name of Jesus and for His glory, amen.